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Not the news you want to hear

Then-Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta, center, works with

Then-Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta, center, works with special assistant Gregory Wynne, left, and Chief of Staff Robert Gregory, right, to prepare for his state of the county speech on March 31, 1993. Credit: Newsday / Kathy Kmonicek

Daily Point

RIP Tom Gulotta

The death Monday morning of former Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta shocked the Long Island political establishment, but no one more so than state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who was scheduled to have lunch with him at 12:30 p.m. at the Garden City Hotel.

DiNapoli, a Democrat, told The Point that he and Gulotta, a Republican, had been trying to get together all summer, a routine periodic catch-up to talk about old times and new issues. When DiNapoli realized he had a dental appointment near Gulotta’s  Garden City office, he called him Friday to see if he was free.

“He sounded fine, he was still pretty active at his firm. We occupied the same political space for a long time and kept up a relationship,” said DiNapoli, noting that Gulotta’s easygoing manner led to him to have a wide circle of associates. “It was another time, not the bitter partisanship we have now.”

Monday morning, Gulotta’s personal assistant called DiNapoli’s Albany office to say the lunch was canceled, didn’t give a reason, but said it was urgent that DiNapoli call. His staff relayed the message to him.

“I have some terrible news,” a staff member said. 

- Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

NYS gun laws are more than talk

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was all over the radio dial Monday morning in the wake of massacres in Texas and Ohio, saying New York gun laws are among the most restrictive in the United States. He demanded similar laws at the federal level.

Appearing on Long Island News Radio with host Jay Oliver, Cuomo said of the Democratic presidential candidates, “I’d put the question to them – it’s very simple – New York has the best gun laws in the nation. Will you pass the New York laws? And let the American people decide in the presidential [election] what they want to do about guns.”

Later Monday morning on 1010 WINS with host Sonia Rincon, Cuomo targeted President Donald Trump, who condemned white nationalism and made some vague calls for gun control over the past several days. “He’s very good at doing executive orders. Let him sign an executive order that says, ‘I declare an emergency in the United States of America because innocents are getting gunned down, and here’s my policy – ban assault weapons, ban high-capacity magazines, [have] universal background checks, [have] red flag laws. Let the Congress say he doesn’t have the authority and challenge it. But frame the issue.”

Those are among the most important restrictions New York has placed on guns, but is there a connection between gun violence in high- and low-restriction states? According to the Centers for Disease Control, New York’s rate of firearm fatalities was 3.7 per 100,000 residents in 2017, tied for second safest with Massachusetts. Hawaii had the lowest rate at 2.5 deaths per 100,000 residents. The numbers include homicides, suicides and accidents.

But even more compelling is that the gun-death rate for pretty much all states appears to be predictable by politics and the level of gun restrictions:

The states were divided by 2017 gun-death rates. The deadliest states, those with gun death rates of 14.1 to 18.5 deaths per 100,000 people, were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada and Tennessee.

All of those states have fairly loose gun laws and all went to President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

The safest states, with death rates from 2.1 to 6.6 per 100,000 residents, included Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. All of these except New Hampshire have fairly or extremely restrictive gun laws. All went to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

- Lane Filler and Kai Teoh @lanefiller and @jkteoh 

Pencil Point

Spin the wheel

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

Final Point

Traffic takes its toll

To Benjamin Franklin’s list of life’s certainties, Long Islanders certainly would add traffic.

Newsday’s editorial board contemplated the problem at least as far back as the summer of 1951, when it commented on the amount of toll money collected by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. While it was impressed with the monetary haul — more than $24 million for the previous 12 months — the board noted on July 31 that traffic increased nearly 28 percent on the authority’s crossings. That caused it to opine that, “Motorists who pay their own way on installations of the Triborough Bridge Authority all seem to migrate in this direction over the week ends. Here they don’t pay their own way.”

The board’s solution: “Suppose we have a Nassau-Suffolk highway authority to build toll roads out here to relieve the jam on the parkways?”

The board proposed that Long Island  car owners be exempt from the tolls; in other words, make the visitors pay. Needless to say, the plan never came to fruition, so the region never reaped what the board envisioned as a “bonanza” of toll fees.

But we still have the traffic.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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