Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Newsday’s "Pathway to Power" detailed the rise of Gary Melius, who turned Oheka Castle into a political clubhouse. Add your voice to the concerns about Long Island’s transactional political culture.
Did someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe.
The madness of March
- The difference between this month and all such months past: We won’t know whether a story with the headline “March Madness” is about college basketball or the White House.
- Now that President Donald Trump has proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and many U.S. businesses and political allies are pushing back, one thing is clear: When Trump said he was putting America first, he never said which America.
- President Donald Trump, who has said he wants to spur the “biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history,” is blocking the Gateway project to replace decaying railway tunnels. Which means that Trump could now be on track for the biggest and boldest infrastructure collapse in American history.
- Scientists say the holy grail of flu shots is a universal vaccine given once or twice in a person’s lifetime. Here’s another holy grail: convincing anti-vaxxers to get the vaccine.
- Speaking to GOP donors at Mar-a-Lago, Rudy Giuliani said he’d also been at the resort for President Donald Trump’s wedding and that Hillary Clinton was in attendance, adding that, “She actually fit through the door.” Which is more than you can about Giuliani’s ego.
- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said a question from Fox News host Chris Wallace about White House infighting was “a cheap shot.” No, Peter, cheap shots are what White House staffers lob at each other.
- After Xi Jinping moved to change China’s constitution to let him be president for life, President Donald Trump joked that, “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” Wait a second. Given his professed admiration for authoritarian strongmen like Xi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, are we sure that was a joke?
- After a long and “Fantastick” life, Harvey Schmidt has died. Next time you sing in the shower, try to remember.
You can tell by the score
Whenever the New York League of Conservation Voters releases its environmental score card for members of Congress, you know the big-picture story without even looking at the details.
Democrats score way better than Republicans.
That was true, again, in the score card just released for 2017. But there was a silver lining for local conservationists: New York’s Republicans scored significantly better than their colleagues around the country.
Democrats averaged 93 percent in the Senate and 94 percent in the House, compared with the GOP’s 1 percent in the Senate and 5 percent in the House. But New York’s Republican House members scored four times higher than the party as a whole at 20 percent, behind only New Jersey. The state’s Democrats averaged 98. New York’s senators are Democrats — Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who both scored 100.
The ratings were based on 35 votes on environmental issues taken in the House and 19, including some Cabinet and sub-Cabinet appointments, in the Senate.
The ratings for Long Island’s House delegation: Kathleen Rice, 100; Tom Suozzi, 97; Gregory Meeks, 89; Peter King 11; and Lee Zeldin, 9. You can figure out their parties by their scores.
What’s behind this endorsement
Liuba Grechen Shirley’s failure to secure the Working Families Party endorsement in her fight to unseat GOP incumbent Rep. Peter King has many subplots.
Those who see the world through the prism of Suffolk Democratic leader Rich Schaffer and his feud with County Executive Steve Bellone see the clever hand of the party boss in this serious blow to Grechen Shirley’s efforts. Her persistent personal attacks on Schaffer have made her popular with Bellone’s base.
Schaffer isn’t crazy about DuWayne Gregory taking a second run at the Republican King, but he supports the legislature’s presiding officer as the Democrats’ standard-bearer.
And don’t underestimate the animus from the WFP, with its more-establishment progressives, toward the Long Island Activists, a group knit together from the supporters of Bernie Sanders in 2016. In some dealings, Grechen Shirley has alienated two key segments of the left’s base, the LGBT community and the powerful 1199 S.E.I.U. union.
Some at Friday’s WFP nominating meeting made a strong case for Gregory as a person of color. And the WFP, which has worked closely on issues with Gregory as a county legislator, wasn’t about to abandon him on a whim for someone who is new to the cause.
There’s no doubt that Grechen Shirley has raised more money than Gregory, but she hasn’t made a lot of friends. She still could win the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District race, but her chances of unseating King look a lot less promising.
Rita Ciolli and Mark Chiusano