The Hempstead Town Hall in Hempstead.

The Hempstead Town Hall in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

New TOH board member has a well-known Nassau name

By moving up to the U.S. House from Nassau County’s 4th Congressional District in January, former NYPD detective Anthony D’Esposito vacated his seat representing the 4th Council District on the Hempstead Town Board.

Now the board has unanimously appointed his Republican successor — Laura Ryder, who has served in recent years as a Village of Lynbrook trustee. As officials noted to The Point on Thursday, she’s the spouse of Mike Ryder, who’s the brother of Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Her father, Peter Ledwith, retired in 2018 as the village attorney.

Don Clavin, the GOP supervisor of Hempstead, said in a statement: “We are proud to welcome Laura Ryder as the newest member of the Hempstead town board. Laura is someone who cares deeply about her community and has worked with local municipalities, chambers of commerce, developers and civic organizations to make our neighborhood a better place.”

Clavin called her “the perfect person for the job.”

In 2020, when Ryder first ran for the Lynbrook board, she told the LI Herald that the village board “has been more service-based for our residents, and I’d like to expand on that and maybe do even more, and I think being on the village board would enable me to do more of that.” About a decade ago, her husband Mike Ryder was superintendent of the Building Department for the Village of Lawrence.

As for Commissioner Patrick Ryder, he was named to his post during the Democratic administration of County Executive Laura Curran but was kept on by GOP County Executive Bruce Blakeman. Last October, Ryder addressed the county Republicans’ $500-per-ticket Thomas S. Gulotta dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club. Ryder was introduced by county chairman Joseph Cairo, where he talked in part about the need for better border enforcement.

There was an awkward moment in September when then-congressional candidate George Santos’ campaign team advertised that Ryder would be a “guest speaker” at a campaign event. The commissioner didn’t attend, however.

Others from the NCPD did participate — something you probably won’t see repeated, at least in a Santos candidacy. D’Esposito is among the most vocal of Long Island Republican politicians demanding Santos’ ouster as a fraud.

There’s always an overlap between the worlds of politicking and policing, whether the name be D’Esposito or Ryder.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

Credit: The Buffalo News/Adam Zyglis

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Reference Point

Double-edged sword of free speech

The Newsday editorial entitled "Cures Can Be Fatal," from March...

The Newsday editorial entitled "Cures Can Be Fatal," from March 16, 1944.

As long as there has been free speech, there have been debates over whether there should be limits on free speech. The battle has been waged in legislatures, courts, and the court of public opinion.

New York State was wrestling with the issue nearly 80 years ago, when Newsday’s editorial board weighed in on a bill before the State Legislature called the Wicks-Steingut Bill. The measure, the board wrote on March 16, 1944, was dedicated to “the abolition of bigotry” and “would decree that ‘whoever publishes any false written or printed material with intent to maliciously promote hatred of any group of persons because of race, color or religion shall be guilty of libel.’”

The board said good reasons to promote such a bill “were blazoned on every Catholic church in New York City in which Communistic slogans were scrawled and damage done and on the facades of Synagogues in Nassau County on which anti-Semitic heresies were written by the children of bigoted parents.”

But in the editorial called “Cures Can Be Fatal,” the board called for the legislation to be rejected no matter how disgusting the provocations.

“We have deplored this sort of thing in this column before and we have no use for the perpetrators of such acts, whatever corner of the theatre of prejudice they may represent,” the board wrote. “We do not believe, however, that such things can be throttled out of existence by bottling up a man’s right to say what he thinks. That was Hitler’s way.”

The bill’s authors had their own histories. Republican State Sen. Arthur Wicks, who served 30 years in the Senate, is better known for the Wicks Law, which requires most government agencies in the state including school districts to hire separate contractors for general construction, plumbing, electrical and HVAC, notoriously driving up the costs of construction. Democratic Assemb. Irwin Steingut, who served nearly 31 years in the Assembly, was a member of a longtime New York City political family. His father, Simon, was a Tammany Hall captain known as “The Mayor of Second Avenue,” and his son Stanley succeeded Irwin, serving another 25 years.

Their bill met with immediate opposition. The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to state lawmakers that called the measure “a quack remedy which will cause more evil than it cures.”

Similar calls for limiting speech have been sounded in the years since, but opponents have objected in much the same way as Newsday’s editorial board did 79 years ago in pointing out that “the sword is two-edged and can only result in a complete abridging of freedom of speech and honest expression of opinion …”

“Let us not cure ourselves so thoroughly by a bright label that our right to speak is given a funeral service.”

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie, Amanda Fiscina-Wells @adfiscina 

Programming Point

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