There is a lot going on at 344A Hempstead Ave. in Malverne, and not just because it is advertised as the congressional campaign headquarters for village Mayor Keith Corbett. The storefront also has a “Coming Soon” sign for Lost Farmer Brewing Co., as well as a label proclaiming this the “BREWERY ENTRANCE.”
What’s less clearly labeled, though, is what it costs Corbett, who is running in the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District, to occupy the space. His campaign finance filings, including recent ones from July, do not include any disbursement line items or in-kind donations categorized as rent. Further muddying the picture, Corbett has done legal work for Lost Farmer Brewing, according to court records.
The Point reached out to Corbett and his campaign for an explanation about the site and did not receive a response. One of the owners of the brewery, Dom Petralia, said the booze-makers have various spaces along the block, and had a space for Corbett to use: “It was available for him to use for a couple weeks.”
Asked if Corbett was paying rent or if the space was being donated as a campaign contribution, Petralia declined to answer and said he was “not at liberty to discuss those business matters.”
Corbett’s campaign finance filings include $2,000 in monetary contributions from Petralia, but nothing described as an “in-kind” contribution.
Such a contribution occurs when goods or services are “provided to a campaign or other political committee for less than the usual and normal charge,” according to Myles Martin, a public affairs specialist for the Federal Election Commission, speaking generally about FEC rules and not a particular case.
The amount of the contribution would be the difference between the fair market value of the good/service and the amount paid for it, and such contributions are “subject to the same amount limitations and source prohibitions” as monetary contributions, said Martin in an email.
The cap for individual donors to congressional candidates is $2,900 for the primary and the same sum for the general.
The mayor did not provide an explanation for what’s going on here, or whether a contribution might show up in a future filing. But someone seems to think an explanation about the Hempstead Avenue site is in order.
A Newsday photograph of the storefront earlier this week shows the Corbett and brewery signs in the window, as well as a lengthy text disclaimer on the door: “WHILE THE BREWERY IS BEING CONSTRUCTED IN THE BACK, THERE IS NO NEED FOR A VACANCY TO BE WASTED IN THE FRONT,” the missive said. “CORBETT FOR CONGRESS BRINGING PEOPLE INTO OUR COMMUNITY TO HELP MALVERNE BUSINESSES THRIVE!”
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
A poll call going around the 6th State Senate District on Long Island is an early glimpse of what’s to come in the fall as the Democrats seek to hold on to their supermajority.
The call includes an allegation about Republican challenger James Coll “violating people’s civil rights” as an NYPD officer, according to Coll, who retired from the department in 2018 and lives in Seaford.
Coll says he was told about the call by two friends in the Rockville Centre area. He didn’t know the exact wording or who paid for the call, but was upset about the violation allegation and says it is “not something that I take lightly.”
The issue on the table appears to be a civil suit over a 2014 incident in which 45-year-old Ron Singleton died after being taken into police custody following a disagreement with a taxi cabdriver. The complaint accuses officers of falsely arresting him and using excessive force, deploying a restraining device known as a body wrap or body blanket. Coll was one of multiple officers named in the suit, and says Singleton was “attacking police officers” which led to him being restrained.
Singleton’s death occurred days before Eric Garner’s fateful and fatal encounter with officers on Staten Island. The suit was settled in 2016, and the Civilian Complaint Review Board exonerated Coll for a complaint about a nonlethal restraining device on the same date as the incident. Coll’s CCRB record shows no substantiated complaints, something the candidate is quick to note.
Coll says that allegations should “absolutely” be taken seriously, but estimates that he interacted with tens or hundreds of thousands of people over his career.
“I knew my police record was going to be part of the campaign," Coll told The Point, adding that he wanted to make sure that record wasn’t "distorted.”
Asked about the poll, state and Nassau Democratic leader Jay Jacobs said it didn’t come from either party organization. Kevin Thomas, the incumbent Democrat, could not be reached for comment.
Expect to hear more about law enforcement issues if the race heats up. Campaign finance filings posted earlier this month show Thomas far ahead in cash on hand: $327,195 versus $28,497 for Coll. Among Coll’s contributors were the political action committees for Nassau County Correction Officers and the city’s Lieutenants Benevolent Association.
In a potential sign of Thomas’ front-runner status and how Democrat-friendly the district has become, however, Thomas also logged a law enforcement donation, from the Police Benevolent Association of NYS PAC.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
The next attack
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Sharks and syringes
One era’s shark is another era’s … syringe?
While Long Island beachgoers navigate an uneasy coexistence with sharks this summer, longtime sun worshippers might recall the perils of 1988. That’s when debris — including syringes, blood vials, medical and drug paraphernalia, raw sewage and dead rats — began washing up on the shores of Long Island, first noted on July 6. Soon after, detritus turned up on beaches in New York City, the Jersey Shore, and Connecticut.
Newsday’s editorial board weighed in on July 28, in a piece titled “Stolen: Our Beaches. Offer a Reward to Nab Thief.”
“This has been the summer of beachgoers’ discontent,” the board wrote.
And unlike with current shark sightings and occasional bites, the tidal trash kept people away. Concerns ran high that the AIDS and hepatitis viruses could survive for several days in needles and syringes, a panic not quelled by health officials’ statements about the unlikelihood of contracting those diseases at the beach. All this was happening during a heat wave that normally would mean an influx at the region’s beaches.
But Newsday’s board wrote that “the growing anxiety is turning beach towns into ghost towns. Small beachside businesses that ordinarily thrive in summer are in danger of going under.”
By one measure, the Jersey Shore’s $7.7 billion tourism industry took a hit of more than $1 billion that summer. The empty beaches drew national attention.
Theories abounded about culprits. Hospitals, garbage carters, medical clinics, blood laboratories, and junkies were among those fingered.
Newsday’s board demanded action in Albany. “Once the State Legislature reconvenes, it should move to extend jail terms and increase fines for the dumping of illegal medical wastes,” the board wrote. “Lawmakers should also require medical waste, as with toxic waste, to be labeled and tracked every step of the way — to create a paper trail that’s a lot easier for investigators to follow than it is now.”
The board even suggested “substantial rewards” for tips leading to arrests of those “who have been violating the law and stealing our beaches from us this summer.”
In the end, state officials identified five “significant” sources of the contamination: the city’s mammoth Fresh Kills landfill, marine garbage transfer stations, sewer overflows, raw sewage discharges and stormwater outlets.
One silver lining: The crisis forced a grappling with the fact that our waters were polluted in general and in desperate need of a cleanup.
The so-called Syringe Tide had legs in popular culture, including an episode of “The Simpsons” called “The Old Man and the ‘C’ Student” in which one student’s punishment was to pick up medical waste that had washed ashore.
But the reference most noted by Long Islanders no doubt came from a quintessential Long Islander — Billy Joel, whose 1989 hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire” contained the line: “Hypodermics on the shores.”
We’re waiting for a lyric about sharks.