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Red scare

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point as we ponder the consequences of that hellish press conference in Helsinki.

A fundraising letter from the campaign of Suffolk

A fundraising letter from the campaign of Suffolk Surrogate Court judge candidate Marian Rose Tinari may have run afoul of county law. Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point as we ponder the consequences of that hellish press conference in Helsinki. Not a subscriber? Click here.

Daily Point

About face

Marian Tinari, wife of the Suffolk Conservative Party leader, may be backing out of deal with Democratic Party chair Rich Schaffer to run for county surrogate judge this fall, The Point has learned. Tinari’s nervousness comes after Republican lawyer Tara Scully filed nominating petitions to challenge Tinari on the Democratic line. Her last-minute challenge would put Schaffer in the awkward position of whipping votes in a Democratic primary for a registered Conservative or risk losing his line to a Republican.

On Monday afternoon, County Executive Steve Bellone escalated the intraparty fight with Schaffer by endorsing Scully. “I want to support someone who has the courage to step up and promise to reform the judicial selection process. Tara Scully is promising to commit to best practices as surrogate and not have the office used as patronage by any political party,” Bellone said.

After determining that the signatures Scully collected from enrolled Democrats are likely to withstand legal scrutiny, Shaffer has tried to rework his deal with the Conservatives, according to Suffolk political sources. It’s possible Shaffer would offer Tinari Democratic Party support for one of the three State Supreme Court judgeships open this year. The deadline for Tinari to decline the Democratic line for surrogate judge is the close of business today but she could fulfill that requirement by mailing in her refusal in a letter postmarked Monday.

Schaffer is under pressure to substitute a registered Democrat instead of the petitions that were circulated by the Democratic organization. He would have until Friday to name a new candidate.

Scully filed petitions to run on the GOP line as well but is likely to avoid a primary in that party because the nominee the party chose, Damon Hagen, a Southold Town attorney, declined the nomination. Suffolk Republican leader John Jay LaValle also would have to decide by Friday whether to substitute Scully or someone else on the line.

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

Unprecedented NYSUT move

The New York State United Teachers has not always stood with the Republican state senator who chaired the Education Committee when the GOP controlled the chamber. But union officials say their endorsement of Jim Gaughran last week over Oyster Bay Sen. Carl Marcellino marks the first time in recent memory the union will actively work against an Education Committee chair in a re-election bid.

NYSUT has endorsed Marcellino in some past races, and stayed neutral in others. The union had the same record of sometimes supporting Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan when he chaired the Education Committee and staying neutral other times.

So what changed that moved NYSUT to the unprecedented position of opposing a sitting Education chair? Three things.

1) Gaughran, whom Marcellino beat by 2,425 votes out of 135,000 cast in 2016, has a real chance to beat Marcellino no matter what happens, and will be the favorite if a “blue wave” of Democrats heads to the polls. That’s not been the consensus wisdom in his recent races.

2) NYSUT believes Republicans could easily lose the State Senate, particularly if Gaughran wins with their help, and Democrats would then take over the Education Committee and the chamber.

3) NYSUT is especially furious that the State Senate did not pass a proposed bill this year that would have permanently decoupled teacher evaluations from student performance on standardized tests, after Republicans made a big show of supporting the bill. Of 63 senators, 51 co-sponosed the decoupling bill both the Assembly and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo supported, including three-quarters of Republicans. But they never acted on it.

Union officials say having Republicans signal support for the teachers and then failing to move the bill was cynical and an obvious ploy to garner support they didn’t earn, from teachers and parents as well as the union.

Perhaps the most interesting question is whether a Democratic takeover of the State Senate would really help NYSUT, and the Long Island teachers and schools in the 5th Senate District in particular. The chairmanship could easily end up with one of the New York City Democrats who may dominate if their party gets the majority, like ranking Democrat Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., of Ozone Park, Queens. And that might be a lot more to the liking of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers than NYSUT statewide, when it comes to divvying up state aid to schools.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Her emails!

More Trump cartoons

Quick Points

Of course they did

  • After Suffolk County’s Department of Health reported that the Sandland sand mining/mulching/composting facility in Noyack was responsible for elevated levels of contaminants like magnesium and iron in groundwater, the company said its own experts found no link between the facility and the pollution. Of course they did.
  • What were the odds that the Islip Town Republican Party’s vice chairman would be selected by the newly constituted Republican-appointed board of the Islip Town Community Development Agency from a pool of 100 applicants to become the $120,000-a-year executive director of the agency? About 100 percent.
  • Algeria’s government has resumed its policy of expelling migrants into the Sahara Desert, where many die. Now there’s a government that makes our migrant policy look good by comparison.
  • British investigators believe the same Russian military intelligence service accused of disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election carried out the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. A show of hands, please, of anyone surprised by that.
  • President Donald Trump was angry at Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year for releasing a campaign video on Russia’s nuclear weapons that seemed to show missiles attacking Florida, where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located, with Trump telling aides he understood Putin was running for re-election but that was “over the line.” So that was over the line but actually interfering in our own election wasn’t?
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is holding summer office hours at a beach. All across America, politicians smacked their heads in frustration and asked why they hadn’t thought of that.
  • To the list of unexplained phenomena add this: There now is only one remaining Blockbuster store in the country, in Bend, Oregon. But there are still two Howard Johnson’s restaurants.

Michael Dobie

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