On policing, Calone distances himself from WFP backers
In his video campaign ads for Suffolk County executive, Dave Calone is highlighting his past as a federal prosecutor and his tough-on-crime attitude as much as his experience as a successful businessman. What the Democrat is not touting is his endorsement by New York’s Working Families Party. In recent elections with notable success, the GOP has hammered suburban Democrats by pointing to calls by the WFP to defund the police, end cash bail, and other public safety measures that don’t involve police and going to jail.
Plenty of other Long Island Democrats also have accepted the WFP endorsement, giving them an additional line on the ballot. But Calone’s WFP endorsement is significant because he would be leading one of the nation’s largest police departments, with more than 2,000 sworn officers, one that has been wracked by controversy in recent years.
Calone’s camp says he isn’t shying away from his overall WFP backing, just not echoing the same message when it comes to the police and crime measures. Campaign manager Shane Wolfe says it is “one issue where Dave and the Working Families Party disagree.”
Calone’s video ads on cable television and the internet portray him as a crimebuster who would bring his prosecutorial chops to the Hauppauge executive suite.
“No wonder there’s too much crime and not enough good-paying jobs,” says one Calone ad, which says he “helped prosecute an Al-Qaeda terrorist and put criminals behind bars.” In it, Calone looks directly at the camera and says, “I’ve even called out my own party when they haven’t kept us safe.”
But his Republican critics say Calone is being hypocritical.
Calone’s Republican opponent, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, has the endorsement of the Suffolk police unions and is planning to make crime a big issue. One of Romaine’s video ads already attacks Calone for his position on public safety, said Romaine campaign manager Brendan Sweeney.
Suffolk GOP chair Jesse Garcia, who is overseeing Romaine’s campaign strategy, points to the WFP endorsement questionnaire as a sign of their “radical” positions. One question on it asks: Will you advocate for eliminating cash bail and instituting supportive pretrial systems and services in your community — so that fewer legally innocent people are forced to suffer pretrial incarceration?
Shoshana Hershkowitz, Suffolk co-chair of the WFP, said her party, with about 4,000 registered voters in the county, doesn’t insist on total fidelity to their positions in giving out endorsements. Rather than adding more cops, she said WFP stresses crime prevention, shifting more resources toward improved drug treatment and poverty-fighting programs.
“Calone understands that [WFP’s position] better than the extremist right-wing campaign of Ed Romaine,” Hershkowitz told The Point.
Overall, there are 10 WFP-endorsed candidates running this fall in Nassau, including five for county legislative seats and Hempstead Town supervisor, according to the state WFP website. In Suffolk, there are more than 30 WFP-endorsed candidates, including 10 running for county legislature as well as Calone.
Crime, along with the migrant crisis and affordability, is likely to be one of the top issues in this fall’s local elections. In January, police reported that major crimes last year increased 41% in Nassau and 15% in Suffolk compared with 2021, due mainly to a rise in property crimes, like grand larceny, burglary and vehicle theft. However, police in both counties said violent crime was trending down.
— Thomas Maier firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the top
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Campaigning — and mansplaining — in Long Beach
Politics and governance clashed once again during Tuesday night’s contentious Long Beach City Council meeting.
This time, members of the council attempted to pass a three-year contract for Ron Walsh as police commissioner. Walsh, who has been in the commissioner job without a contract since 2021, also serves as Long Beach’s acting city manager, a job he has held since former city manager Donna Gayden left in January.
Council members said they decided to start offering employees contracts earlier this year — but had waited to give one to Walsh until their police union contract was settled. Both contracts were on Tuesday night’s agenda.
The police union contract passed, unanimously.
The Walsh contract, which would have offered the commissioner $220,000 a year for three years, was the only agenda item Tuesday to fail as two council members — Elizabeth Treston and Tina Posterli — voted against it. With fellow member Karen McInnis absent, the vote was evenly split, causing the measure to fail.
Treston and Posterli, both Democrats, are the only two incumbents running for reelection this year.
The contract’s timing became the biggest issue during the public discussion before Tuesday’s vote when residents — including several other candidates for city council — decried the effort to approve a contract so close to Election Day.
The contract included a provision that allowed Walsh to be terminated but would require the city to give him four months of pay — or about $73,332. What’s more, as several residents pointed out, the only person who could terminate Walsh is … the city manager — the job currently also held by Walsh.
Also complicating the arrangement: Walsh is a former Nassau County cop, who was granted a two-year employment waiver when he became Long Beach’s police commissioner so he could keep his county pension while taking another public sector job. The proposed contract indicated that the city would apply for a new waiver for Walsh to cover the next three years.
Republican council candidates Brendan Finn and Mike Reinhart, and Democratic newcomer candidate James Hodge all criticized the proposal during the public speaking portion of the debate.
“How does this benefit the city — doing this now so close to the election,” asked Reinhart. “Let the residents pick who they want and let those people decide without handcuffing future administrations and the will of the residents.”
Council member Roy Lester, who is not up for reelection this year, battled back, arguing that the timing should have nothing to do with approving the contract. Lester said Walsh was “promised” that when the police union deal was completed, Walsh, too, would get a deal of his own.
“When you make a promise to an employee, you have to fulfill it — election or not,” Lester said. “That’s called integrity.”
Also expressing her opposition to the timing of the vote: Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford, who is not running for reelection this year.
As Ford spoke, Council President John Bendo, who would vote in favor of the Walsh contract, cut her off, telling her that her three-minute time limit had expired. As she continued to attempt to finish her comments, Bendo cut her off again.
Snapped Ford: “Thank you for mansplaining to me what three minutes is.”
— Randi F. Marshall email@example.com