Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
The politics of ethics
New York State Senate Democrats warn that the chamber’s majority coalition is attempting to politicize the Senate Ethics Committee.
Republicans have changed the wording in new rules adopted last week that govern the composition of the committee, according to Sen. Michael Gianaris, deputy leader of the Democratic Conference. The panel has the power to review ethics complaints against members of the Senate, but only if committee members vote to pursue the complaint.
Instead of requiring that half of Ethics Committee members be from the Senate’s “minority” and half from its “majority” — as the Assembly does — the new wording requires half of the Senate committee’s members to be Democrats and half Republicans.
Since six Democrats caucus with the Republican majority in the Senate, their coalition could sweep Ethics Committee control. “That becomes very dangerous, how they might vote on our members versus their members,” Gianaris said. “It’s open to politicization.”
Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is reaching out to Majority Leader John Flanagan to request he reverse the language. Committee assignments could be decided as early as Tuesday.
As the world turns
-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats need to get over their frustration at having lost the White House, “grow up” and confirm Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees. Just like McConnell’s Republicans grew up when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court?
-- President Barack Obama says he underestimated the degree to which misinformation and cyberhacking can affect open, democratic societies. And thereby added one more what-if to a long Democratic list.
-- Doctors are telling parents to expose their children to peanuts at an early age to prevent them from developing an intolerance later in life. Next up: A recommendation to expose children to different kinds of ideas, to prevent them from developing an intolerance later in life.
-- After being criticized by Meryl Streep during the Golden Globe awards, Donald Trump tweeted that the actress is overrated. Similarly overrated people include Yo-Yo Ma, Warren Buffett, LeBron James, Stephen Hawking and Usain Bolt.
-- Sea World in San Diego has ended its controversial killer whale show, replacing it with an educational show featuring those same killer whales. Meaning that Willy still won’t be free.
The TOBAY way
After a curious delay, it seems that Joseph Saladino has the votes to replace John Venditto as the Oyster Bay Town supervisor. The popular GOP assemblyman could be selected as early as Tuesday by the town board, which is empowered to make the choice when a vacancy exists.
However, Saladino, who is favored by Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello, got tied up in a bigger spat within the county party because power broker Alfonse D’Amato, the former U.S. senator, preferred another candidate.
Whether D’Amato had business reasons to push a different candidate or just wanted to thwart Mondello’s choice as a show of strength to gain more control over the local party is what’s keeping the tea-leaf readers busy.