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Butting heads

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin is pictured during

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin is pictured during an interview in his office at Hempstead Town Hall on Jan. 14, 2020. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Clavin’s tune on controversial musical chairs an upbeat one

Last Monday, Adam Brinsley, a seven-year employee of the Hempstead Town Building Department, sent a resignation letter blasting the department and its leadership to Supervisor Don Clavin, town board members, the media, the Eastern District of New York and the Nassau County District Attorney.

He alleged that the commissioner of the department, John Rottkamp, does not possess the technical qualifications the job description demands and stated: "The environment created by the gross negligence and corruption within your department creates a hostile and toxic workplace I can no longer bear."

Among the many reasons for Brinsley’s resignation were endless investigations, cronyism, corruption, and the indictment of former deputy commissioner John Novello, who is accused of stealing nearly $60,000 from the Cedarhurst Republican Club.

A Point item last week about the letter can be read here.

Former Hempstead Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen, who has not decided whether she will seek a rematch with the Republican Clavin, was incensed by Brinsley’s accusations, which are similar to complaints she has had about the department, and made sure Brinsley’s letter got attention.

And it has. On the agenda for Tuesday’s town board meeting is a transfer for Rottkamp to another town commissioner job but, one that allows him to keep his salary of approximately $155,000 annually. Clavin said the move is unrelated to Brinsley’s letter and the accusations.

"Honestly, we had been looking at making a change for a while, just because sometimes you need to do that," Clavin said. "We even interviewed a couple of folks a few months ago. To be fair, John Rottkamp did a great job putting the department online during COVID, but we just wanted to make a change."

Clavin said Freddy Jawitcz, a licensed architect in the department for 24 years, will be the acting commissioner, and may or may not get the job permanently.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

NYC under fire from Republicans

The Monday announcement that New York City is one of the places deemed "anarchist jurisdictions" by the Justice Department is not exactly surprising, politically speaking.

New York City has been a punching bag for Republicans up and down the ticket all summer.

Take the campaign emails of Andrew Garbarino and Lee Zeldin, two Republicans in hotly contested congressional races on Long Island. They feature plenty of talk about "radical" Mayor Bill de Blasio and the "chaos" in NYC.

"New York City has been the testing ground for the Left’s SOCIALIST PLAN," said a Sept. 12 email from Garbarino’s campaign. "Riots are happening in almost EVERY MAJOR CITY around the country!"

Zeldin’s emails, too, have returned again and again to "the rioting, looting and violent attacks we have witnessed in US cities like New York City, Chicago, Seattle and Portland," tying attacks against NYC to the subject of law enforcement, another key for the GOP this cycle. A new TV ad portrays Zeldin as a more reliable defender of police than Democratic opponent Nancy Goroff. Rhetoric about "looters and violent rioters" is included.

The city’s challenges after being the center of the nation’s COVID outbreak are clear, even if they might be exaggerated or distorted and combined with the subject of George Floyd protests for political reasons. And of course the anti-NYC diatribes are a longstanding playbook for Long Island Republicans eager to portray themselves as the guard against Queensification of the suburbs.

City-defenders have pushed back. By mid-afternoon, the mayors of New York and other cities included in the Justice Department’s list labeled the new anarchist distinction "thoroughly political and unconstitutional."

But the New York hate is particularly vibrant this political cycle, with a New Yorker president who tweet-shames the city and state’s leaders regularly. Even some Democrats are joining in: See the iconic six-second September anti-de Blasio ad by Staten Island Rep. Max Rose, who is a Democrat looking to keep his seat in the city’s Trumpiest district.

"Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City. That’s the whole ad," Rose says in the ad.

To be fair, Garbarino got to that subject two weeks earlier with an Aug. 25 campaign missive, subject line "America’s (Least Favorite) Mayor."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point


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Quick Points

  • The Trump administration is planning to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, despite objections from what reports called its closest allies. Didn’t realize it had any of those left.
  • President Donald Trump boasted to author Bob Woodward that he has "broken every record" in getting federal judges confirmed, saying the percentage of the federal judiciary that was appointed by him is "ridiculous." Interesting source of pride given the trouble he’s encountered throughout his life in front of judges.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden asked Republican senators thinking of ramming through a new Supreme Court justice before the election to "follow your conscience." We'll find out if they have one.
  • Republicans reportedly think that by quickly filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat they can demoralize Democrats and depress turnout. If they’re successful, we’ll find out how much they know about Democrats.
  • A county clerk in Michigan who filed a police complaint over a lawn display that included a toilet with a sign reading, "Place mail in ballot here," said she worried that the display could mislead people not familiar with voting. How exactly did she think those voters would be misled – that they could put their ballot in a toilet?
  • You might not know Robert Gore, but if you’ve spent a lot of time outdoors camping, hiking or doing other activities, you have probably worn, and given thanks for, his invention – the waterproof fabric Gore-Tex. RIP, Mr. Gore.

Michael Dobie

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie