Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! We were digging through old swag bags this week (see below), and invite you to send any apparel that carries the name of a politician to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Clock’s ticking in Eastern District
Federal prosecutors are going strong in the Mangano-Venditto trial in Central Islip, and investigations into the murderous MS-13 gang are continuing, as is a preliminary probe of the investors in Kushner family real estate in Brooklyn.
What we don’t know is who will be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York — one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious prosecution offices.
It’s complicated, but consequential. And time is running out.
After firing all the nation’s U.S. attorneys shortly after he came into office, President Donald Trump never nominated anyone for the Eastern District, headquartered in Brooklyn, and the Southern District in Manhattan. At the start, the deputies to Robert Capers in Brooklyn and Preet Bharara in Manhattan were put in charge.
When the time on the “actings” expired, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the next step under federal law, making interim appointments valid for 120 days. Or, until May 5.
Sessions chose Long Islander Richard Donoghue for the Eastern District, where he made his prosecutorial reputation. Donoghue was widely praised, but Sessions’ choice for the Southern District, Geoffrey Berman, raised some red flags about his independence because he was a former law partner of Rudy Giuliani.
During this 120-day period, Trump could have officially made a nomination to Congress. It never happened because Sen. Chuck Schumer sent word that he would block Berman, whom Trump took the unusual step of personally interviewing, and everything came to a standstill. If there is no confirmed nominee by May 5, federal law allows the sitting judges of that judicial district to officially appoint the U.S. attorney.
The funny twist is that Berman, only several weeks on the job, quietly recused himself in what was then an undercover investigation of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, a case that is now roiling the White House. Two weeks after the FBI’s April 9 raid of Cohen’s offices and homes, the SDNY judges announced that they had voted unanimously to name Berman as the U.S. attorney.
However, the judges of the Eastern District have yet to take any action with hours left on the countdown clock. The word on the street is that Donoghue is the likely choice, but the lack of action is puzzling. The chambers of Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry said there would be no comment, and the spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office did not return a call.
Names begone in Nassau
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is adamant about not having her name emblazoned on every public sign — or anything else — involving county activities. And that means the thousands of runners expected for this weekend’s Long Island Marathon Festival of Races will not receive official T-shirts or wipe the sweat from their brows with official towels that have a politician’s name on them.
Her immediate predecessor, Edward Mangano, who is on trial on federal corruption charges, exceeded all branding expectations. It might take the entire four years of Curran’s term to locate and then tape over Mangano’s name, which is on more than 700 county signs.
Managno wasn’t the first. Democrat Thomas Suozzi, who held the top county office from 2002 to 2009, kept up the famed GOP practice of using an the elected official’s moniker on signage.
But Curran pledged during her campaign to keep her name off the signs to break with a costly tradition. Marathon swag doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime, but a promise is a promise. So far, Curran is making good on it.
#ThrowbackThursday: The land of no
As Long Islanders in recent months have protested developments of all sorts from Glen Cove to Sayville and Syosset to Dix Hills, it’s worth looking back to see how deeply ingrained “no” is in our regional DNA.
More than 60 years ago, one such years-long battle was waged in Garden City — over a library. On May 3, 1952, Newsday’s editorial board noted that the war finally was won. Garden City would finally have a library, then the very last incorporated village in the state to get one.
“Opposition to it has been astounding, and no credit to the community,” the board wrote.
The library, which was scheduled to open the following day, was a testament to the perseverance of its supporters. Library board president Mrs. Walter W. Allen, as she was identified per the custom of the time, headed a group of women who raised funds by conducting cake sales and baby-sitting, which the editorial board said demonstrated “a civic spirit and a degree of intelligence well above official and political par in the only cathedral town in America.”
In all, the women collected 4,000 books and raised $11,000, enough to open the library. Anyone, the board wrote, “should be impressed at the way Mrs. Allen’s committee has scored against stigmatic vision in the village.”
Sixty-six years later, the Garden City Public Library is alive and well. So is the region’s stigmatic vision.