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Political itch in Suffolk district
Former Suffolk County Legis. Lou D’Amaro took a pass in 2016 on challenging incumbent State Sen. Phil Boyle, but was ready a year later to jump into a special election for the seat, had Boyle won the 2017 race for county sheriff. But, in a stunning upset, Boyle lost the Republican primary for sheriff to Lawrence Zacarese.
Sensing possible Boyle weakness from the sheriff’s race as well as the wind at the back of Democrats this year, D’Amaro is poised to jump in the competitive 4th Senate District race, sources tell The Point. D’Amaro would only acknowledge to us that he is considering a run.
D’Amaro, who has been courted for the State Senate by Democrats for a few years, reportedly is itching to get back into politics. He has met with Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Westchester senator who leads the Democratic caucus, which is going all out to win control of the chamber in November.
At the end of 2017, D’Amaro was term-limited after serving the maximum of six terms in the county legislature. Since then, he has practiced in the real estate group of the Rivkin Radler law firm.
Sources tell The Point that Suffolk County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer, whose loyalty to the cause of Democrats taking over the State Senate is questionable, is not pleased that D’Amaro might run. Schaffer has supported and protected Boyle, whose roots are in the Conservative Party, and had considered giving him the Democratic nod for county sheriff if he won the GOP primary in 2017. And if past is prologue, Schaffer never recruited a strong challenger to the late Owen Johnson, who held the Senate seat before Boyle.
Schaffer’s cancellation last week of the nominating convention for Suffolk Democrats has raised suspicion about his motives this year and whether he would even lend his organization’s support in a petition drive for D’Amaro. If Schaffer stays neutral, it would raise the question of whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is so committed to a Democratic-controlled State Senate that he would rebuke or punish Schaffer, a long-time ally.
Piece raises eyebrows
Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman penned a guest column for the Long Island Herald that has political insiders talking about both its content and the optics of his writing it.
The topic was the budgetary trials and tribulations of his former employer, the City of Long Beach, where Schnirman was city manager for six years before assuming his current post in January.
Much of what Schnirman went over in the piece published last week is uncontested and noncontroversial about the city’s fiscal challenges after council members failed to approve $2 million in bonding for separation pay that the unanimously approved budget relied on to make ends meet.
He wrote it because he thinks the council and residents are engaging in magical thinking and failing to accept that the only way to avoid huge tax increases like the 12 percent hike on the table is via significant cuts in expensive services like police and firefighting. However, Schnirman also addressed the controversy about how termination payments that led to the current cash crunch, including his own, were handled. Schnirman himself got $108,000 of that separation pay when he left to become comptroller. But according to the city code, payouts are limited to 30 percent of unused sick days and 50 unused vacation days, which would have made Schnirman’s payout $55,000.
The city and Schnirman say the calculations conform with a decades-long interpretation of city code, but the dispute has yet to be settled. In his piece, Schnirman promised to repay any money if he was paid improperly.
Schnirman is a vocal proponent of the argument that the county comptroller’s office actually has a role in overseeing the financial practices of other governmental bodies in Nassau. Public lobbying on the city’s spending and taxes, though, is an unusual move for someone in that role, even beyond the wrinkle of his own termination pay.
It’s like a referee telling a coach he ought to pass the ball more and run it less.
- Rep. Peter King tweeted that it’s “disgraceful” that New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson will pay fines for players who kneel during the national anthem, and then elaborated on his thoughts by saying that accusing police of misconduct is “not something that fits within reasonable protest.” King has now proved that he is just one more person who doesn’t understand the First Amendment.
- Tens of thousands of people across France protested this weekend against President Emmanuel Macron’s policies, including tax reform that favors the wealthy and more restrictive immigration laws. Wasn’t Macron supposed to be the anti-Trump?
- A committee of experts in statistics, mathematics and mechanical engineering hired by Major League Baseball to investigate the recent rise in home runs studied factors like exit velocity, launch angles, spray angles and spin in concluding that the baseballs are not juiced. There was no corresponding study of the players.
- President Donald Trump accused The New York Times of using a nonexistent unnamed source in a story about talks with North Korea — but the source was a White House official who spoke to reporters in a briefing arranged by the White House and attended or listened to by some 250 reporters. When the falsehood was reported, Trump immediately took to Twitter to apologize to the Times and to acknowledge the . . . Just kidding.
- Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Ryan Costello says he’s leaving Congress because all he does is answer questions about President Donald Trump. Perhaps he could have asked a few himself.
- New countdown clocks at LIRR stations are reporting expected arrival times incorrectly. What did you expect from the railroad that considers a train five minutes late as on time?
- On Wednesday, President Donald Trump is scheduled to participate in the White House Sports and Fitness Day event. Write your own punchline.