Michael Sapraicone speaks at an event in Melville in 2016.

Michael Sapraicone speaks at an event in Melville in 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Sapraicone put $ where his bipartisanship was

Michael Sapraicone, a former New York City police detective and private security company owner now in the race for the Republican nomination to succeed indicted Rep. George Santos, represents himself as a political moderate.

His long record of substantial contributions to candidates and committees of both major parties during his stewardship of the Squad Security firm in Uniondale does show he’s been unbound by adherence to party. That’s of course a sharp contrast to the first-year Santos, known mainly for deceptions about his biography and finances and extreme rightist positions.

“I have been a business guy in Nassau County and Manhattan for many years,” Sapraicone, 67, told The Point Thursday, saying that experience gives him perspective on political races.

State election filings show that since 2021 the Upper Brookville resident has given $58,000 in contributions to the Nassau County Republican Committee. Such donations may be considered par for the course for candidates on both sides of the aisle; Santos funneled thousands to Nassau GOP committees before winning the 3rd Congressional District seat last year.

Less predictably, Sapraicone has also kicked in many thousands over the years to the Nassau County Democratic Committee, including a $10,000 contribution last October.

Also of note: Sapraicone since 2017 has contributed $39,200 to fundraising committees for former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who was Santos’ predecessor in the seat before forgoing reelection to run for governor last year. Of the contributions from Sapraicone, $27,500 appears to be for the ex-congressman’s statewide committee, “Suozzi for New York,” before he lost the 2022 primary to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Sapraicone also sent at least $7,800 to ex-Rep. Lee Zeldin, for the latter’s gubernatorial bid last year. In different amounts and at different times, Sapraicone contributed to Suffolk Legis. Kara Hahn, a Democrat for Congress, as well as, in the past, former State Sen. Todd Kaminsky for reelection, Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly, her predecessor Madeline Singas, Republican Rep. Pete King, Democrat Laura Curran for county executive in 2017, and Republican Bruce Blakeman for county executive in 2021. He contributed $10,000 to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2019, and several times to now-GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito; Sapraicone’s daughter has previously worked in D’Esposito’s office.

He said that although he sold Squad Security last September, he remains its CEO, and intends to leave that position at the end of the year.

— Dan Janison dan.janison@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Getting the job done

Credit: PoliticalCartoons.com/Dave Granlund

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Reference Point

Remembering the war on polio

The Newsday editorials on polio, and children line up to get...

The Newsday editorials on polio, and children line up to get their polio vaccines at a school in Huntington on April 27, 1954.  Credit: Newsday/Walter del Toro

When we research past Newsday editorials that appeared on a particular day through the years for this weekly item, normally we find nearly as many topics as years. But for Aug. 3, we were surprised to see that Newsday’s board went to the same well three times in an eight-year period from 1949 to 1956 on a topic of vital importance that only crops up occasionally nowadays — polio.

It's hard to overstate the dread that disease caused in Americans at that time. Polio affected children primarily, and could cause paralysis and death. The first major epidemic had hit close to home — in Brooklyn in 1916, and spread so quickly that year that 7,130 people died in the United States alone. The peak year in terms of number of cases came in 1952, when the nation experienced 57,879 cases and 3,145 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Some sources report that as many as 20,000 Americans — most notably, future President Franklin Roosevelt in 1921 — were paralyzed in some years; images of the iron lungs used to treat the most severe cases were chilling.

Some newspapers printed tallies of the victims. Parents warned their children against all sorts of behavior from jumping into puddles to sharing a friend’s ice cream cone, according to the Yale School of Medicine, and regularly checked their kids for symptoms.

Even at the height of the epidemic in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the number of children killed by polio paled in comparison to the number who died in accidents or from cancer. But the fear remained.

In 1949, Newsday’s board wrote a piece called “Polio Precautions” that advised readers that there was “no need to be panicky about the present outbreak of polio, but whenever a baffling illness such as this is on the rise, it is only sensible to take precautions.”

Among the suggestions was to “avoid crowds and new associates.” Other recommended avoidances included over-fatigue and chilling (“Don’t swim in chilled water when overheated.”). The board advised good hygiene — specifically, washing hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom and before eating — keeping food clean, and not swimming in polluted waters, which it defined as Stepping Stone Beach in Kings Point. 

In 1951, the board reported in an editorial called “Polio Season Reminders” that the “polio center” in Nassau County was on the Port Washington peninsula which had 50% of the county’s cases. While writing that “there is no apparent cause for alarm,” the board ran through many of the same cautions it had cited two years earlier including an admonition to “keep children with their own friends and away from people they have not been with right along.”

In 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk announced he had developed a safe and effective vaccine, touching off a countrywide celebration and making him a national hero as America’s first celebrity scientist. The vaccine was quickly effective.

In 1956, Newsday’s editorial board noted in “Polio Record” that more than 96% of Nassau’s boys and girls up to age 20 had received the vaccine, and 70% in Suffolk. Nassau, the board said, had “the highest percentage in any county in the state and possibly in the country as a whole.”

The board also was pleased with the bottom line: “In Nassau,” the board wrote, “only one case of polio has been reported this year.”

— Michael Dobie michael.dobie@newsday.com, Amanda Fiscina-Wells amanda.fiscina-wells@newsday.com

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