On the morning of February 14, the U.S received a Valentine from President Karzai of Afghanistan when the gates of the Bagram prison swung open and 65 men with grizzled beards and blood-soaked hands were let out to breathe the fresh air of freedom. These prisoners were not some disgruntled Episcopalians, but Jihad fighters directly linked to attacks killing or wounding U.S. and Afghan security personnel.
No wonder Americans are looking at the Afghan situation as a Sisyphean nightmare. President Karzai of Afghanistan, who the U.S. supported and funded, is veering inexorably toward the Taliban. America’s options seem a lot like the man who went to see his clergyman for advice and was told that two roads lay before him—“one that went straight to hell” and the other that led “right to damnation.”
Just wanted to take a moment to commend the publishing and editorial teams at the Floral Park Dispatch on the return of its weekly presence and note that it is even better than ever. I’m big on “Letters to the Editor” and especially so when it comes to any communication having to do with my beloved hometown. I’m an FP kid (though born and raised on the “Queens” side of the tracks, and now a decade-long resident of King Street just blocks from my cherished memories as a grade school child at St. Hedwig’s.
Confidence and trust in government appears to continue to erode because of political infighting, and the perception of waste, fraud, and limited transparency. This is why my office has taken small yet significant steps to attempt to restore some trust through transparency.
Our latest step came last week when we made available to the public on the Comptroller’s Facebook page all 2013 Nassau County contracts with vendors as well as all the bills paid by the County. In keeping with my office’s prudent standards of controlling costs and promoting innovation, we used the latest social media tools to make this information available to the greatest number of residents by using Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs. Not a single taxpayer dollar has been spent for this important public service.
You know Old Man Winter has overstayed his welcome when even a middle school student will say he doesn’t want any more snow days.
We love the sugar-frosted dusting of a first snow in the treetops along Tulip Avenue, but after that first dusting, it tends to get dirty and dangerous. Ice that glitters in the branches or along telephone lines starts melt, breaking off branches and denting cars parked in the street below. Did we mention cars? Winter driving is all problems. At times Floral Park feels like an episode of Ice Road Truckers. The potholes—plenty deep and getting deeper—make every drive an “off-road” experience. Salt and sand eat away chassis. Both black and white ice send us skidding. And they all conspire to send us to the mechanic to spend money. Did we mention money? We just got our bills from National Grid and fuel oil suppliers. Harumph. And we just hate being cold all the time.
Enough is enough. Let us hope that the latest snowstorm is the last and that Malverne Mel and Holstville Hal, Long Island’s bellwether groundhogs, were right: Spring is coming early this year.
I’m lucky to live only blocks away from an unspoiled piece of nature, where a pond-side bench lets me sit and enjoy a big cup of coffee and a plastic-tipped cigar.
From this vantage point, my mind wanders freely. I often reminisce of my childhood, where in every season and at every age I spent time here.
I guess I rained on the parade and I have to admit, it felt pretty good.
I’m talking about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ill-conceived plan to raise taxes to purportedly pay for universal pre-k in New York City public schools. On its surface, it’s a noble idea and one that would eventually bridge gaps of inequality for future New Yorkers. Honestly, who wouldn’t be in favor of improving the education system? I guess that’s why the mayor made it one of his core campaign promises even though he knew full well that enacting it was totally out of his control. What he continuously failed to point out is that responsibility for making such an aggressive plan actually work falls squarely on the shoulders of state legislators and Governor Cuomo in Albany. And it’s no secret that together, we’ve spent the last four years fervently trying to lower taxes—not raise them.
Nassau County is vigorously promoting its new smart phone app that allows citizens to report potholes, but when we got the announcement last week our reaction was “Seriously? You need an app for that?” After all, it’s not as if the potholes are hiding. Many of them reappear, year after year, in predictable spots, well-traveled stretches where major roads intersect. Tulip Ave. and east down Jericho Tpke., offers a stupendous moonscape. You can see it has been repeatedly patched.
Plus, old technologies—a phone call—do the job just as well. But the app announcement came with a pledge to fix potholes within 24 hours of notification. That made us pay attention, though we were skeptical. Thus, we were surprised when some obvious potholes (like that moonscape at Jericho) got fixed quickly. We never see the repair crews at work, but they are getting the job done—and there’s no app for that. Let’s give thanks for the road crews that are smoothing our winter-savaged roads.
- Christy Hinko
This month, love is in the air. If you have young children, you feel the love – in drawings, paintings, sketches, short stories, sculptures, cards, poems, hand prints, foot prints. The list goes on and on. As parents, we are flooded with their love. Sometimes the love is directed by a teacher. Sometimes it is an inspired, unique creation of the child’s own imagination. We tape it to the wall, tack it to the fridge, pin it to the cork board but over time we are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of memorabilia and how to preserve it.
My clients who face this challenge are usually in one of two phases:
Last spring my wife and I stopped in Princeton, NJ and had breakfast at a busy coffee shop. The owner, a friendly chap, stopped at our table and began to chat with us. I remarked that business was brisk and he informed me that he and his partner have two other coffee/breakfast establishments that were just as busy.
It seemed a good time to pop the question. What possible impact did he think the ObamaCare employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, to offer insurance to pay a $2,000 penalty each worker beyond 30 employees would have on his business? Rolling his eyes and shaking his head he told me it was definitely going to adversely affect how many people he will employ since labor mandates raise hiring costs.
Reading John Owens’ column on the Long Island Rail Road (“Cheaper Railroad Fares: That’s The Ticket”), it occurred to me that congestion pricing in general, for peak and non-peak, may make sense. Trains in the middle of the night may be much cheaper than, say, a 9 a.m. weekday train that may be running almost to capacity. Monthly ticket holders, I guess, get to travel whenever.
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