TODAY'S PAPER
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OpinionOpEd

How low can you go?

Good afternoon. Today’s points:

  • Comptroller Maragos vs. candidate Maragos
  • The Howard Dean coke scream
  • Trafficking bill trying to get on the roadmap

Daily Point

Tread carefully

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and potential Nassau County executive candidate George Maragos may cause each other all kinds of trouble if they’re not careful.

Elected twice as comptroller as a Republican, Maragos sent out a release Tuesday promoting a “major press announcement” Thursday at Nassau County’s Supreme Court building in Mineola. The release was sent by a “friends of George Maragos” email account, suggesting the event will be political rather than governmental. And the general sense is that Maragos will use the opportunity to announce that he’s become a Democrat, which would then enable him to seek the party’s nomination for county executive.

This move has been both expected and controversial. Maragos does not always get along well with fellow Republicans, but plenty of powerful and committed Democrats aren’t too excited about him, either.

As for why he needs to be careful: The contact name on the announcement is Carla Hall, also known as Carla Hall D’Ambra, the director of communications for the comptroller’s office. The phone number is her cell. Called on that line during business hours to comment on her dual role and the inclusion of her as the contact on the release, she said handling it that way “was a mistake.”

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Low blow about getting high

Howard Dean, M.D., the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is preventing his party from going high when Republicans go low with their innuendo about the stamina and health of Hillary Clinton. During Monday night’s presidential debate, Dean tweeted: “Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?”

Dean, who admits he has no evidence Trump ever used the drug, doubled down in a TV interview on Tuesday, saying there could be a possibility. The former Vermont governor added that beyond the sniffles, Trump “also has grandiosity, which is something that accompanies that problem. He has delusions.” Dean said it would be interesting to ask Trump whether he ever had a problem.

The Clinton campaign still has not commented on Dean’s remarks, but Rep. Steve Israel couldn’t escape the question on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

At first, the Long Island Democrat, who is retiring from Congress, tried to laugh it off. “There are more important issues at stake here than what kind of soda Donald Trump drinks. I assume that’s what Dean was referring to,” Israel said. He then conceded Dean made a mistake. “He shouldn’t have done it. We need to be focused on issues that matter and not that kind of thing.”

Rita Ciolli

Pencil Point

A long autumn nap

More election cartoons

Case in Point

Gillibrand trying to get traction on trafficking

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is introducing a bill Wednesday that would clear nonviolent crimes that were a direct result of human trafficking from the records of trafficking victims. Victims are often charged with conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking and related offenses as a result of human trafficking. Those charges then follow them throughout their lives, making it difficult for them to find jobs or housing.

Gillibrand’s bill would cover adults and children, and it would expand the definition of those who are exploited beyond sexual trafficking to include labor violations. In 2008, for example, a Muttontown couple were convicted of enslaving two Indonesian women by keeping them captive as domestic servants without pay for years.

Too often, those who fight human trafficking focus narrowly on sexual trafficking of children, says Stephanie Hepburn, author of the 2013 book “Human Trafficking Around the World.” She cautioned people to read the bill carefully to make sure there aren’t carve-outs for immigrants who work in agriculture. We did, and there isn't.

Like most Democrats in Congress, Gillibrand has had difficulty gaining traction for some of her bills. But if her predecessor in the Senate is elected president, the senator is hoping to get a bit more attention for her agenda.

Anne Michaud

Columns