Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Did someone forward you this newsletter? Click here to subscribe.
Crash course in competitive district
It was a wild Brooklyn story: an altercation between a biker and a car, but the car’s passenger happened to be State Sen. Martin Golden. Throughout the extended encounter last week, Golden impersonated a police officer, and his car ran red lights and veered into oncoming traffic, according to the biker.
Golden has denied impersonating a police officer, but the incident has provided two Democratic challengers with their best opportunity yet to bash the longtime senator. And it has dredged up various bad stories for the former cop and sole-Republican senator in Brooklyn, including a history of unpaid vehicular violations and a 2005 car accident in which he hit a 74-year-old woman who later died.
Some Democrats have been expecting Golden to retire relatively soon, but the current cycle is shaping up to be competitive. Democrats have a solid registration advantage in the district, and a potential wave election in 2018 in reaction to President Donald Trump could make their fight easier.
“I believe those districts where they’ve had a historically popular Republican are more in play than ever, because people are willing to vote down ballot,” Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chairman Michael Gianaris told The Point.
The controversy has had one clear effect already, as Golden trips into campaign season: His fines for car violations were paid last week, according to a spokesman.
State Dems priority
Three New York State Senate Democrats will speak about whether to end pretrial detention and cash bail at a Ford Foundation event Tuesday evening.
The presentation by Sens. Michael Gianaris, Marisol Alcantara and Jesse Hamilton previews a plan to push a package of criminal justice reforms for the upcoming legislative session: eliminating bail, limiting the use of solitary confinement and creating an innocence commission.
The push to get rid of bail mirrors efforts among Democrats nationally. The New Jersey Legislature passed reforms last spring that nearly eliminated cash bail, and the cause is also moving forward in California.
Gianaris, the deputy Democratic conference leader, said he became interested in the issue after the death of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. He had been falsely accused of stealing a backpack. After his release, he struggled with depression and eventually committed suicide in 2015.
Even then, the system didn’t change, Gianaris said, citing the case of Pedro Hernandez, which was dismissed in September after he spent 13 months in Rikers. His family couldn’t afford to post bail after the Bronx teen was arrested in an assault case.
It sets up a rich-poor divide that’s weak on justice, Gianaris argues.
“Two people could be arrested for the same exact crime, and one will be out on the street and the other will be in Rikers,” he told The Point. “There’s no fairness in that.”
Rock and a hard place
- President Donald Trump says the Republican tax bill is going to make the country “rock.” He left out the part about “a hard place.”
- So the Town of Oyster Bay has shut its Twitter and Instagram accounts and its Facebook page, and will communicate on social media only through Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s accounts. Doesn’t that seem just a tad, you know, kingly?
- The Centers for Disease Control reportedly has been advised by its budget overlords at Health and Human Services not to use seven words or phrases including “science-based,” “transgender” and “diversity” to improve its chances to get funding in the next federal budget. Time to channel George Carlin.
- Some Democrats are pleased that abortion rights supporter Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race because they say it shows abortion won’t necessarily be a defining issue among conservatives in 2018 races. As long as the opponent is accused of preying on young girls.
- President Donald Trump has told aides he plans to spend much of 2018 campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates. Because that worked out so well in 2017.
- Deficit hawk Sen. Bob Corker said he’ll vote for the GOP tax plan, despite projections that it will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, because he’s willing to make a bet on the country’s enterprising spirit. Yup, #Corkerkickback is now trending on Twitter.