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.
I found it disconcerting that an article titled “Concussions: Stop The Invisible Injury,” which talked about “concussion prevention,” “fostering an atmosphere of safety first,” “the athlete’s health is first priority,” “protecting an athlete’s future,” “the lifelong impact this injury can have on an athlete,” and “parents can reinforce a safe sports environment by not promoting or encouraging moves that might compromise an athlete’s safety,” never once suggested the advisability of simply not allowing one’s young child to endanger his growing brain by playing (tackle!) football, playing other helmet-required sports like hockey, becoming a boxer or playing a brain-rattling (from “heading” the ball) sport like soccer.
The article began with several false premises and assumptions. One is that “a concussion can occur in any sport,” as if it’s as common in basketball as in football. It also said that “a concussion...can occur in both contact and non-contact sports,” as if the incidences are equal in frequency or severity. I daresay concussions are nowhere near as common in baseball as in football. There’s a good reason that some sports require helmets be worn to protect one’s head and the brain inside the skull.
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.
No doubt you’ve seen the full page ads that Target recently placed in major newspapers around the nation. The massive retailer was apologizing to the 110 million customers who likely had their credit information stolen in one of the largest security breaches in retail history. If you shopped at Target before Christmas (unnamed members of my family practically lived there) then you may have been affected. By Target’s own admission, the hackers may have stolen credit and debit information from 40 million shoppers and personal data from another 70 million. Under pressure from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, they’re even offering a year of free credit monitoring to all of their customers in the hopes of mitigating the situation. Yet none of that, however well-intentioned, will fix the damage now.
As executive director of Long Island Wins, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting immigrants from all backgrounds, each with a personal immigration story. One of our goals is to use those stories to highlight the contributions that immigrants make to our Long Island communities.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Dowling, an Irish immigrant and the president and chief executive officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the largest system in New York State and one of the largest in the country.
North Shore-LIJ has a service area that includes over seven million residents in downstate New York, and it’s the largest employer of immigrants on Long Island, from entry-level workers all the way up to the highest reaches of leadership.
It’s a new year and much is already being made over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech. As one of the most powerful people in New York, liberals, conservatives and everyone in between were waiting to hear the tone and substance of the speech, sizing up where the supposed “battle lines” will be drawn.
The governor’s position is magnified because it’s a re-election year for him, and it is rumored that he has presidential aspirations. Naturally, a big win at the home-state polls this year would strengthen his position among Democratic frontrunners, so it’s easy to see why this speech carries a heck of a lot of baggage. So far, in his first term, he has tried to maintain some balance, but Cuomo’s unfortunately coming under increasing pressure from New York City Democrats, led by newly-elected Mayor Bill DeBlasio, whose ultra-liberal agenda doesn’t necessarily mesh with the goals of the state. Indeed, the new mayor made many promises, some of which will be impossible to keep unless Cuomo yields to that pressure.
John Owens is correct when he says that inBloom’s promise that the student data it collects will be kept safe in its supposedly hack-proof cloud is “a lot less believable since info on 40 million Target customers was compromised." I’d say that the most appropriate response to inBloom’s hollow assurances and unkeepable promise is contained in the first two letters of their claim “HAck-proof”: Ha! My second response to inBloom’s wishful-thinking promise of its collected-data’s supposed invulnerability can be found inside the phrase Owens used to pointedly point out that inBloom’s “underLYING operating system was built by a company owned by Rupert Murdoch.” So when inBloom says that their student data will be “hack-proof,” they are lying — since they know that is literally impossible in a world of Julian Assanges, Edward Snowdens, Russian hackers, and thousands of brilliant conscience-less computer criminals and identity thieves. I’m guessing that any inBloom official who made such an unsupportable false claim had his fingers crossed behind his back when he spoke those words.
“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” So wrote the British historian Bertrand Russell, and if you’ve read the papers this week you may think he was absolutely right. Years of education do not translate into intelligence let alone an enlightened insight into truth.
I write specifically about the American Studies Association (ASA), a nationwide organization of university professors. In an effort to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, its members overwhelmingly voted to boycott Israel’s academic institutions from collaborations with the universities here in the United States. Among local institutions affiliated with the ASA are New York University, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook. To be fair, the administrations of many of these affiliated universities have slammed the boycott but are just sitting on the sidelines.
A few weekends ago, I was honored to take part in the Kerry Rose Foundation’s first ever 5K-trail run at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack. The foundation was created to honor the memory of Kerry Rose Fitzsimons, a Marist College student and Commack High School graduate, who was tragically killed in 2012 in an off-campus house fire in Poughkeepsie. The event brought together community members and first responders to raise awareness of and promote fire safety.
It may not be one of the more noble holiday traditions but I guiltily admit that one of my favorite things to do at this time of year is to settle down on the couch next to the fireplace with a bag of cookies and my dog to watch the endless stream of Christmas movies on TV. My wife and kids usually shun the endeavor and remind me that we’ve watched them, literally, dozens of times before. Yet this annual ritual gives me comfort, so I continue.
My favorite among these is A Christmas Story, which takes place circa 1940, somewhere in the midwest, and chronicles young Ralphie and his quest to obtain the ultimate Christmas gift, a Red Ryder carbine-action 200 shot range BB rifle with a compass in the stock. Despite steady objections from his mother, father and even teacher that he’ll shoot his eye out, he relentlessly pursues his dream gift with a series of clever tactics designed to subliminally plant the idea in his parents’ minds. When these efforts fail, true to childhood form, he turns in desperation to a department store Santa who dutifully warns him about shooting out his eye, then casually sends him on his way. Oh, the disillusionment.
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