Local governments have limited leverage when dealing with the cable company. Not long ago, the exclusive Westchester village of Pound Ridge was trying to attract a competitor to the local cable monopoly, but refused to grant $12,000 in property tax offsets. The competitor withdrew. A village whose residents include Tom Brokaw, Richard Gere, Michael Meyers, Susan Sarandon and other major celebrities was punished for its recalcitrance.
Numerous contracts between television networks and cable companies are expiring over the course of the next year, so expect more public disagreements and blackouts like the ones that thousands of readers briefly experienced last week.
It turns out that Governor Paterson’s biggest mistake was his controversial and unprecedented appointment of a replacement Lieutenant Governor last year. If he had not appointed Richard Ravitch, then State Senator Malcolm Smith would still be next in the line of succession and there would have been no calls for resignation. Kharma.
I have no desire to pile on Governor Paterson. I am disappointed that he hasn’t been able to regroup and recover, for the sake of our state. Mostly, my criticism here has been indirect, discussing several times our need to revise how we elect Lieutenant Governors.
During the last several recessions, our state and local governments in New York and around the country have played a little game, a little dance. A recession hits and states reduce financial aid to localities. The economic situation improves and the reductions are restored, and sometimes aid is even increased. Now it’s clear that the music has stopped and there are no chairs in at least 47 states.
1. Last week, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill that allows the state to move its funds to credit unions and small banks. The vote was 65 to zero.
In the current New York State budget, at least 559 organizations in Nassau County were granted “member items.” These are grants added to the budget by legislators in support of local programs and include Little Leagues, ethnic fraternities, church groups and special districts. Some call it “pork.”
The city of Youngstown, Ohio, has lost 56 percent of its population since I was a kid. Forbes magazine named Youngstown one of “America’s 10 Fastest Dying Cities.” The city’s dynamic mayor, Jay Williams, is preaching a philosophy that rejects the kinds of sprawl development strategies we still see too often on Long Island. The emphasis is on “place-making tactics” that will establish Youngstown as a superior place to live, attract a talented workforce and give the city a competitive advantage. For example, they’re converting blighted blocks and brownfields into parks. The city will be smaller, but it will survive and sustain.
Many of us have experienced the horror show. Unfair, unreasonable, unilateral fees, interest rate increases, credit line reductions, payment schedule tricks, foreclosure traps. The biggest banks took our money, and in gratitude there has been an orgy of greedy, predatory behavior. And the bonuses.
Members of the Hempstead Town Board are only the latest in a long line of elected officials of both parties who have voted to give themselves a pay raise in the period between Election Day and the start of their new term. You knew what the pay was before you accepted the nomination. This practice should be prohibited in all New York government units. Don’t count on that, since the state Legislature has done this three times since the 1980s. It will have to be banned one municipality at a time.
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Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org