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, Mfbarry@optonline.net Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Spike TV has a reality program called Bar Rescue wherein nightlife consultant John Taffer revives a troubled establishment’s fortunes with a combination of tough love and managerial expertise.
Before shooting his next segment, Taffer should read Rosie Schaap’s just-released memoir, the highly entertaining Drinking with Men (Riverhead Books). The book examines not only the author’s life as seen through the friends she made while enjoying adult beverages, but also the intangibles that make a bar one you’d like to visit regularly.
“A bar gives you more than drink alone,” Schaap, who currently resides in Brooklyn, writes. “It gives you the presence of others; it gives you relief from isolation. When you are a regular, it gives you community, too.”
Schaap’s book has won favorable reviews from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Observer and, given the subject matter, her promotional tour is— not surprisingly—taking her to South Pub, 629 5th Ave., South Park Slope, Brooklyn, on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. for a reading, question-and-answer session, and book signing.
Drinking with Men’s chapters are built around bars that played key roles in the 40-something-year-old Schaap’s life, from the taverns she frequented while an undergraduate at Vermont’s Bennington College to the ones she inhabited in New York City, where Schaap taught English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College while a graduate student. There are even odes to watering holes in Dublin, where she spent a semester abroad, and Montreal, site of a memorable long weekend. Today, Schaap writes the Drink column for The New York Times’ magazine, and is a contributor to public radio’s This American Life and npr.org.
The most surprising thing about Schaap, daughter of the late sportswriter Dick Schaap, who grew up in Freeport, and brother of ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap, is that she dropped out of high school to travel with The Grateful Dead, the late Jerry Garcia’s band, an odd decision even for a teenaged wild child. Her parents’ marriage broke up when she was seven, Schaap writes, so her migration from a broken family to a dysfunctional one—the nomadic tribe known as Dead Heads—may not have been illogical at the time. The author eventually secured a high school equivalency diploma and headed off to Bennington College, from which she graduated.
I enjoyed her keen observations about bar culture even though I do not buy into one of the book’s running themes. Schaap leaves readers with the impression that a tavern’s most loyal customers, and I’m talking about the ones who sit on the same stool Every Single Day, are by and large endlessly fascinating people. Based on the examples cited in Drinking with Men, I daresay the personalities of individuals meeting this criterion are more tedious than charming when compared to the population at-large.
Still, Schaap’s winning personality shines throughout the text. There’s a great anecdote near the end of the book, for instance, about how a fellow bar patron successfully recruited her in 2006 to become a fan of the English Premier League’s (EPL) Tottenham Hotspur, a London-based professional soccer team.
To close the loop here, I think Taffer’s Bar Rescue should recommend to some clients that they “adopt” an EPL team as a way to boost revenues. If the live broadcast of a Tottenham game starts at 4 p.m. in England, New Yorkers wanting to catch all the action will need to be in their seats at 11 a.m.