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Jockeying to be heard

Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Credit: FlyingDogPhotos.com/Kevin P. Coughlin

Daily Point

Throwing around their weight

As the leadership of the troubled Nassau University Medical Center turns over and the facility faces a wave of potentially devastating challenges, the CSEA will seize the opportunity to make its muscular political presence felt.

Thursday's board meeting was NUMC chairman and interim chief executive George Tsunis’ last in the job. Bob Detor, a longtime health care administrator from Port Washington who previously ran South Oaks Hospital in Amityville and chaired the county’s federally qualified health clinics, was named chair at that meeting. And Detor is expected to name as chief executive one of two finalists for the position: Tom Stokes, a former deputy county executive under Democratic County Executive Tom Suozzi, or John Gupta, a longtime hospital executive.

And at 5 p.m. Thursday the CSEA also held what it touted as a “major protest” and discussion of what it alleges are back-room deals made by the county’s only public hospital.

The CSEA, with 3,000 members employed at NUMC, is deeply concerned that the enormous, outdated and underutilized facility, losing money and with an uncertain future, could move forward in a way that costs jobs or shifts them to Northwell Health. 

Northwell Health has partnered with NUMC in an increasing variety of ways over the past few years and that role is generally expected to increase.

In its release, the CSEA said it will discuss dozens of “back-room contracts between Nassau Health Care Corp. and private vendors that have yet to be released for public consumption,” and call for a freeze of 23 contracts with Northwell Health.

Call it the first shots fired in a war over a hospital where jobs and political clout are as important as the health of patients and finances.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

A progressive worldview

Just before New Year’s, philosopher and longtime Long Island progressive David Sprintzen wrote a blog post about the political challenges in 2020 and what he sees as a misplaced focus by the left, an intense debate even on the national level.

“I have become deeply distressed by the recent tendency I have seen among many groups on the Left of developing an increasingly intolerant racialized politics,” he wrote. 

The piece argued that many progressives have “taken to blaming white people, often particularly white males, as the cause of the suffering of black and brown people.”

Sprintzen, 80, who is white, is not just a local blogger. He was a leader and founder of the left-leaning Long Island Progressive Coalition, and until recently a board member of LIPC and influential progressive group Citizen Action of New York.  

He was removed from both of those board positions last year. 

Sprintzen says his removal is related to the kinds of views expressed in his December blog post in which he urged a more “inclusive progressive vision” focused on “general societal issues [affecting] all working people.” 

It’s not a new subject for his blog, which also features an earlier piece headlined “On Targeting White Males.” The issue came to a head at a July “Justice Works” political strategy workshop that featured what Sprintzen calls a “heated” and “contentious discussion” regarding white males’ culpability for various wrongs in a memo shared with The Point. Not long after the Albany workshop, hosted in part by Citizen Action, he was removed from the CA board. 

Both CA and LIPC declined to comment about the reasons for Sprintzen’s removal. But Sprintzen says he’s concerned about the overall direction of progressives’ identity politics, beyond his personal board situation. 

It’s a ripe issue in the national conversation, from debates about language to former President Barack Obama warning late last year against “purity” and too much focus on being “always politically woke.” Questions of representation and insensitivity vs. political correctness have led to intra-party and generational arguments that bleed into campaign ads and candidate speeches about how Democrats should pitch themselves, particularly in a crucial presidential race.

Sprintzen, who says he remains a state committeeman for the Working Families Party, says he doesn’t have a preferred 2020 candidate but has a goal: “I want to beat Trump.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

How do you plead?

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Final Point

Who said it? Day 7

2020 Democratic contender books series Part 7: Who has which view about the state of the country?

See previous answers and questions here.

  1. This candidate writes about the importance of idealism and inspirational, aspirational leaders: “I am convinced that cynicism, spawned by disappointment, cultivated by the media, and perpetuated by too many leaders today, holds us back.”
  2. “In a time of instant TV heroes, political Twitterstorms, and single-issue Super PACs, it’s harder than ever to be a compromiser. Today those who reach for the middle are more likely to encounter protests than praise, and brambles instead of bouquets.”
  3. “Private philanthropy is an American tradition — one of our unique contributions to humanity, and one of the reasons for our country’s great success.”
  4. “As president, I would commit to prioritizing only bipartisan ideas during my first one hundred days in office. We need to learn how to accomplish things together again, and this action would send a message to the American people, and the Congress, that the time for fighting is over.”
  5. This candidate thinks “some of the most important policy dynamics of our time have to do with the relationships, and the tension, between state and local government.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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