Ulysses S. Grant was a great general, a better president than given credit for, a peerless wartime memoirist and became famously apothegmatical when he said, “The best way to get rid of a bad law is by its strict enforcement.” Despite these great achievements, it is this wonderful little maxim I want to focus on. It’s centered on the notion that passions are often pacified by common sense when we have to live under the laws we so blithely pass. The most famous or infamous of these laws was the Volstead Act of 1919, more commonly known as Prohibition. After decades of Carrie Nation crusading with her axe-wielding saloon wreckers to make their point about the evils of drink, America embarked on its great social experiment by passing the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. In the entire history of Constitutional law, it would be the only amendment to actually restrict liberty.
The latest challenge to the unique quality of life we enjoy is not coming as intensified urbanization from our west, but rather, an ambush from the east. Recent reports are that the Shinnecock Indian Nation is trying to take lands in our community, which is more than 75 miles from its reservation in Southampton. To surrender land at either the Hub or at Belmont Park is outrageous and our village’s future with a sovereign nation next door is unpredictable. Like his predecessor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s efforts were rewarded by an Appellate Court’s August 2010 decision, which took decades of litigation to resolve. The decision declared that tribes, like the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton, must charge and collect state levied tax on cigarettes sold to patrons from off the reservation. Millions of dollars of state revenue have gone uncollected as a result of these sales. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman applauded the state’s appellate ruling saying, “Today’s decision closes an enormous tax-evasion loophole that was depriving New York of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. The state estimates that as much as $500,000 in unpaid taxes goes uncollected every day as the result of Indian tobacco sales.” (The Southampton Press.)
A regular meeting of the board of trustees was held on May 3, at 8 p.m.
The meeting opened with a Pledge to the Flag. Present were Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy, Trustees James E. Rhatigan, Mary-Grace Tomecki, Kevin M. Fitzgerald, Village Administrator Patrick E. Farrell, Village Clerk Susan E. Walsh, Superintendent of Building Department and Superintendent of Public Works Stephen L. Siwinski, Police Commissioner Stephen G. McAllister and Village Attorney John E. Ryan.
Politics, in some ways, can be defined as the allotment of credit and blame. When two military helicopters sent to rescue the Iranian hostages back in 1980 crashed in the Iranian desert resulting in debacle and death, it was just one more mishap of President Jimmy Carter’s faltering administration. Critics panned the attempt as “Carter’s Desert Classic,” a caustic reference to the popular, televised golf tournaments.
So President Obama deserves credit, and has gotten credit, for taking the risk of ordering the raid that killed the world’s most feared terrorist. Intelligence operatives whose painstaking, methodical detective work forged a trail to bin Laden deserve credit, and have gotten credit; Special Forces such as the U.S. Navy SEALs deserve an enormous amount of praise and have gotten it. George W. Bush should get credit for erecting the architecture early in his presidency to meet the vast and complex challenges of America’s war on terror.
The League of Women Voters of Nassau County, a non-partisan organization, which neither supports nor opposes any candidate or political party, is concerned about the County Legislature’s haste in re-drawing the legislative district lines. In doing this, the Legislature is not adhering to its own County Charter, subsection 113, which requires an advisory redistricting commission to be established to reapportion the county legislative districts based on the federal census.
Ever since 9-11 there was a score to settle. It wasn’t enough that the United States military crushed the Taliban at Tora Bora. He had somehow gotten away, snaking his way through the rocky, labyrinthine trails deep in the Afghan mountains and into some godforsaken sanctuary. President Bush said it didn’t really matter he got away; but in truth the fact gnawed at him and it gnawed at all Americans who knew that as long as he was free there was unfinished business.
Prior to the regular meeting, Mayor Tweedy called upon Chief Everett Ulmer to present his annual report to the mayor and board of trustees. Fire Chief Ulmer read his annual report for the year April 20, 2010 to April 19, 2011. Following his report, Chief Ulmer introduced the newly elected staff for 2011-2012.
Fire Chief John B. Kelleher, Jr.
1st Assistant Chief Vincent F. Modica
2nd Assistant Chief Luciano D’Amore
3rd Assistant Chief Daniel Bennett
4th Assistant Chief Brian P. Naughton
If it is true that melodies of the soul arise from nature’s majesty, then the glorious, lambent light of this Easter morning serenaded us with the poetry of being alive. The other week, I cautioned the religiously inclined about the dangers of seeing concrete evidence of God’s design in the physical world. The physics and the biology of the divine is a risky enterprise and that instead of scientific proofs one should instead look for the existence of God in the moral laws inscribed in our hearts as the sine qua non of God’s existence and influence in our world. This does not preclude me from poignantly wondering about the deep and miraculously patterned order of the cosmos. Even Einstein was susceptible to its philosophical charms and the human mind’s peculiar and rapturous affinity to its marvelous architecture stating, “That the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”
President Obama’s speech, at George Washington University, regarding Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s deficit reduction plan underscores the Administration’s insouciance and ho-hum flippancy in marshaling efforts to control spending. The president’s plan does little more than add a coat of paint to a building crumbling at its very foundation. Obama sought not so much to correct as to disembowel Ryan’s budget, calling it, in effect, un-American by its attempt to change the social compact that has been a staple of American society since the New Deal. Stark images of traumatized, white-haired grannies, pauperized school districts and a distressed working class flood the airwaves, dramatizing the impact of such cuts. It is as if Republicans had taken a rusted hacksaw to the body politic, pitilessly sawing off the green limbs of life.
On April 2, two days before I was to be sworn in as your new mayor, I had the privilege of joining other elected officials, firefighters, EMS personnel, 9-11 families and friends at a ceremony at Reliance Firehouse. That day, the Patriot Flag was to be flown in honor of those lost on 9-11. The ceremonial arch, which we saw too often after the attacks of 9-11, where two fire apparatus, their ladders fully extended, suspend the flag between the two towers. However, the gale force winds that day proved too strong for the anchors and the now untethered flag floated softly to the ground. Immediately scores of those attending rushed to lift the flag from the ground. The relationship we shared to the flag changed. We were no longer dwarfed by the enormous flag towering high above us, but instead, we supported it. We held the flag, that tactile sense was now uniting us. As we held the flag facing each other, one was drawn to thoughts of each other’s experience and relationship of that day. The reverence and silence after each dignitary spoke was moving. That enormous flag was not the iconic vision it was intended to be that morning, but instead an intimate symbol of what it truly represents. That flag pulled us together as one that morning, united by the principles that identify us as Americans and the event that defines us as New Yorkers. As the NCPD helicopter flew low and slow over the solemnity, there was a collective mournful reflection over the loss of so many. But the strength we drew from each other, the dignity as we stood united, physically connected to each other by our flag, our freedoms and our country could not have been more appropriately expressed than they were on that gusty morning in Floral Park.
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