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The fight for less restrictive weddings heats up

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Daily Point

Schaffer knocks Bellone’s sniff at a race for governor

It was only a matter of time before the long-running feud between Suffolk County’s Democratic heavyweights intersected with gubernatorial politics.

About three weeks ago, county party chair Rich Schaffer sent a message to fellow county chairs around the state about the political future of Steve Bellone, who is in the middle of his final four-year term at the top of county government.

"It is my understanding that our Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has reached out to some of you about his interest in running for statewide office in the future," the message said. "I have known Steve since he was six years old as we grew up literally next door to each other."

The message went on to note the need for the party to "put forward the best possible candidates who have the capacity to run effective campaigns as well as ably serve the people of New York State once elected."

Click here to read why Schaffer doesn't think Bellone is one of those candidates — and why a Bellone spokesperson thinks the county executive would be Schaffer's "worst nightmare" if he were to win the governor's mansion in 2022.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Weddings in the time of coronavirus

Anyone who has filled out a seating chart knows that weddings have their politics, but COVID-19 has taken the tenor up a notch on Long Island.

On Friday, GOP Assemb. Jodi Giglio of Riverhead and the Brides of LI will be holding a news conference in Hauppauge to argue for lessening "overly restrictive" pandemic regulations.

Republicans around the state have been pushing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to loosen COVID-19 rules for months of the pandemic. The Brides of LI, described in their Facebook group as "A safe place for brides to connect with other brides going through the same thing as them!", have gotten increasingly vocal about the issue as well.

Though the Facebook group’s admin rules forbid "discussions regarding politics," the page’s header echoes the call for looser COVID-19 restrictions in angry all-caps, overlaid on a #blissful picture of a white-dressed, veiled bride on her special day.

Experts across the board agree that adherence to social distancing guidelines prevents disease spread. In March, Cuomo announced guidelines for weddings and catered events including 50% capacity for venues, with no more than 150 attendees per event, plus proof of a recent negative test or immunization and contact tracing information for guests.

The rules allow some group dancing, but they include even deeper restrictions: "Attendees may dance with only members of their same immediate party/household/family who are seated at their table in designated and clearly marked areas" — the kind of directive that can fret brides and grooms already going through lots of challenges to get a wedding off the ground.

No word yet on the opening of a nuptial super PAC.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

A storm is coming

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Final Point

Clocking time with the Port Authority

The Point took a step back in time on Thursday.

Last month, we noted the long response time to a Freedom of Information Request for the schedule of Rick Cotton, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s executive director. More than one year ago we wanted to know what he was doing in the month leading up to his COVID-19 positive test, which was announced March 9, 2020. Last month, the Port Authority promised a response "as soon as possible."

Thursday, the Port sent Cotton’s schedule along. The month of February and first week of March were filled with meetings, tours and other gatherings, interspersed with calls and conversations about the coronavirus. Cotton’s schedule was busy and, like so many of ours, lacked any hint of the lockdown that was to come.

On March 3, less than a week before Cotton’s positive test was announced, he spent the morning participating in a "listening tour" at Newark Airport, and then spent the afternoon in a four-and-a-half hour "NYC Airport Tours" event, which began at a LaGuardia Airport hanger. It’s unclear what the event was, or who it involved, but it marked the last time Cotton was at one of the airports before his diagnosis and before both city airports were considered hot spots of the virus.

Cotton’s schedule, however, didn’t let up that week. On the Friday before his diagnosis, Cotton had about a dozen meetings on his schedule. While some involved conference calls, most were held at the Port Authority’s offices. Among discussions of financial results, the Kennedy Airport community betterment action plan and the LaGuardia AirTrain were several meets and calls on the coronavirus, including two back-to-back sessions at 5 p.m. Friday.

By Monday morning, Cotton’s diagnosis was announced and his staff, who had spent the previous week with him, was quarantined. Sources tell The Point that none of those other Port Authority employees who had been with Cotton got sick. Cotton’s schedule on Monday, March 9 is labeled in several places "To Be Rescheduled."

Little did any of us know how long we’d all be waiting to "reschedule."

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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