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Hempstead GOP haunts
The Republican-controlled Hempstead Town Board is stepping up its efforts to strip authority from Supervisor Laura Gillen; the official release of the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting will be filled chapter and verse with the antics.
However, while there is a Democrat in the supervisor’s seat for the first time in a century, there is one item on the agenda that serves to remind everyone that Hempstead Republicans will never fade away. A proposed resolution seeks to name the football field, basketball court, T-ball field and all other areas adjoining MacLaren Stadium for former GOP county leader Joseph Mondello, who also served as the town’s supervisor. If approved by the board, the site would be known as the The Ambassador Joseph N. Mondello Athletic Complex. It’s unclear whether the MacLaren name would disappear totally or be relegated to the name of a specific site within the Mondello complex.
While information is sketchy on Ernest Hamilton MacLaren, his story appears to mirror the classic tale of the post-World War II development of Levittown. Born in New York City in 1911 and married there in 1940 to Elvira Izzarone (later known as Vera MacLaren), he was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in the Navy in WWII, when he served as a pharmacist. MacLaren died in 1960, and 1963 is the first year a Newsday story mentions a sports event at a MacLaren field. In 1967, Newsday ran a photo of the dedication of a momument to MacLaren and his wife by the Levittown Lions Club. Its says MacLaren was a former president of the club and a Boy Scout leader.
The reason cited in the proposed town board resolution to overshadow MacLaren: Mondello’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. A fitting tribute to the party machine leader for achieving the highest form of patronage in America.
Death penalty politics in NY
Pope Francis’ declaration against the death penalty on Friday has special meaning in New York, whose history of death penalty statutes dates to the Colonial period and where numerous political fights have raged over capital punishment.
One of the most bitter involved Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who vetoed attempts at reinstating the death penalty 12 times. It was a firm political stance at a time when many clamored for the death penalty, with crime hitting record highs in New York City and high-profile cop killings. The issue became a defining difference between the elder Cuomo and George Pataki, who defeated Cuomo in his bid for a fourth term in 1994.
Pataki wasted little time reinstating the death penalty in 1995, but history wasn’t on his side. The death penalty was invalidated by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2004, and Gov. David A. Paterson used an executive order in 2008 to remove execution equipment from state facilities.
National sentiment on capital punishment has wavered. Pew Research Center polls find support for the death penalty steadily trending downward over several years, with a slight shift upward since 2016. A 2018 survey found that 54 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39 percent oppose it -- far less support than in the 1990s, when Mario Cuomo was governor.
In a quick response to Francis’ declaration, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released a statement honoring his father’s principled stand and affirming his opposition to capital punishment. He promised to advance legislation to remove the death penalty from state law, which legal experts suggested was a reference to places such as Article 60.06 in the penal law, where the invalid law is still on the books.
The two Cuomos were always aligned in this mission, though it’s currently a much more popular crusade.
Delays delays go away
Apparently, August is the cruelest month for the Nassau Hub.
In the latest delay, Nassau officials have extended the deadline for the county’s request for expressions of interest to build at the Hub — again.
Submissions, which were originally due July 20, and then deadlined Aug. 2, are now due Aug. 17.
A Nassau County source told The Point that once again, respondents needed more time to complete their submissions, adding that the delay “is not at all due to a lack of response.”
Perhaps developers are on summer vacations.
The delay marks yet another small step back for the Nassau Hub, and comes three years after the New York Islanders officially left the Coliseum and the arena temporarily closed its doors in August 2015, and seven years after Nassau taxpayers voted in August 2011 against building a new Coliseum with taxpayer funds.
But perhaps this August won’t be another harbinger of a still-vacant Hub.
Randi F. Marshall