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, 18 July 2013 08:45Even though its editorial pages are written by the cast of Hair, I read The New York Times every day. It is one of the nation’s best newspapers.
But the Times published a detailed article about Nassau government and politics earlier this month which, while factually accurate, shows how omissions, and a lack of context, can mislead readers.
The story’s headline blared: “In Nassau County, an Influx of Democrats Threatens a G.O.P. Stronghold.” It was teased as follows on page one of that day’s print edition: “Republicans in Nassau County, long symbolic of the party’s suburban dominance, face a wave of new Democratic voters in the next election.”
Such a statement would make sense only if you believe history began in January 2010, when County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, and a GOP-controlled county Legislature, took office.
In fact, every Democratic presidential candidate has carried Nassau since 1992, although that went unmentioned. And Nassau’s Democrats held the majority in the county Legislature from 2000-2009, a full decade, while a Democratic county executive joined them in 2002, giving the Democrats eight straight years in complete control of Nassau County government. Here’s how the aforementioned timeline was described in the article.
“Republicans in Nassau had a preview of this challenge in 1999, when they lost control of the County Legislature after a series of scandals, and then the county executive’s office two years later. But they [the Republicans] recovered,” the article intones, without citing any of the policies (e.g., a double-digit percentage county property tax hike, the inclusion of a county tax on utility bills) the Democrats implemented between 2002 and 2009. No, the voters turned the Democrats out of county government in 2009 for mysterious reasons not worth exploring, or explaining.
Like The New York Times reporter who wrote this story, Nassau’s Democrats want Election Day 2013 to be like Election Day 2001. Nassau’s Democrats have even made it easier to remember what it was like 12 years ago, giving their official county executive line to Thomas Suozzi, and its county comptroller nomination to Howard Weitzman. Both Suozzi and Weitzman were first elected in 2001, re-elected in 2005, and lost their bids for third terms in 2009. In a blow to Adam Haber, who is trying to force a Sept. 10 Democratic primary against Suozzi, he goes unmentioned in the Times article, as well, with Suozzi listed as the county executive’s “probable Democratic opponent” in November.
“Compared with a decade ago, there are nearly 82,000 more registered Democrats in Nassau County, while there are more than 16,000 fewer Republicans, according to the state Board of Elections,” the Times reporter adds. “How did you let them [the Republicans] recover when the registration rolls have been trending this way?” would have been the story’s logical next sentence.
Oh, and I need to add color to another thing that goes unmentioned about the 2009 county executive race, in which then-county Legislator Mangano prevailed by a few hundred votes, the Times article mournfully observes. Mangano’s 2009 victory was all the more incredible because Suozzi, as he did in 2005, convinced the county’s Conservative Party four years ago to run its own candidate. This created a three-person race aimed at splitting the anti-Suozzi vote, and it worked like a charm in 2005.
The 2005 Conservative Party candidate for county executive soon thereafter became a judge, and that surely made it easier to recruit someone who had judicial aspirations to follow in that fellow’s footsteps in 2009.
The 2009 Conservative Party county executive candidate, who was a county employee (!) at the time, won about four percent of the 2009 vote, which would surely have gone to Mangano, had the county executive been given the Conservative Party’s nomination. Would it surprise you to learn the 2009 Conservative Party’s nominee is neither a judge nor a county employee in 2013?