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, 10 May 2013 00:00
President Harry Truman said the only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.
I thought about that observation while reading David Nasaw’s The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, an amazing and meticulously researched book on President John F. Kennedy’s father. It was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and Dr. Nasaw, a Roslyn High School graduate, will return to Nassau next week.
Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York, along with New York Times bestselling memoirist Will Schwalbe (The End of Your Life Book Club), are the two featured authors appearing on Friday, May 17, at The Friends of the Port Washington Public Library’s 44th annual Richard D. Whittemore Book & Author Luncheon. It starts at 11 a.m. and continues until 2:30 p.m. at the North Hills Country Club, 200 L.I.E. North Service Rd., in Manhasset.
Novelist and screenwriter Susan Isaacs, a Port Washington resident, will serve as the program’s moderator. Tickets are $65 per person. The Friends of the Library is a volunteer support, outreach, advocacy and advisory group, and they are online at www.pwpl.org/fol.
Nasaw and Schwalbe will each speak for 25 minutes about their most recent projects, followed by a brief question and answer period. Both books will be for sale, with the authors available to sign them.
Nasaw’s The Patriarch (Penguin Press) rightfully won rave reviews when it was published in November 2012. The conventional wisdom held that Joseph Kennedy’s fortune was made in bootlegging, when, in fact, it was done primarily through Wall Street manipulations, such as insider trading and pump and dump schemes, which were legal at the time, along with accessing presidential-level political connections to secure lucrative deals to sell hard liquor legally after Prohibition ended. To rebuild the public’s confidence in the nation’s stock exchanges, Kennedy subsequently fought to keep others from profiting on Wall Street in the ways he had while serving as President Franklin Roosevelt’s first Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Nasaw writes.
I criticized NBC’s chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd a few weeks ago for signing a book deal prior to Election Day 2012 that would financially benefit Todd personally, especially if the president were re-elected. Kennedy saw no need for a publisher to act as the middleman when keeping journalists in line. Indeed, Nasaw reports Kennedy paid money out of his own pocket to New York Times reporter Arthur Krock, whose full-time job at the time was covering FDR’s administration, to have Krock ghost write a document in support of FDR’s re-election in 1936. The slim volume was eventually published under Joseph Kennedy’s byline.
Released in October 2012, Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club (Alfred A. Knopf) chronicles how the author, a former editor in chief at Hyperion Books, and his late mother, Mary Anne, started a “book club” after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and how that club brought them together as her life came to a close. “While it is a story about death, it is mostly a celebration of life and of the way books can enrich it,” Booklist said, giving the title a starred review.