A visit with Schumer
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who famously visits every county in the state every year, is known for his abundant news conferences about local issues, which have endured despite his ascension to the role of majority leader.
Unsurprisingly, he was fresh off an event about Nassau salt marshes when he stopped by the Newsday office Monday for an endorsement interview with the editorial board. The Brooklyn Democrat brought a 20-page packet titled “Long Island Accomplishments,” and a spiel about villages and towns to which he brought federal funding.
The long-serving New York politician counted the newly high number of Haitian elected officials now serving in the State Legislature and New York City Council. Citing Abraham Lincoln’s proclivity for telling stories, Schumer told several of his own, including that of his great-grandfather, a prominent rabbi in Western Ukraine who believed devoutly in the Bible, including the directive, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
“He had 18 children,” Schumer deadpanned. “With one wife.”
When interrupted by the old-fashioned chirp of his own flip phone, the senator picked up and said, “It’s my wife.” He told that apparent caller — Iris Weinshall, currently the chief operating officer of the New York Public Library — that he’d call her back, and proceeded to note, not for the first time, that his caucus is well-versed with his number and vice versa. Exhibit A: He could and did recite Joe Manchin’s number, with the last digits of the West Virginia senator’s number replaced by “blank blank blank blank.”
But there were some new additions to the Schumer show, including protection by more law enforcement professionals, who traveled with him. As majority leader, he gets the protection of a U.S. Capitol Police detail.
“I get threats,” he said, including antisemitism from both the “hard left” and “hard right,” and he said a visit from the federal law enforcement agents usually ends the threats.
Schumer, who is running against Yonkers native and conservative commentator Joe Pinion, declined to make firm predictions about the midterm election’s outcome but betrayed some optimism about Democrats retaining the chamber after a spurt of legislation on guns, infrastructure spending, the domestic production of computer chips, and more.
“Right now I am really worried about democracy,” Schumer said, “but one of the best things we can do is show people that it works for them.”
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
A controversial election … but in October
Here we go again.
Smithtown library district residents go to the polls Oct. 11 to vote on a budget and to elect three trustees. The trustee battle, which includes a meet-the-candidates night scheduled for Monday evening, already has become divisive and controversial, with slates of candidates developing mostly around where they stand on cultural issues like diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.
A year ago, the Smithtown election garnered the attention of the far-right Long Island Loud Majority, resulting in a turnout three times higher than usual, and a sweep for the LILM-supported candidates.
Sources tell The Point this year’s election became a more significant battleground after the library board in June voted to remove Pride-related books from displays in the children’s section. Just days later, however, the board reversed itself in response to a wide-ranging public uproar.
Now, 15 candidates are running for three slots.
Two — Joseph Gregurich and Anita Dowd-Neufeld — are incumbents.
Three — Charles Fisher, JoAnn Lynch and Michael Gannon — have been endorsed by the Smithtown Republican Committee, the Smithtown Conservative Committee, and social media groups like “Save Smithtown Schools,” which has noted its support for the June removal of what it called “sexually age inappropriate books on display in the CHILDRENS sections of all Smithtown Library Branches.” Fisher, a Republican committeeman, ran for Smithtown school board this year with support from the Long Island Loud Majority — and lost. Lynch spoke at the August library board meeting, and, according to video posted online, said the Kings Park library had promoted books on gender identity in the children’s section that contained “pornographic and sexual content.”
A group of residents who support DEI and opposed the removal of the Pride-related books are endorsing three other candidates — Annette Galarza, Howard Knispel and Mildred Bernstein. A Facebook page called “Smithtown Library Project” has noted that the three candidates do not have the backing of a political party, “represent the interests of everyone in the community and not just those with extremist right wing agendas,” and “believe that libraries should welcome everyone.”
None of last year’s Loud Majority candidates is on the ballot this year. Marie Gergenti, who was up for reelection and voted twice to remove the Pride display, chose not to run again, creating one of the three open seats. Marilyn Lo Presti, whose term wasn’t up yet and who first voted to remove the Pride display, but abstained during the second vote, resigned last month, leaving her seat open, but at a time too late to fill during next week’s election. Theresa Grisafi, who also voted twice to remove the Pride display, will remain on the board.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Check his intentions
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- One day after Vladimir Putin illegally declared areas of eastern Ukraine part of Russia, Ukrainian troops recaptured the strategic city of Lyman in that region. You don’t have to be a literary critic to see the poetry in that rebuke to Putin.
- County after county issued evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian approached Florida, but officials in Lee County held off. Guess which county experienced by far the most fatalities in the state? Lee County might need a refresher course on Emergency Storm Management 101.
- The Supreme Court returns to the bench Monday for its new term, when it is expected to make all the right moves.
- Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said a prisoner swap of seven Americans detained in Venezuela for two Venezuelans convicted on U.S. drug charges puts Americans worldwide “in danger” of being held hostage, while also saying he wanted the Americans released “as much as anybody.” If he really felt that way, perhaps he could have offered a way to accomplish that.
- Far more Long Islanders died of COVID-19 this past summer than in the summers of 2021 and 2020. So when folks here say they’re done with COVID, they need to understand that COVID isn’t done with them.
Former President Donald Trump said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a “death wish” after voting for legislation to keep the government running until December, and then over the weekend tweeted a racist remark about McConnell’s wife who loyally served in Trump’s cabinet. McConnell might indeed have a death wish, but that’s not it.
He played left field alongside Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, became a trailblazing minor league manager, and later worked for Hempstead Town’s Department of Recreation. RIP, Hector Lopez.
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie