Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
As Suffolk turns — one year later
This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of quite a dramatic day in Suffolk County government. That’s when County Executive Steve Bellone went to the steps of the district attorney’s office in Hauppauge to demand that Thomas Spota step down, claiming Suffolk’s top prosecutor used his office to protect friends and punish enemies. Bellone then walked in and left a letter at the front desk.
An hour later, Spota held a news conference and said that Bellone has a vendetta against the 16-year incumbent. The prosecutor also said that Bellone asked him not to prosecute Babylon Democratic chairman Robert Stricoff. Spota referred that investigation to the State Board of Elections, which has not yet taken any public action.
Spota, 75, certainly did not resign but almost no one thinks he will seek re-election this year, although he hasn’t officially notified the party.
But who will get the Democratic nomination? And will there be a primary?
We should know soon in this proxy war between Bellone and county chairman Rich Schaffer. Suffolk Democrats have their county nominating convention on May 22. Investor David Calone, who lost a primary for the 1st Congressional District race last spring, could be Schaffer’s pick, while Police Commissioner Tim Sini, who was hand-picked by Bellone for that job, is also considering a run.
Puzzle us this
Here’s a short quiz to start your week: The big news today is NGELAMLS.
What is it?
a) A newly diagnosed tropical disease that has alarmed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
b) A pharmaceutical breakthrough for melting body fat. Ask your doctor about NGELAMLS!
c) An obscure tribe living on the Ilha de Queimada Grande off the coast of Brazil.
d) A new name for the Common Core learning standards in New York.
The correct response is d. That tangle of letters stands for the Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards. State education officials have rechecked the standards, as well as the tests they first rolled out in the 2012-13 school year, this time with buy-in from teachers.
For all the controversy, the changes are small. But the messaging is big. By rebranding, the Education Department hopes to start fresh and reduce opt-outs from the tests.
Long Island, the national opt-out epicenter, had nearly 54 percent of eligible students sit out math exams last week. Will NGELAMLS change that?
- Amtrak has more or less admitted there will be a delay in divulging its plans for track work at Penn Station. Which will be nothing compared with the delays for commuters once the work begins.
- A world that learned from Donald Trump’s victory last fall that anything is possible relearned that lesson in Sunday’s election in France: Sometimes the beneficiary of a vast Russian email hack loses.
- Republican Hempstead Town Board member Erin King Sweeney is insisting on government transparency and wants to read contracts before voting on them. No wonder she’s at odds with the party hierarchy.
- A state agency has determined that Rikers Island is too dangerous for inmates from outside New York City. The inmates came to that conclusion years ago.
- Thousands of Russians demonstrated in Moscow last weekend, chanting, “Russia without Putin!” Either they were genuine protesters or extras in “Death Wish VI.”
- House Speaker Paul Ryan said the recently passed House health care bill is a “rescue mission.” Never knew Ryan cared about Democratic candidates.
- GOP Sen. Susan Collins says the Senate is going to write a whole new health care bill, and that her goal is to expand coverage to the 28 million Americans who still lack coverage. You radical, you.