A few months ago, there was a news report about a man from upstate New York who was accused of practicing dentistry without a license. The report stated that he operated in his kitchen. In lieu of Novocain, he offered his patients wine to help them through the pain. The story brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. One was a traumatic episode that I re-live every time I sit in a dentist’s chair.
Housing on Long Island represents a microcosm of all the problems Long Island needs to address – from economic and social equity, smart growth, zoning challenges, and how to make fragmented government work better, inspire community action, and ensure that opportunity is more fairly distributed and readily accessible.
In our frenetic world of multi-tasking with its endless exposure to 15-second snippets of useful and useless data, we have managed to create an environment of significant anxiety, short attention spans and poor personal communication skills. In no population are these behaviors as prevalent as in our youth. How many parents out there have been told by their children or have told their children, “don’t call me, just send me a text.” Throughout this chaos, team athletics stands out as a way to foster many of the skills that our youth are losing.
Flu season is fast upon us and this year we are faced with the prospect of two flus and possibly two flu vaccines. We are hearing lots about the H1N1 flu and the concerns about how this flu may manifest in the fall. Let’s not forget that the regular yearly seasonal flu is also on the horizon and needs to be prepared for as well.
Two weeks ago, I submitted my proposed 2010 Budget – and I kept the promise I made to “freeze county taxes.” The $2.6 billion budget will increase spending by a record low 0.5 percent - only one-half of 1 percent - with no increase in county taxes. The proposed budget also reflects 700 fewer employees working for the county than a year ago, bringing the total count down to 8,792, which is 1,000 employees fewer than when I first took office.
Almost a year ago, Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, was murdered allegedly by a group of high school boys on a hate-crime spree. Shortly after the murder I was invited to participate as one of six panelists in an online forum sponsored by Newsday.
High school rugby is alive and well on Long Island. The LIU19 Colts rugby club is a community-based club open to all students from ninth to 12th grade. Middle school students are welcome to come and learn the skills of the game but we cannot promise playing time as we do not schedule teams in their age bracket at the present time. High school rugby in the U.S. is strictly a spring sport. The Colts winter practice starts after Thanksgiving when the football season ends and consists of one two-hour session on Saturday or Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. depending on weather conditions. Once the season gets under way in March we go to a Tuesday and Thursday 5 p.m. practice at Glen Cove. The Colts play a 10-game schedule and field an A and B side each week. Everyone gets a full game every game day during the season. The Colts draw players from schools in Nassau County, Eastern Queens and Western Suffolk.
I am proud to announce that my proposed 2010 county budget freezes county property taxes. There will be no increase in county taxes next year and the county portion of your total property tax bill will represent only 16.9 percent of the overall property tax bill. That’s down from 22.7 percent the day I took office in January 2002.
I was reading recently how Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is now devoting himself to promoting the education of “civics” in our schools in order to give our children real-world knowledge and, hopefully, wisdom about how to run our government. I never realized that Mr. Dreyfuss and I had so much in common and I enthusiastically join his call to bring back civic education.
We hope everyone has been enjoying the warm weather and later part of the summer now that the rain has gone away. The rain this season was good for our gardens, lawns and flowers, but as drier weather continues, many of us will continue watering and using irrigation systems to keep our properties green.
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