The original tweet Republican House candidate Anthony D’Esposito posted which contained the live...

The original tweet Republican House candidate Anthony D’Esposito posted which contained the live video footage of the Huntington Station resident being killed this week. Credit: Twitter

Daily Point

D’Esposito tweets raw video of EMS worker being killed that blames Gillen, Dems

Hours after Lt. Alison Russo was savagely stabbed to death Thursday in Queens, her death was used by a Republican House candidate against his opponent. Anthony D’Esposito, who is running for the open CD4 seat, posted a live video of the Huntington Station resident being killed on his Twitter account.

The caption on the tweet read, “The New York orchestrated by @JoeBiden, @SenSchumer, @SpeakerPelosi @LauraAGillen. It’s time for a change. #AmericaFirst #NewYorkFirst.”

The post went up at 10:16 p.m., but 29 minutes later the video was replaced with a link to a New York Post story about the killing, although the text of the tweet remained essentially the same.

“I sent a message asking a couple of staffers to put up a post about the killing,” D’Esposito told The Point in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “Then, after I saw the tweet, I reached out again and asked them to replace the video with a story about the killing.”

But D’Esposito is not apologizing for posting the 60-second video of Russo being stabbed again and again. He said, “The story that’s now posted has still pictures from the video, which will be seen on television and online. I just thought the story we put up has better information.”

And as of 5:30 Friday evening the video was still posted on the @NewYorkGOP Twitter page, with the caption, “This is the New York created by Democrat policies. It’s time to hold the people in charge accountable. As law-abiding citizens, we have the power to take back control of our state. It’s time to use #VoteThemOut."

D’Esposito’s opponent in the race for the seat being vacated by Democrat Kathleen Rice is former Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen. A spokesman for Gillen said in a statement to The Point, “An FDNY EMS Lieutenant was tragically stabbed in Queens yesterday and Anthony D’Esposito’s first thought was to politicize it by posting the brutal murder tape online with unfounded lies and fearmongering to boost his increasingly dimming electoral prospects. Laura’s thoughts are with the grieving family of Lt. Russo during this difficult time.”

The contest between Gillen and D’Esposito, a Hempstead Town councilman, is already heated, with much of D’Esposito’s campaign focused on the contention that Gillen and her fellow Democrats are responsible for a crime wave. Gillen has responded that she always vocally opposed the overhaul of bail laws to which the GOP is anchoring its attacks.

And just hours before D’Esposito’s campaign posted the video of Russo being killed, Gillen posted a series of tweets saying that D’Esposito’s rhetoric against her is now endangering her family. 

Her tweets read, in part, “Anthony D’Esposito’s baseless lies about me have put the safety of my home, and my children, in jeopardy.”

She wrote that his “knowingly false statements have now incentivized his extremist followers to call for people to show up at my house” and thanked law enforcement for cooperation in addressing the issue.

Asked about Gillen’s assertions, D’Esposito said, “I have not said a single thing about Laura Gillen that isn’t true,” and denied inciting followers to publish her address, menace her in any way, or speak about any member of her family.

“I don’t know if any of this is the truth or her just looking for sympathy,” D’Esposito said. "I don’t know what police reports she has actually filed.” 

A spokesman for Gillen’s campaign said the campaign has reached out to Nassau County Police Department officials about threats leveled in direct messages to Gillen and public social media posts.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Next stop: Rail yard? 

The Long Island Rail Road’s announcement this week that it would be adding three express trains in the morning, and three in the evening, between Port Washington and Penn Station, was met with an unusual show of unity in North Hempstead. 

Republican Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena has been at odds with Democratic council members Veronica Lurvey and Mariann Dalimonte for months over seemingly almost every issue that’s come before the town. But Wednesday, they appeared at the same news conference together, applauding the LIRR on the added trains, and promising to work with the LIRR and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the larger, still outstanding issues.

LIRR officials said the more immediate fix was necessary to respond to concerns from residents, and to ready the system for the upcoming opening of Grand Central Madison, expected before the end of this year.

“We want to make sure opening day is as successful as it could possibly be,” Interim LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi told The Point. “And that means having an appropriate level of service to Penn for those who still want to go there.”

But Rinaldi and State Sen. Anna Kaplan have emphasized that the effort in North Hempstead can’t end there. While the LIRR was able to rearrange its schedule to add the three new express trains, the railroad still cannot add as much service as it wishes, because former North Hempstead officials rejected opportunities to expand the Port Washington rail yard. LIRR officials have said that work is still necessary for North Hempstead communities to fully benefit from the LIRR’s Third Track and Grand Central Madison.

“We’re committed to sitting down with the town,” Rinaldi told The Point. “Absent that kind of agreement and project there’s only so much you can do.”

DeSena, Lurvey and Dalimonte all made similar commitments to The Point, saying they wanted to talk to the MTA about next steps and understood the potential importance of the rail yard. None of them, however, fully committed to getting a rail yard built.

“I am more than willing to work with them,” Dalimonte said. “I want to be part of the process.”

Lurvey said as long as an expanded rail yard also expanded train service, “I would be 100% for it.”

DeSena, in a separate interview, noted that while she couldn’t commit to a plan she hadn’t seen yet, she recognized the need for the work.

“We see now what we could be missing out on,” DeSena said. “So, for all of our residents, not only in Port Washington, but for everyone who’s on that train line and uses that train line, we need to sit down and see what needs to be done.”

As to whether the political divisions that seem to seep into much of the town board’s work would impact the LIRR project, DeSena noted that she recognized the importance of moving forward quickly — and together.

“We need to be on the same page,” DeSena said. “We need to be working for our residents.”

That will start soon, Dalimonte said, adding that LIRR officials should expect an email from her, in hopes of setting up a next meeting to continue the conversation, within the next two weeks.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point


Credit: THE BOSTON GLOBE/Patrick Chappatte

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Final Point

Chase for map deals moves past Suffolk 

Suffolk’s bipartisan redistricting commission this week became the first such panel in the region to break through its built-in partisan deadlock and agree on a plan that appears to satisfy representatives of both major parties.

The back story is unique to the county. First, the county’s outgoing Democratic majority late last year tried to force through its own 11th-hour plan. After that effort failed, the commission was appointed with new deadlines. This process may have had a head start: By the time it got underway, there already seemed to be some consensus on creating new “majority-minority” districts — a key demand from the Democratic side. There are four such districts in the new plan, which is expected to be approved after a hearing by the GOP-majority legislature.

On Friday, Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey hailed the deal as a result of letting the charter commission process go forward rather than try to finesse it. That process began with two opposing maps.

McCaffrey told The Point that he was informed that “it came down to: ‘Let’s look at your map and see what we can live with and what we cannot.’ They reached common ground on issues important to them. Incumbents were not put in the same district. They’ve got the four majority-minority districts. They rolled up their sleeves and … decided to make a deal.”

But also, in the background, an important change in the law is at work that took effect in this cycle. For the first time, counties and localities are under explicit mandates — like the state — to avoid gerrymandering or basing districts on incumbencies or excessively running lines through communities and official jurisdictions. Break those rules and a court challenge will surely follow.

The new set of standards came into play this week in a courtroom in Broome County, where a map shaped by and for a GOP-controlled legislature has drawn a challenge. On Friday in Binghamton, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. McBride listened to motions and cross-motions in the case. Plaintiffs including Democrats charge that the new map there violates these tighter state redistricting criteria.

And the apparent success of Suffolk’s bipartisan commission was revealed this week just as State Supreme Court Justice Laurence Love in Manhattan tapped the Independent Redistricting Commission to try to agree on a new state Assembly map by next April, in time for the next state legislative races in 2024.

The flawed process by which the IRC last winter failed to reach agreement — allowing the state Legislature to draw the lines — led the state’s highest court to order a special master to redo the task for the U.S. House and State Senate maps.

Only after that did a challenge to the Albany-drawn Assembly lines materialize — too late for this year’s races.

But these Assembly lines are a less contentious issue. In a body overwhelmingly Democratic for decades, Speaker Carl Heastie didn’t try to oust any Republican incumbents with his proposed map. Some Republicans even voted to approve it.

That’s quite different from, say, the congressional seats — where the party advantages of the state’s lines could be do-or-die in the fierce partisan battle for legislative control in Washington. That difference means the IRC would seem to have a better chance at an agreement on the Assembly map across its party groups than it had in the congressional and Senate maps debacle earlier this year.

Taken together, the simultaneous actions in Suffolk, Binghamton, and New York City show how every redistricting, like every campaign, differs by political circumstance and terrain. And so do the prospects of any cross-party deals.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison


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