2. Changes in federal and state legislative district borders, effective on January 1, have forced the merger or splitting of some election districts (neighborhood level voting precincts). It didn’t help that the Nassau County Board of Elections, run by the two major parties, was late in finalizing new election district-level maps (making ballot qualification problematic for outsiders).
We’re very good at paying homage to the men and women who have died in service to our country. We’re not as good at honoring those who come back alive, many of whom continue to pay a price after their return.
Several months ago, a survey of 4,200 members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that their top concern was unemployment (followed by mental health, disability benefits, health care and education). 17 percent reported that they were unemployed, a rate significantly higher than the official statistics. At the time of the survey, there was an official unemployment rate of 30.4 percent among veterans aged 18 to 24 and 48.0 percent for young black veterans.
New York was the national leader in developing special services to help veterans of our armed services readjust to civilian life, and for many years Nassau County played a special role in which residents took great pride. It is part of our local public heritage.
In 1929, before the crash and the Depression kicked in, Nassau was the first county in the state to have a formal relief operation to help former soldiers and sailors in need. It was run by veterans for veterans, but it had official ties to the county government. In 1938, when the new “home rule” county government kicked into gear, Nassau was the first to have a government division dedicated to aiding veterans. A system was developed in which government worked closely with veterans organizations to reach those in need of assistance or advice, and this is the same basic model that is almost universal throughout the state and the country today.
Some people haven’t gotten the memo. Residents of Rockland and Westchester Counties are still showing up at hearings and talking about adding mass transit to the replacement for the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. They talk about tying together the mess of a transportation system and more choices for commuters. Governor Cuomo has pushed his $5.2 billion bridge replacement plan through the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council so fast that it appears to have violated federally-mandated rules for public involvement, and the unrelenting parade of staged events and lukewarm endorsements is supposed to inform everyone that this all done. It’s the Governor’s way or the Thruway. Very soon, the first federal funding will be approved.
“It’s time to get something done,” said the Governor the other day, even if this once-in-two-lifetimes opportunity isn’t going to get done what so many public officials and residents say they need done. We still don’t really know how the whole thing is going to be paid for or how much it might cost to drive on it. We don’t know the implications of the largest dredging project ever attempted on the Hudson River.
1. General Motors sold a record number of their plug-in hybrid engine Chevy Volts in August. Unfortunately, industry analysts estimate that it costs $89,000 to manufacture each one and that GM is losing, in the long run, $49,000 per unit.
2. President Obama has personally promoted the Volt as a major answer to our energy challenges, ignoring its price, dirty technologies required for its manufacture and operation and the fact that there is a superior technology choice available to consumers right now. Doesn’t make the Volt a bad car or a bad choice, but it’s not The Answer.
1. You don’t have to lecture Americans about how we still have the ability to solve our problems. We know that. That’s why the disappointment and bitterness in our leadership has been so great. Americans are festering to roll up their sleeves and begin fixing and solving. They are years ahead of their government.
2. This recurring theme brayed by national Democrats, “Things are Better, You’re Just Smart Enough to Perceive It,” will probably lose this election. We finally saw bits and pieces of something better and more interesting in the last two nights of the Democratic convention.
1. This will be published during Democratic National Convention week. Let’s see how many times anyone within a mile of the microphones mentions “TPP.” That’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement between the U.S. and 10 countries now in the final stages of negotiation. Only the draft agreements are a tightly guarded secret, even though the lives of billions of people could be affected.
2. TPP is being called a “free trade agreement.” Actually, there are already very low trade barriers between these countries, which include Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam. By labeling it “free trade,” it will automatically receive robotic support from the D.C. establishment and the media.
1. As of the moment I’m writing this, there are 1,784 hours until the first polls close on Election Day. Oh, no, no, no.
2. The official national presidential campaigns alone have spent over $900 million between them, and will spend significantly more than that again in the next 74 days. Averaged out, the cost of each one of those 30-second ad spots for or against a presidential candidate is about $521. Political campaigns across the country are on a pace to spend more than $5 billion on political advertising this year.
Representative and presumptive Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has stated numerous times that his thinking about government and about life in general was greatly shaped by the late novelist and essay writer Ayn Rand. He actually credits her writing and philosophy as the “reason I got involved in public service, by and large….” He gave copies of Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s signature novel from 1957, to his Congressional staff as Christmas gifts.
From the giddiness displayed in self-described libertarian circles, it’s clear that many people see this as a Romney-Ryan-Rand Republican ticket. During the Republican Presidential primaries, several candidates repeatedly associated themselves with Ayn Rand, especially Representative Ron Paul, who adopted the “Who is Ron Paul?” slogan as a play on the “Who is John Gault?” mantra from Atlas Shrugged.
1. A stunning report issued last week by the Office of the State Comptroller analyzed data from over 4,000 New York local government units, and found over 300 of them had run budget deficits in 2010 or 2011 and over 100 had serious cash flow problems that threatened their ability to pay current bills and obligations. Declining sales tax revenues, property values, state aid and mortgage recording tax revenues have left many local governments “extremely vulnerable to any unanticipated expenditures resulting from emergencies, mandates, or unexpected increases in the costs of goods and services.”
2. Many governments have scaled back, particularly in the areas of public safety, health and recreational programs, garbage collection and road projects.
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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