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A time for tough choices

Hard rock musician Ted Nugent.

Hard rock musician Ted Nugent. Credit: Getty Images / Rick Diamond

Daily Point

Ted Nugent scratched from pro-cop rally

A rally to support law enforcement planned for Saturday afternoon in Eisenhower Park blew up in the faces of its organizers Friday after musician Ted Nugent — known for his racist, sexist and anti-Semitic views — was forced off the program. Nugent, who was scheduled to sing the national anthem, had been heavily promoted on pro-cop social media sites.

On Friday morning, Kyle Reyes, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, touted the rally and  Nugent on Fox News, saying that upward of 10,000 people would attend the event. “Literally, people are flying in from sea to sea,” said Reyes, calling it the nation’s largest gathering in support of police.

Reyes’ remarks about the crowd further alarmed Nassau County officials, who had tried for days to stop Nugent’s appearance, including a threat to have him quarantined. Here’s what went down.

—Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

Finding a commissioner is becoming an education

When MaryEllen Elia left her post as state education commissioner 11 months ago to sign on with a private educational consulting firm, the Board of Regents initiated a search for a new leader. While that search played out, the board named the executive deputy commissioner, Beth Berlin, as acting commissioner.

When Berlin left the department in November, the Regents designated Shannon Tahoe, then the department’s acting chief counsel, to be interim commissioner.

Now Tahoe is leaving, and there is no indication that the Regents are anywhere close to finding a permanent replacement to lead the department.

And the office of President of the University of the State of New York is vacant too, with former SUNY head Kristina Johnson announcing last month she would take over as president at Ohio State University.

When Tahoe exits officially next month, it will mark a year since the department has had a permanent head. And a news release early Friday made it clear the Regents are not close to finding a permanent leader, saying: “The Board continues its search to find a permanent commissioner and expects to appoint an Acting Commissioner before Ms. Tahoe departs on Aug.13.”

It’s no secret that the job has been a hard one to fill for years, and no surprise that it’s taking a long time to find the right candidate. Running New York’s schools has the reputation nationally of being a thankless and impossible job, and potential candidates in several past searches have described being scared off by the way the state’s schools operate. 

And if the federal government does not come through with piles of cash for New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is threatening huge cuts to school funding to correct a coronavirus-stricken budget, hardly an inducement to a top pro to come to the rescue.

Long Island Regent Roger Tilles would not comment on the state of the search or the plan to find a new temporary leader, but said the pandemic has impacted the search process. He said Tahoe did a great job, particularly considering she is a lawyer and not an educator, and he had hoped she’d go back to the chief counsel spot when a commissioner was found, but Tilles suspected her strong work in the interim role had made her a prime candidate. 

Adding to the confusion is a Regents board meeting called for Friday with no agenda, except a three-hour executive session, which was canceled Thursday at or around the time Tahoe’s resignation became public. That meeting has been rescheduled for next Friday.

Asked about the status of the commissioner search, the purpose of Friday’s meeting and the reason for its cancellation, and the purpose of next Friday’s meeting, spokeswoman Emily DeSantis told The Point in an email that the Regents are focused on working toward the safe reopening of schools and added: “Recognizing the time the search has already taken and the paramount tasks ahead for the Board, the search for Commissioner of Education and the President of the University of the State of New York will be extended and remain open until at least October 1, 2020.”

As for that meeting next Friday, DeSantis wrote “it is expected the Board will discuss personnel matters.”

So the department now needs two commissioners, one to keep what’s become a very hot seat warm for a little while, and another to fill it, along with a president for the state’s colleges.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Law and order?

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Final Point

Bellone’s big bet on Biden

Steve Bellone took his first big action for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign this week, helping to launch “New York State Veterans and Military Families for Biden.”

It makes sense for Biden to want Bellone, an Army veteran and county executive of Suffolk, home to the largest population of veterans of any county in the state, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs figures.

And maybe the second time’s the charm for the West Babylon Democrat, who jumped on Mike Bloomberg’s presidential train relatively early but wasn’t shy about getting off quickly once the former New York City mayor dropped out. 

That very afternoon in March, Bellone threw his support to Biden. 

This is Bellone’s first big act for Biden, says spokesman Jason Elan, but the county executive will do more across the state going forward. 

And the organization appears to be aimed wider than that, an indication of the truly crucial strategic ground in 2020. The veterans group plans to hold a virtual kick-off rally next month, according to its news release, “to energize their canvassing efforts in Pennsylvania.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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