Prosecuting the case
Merrick Garland could be confirmed as U.S. attorney general as early as next week but the appointment of the next U.S. attorney for the Eastern District is likely to take some time.
Who leads the office next is of particular interest now that the EDNY, one of the nation’s largest federal prosecutorial offices, is heading the investigation into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s handling of how New York reported its nursing home deaths to the federal government.
The Point has learned that a search committee for Sen. Chuck Schumer has completed a first round of interviews with about a dozen candidates who asked to be considered.
The committee is headed by Mark O’Donoghue, an experienced civil litigator who has been trusted with judicial screenings for Schumer for more than two decades. The committee includes former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was also chief of the Eastern District, as well as Robert Schumer, a prominent corporate lawyer who is the brother of the Senate majority leader.
As is custom, when the White House and the party in control of the Senate are in alignment, the White House gives heavy consideration to recommendations of home state senators. Considering Schumer’s clout right now, his nod will pretty much seal the deal. The office is still headed by Seth DuCharme, a career prosecutor who was named acting U.S. Attorney by President Donald Trump late last year. There is no timetable for making a nomination and Schumer’s office declined to comment.
Here are some of the candidates, including several with Long Island roots, to head the office that has jurisdiction for Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Mitra Hormozi, a partner at Walden Macht & Haran, spent six years as an EDNY prosecutor, including chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. After that she became deputy chief of staff for Cuomo for a few years while he was state attorney general.
Zainab Ahmad, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is a longtime federal prosecutor with a background in national security and terrorism who recently worked with special counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation. She grew up in Nassau County and her mother, Nasrin, a Republican, is the former Hempstead Town clerk.
Mark Lesko, the former Democratic Brookhaven Town supervisor, is the deputy U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, where he served for seven years before seeking elective office. Lesko was vice president for economic development at Hofstra University before returning to Brooklyn to be second-in-command to Richard Donoghue.
Two other possible candidates have already headed the office. Robert Capers, who leads the U.S. Probation Office for the Eastern District, was U.S. attorney for 18 months after spending another dozen years in various prosecutorial jobs. When Capers left after the election of President Donald Trump, his deputy, Bridget Rohde, was acting U.S. attorney for almost a year before the Senate confirmed Donoghue. Rohde also screened.
Another prominent EDNY alum who wants the post is Christina Dugger, who was the chief assistant to Lynch for more than two years. She is now in-house counsel at JPMorgan Chase. Marshall Miller was chief of the criminal division at EDNY before taking a top job in the criminal division of the Justice Department in 2014. Breon Peace worked as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn from 1999 to 2002 before joining the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb.
Nicole Argentieri, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, worked for almost a decade in the EDNY, including two years as head of public integrity.
The committee has not yet made recommendations to Schumer, and insiders said that given the incredible demand on the Senate majority leader’s time now, it’s too early in the process for him to get involved.
—Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli
Who’s getting their shots in Nassau — by ZIP code
Nassau County has been vaccinating tens of thousands of New Yorkers at its county-run sites at Nassau Community College in Garden City, the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury, and at pop-up locations across the county.
But data obtained by The Point show that many of those vaccinated come from all over the area, including New York City, Suffolk County, Westchester and even Texas.
The requirement to be vaccinated at one of the county sites is simple: You must live in or work in New York State, and show proof of that connection. If someone works in New York and lives in Philadelphia, that person can be vaccinated in Nassau County.
The data, which do not include the state-run site at Jones Beach or locations run by hospitals or pharmacies, showed that of the more than 24,000 individuals vaccinated at county-run sites, more than 17,000 live in Nassau County. At the top of the list was Westbury, which had 963 residents vaccinated at county sites — the highest of any single ZIP Code. Massapequa, Merrick, Plainview and East Meadow round out the top five ZIP codes, with more than 700 each.
More than 5,000 of those vaccinated at Nassau sites came from Suffolk. Most of the rest came from New York City, mostly from Brooklyn and Queens. Then there were the outliers, with a few from other parts of New York State, and a handful with addresses outside the state, including one person with a Texas address. The Point was unable to determine whether that person worked in New York, or how he or she came to be vaccinated in Nassau, but county officials said everyone vaccinated had to prove a residence or workplace in the state.
The data are particularly telling in light of the importance state and local officials have put on addressing racial, ethnic and demographic disparities. For instance, while one of the county’s sites is in Hempstead, only 440 individuals in the Hempstead ZIP Code — 11550 — were vaccinated at county sites.
The Point is seeking data regarding state and Suffolk County sites, as well as the locations run by hospitals and pharmacies, to present a more complete picture of where Long Islanders — and non-Long Islanders — are being vaccinated. More to come.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
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Should the national minimum wage be tied to inflation?
It was a procedural vote but a telling one. Eight moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate joined all 50 Republicans on Friday to stop the inclusion of a national $15-per-hour minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package. They may have stopped the hike but not the debate.
A $15 minimum wage is a signature progressive issue that President Joe Biden supports, and it was included in the House version of the COVID-19 relief bill.
The issue is hot, but the answer to the question of "how much would the minimum wage be if it had kept up with inflation" is quite complex.
For example, if the nation’s first minimum wage of 25 cents per hour, introduced in 1938, had simply been indexed to inflation, it would sit today at $4.61 per hour.
If it had been allowed to grow with inflation from its highest-ever historical buying power of $1.60 in 1968, it would today total $12.27.
If it were figured from the rate GenXers got paid for their earliest jobs, the $3.35 per hour established in 1981, it would total $10.07 today. But further complicating matters, if the new rate were figured by adding inflation to that same $3.35 in the last year it prevailed, 1990, today’s minimum would be $6.88.
And if we had simply made the federal minimum wage inflation-adjusted by law the last time we increased it, to $7.25 in 2009, it would be set at $8.98 today.
Of course New York already made the $15 wage state law five years ago, raising it over time. This year the minimum is $15 in New York City, $14 in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, and will be $15 in 2022. In the rest of the state, it’s at $12.50 and it will continue to rise with inflation until it hits $15.
But The Point wondered what it would mean to earners across the nation if they had the same $15 minimum wage as workers in New York City do. To illustrate the question, we considered two Manhattans. If the minimum wage becomes $15 an hour in Manhattan, Kansas, how much would an equivalent worker have to make in New York’s Manhattan to have the same spending power when cost-of-living differences are considered?
The cost of living in New York’s Manhattan is 107% higher than the one in Kansas, so the equivalent wage would be $31.05 per hour.
Which just goes to show that even a $15 national wage would do little to end the issue, because if the fast-food workers of Manhattan, Kansas, start making $15 an hour, worker advocates of the Empire State will be looking for a lot more … and not without justification.
—Lane Filler @lanefiller