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Shifting the conversation

Voting booths at West Babylon Junior High School

Voting booths at West Babylon Junior High School on Nov. 3, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Focus on finance, not fusion

The circus comes to Suffolk County on Tuesday. 

The next public hearing of the Public Finance Reform Commission will be held in the Hauppauge office of the county legislature, and a band of progressive groups is out with a letter to the commissioners asking for a focus on campaign finance, not fusion voting. 

“Whatever one thinks about fusion voting, it is wholly irrelevant to the creation of a public financing program,” writes the collection, including Long Island Activists, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Planned Parenthood Nassau County, Make the Road New York, and New York Communities for Change. 

Like the Working Families Party with which some of the groups align, the letter writers hope the conversation is more about small-donation matches and low-contribution limits. Fusion, a practice not used in most other states, allows candidates to run on multiple party lines. It has dominated the commission’s hearings so far. That’s because WFP supporters fear that the commission’s final recommendations will kneecap the practice and weaken the party, which tends to give Democratic candidates, like Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, its line to push them left. 

But fusion has a different reputation on Long Island, where it has been used by other parties to garner jobs, and trade ballot lines for judgeships. 

The commission has until Dec. 1 to issue its findings, which are binding unless modified by law in 20 days. It’s all a mad dash to the finish, given that the commission appears to be eyeing Thanksgiving Eve to release the report. 

So what to expect on Tuesday? 

“I would expect more back and forth over Fusion Voting and Party qualifications,” commission member and state Democratic Party head Jay Jacobs emailed The Point.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

What’s in a name?

America may have been surprised by the weekend revelation that straight-arrow Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has been operating a shadow Twitter account with the somewhat sexy Gallic pseudonym Pierre Delecto, but to devotees of New York politics it’s really just business as usual. 

There was Anthony Weiner’s nom de plume Carlos Danger. Gov. Eliot Spitzer used George Fox, the name of a friend and supporter, in his fateful meetings with prostitutes (the feds called him “Client 9”). Donald Trump, before he became president, brandished a host of names to lavish praise on himself, including John Miller and John Barron. 

Now that Twitter is fully ubiquitous in the political sphere, The Point wonders what other fake Frenchy handles might be out there, allowing New York’s political class to monitor and discreetly chime in on all the noise. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, he of the Sunday news conference, might be lurking with @CharlotDimanche. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who likes to talk about unnamed businessmen grabbing him by the lapels and demanding fixes to certain subway lines, may be found @AchilleElleTrain.

The pseudonym business really does appear to be a uniquely male obsession, but maybe there’s a @LoireCuaron tweeting about how great Nassau County’s assessment system is going to be. 

We’ll be plus vigilant.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Consolation prize

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Quick Points

  • It wasn’t that long ago that Nassau County elected officials and water providers were protesting strongly a New York City plan to use water from Long Island’s aquifer to fill an anticipated shortage. Now, given the high cost of treatment for some chemicals, Nassau officials and providers are considering trying to tap into New York City’s water supply. Sounds like what’s not good for the goose might be OK for the gander.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders held a rally in Queens Saturday dubbed the “Bernie’s Back” rally. Frankly, it’s not Bernie’s back Democrats are worried about.
  • President Donald Trump once said his predecessor’s use of executive order made Barack Obama look like a weak negotiator with Congress. But Trump has signed far more executive orders in his first three years than Obama. So what adjective paired with “negotiator” would Trump assign himself?
  • Good thing there’s a cease-fire in Syria, so we can rest easy knowing that all those reports of fighting along the Syria-Turkey border are just fake news.
  • One of the reasons President Donald Trump reversed his decision to hold next year’s G-7 summit at his Doral golf club in Miami was that it swiftly became part of the impeachment inquiry. He didn’t think  beforehand that was going to happen?
  • Some senior Trump administration officials reportedly are worried that constant revelations about Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine will show that official administration policy was connected to Giuliani’s personal gain. Is their position that only the president can personally profit from official administration policy?
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was open to changing his mind about impeaching Trump if it turns out the Ukrainian scandal had a quid pro quo. That was before White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said there was a quid pro quo. So how about it, Lindsey?
  • When an interviewer pointed out that the Turks got everything they wanted in cease-fire negotiations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We achieved the outcome that President Trump sent us to achieve.” That’s the problem, isn’t it?
  • GOP Rep. Will Hurd says President Donald Trump’s administration is playing checkers in the Middle East while others are playing chess. That makes sense, since one of Trump’s favorite lines is, “King me.”

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie