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 Thursday, 23 May 2013 15:36
The seven Nassau theaters in the Cablevision-owned Clearview Cinemas chain are being sold to Bow Tie Cinemas, a privately held Connecticut company, in a transaction which is expected to close in the coming months.
The deal, which includes 34 other Clearview Cinema locales in the metropolitan area, will impact Cablevision’s Optimum Rewards cardholders starting next week.
“Optimum Rewards members, due to the contemplated sale of Clearview Cinemas, your free movie Tuesday benefit will be ending on Tuesday, May 28th, and the everyday ticket discount will be expiring as of May 31st,” Cablevision wrote, in an email to its Optimum Reward cardholders.
The Nassau theaters impacted by the sale are in Baldwin, Franklin Square, Great Neck, Manhasset, New Hyde Park, Port Washington and Roslyn. This is big news for Cablevision customers who patronized those Clearview Cinemas theaters and used an Optimum Rewards card when purchasing tickets.
“We would have had significant costs, capital costs, involved in operating the Clearview theaters to make them fully digital,” said Gregg Seibert, Cablevision’s vice chairman and chief financial officer, when asked about the Clearview sale in a May 9 earnings conference call with analysts who track the publicly traded Cablevision stock. “And that was just an expense that, from our perspective, we felt was better undertaken by a company that sees its long-term future in the operation of theaters.”
Seibert also acknowledged on that call that Cablevision was losing money as the owner and operator of Clearview Cinemas, although Seibert declined to quantify the size of its financial losses because they were “not material, relative to the overall scale of the company’s [Cablevision’s] operations.” The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, either.
“This is a transformational acquisition for Bow Tie Cinemas and an exciting new chapter in our company’s rich history,” said Ben Moss, chief executive officer of Ridgefield, Conn.-based Bow Tie Cinemas, when its purchase of the 41 Clearview theaters was announced. “Going to the movies is a tradition deeply rooted in the local community. Bow Tie makes long-term commitments in the communities where we own theaters by building local partnerships, employing local people, and engaging with our patrons. Our mission is to return style and elegance to the movie-going experience, and we look forward to applying the same approach to our newly acquired locations.”
Indeed, Bow Tie, when the purchase is completed, will have increased its screen count to 388 from 177, and its number of theater locations to 63 from 22. Today, the company owns and operates movie theaters in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia, as well as two in New York. One is in Schenectady and the other is in the Bronx, with another two locations scheduled to open this summer upstate in Saratoga Springs and Wilton.
Bow Tie has said publicly it intends to make substantial investments at its newly acquired theaters, including digital projection and 3D installations, concession stand upgrades, decorative improvements and employing point-of-sale technology that will boost participation in its customer loyalty programs, such as Bow Tie’s Criterion Club.
The club is free to join and patrons earn two points per ticket purchased, with points redeemed in the future for free refreshments or movie tickets. Like Cablevision, Bow Tie wants to get customers in the door on Tuesdays, charging $6 per ticket all day and $5 for a large tub of popcorn.