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Opinion

Problem solving

Then-Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen is seen

Then-Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen is seen on Oct. 22, 2019. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Hempstead Town and it's concessions

When the then-supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, Laura Gillen, confronted town concessionaire Butch Yamali last year about what she said was more than $500,000 in unpaid rent on the town-owned Malibu Beach Park property he runs, the news made a big splash.

Now it looks as though the town is trying to resolve the issue as quietly as possible, at its Tuesday board meeting.

Gillen beat the town’s GOP machine in 2017 to become the first Democrat to run Hempstead in at least a century. Yamali, who has operated as many as six municipal concessions at times, is close to the town’s Republican power players. Gillen was furious that town employees granted Yamali a 10-year extension on his contract in 2019 — while he was apparently seven months in arrears — without her knowing and without a vote from the town board.

Yamali said he owed nothing because he was due reimbursement for capital improvements. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York then subpoenaed the town for records on Yamali’s company, Dover Gourmet Corp. Part of the scrutiny sprang from Newsday reporting that showed Yamali had paid Nassau County Republican Party chairman Joseph Cairo and Cairo's son more than $1 million in legal and project management work at Malibu.

Gillen claimed changes to the 2009 contract and the 2019 extension were improper, and thus void. Yamali sued the town.

Tuesday’s agenda offers, as Resolution 66, an item that would settle Yamali’s suit and give him a concession agreement at Malibu through 2036. Under the deal, Yamali would be credited $2.4 million for past capital improvements (that the contracts said Yamali, not the town, was liable for) and up to $560,290 in COVID-19 relief credits.

It then demands Yamali pay $1.2 million in arrears in three annual installments of $400,000 each, $307,000 for a payment in lieu of taxes, tollbooth revenue for 2019 and 2020, and pay annual rent of $560,290.

And the resolution, if it passes, would settle the lawsuit over the Malibu property, but not the political battles.

Republican Donald Clavin took the town back for Republicans in 2019, just months after Gillen began scrapping with Yamali. Yamali campaigned hard for Clavin and loudly took credit for Gillen’s defeat.

Gillen is still considering a rematch with Clavin.

Clavin and Yamali did not return calls seeking comment.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

The deer hunters, youth version

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is out with a draft management plan for white-tailed deer over the next decade, and it includes some recommendations for Long Island, where dealing with the creatures "has long been a challenge," as the report readily acknowledges.

That includes allowing firearms hunting for longer than the January firearms season in Suffolk County, and incorporating a "firearms deer hunting opportunity for youth in Suffolk County."

Odocoileus virginianus is New York’s most popular game animal, the plan notes, drawing visitors from outside the state and expanding appreciation for the natural world. But there are plenty of downsides to having too large a deer population, from the effect on plants to the problems posed to farmers, motorists, and other bipedal beings.

The DEC document points to Long Island as a particularly tricky place for deer management given "intense development" that has decreased the landmass for legal deer hunting, and "a complex and onerous system of laws and regulations governing deer hunting."

Suffolk comes in for particular focus in the report due to having "some of the most severe and widespread deer-related problems in the state" and "very limited firearms hunting opportunity."

Hunting in the county is currently limited to archery equipment between October and January, and there is also a brief firearms season in January. The plan suggests expanding that firearms period and also adding a county-wide "special youth weekend" for 14- and 15-year-olds. A youth-only Big Game Hunt was recently established over Columbus Day Weekend in other parts of the state after recommendations from an earlier DEC deer management plan. At the moment, Suffolk has a more limited youth weekend for firearms hunting in January.

In New York, hunters have to be at least 14 in order to hunt deer or bear with a firearm (they must have an adult mentor), so teenagers can already hunt, but the special weekend would be a showcase for them to try the activity.

The plan at large is out for public review. The public comment period closes on Dec. 28 — just before Suffolk’s firearms hunting season begins.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Troubled waters

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

Final Point

Quite the comeback

Nearly 80 years after she first appeared, Rosie the Riveter is making a comeback in Nassau County.

The iconic image, associated with women who went to work during World War II, now will be used as Nassau’s centerpiece of a public awareness campaign to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nassau is using the famous image of a strong woman rolling up her shirtsleeve — with a small addition: A Band Aid on her arm. The county has modified the "We Can Do It" slogan into the hashtag: #WeCanDoItNassau.

The county plans to start with testimonials and photos of health care workers, veterans, and religious and community leaders, striking their own Rosie the Riveter pose after receiving the vaccination. County Executive Laura Curran said she, too, is willing to take the vaccine on video.

"It’s not going to be easy," Curran said, noting the complicated nature of distributing and providing the vaccine. "But we’re not afraid of the challenge."

Curran’s effort comes as former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have committed to taking the vaccine on video or in public to encourage others to do the same. It’s likely Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would be given the vaccine during one of his COVID-19 briefings, too.

But once the vaccine reaches the public, any campaign probably should go beyond political figures to include some of Long Island’s famous. Imagine Billy Joel getting the vaccine during a Zoom show. Or Alec Baldwin getting it while in his "Saturday Night Live" Donald Trump persona.

But since many of those who are hesitant about or opposed to vaccines tend to vote Republican, perhaps this is a time when GOP leaders on Long Island should flex their arms like Rosie the Riveter, too.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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