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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.


Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages

In early 1946, a brouhaha erupted between the AFL and the CIO, the state’s rival federations of labor groups. Republican leaders in the state legislature endorsed the upstate-oriented AFL’s proposal that New York license and regulate barbers and cosmetologists. The downstate-oriented CIO, which had members who couldn’t document the required formal education, launched opposition so fierce and threatened political retaliation so severe that the legislation was considered dead. And then, as the 1946 session was drawing to a close and the CIO was concentrating on other things, the “barber and hairdresser bills” started moving through both houses, with almost total Republican support and Democratic opposition. Member of Assembly Genesta Strong, first-termer from Nassau County, dependable, safe and already expected to step aside, was asked to be the official sponsor of the cosmetologist licensing bill.

Governor Dewey’s signing of the bill cemented support for his re-election from the powerful AFL, which had been the whole point. To those in political inner circles, Mrs. Strong had proved herself a reliable team player whose dignity was useful in deflecting potential attack.


Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.


MTA’s Cash Grab

Election campaigns conclude but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) search for additional revenues never ends.

I truly believe Spinal Tap’s Gimme Some Money should be played at the start of the MTA’s Wednesday, Nov. 7, 5 p.m. public hearing at Farmingdale State College, Roosevelt Hall-Little Theatre, 2350 Broadhollow Road, in Farmingdale.  The MTA is billing the gathering as an opportunity to discuss 2013’s Fare, Toll & Service Changes. Spoiler alert: the MTA’s fares are going up; it is just a question of how much.

But I must give MTA chairman Joseph Lhota his due. He found well-placed people to justify the upcoming Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New York City subway, bridge and tunnel fare hikes. They are slated to take effect in early 2013 unless the public objects vociferously to the MTA’s plans. I’m kidding, of course. This thing is a done deal.

The New York Post’s lead editorial on Wednesday, Oct. 24, (‘Paying for TWU Pensions’) stated that “when the protestors line up at the MTA’s upcoming public hearings on fare hikes, they might spend a little less energy yelling at [Joseph] Lhota, and a little more pondering how much they’ll be contributing to [Transport Workers Union] Local 100’s lush benefit plans.”  The TWU represents thousands of New York City transit workers and I’ve complained previously about their illegal 2005 strike and the outrageous 11 percent wage increase their members received over a three-year period as the economy collapsed. But this state allows for binding arbitration, and the TWU encountered a friendly arbitrator the last time their contract expired, so they won while transit riders and taxpayers lost.  

Rather than demonize public employee unions who take advantage of a flawed system to shake down the populace, The New York Post should ask its best investigative reporters to explore the following passage from the Citizens Budget Commission’s (CBC) just-released A Better Way to Pay for the MTA.

“This project [the Fulton Street Transit Center in lower Manhattan] is a new terminal for multiple subway lines at the existing Fulton Street subway station.  The initial plan was for completion in July 2009 at a cost of $750 million; the latest estimates are for completion in June 2014 at a cost of $1.4 billion,” the CBC report states.

To its credit, the CBC in that same study calls for the placement of more tolls on vehicular crossings into Manhattan to fund mass transit and discourage urban driving. But Carol Kellermann, the CBC’s president, ruined everything by downplaying that proposal, and instead highlighting what might as well be the MTA’s current talking points in a Monday, Oct. 22 letter to The New York Times. Ms. Kellermann’s first observation was that “transit riders pay less than half of the cost of their rides,” ignoring the fact that these same riders pay for the rest of their trip via various MTA taxes. She then had the audacity to write “the MTA policy of regular and predictable fare increases is preferable to the historic pattern of large irregular increases in tough times.”

Well, Kellermann does have a point. Governmental agencies overseeing projects which are five years late, and $650 million over-budget, need regular and predictable fare increases.