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Real Divorces of Long Island
The glamorous wedding of Alfonse D’Amato to Katuria Smith at Oheka Castle in 2004 has devolved into a bitter divorce and struggle for custody of their two young children. In a prenuptials interview with Newsday at the time, the happy couple refused to say whether there was prenuptial agreement, but they did say they had no plans to raise a family.
On Tuesday, the former U.S. Senator won the right to keep the case in Nassau County State Supreme Court, successfully beating back his wife’s efforts to have it heard in Manhattan because D’Amato has too much sway with Long Island judges.
Smith, who was a high-power attorney before she married D’Amato, carried into court a clip of a Newsday editorial, “A Disturbing Expose of Patronage Politics,” as evidence that his political influence reached into the bench. The 2015 editorial lamented the cronyism among D’Amato, Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle, and Steven Schlesinger, who until his travails over his influence in Nassau County Surrogate’s Court tightly controlled who got the nominations and endorsements for judgeships in the county.
As soon as Judge Matthew Cooper dismissed Katuria Smith D’Amato’s motion, Schlesinger burst from the spectator section into the well of the courtroom to give his Oheka poker buddy a big bear hug. As the judge went ballistic about the lack of decorum, Smith’s attorney, Joseph De Simone, grabbed the editorial from his client, telling the judge that this was exactly the outsized arrogance and influence he warned the court about.
According to a story about the proceedings on the New York Post website, Cooper then said, “This gentleman, uninvited by the court, walks in as if he owns this court and goes into the well, up to the counsel table, and starts hugging the senator.” Schlesinger apologized.
Smith may have lost this round, but she made her case about that certain Nassau County “own this court” swagger.
The Oil Slick Award goes to ...
There was lots of good news for Long Island state lawmakers in the environmental score card released Wednesday by the highly respected Environmental Advocates group.
Seven legislators scored 100 — Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), and Assemb. Anthony D’Urso (D-Great Neck), Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wyandanch), Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) and Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) — as determined by their votes on 24 bills.
The group also praised three Republicans — Assemb. Anthony Palumbo (Riverhead), Andrew Raia (Northport) and Chad Lupinacci (Huntington Station) — for “breaking with party leaders and putting their constituents’ call for action above party dogma” on the topic of climate change.
But the group’s notorious Oil Slick Award went to Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville), who posted the second-lowest score in the Senate — a 59. Croci has been a strong proponent of more sewers in his district but the score card dinged him for, among other things, supporting legislation to block Suffolk County’s attempt to reduce plastic bag waste and being the only senator to vote against a bill setting safety standards for oil tankers in the Hudson River, what EA termed “standing up for Big Oil.”
About last night
Maybe the only facts you need to know about the first general election NYC mayoral debate Tuesday night was that candidate mics got turned off, an audience member was thrown out, and Mayor Bill de Blasio floated unscathed above the fray.
It was a loud chaotic mess in which voters learned little and Donald Trump’s name was mentioned a lot. Will the next edition of this reality show be as embarrassing?
Debate Two is scheduled for Nov. 1, sponsored by CBS and its partners. It will be in a smaller venue - CUNY’s Graduate Center - which means fewer audience members and perhaps less trouble, though plenty of trouble came from the stage on Tuesday, too.
On that stage next time will be de Blasio, as he has already met city Campaign Finance Board qualifications. Republican Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis and former NYPD detective Bo Dietl should be back: They are close to their monetary thresholds. Other candidates could get in depending on sponsor whims and polls, though the whims and the fine print on the polls kept them out this time.
Ultimately, it will be up to moderator Maurice DuBois, WCBS-TV anchor and Port Jefferson native, to keep the peace at the podiums and in the seats, and find some substance.
Good luck with that.