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.
Giving up is not “reform.” County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal to transfer property assessment from the county to the towns might possibly speed up assessment decisions by replacing one large and overwhelmed bureaucracy with several somewhat smaller ones. It will likely recreate problems that were major motivations in creating our highly centralized county government 75 years ago.
The 1938 county charter merged the town Boards of Assessors and the County Board of Equalization, ending three decades of complaints, lawsuits and hard feelings about the lack of specific, uniform levels of property assessments between the towns. In a tax system screaming out for simplification, clarification and a sense of certainty, spinning off assessments to the towns will reintroduce “equalization” as an annual issue. Tens of thousands of residents are still trying to figure out why their assessment went down but their tax bill still went up. The division of taxes heading up the tax food chain in an equitable manner is the most complex subject in local government, and it’s all going to make people very sad, particularly in villages and school districts that are split between townships.
Manhattan District Attorney (D.A.) Robert Morgenthau was facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from a former judge in 2005, but his opponent had trouble finding anything substantively negative to say about Morgenthau.
The reason I know this: a city-based tabloid newspaper reporter called me weeks before the election, asking whether it was legal to have a Manhattan driver’s license while at the same time registering and insuring a car in Dutchess County, where auto insurance premiums are much lower. The answer: yes, so long as the insured vehicle is primarily garaged in Dutchess County. I was the director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department at the time and knew immediately the question pertained to Morgenthau because he met those criteria.
Written by Mike Barry Friday, 30 November 2012 00:00
The composition of the New York state Senate was up in the air as of Thanksgiving Eve, with absentee ballots still being counted in upstate’s 46th Senatorial District (SD).
State Assemblyman George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) held a slight edge in the 46th SD’s balloting on that day over his Democratic opponent, Duanesburg, NY school board member Cecilia Tkaczyk. Should Assemblyman Amedore become Senator Amedore, the Republicans will have won 31 of the 63 state Senate seats on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
So, the GOP will be in the state Senate’s minority next year then, right? Not necessarily. Brooklyn state Senator-elect Simcha Felder, elected as a Democrat on the first Tuesday of November, announced this month that he would caucus with the Republicans and become their 31st member, allowing the GOP to retain the state Senate’s majority, if Amedore became the 32nd Republican state Senator.
As such, the outcome in New York’s 46th SD has very real consequences for Long Island, which re-elected its eight Republican incumbent state Senators as well as a new one, state Assemblyman Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who will succeed the retiring state Senator Owen Johnson.
Should the Republicans hold a 32-31 majority in the state Senate when the state Legislature reconvenes in January 2013, Nassau and Suffolk will have sent nine of those 32 senators to Albany, giving this region a sizable say in how federal monies related to Hurricane Sandy are allocated, and how the Long Island Power Authority is restructured. State educational aid disbursements are also a big issue, as school boards will struggle in 2013 to keep their property tax increases limited to 2 percent, or less, in advance of spring’s budget votes.
Should Senator Tkaczyk become the 32nd Democrat in the state Senate, the first thing you’ll likely see is Senator Felder walking back across the aisle, giving the Democrats a 33-30 majority. That will also certainly mean state Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) is no longer the state Senate’s majority leader.
If you follow Albany’s political machinations, you’ve probably read or heard about a group of four renegade state Senators, all of whom are Democrats, who have little use for the Democrats who would likely lead the state Senate under this scenario. These senators are supposedly open to forming a coalition with the GOP, allowing Senator Skelos to remain as majority leader in exchange for certain governmental goodies (e.g., committee chairmanships, which allow state legislators to boost their clout and pay).
A small group of New York City Democrats held majority leadership positions in the state Senate in 2009 and 2010, and didn’t distinguish themselves, these four Democratic state Senators correctly concluded. Exhibit A: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) payroll tax was enacted in 2009. That tax was partially rescinded only after the GOP regained control of the state Senate in 2011.
The problem for the state Senate’s GOP candidates this year came in places like the mid-Hudson Valley, where state Senator Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) was ousted, and in Westchester County, where the talented Bob Cohen was unable to flip retiring state Senator Suzi Oppenheimer’s (D-Mamaroneck) seat into the Republican column. That’s why the GOP is obsessing over the 46th SD.