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Opinion

To everything there is a season

Happy Friday from The Point!

Congressman Tom Suozzi, right, speaks beside Congressman Peter

Congressman Tom Suozzi, right, speaks beside Congressman Peter King during an executive breakfast event hosted by the Long Island Association in Melville Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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Daily Point

A brief quiz (it’s not that hard)

1. What county board of elections is considered the worst in New York State for timely reporting of results?

2. Where is the next likely stop on the public payroll for ousted Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino when he leaves office at year’s end?

Congrats, you guessed it — the biggest honeypot of all, the Nassau County Board of Elections, where both parties have equal budgets to watch over the other, is being talked about as the spot for Santino. The agency pays well, and Santino, who earned $160,000 in 2016, has the right resume. He was a top party leader before becoming supervisor two years ago.

Right now, the GOP commissioner is Louis Savinetti, an Oyster Bay operative, whose 2016 salary was $177,987. His GOP deputy is Carol Busketta, who took home $164,367. Public records show Busketta first took a job at the board of elections in 1974; Savinetti started in 1980. One of them is considered likely to retire in the near future.

Busketta, in a 1993 New York Times story, defended Nassau’s late reporting of results because of its meticulous approach to gathering returns on election night. Santino can continue the tradition.

But if he gets a BOE spot, it won’t be without some controversy in the party. An email being circulated by an angry Hempstead town leader blames Santino for the devastating defeat and says “no soft landing” for Santino until others get jobs. Town and county workers fearful of being let go are beseeching GOP elected officials and party leaders to find them new work. But there are few other landings, never mind soft ones. The Democratic victors promise to keep good workers who perform essential services regardless of party affiliation, but there will still be hundreds of people looking for jobs.

Hempstead was the mother lode of patronage. Republicans still control the Nassau County Legislature, but that’s just a handful of spots and most are already filled. The GOP still controls the Town of Oyster Bay, but that’s not really the same tribe and the town is deeply in the red.

OK, one last question: When will the Nassau County Board of Elections discover the internet and those newfangled things called laptop computers?

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

A tale of two tax reform reactions

The future of Long Island’s treasured tax deductions is a tale of two Republican congressmen, Peter King and Lee Zeldin. Both are blue at the way their red-state dominated party is treating their districts, but age and experience have King truly cynical about the chances of negotiating broad deductions for state and local income and property taxes into the code. Zeldin seems to be staying more upbeat, or at least trying.

At the Long Island Association’s breakfast in Melville on Friday, King, appearing with Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, was asked about the process for slipping the full deductions back into the tax bills moving in Washington. The bill passed by the House on Thursday has a $10,000 cap on the property-tax deduction and no deduction for state and local income taxes. The Senate bill that might be voted on next week has no deduction for either.

“I’m not that optimistic,” King said. “The Senate will probably pass its bill, if they have the votes, which maybe they don’t . . . but it eliminates all the deductions. Then the conference committee to reconcile the two bills would tend to split the difference.”

At best, that likely would mean a $5,000 cap on the property-tax deduction and no state and local income tax deduction.

But Zeldin, who met with House Speaker Paul Ryan Wednesday, holds out more hope. He told The Point his “good, long” conversation with Ryan included many angles on how to improve the tax bill for Long Island and the state. He believes there are opportunities ahead to reverse the looming disaster.

The two also differ on what happens to blue-state Republicans if a bill ending these deductions passes.

King predicted the “ultimate self-inflicted wound” at the ballot box next year. Zeldin has said he does not believe voters will blame him for their tax bills increasing if they know he fought hard against his party on the issue.

One of them is right.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Sneak peek

Matt Davies has dubbed the upcoming follow-up to the “summer of hell” as the LIRR’s “winter of wretchedness” in his cartoon appearing in Sunday’s Newsday. What would you call it? Send your ideas to thepoint@newsday.com.

More Matt Davies cartoons

Returning Point

Welcome back

Vacation’s over for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is scheduled to return Friday from a weeklong family trip to Connecticut after his re-election.

As he settles back in for the long four years ahead, de Blasio has several challenges to face right away:

  • A city Department of Investigation report alleges that the New York City Housing Authority skipped lead inspections but certified compliance to the federal government. That has prompted calls for chair Shola Olatoye, his appointee, to be fired.
  • A controversial police reform bill is being negotiated in the City Council toward end-of-year passage. The measure would put certain restrictions on police stops of civilians, and neither advocates nor cops are happy.
  • The parade may be over but the mayor still has to deal with the Christopher Columbus statue mess. Friday morning was the first public meeting of de Blasio’s much-anticipated “monuments” commission. The meeting was a continuation of the Sturm und Drang on the road to guidelines for dealing with controversial statues. Hearings continue next week.
  • While he was enjoying the quiet of Connecticut, the mayor’s office took the first plunge toward closing Rikers Island, with a request for proposals from consultants to look at space for jails. It’s the first step in a process sure to be phenomenally difficult on the land-use side alone. And now there’s one fewer vote in support of the idea on the City Council, with the win of registered-Democrat Bob Holden, who won as a Republican and ran against closing Rikers.

Welcome home!

Mark Chiusano

Columns