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Curran flyer flap
There’s a bit of a fuss over whether Brian Curran, who comfortably wears the mantle of Mr. Clean, improperly used his privileges as a member of the State Assembly to send out a campaign mailer as part of his re-election effort.
The Republican and former mayor of Lynbrook is seeking his fifth term in Albany. Opposing him in the 21st District, which is heavily Republican, is first-time candidate Judy Griffin, a Rockville Centre Democrat who is director of community outreach for Democrat Sen. Todd Kaminsky.
Should Curran be worried? Perhaps. Democrat Laura Curran got 53 percent of the district's vote last year in her successful bid for Nassau County executive, while Democrat Laura Gillen got 51 percent to win as Hempstead Town supervisor. In 2015, Democrat Madeline Singas got 54 percent and won election as Nassau district attorney. And 2018 is supposed to the year of the woman.
Brian Curran uses one side of the flyer to claim that he’s cleaning up Albany because he sponsored four pieces of legislation that would toughen porous ethics rules, even though none of his bills passed the chamber. But it’s what’s on the other side of the flyer that’s causing controversy.
The headline reads “NEW YORKERS DESERVE BETTER” in bold capitals. Also, it features photos of Eric T. Schneiderman, the disgraced former state attorney general; Anthony Weiner, no description needed; and Sheldon Silver, the former Assembly speaker now twice convicted of federal crimes for abusing his office. All are Democrats, and as some have pointed out to us, all also are Jewish.
There is one stunning exception to his rogues gallery: Dean Skelos, the former GOP State Senate leader, also twice convicted of abusing the power of his office. Skelos’ absence seems particularly noteworthy since Curran’s 21st AD is entirely part of Skelos' former senate district, which Skelos represented until 2015. Curran says he did not use Skelos’ photo because he was in between trials; his 2015 conviction was overturned in 2017. Curran submitted the flyer for approval on June 6, comfortably before the June 29 deadline. Skelos' retrial began on June 19 and he was convicted again on July 17.
“It was never a GOP or Dean thing, I could not put on a picture of a man who was not convicted,” Curran told The Point Thursday. Curran has put out about five similar corruption flyers, none of which had a photo of Skelos, who still has a well of affection in the district.
When told of concerns that all were Jewish, Curran said, “I put on the last three people to have a problem in Albany.” Told that Weiner never served in Albany, Curran responded: “He was convicted.”
Dems’ 2018 right of passage
The campaign event was a little different from the “three B’s.”
Democratic congressional challengers Liuba Grechen Shirley in the 2nd District and Perry Gershon in the 1st District addressed the Bayport Blue Point Indivisible group Wednesday night at the Sayville Congregational Church. Activist groups including this one popped up around the country in response to the 2016 presidential race, and their events allow newly energized locals to grill and sometimes livestream the candidates. It’s a rite of passage for Democratic hopefuls in the Trump era.
In contrast, an incumbent might be likely to focus more on the usual meet-and-greets, such as at Boy Scout events, baseball games, and bagel shops — the “three B’s” that Amityville resident Grechen Shirley said her opponent, Rep. Peter King, tends to frequent during his campaigns.
In response to the insinuation that King’s campaign practices may seem stale, a King spokeswoman said, “Congressman King’s ‘campaign’ is his record of leading the fight against MS-13 and ISIS, supporting the police and veterans, securing [and] protecting 9/11 Health care, and meeting and talking with real people. And never yielding to special interests or the media.”
The questions from the crowd of about 80 in the Sayville church focused largely on local issues, such as protecting the region’s waterways and dealing with the opioid crisis. One audience member asked what the left-leaning candidates could do to reach the “blue dog Democrats in Smithtown.”
Both Grechen Shirley and Gershon focused on progressive priorities like expanded health care while saying they could appeal to moderates who are unhappy with King and Rep. Lee Zeldin.
But the largest and most extended applause of the night came after a questioner in the sweltering church asked whether a Democratic majority in Congress would impeach President Donald Trump, who has been the motivator for many newly engaged voters nationwide.
“We owe it to the United States’ people to let Bob Mueller finish his investigation,” said Gershon, of East Hampton. “Then we’ll decide what to do from there.” Grechen Shirley agreed, which seemed to satisfy the crowd, which cheered loudly once again.
From the archive: No gravy train
After the week the Long Island Rail Road has had with service disruptions and rider agita, you could hardly blame Newsday’s editorial board if it wrote something like this:
“The Long Island Rail Road is having headaches these days. All at once they have had a wreck, a suicide, a guy from the New Yorker magazine working on a Profile about them, and another strike coming up. They have not been running a model railroad, either from the point of view of the public or that of their employes [sic].”
Actually, the board did publish those exact words, typos and all, 72 years ago on this day: Aug. 9, 1946.
The prod for the board’s peeve was a threatened strike by railroad workers, who voted to renege on a labor agreement reached a few months earlier. The board acknowledged the LIRR had lived up to the deal, and wrote that it typically has sympathy for LIRR workers. But in this dispute, the board wrote that the workmen had chosen to “tell the Long Island public to blow it out their stacks.”
The board came down clearly on the side of riders:
“The long-suffering public ought not to be made to suffer further for the error of LIRR’s ways.”
More than seven decades later, the public still suffers and pays for the error of the LIRR’s ways.