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Lee Zeldin answers Trump's call

Rep. Lee Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

Rep. Lee Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Masked Zeldin takes Tulsa trip to aid Trump

President Donald Trump is set to tackle his first rally since March with a controversial event in Tulsa, OK on Saturday night, calling it his reelection campaign kickoff, and eastern Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin will be on hand to help the president put on a show.

“I was asked to come to the event by the president’s political campaign and I’m going to do it because I support the president’s reelection,” Zeldin said.

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—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Cuomo's gone fishing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn’t brief the media during his last daily “briefing.”

Instead, he spoke directly to the camera — from his executive office — and used the moment to highlight New York’s success in combating the coronavirus pandemic, and to wax philosophical on how government could be and should be better.

“Why does government usually appeal to the worst of us rather than the best?” Cuomo asked. “Why doesn’t government challenge us to reach higher and speak to our better angels?” 

Cuomo didn’t mention President Donald Trump in his short address, but some of his words clearly could have been directed at the president. And, perhaps in another nod to the failure by the White House to better manage the pandemic, Cuomo noted that New York has gone from “worst to first,” and now is controlling the virus better than any state or country.

The speech veered occasionally into award-winner type territory, with some personal stories thrown in, and thank you’s offered to his staff, his daughters, and the 59 million viewers he said watched the daily briefings since the start of the crisis.

But the message soared as Cuomo suggested that anything was possible in the wake of the state’s effort to climb — and come down from — the “Mount Everest of social challenges.”

“If we could accomplish together what we did here — this impossible task of beating back this deadly virus — then there is nothing we can’t do. We will be better, we will be stronger for what we have gone through.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic began, Cuomo didn’t hold regular news conferences. And it’s unclear when he’ll return to the Red Room for another briefing.

Cuomo’s message closed with a video montage which ended with a reminder — one that’s become a favorite of those who’ve watched the briefings in part to keep track of time. 

“And don’t forget, tomorrow is Saturday.”

The day after that, of course, is Father’s Day. And rather than doing a briefing in the Red Room, Cuomo will hang up the Gone Fishing sign. He will be celebrating with his three daughters, on an upstate lake with a fishing rod.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

A real bombshell

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Final Point

A Belmont Stakes, and an OTB setup, like no other

Everything about this year’s Belmont Stakes is out of whack, so why should how and where Long Islanders can bet on it be any different.

The Saturday race is being run as the first leg of the Triple Crown, rather than the last, yet will be held two weeks later than planned. It’s being run at a distance of 1⅛ miles instead of the iconic 1½ miles. It will be held at 5:42 p.m., at least an hour earlier than usual. The purse has been reduced from $1.5 million to $1 million.

And hardly anyone will be there. The cavernous grandstands and clubhouse will be empty, and a space and race that’s held as many as 125,000 fans in the past will include only workers associated with the day’s races and broadcast.

So what about betting, since the many windows of the Big Sandy won’t be open?

In Nassau County, the OTB will offer three open betting parlors, albeit in a scaled-down manner, in addition to its phone and internet operations and Fast Track terminals located in other businesses.

“We opened up three parlors, Carle Place, Franklin Square and the Race Palace, Monday for the first time since March 16,” Nassau OTB President Joseph Cairo said. “We’re only open in a limited capacity, and we’ve made safety the main priority, with lots of staff on hand to assure everything goes smoothly and all the protective shields and sanitation and marked six-foot distances to let people know where to stand. We’re ready for the Belmont Stakes, but it’s an unusual year and we’ll just have to see what happens.”

In Suffolk County, the OTB also is offering phone and internet betting to account holders and its Qwik-Bet terminals in other retail locations are available where businesses are open, but the parlors remain shuttered.

“Right now it looks like opening the branches would be extremely unprofitable and we can’t afford that,” Suffolk OTB head Phil Nolan said.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Data Point

Exploring race on Long Island

As ongoing nationwide protests continue to fuel calls for racial equality, nextLI’s “Race on LI” series is taking a deeper look into racial disparities among black and white Long Islanders.

Around 15% of black people on Long Island live in poverty and are twice as likely to live below the poverty line compared to their white counterparts. Read about Census poverty thresholds and how Long Island compares to NYC

The census reports widespread decreases in the national unemployment rate for white and black Americans, but black unemployment is still twice the rate of white unemployment in Long Island. Dive into our breakdown of national trends versus Long Island trends in black-white unemployment.

COVID-19 is killing blacks and Hispanics at rates higher than any other group in Long Island and exacerbating financial disparities for minorities. Stay tuned for data dives into what we knew about health care insurance coverage and income gaps before the pandemic, and what it could mean for Long Island’s pandemic recovery process moving forward.

nextLI is a platform for participating in civic life on Long Island. It features data analysis and independent research. It is a project of the Newsday Opinion department funded by a charitable grant from The Rauch Foundation.

—Nicole Ki @_nicoleki

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