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Drawing battle lines

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman on Nov. 15,

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman on Nov. 15, 2018. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Daily Point

An LI connection in New Hampshire

As New Hampshire barrels toward its Tuesday first-in-the-nation primary whose outcome is very much up in the air, some Long Islanders are entering the fray.  

Rep. Kathleen Rice made the trip north for surging candidate Pete Buttigieg, her second choice after former House member Beto O’Rourke dropped out. Rice, who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District, posted a picture on Twitter of a canvass kickoff in Salem, and she is set to attend a rally with the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor.

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman also crossed paths with Buttigieg on the campaign trail, though it was during a quick fundraising swing Buttigieg made down to New York last week. 

“Awesome to catch up with my old friend from school, Pete, TBT style, who has had a bit of a week …,” Schnirman posted on his personal Facebook page. When asked what school by a Facebook user, Schnirman replied in a comment, “Harvard, undergrad for him and grad school for me.”

Schnirman told The Point this wasn’t a formal presidential endorsement and that it was good to see a friend doing well (they were involved in the university’s Institute of Politics). 

The other leading Democrat in the Granite State, Bernie Sanders, got a hand from Nikhil Goyal, co-founder of the Young Progressives of Nassau County. Goyal is a surrogate for the Vermont senator’s campaign and spoke at various events for Sanders on Sunday — fitting, as Sanders’ closing campaign argument has been that the road to general election victory is mobilizing activists and grassroots supporters. 

Some 100 Hofstra students also took the trip to view democracy in action. 

Candidates and their help from Long Island and elsewhere are making their final swings through the state, slamming each other and hoping to claim momentum in this crucial contest — months before the action moves to New York.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

A turning point for the gig economy

Last year, a cross-section of business, environmental, labor and other groups that favor congestion pricing worked to get the plan over the finish line. They used public affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker to advertise, promote and lobby throughout the budget season in Albany. And they succeeded.

This year’s issue for some of the same companies, and others: the gig economy. And the key to this campaign is to drum up support on Long Island and thus the backing of the swing group of LI state senators.

Companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Grub Hub, and others are trying to combat efforts to label and treat their workers as employees, rather than independent contractors, emphasizing the need to maintain workers’ flexible schedules and work environments.

Their coalition, called Flexible Work for New York, includes the Long Island Association, the Long Island Software and Technology Network, the Long Island Advancement of Small Business, and the Riverhead and Farmingdale chambers of commerce, along with larger groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  

In California, a similar law that treats such workers as employees and which went into effect on Jan. 1 is being challenged in court.

The coalition says New York is “the next battleground in the fight to protect flexible work.” The goal, insiders said, is to find a middle ground to balance protections like benefits and workers’ compensation with the desire for flexibility.

As Long Island becomes a key part of that battleground, coalition members are gathering Island-specific stories and statistics to back their position. Uber, for instance, tells The Point that in Nassau and Suffolk counties, 84 percent of its drivers work less than 20 hours a week and 62 percent of its drivers work less than 10 hours a week.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

A lonely road

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Quick Points

  • As China struggles with the mushrooming coronavirus crisis, isn’t it interesting that the only thing scarcer in China than face masks on store shelves is President Xi Jinping?
  • The most remarkable statistic of this short year and, perhaps, many years: On Thursday, when it was 42 degrees on Long Island, it was nearly 23 degrees warmer — in Antarctica.
  • The year’s two most incongruous facts: Former Vice President Joe Biden leads national polling for the Democratic presidential nomination. And in the second week of actual voting, in New Hampshire, Biden pretty much is making a last stand.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden says rival former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is “not a Barack Obama.” Wonder what Biden says on that topic when he looks in the mirror each morning.
  • Iowa finally announced caucus results — Pete Buttigieg by a nose over Sen. Bernie Sanders. But wait — the results aren’t final. What did you expect in six days?
  • Prominent Bernie Sanders supporters are blaming vote count problems in Iowa on rival Pete Buttigieg, without any clear evidence. That strategy remind you of anybody?
  • GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani needs to turn over any information he gets from Ukraine to the Department of Justice for vetting because it “could be Russian propaganda.” Now Graham says it?
  • The state’s Democratic Party leaders said they’ll use an iPad-based app to sync choices of early voters with those of caucus-goers on voting night, but won’t say who built the app or anything about testing and vetting it for vulnerabilities. Sorry, Dems, that’s not an old story from Iowa, it’s a current one from Nevada, whose caucuses are Feb. 22. 

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie