TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
Opinion

On the attack

Kevin Thomas, a Democrat, is the first-term incumbent

Kevin Thomas, a Democrat, is the first-term incumbent for New York State Senate District 6. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Attack ads

State Sen. Kevin Thomas seems to be bearing the brunt of the negative ad campaign against Long Island Democrats this season via mailers, social media, TV spots, robocalls, and even a truck traveling around his district.

While law enforcement unions and others are targeting all of Long Island’s State Senate Democrats, particularly for their support of amended bail reform legislation, Thomas in SD6 is garnering more attention. And he told The Point that he sees no policy reason for it.

But Thomas might be considered more vulnerable, in part because he is running against Dennis Dunne, 70, a long-established Republican who is a former county legislator and current Hempstead Town council member.

One ad shows Thomas’ head superimposed on someone else’s body, running with a briefcase stuffed with money. The caption: "Kevin Thomas Robbed us of Our Safety and Security."

Another shows a large picture of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio holding puppet strings, with a small Thomas dangling from them. "Why would Kevin Thomas endanger the Safety and Security of Nassau County Families?" the ad asks. "Because Bill de Blasio and the Radical Left are Pulling His Strings!"

Those two ads are coming from the Nassau County Republican Committee. But they come on top of a $4 million campaign against Democratic state senators from a committee called Safe Together New York, which also started robocalls labeling Thomas’ views "dangerous."

And then there’s the Police Benevolent Association, which is sinking $1 million specifically into Thomas’ race, with a TV and social media ad noting that Thomas "turned his back on Nassau County Families," and a truck running through the district with a similar image.

Thomas told The Point the ads are "backfiring" because his constituents think they’re "disgusting."

"The picture of de Blasio as the puppet master and me being the puppet looks really bad, especially in my community. [They are] seeing a white man have his way with a brown person and making him do things…" said Thomas, an Indian American immigrant. He added that the other ad is "superimposing my brown face on a white person’s body, making it look like I am committing a crime."

Thomas said he expects the ad campaign will intensify and become more ugly in the days leading up to the election.

"That’s not how any of this should be done," Thomas said. "Throwing slime on me the way they are is awful and my community is taking note of that."

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Steve Bellone endorses candidates in CD races

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is endorsing Jackie Gordon and Nancy Goroff in the two tight congressional races in his backyard, and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is joining in for Gordon, whose district lies partly in the southeast corner of Curran’s county.

The full Democratic show of support isn’t surprising for the county powerbrokers and the nationally watched races on their home turf.

Yet Bellone was not exactly quick to endorse in these races, particularly given that he, like Gordon, has a military background and helped to launch "New York State Veterans and Military Families for [Democratic presidential nominee Joe] Biden" this summer. The West Babylon Democrat also served on the Babylon Town Board with Gordon, as he mentioned in his endorsement statement. Gordon, however, is much more aligned with Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer.

As The Point highlighted last month, Bellone also was slow to offer formal support for Goroff in a district entirely within his jurisdiction. The incumbent, Republican Lee Zeldin, has been helpful to the county as a conduit to President Donald Trump during the coronavirus pandemic.

But Bellone appears to be more in campaign mode now, with videos for social media for Goroff and Gordon to come shortly. This week, he took part in a virtual fundraiser for State Senate hopeful Laura Ahearn. And he taped a robocall for Ahearn telling voters that she would protect taxpayers and the environment as well as that other issue getting a lot of attention on Long Island this election season: "She’ll stand up against any effort to defund the police."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Not your father's Great Pumpkin

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

Final Point

Same as it ever was

When Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin and town Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll launched an attack earlier this week on Nassau County in a news release for "knowingly" sending out "incorrect tax bills" to residents, they neglected to mention one thing: What County Executive Laura Curran and County Assessor David Moog are doing is the same practice of three prior county executives in office during Clavin’s 19 years as receiver of taxes. None settled the tax roll before all appeals were adjudicated.

Clavin acknowledged to The Point on Thursday that he never made it an issue during their terms.

More than 80,000 county residents challenged their assessments in a process called "small claims assessment review" after they and the county could not agree on an assessment level during the initial appeal process. Now, the county says, 13,405 of those have not been settled, but the roll has already been set. That means the bills have to reflect the current assessments, and, according to the county, corrections and refunds for those who win their challenges will be reflected in the bills for the second half of the year’s taxes.

But that’s how it always was done, under former county executives Thomas Gulotta (Republican), Thomas Suozzi (Democrat) and Edward Mangano (Republican), who all served during Clavin’s years as receiver of taxes. It only changed when Mangano froze the roll in 2011 and began allowing almost all appeals to triumph to set final tax bills before the roll was set. Mangano’s move prevented the "county guarantee" from kicking in, which forces the county to refund monies out of its coffers that is paid out to other taxing jurisdictions after collection.

Clavin and Curran are also in a squabble over Hempstead’s $133 million CARES act grant from the federal government, with Curran asking that about $50 million of it be given to the county to cover county police services during the pandemic. But Clavin continues to insist he and Curran have a great working relationship.

"I didn’t go after the county executive on this, my complaint was about the assessor," Clavin said Thursday, adding: "I just feel like the towns should have been told about the problem with these erroneous bills earlier."

But Clavin said he could not remember the towns ever being informed such bills might have to be adjusted later in past years, meaning the notification he now claims is tardy is the only such notification any assessor has bothered to share with the towns at all.

Which is not surprising, since everyone involved already knew.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Columns