Nearly all politicians willing to speak publicly on the recent court decision overturning the MTA payroll tax were pleased with the result. Nor did it break down on partisan lines. Judicial review is part of the governing process in the United States, but if the payroll tax is undesirable, then the ideal place to overturn it is through the legislative process, which has happened in certain elements of the tax. Higher courts, after all, can overturn lower court rulings. Long Island politicians, obviously, have to stand for the interest of local commuters. In doing so, they often run into the voting bloc that is the New York City delegation in the state assembly. The hard work of grass roots politics and old-fashioned arts of persuasion will have to go forward.
Bob, my younger brother, was a die-hard Penn State football fan going back to the early 1960s. In later years he became a college coach and athletic director. Presently, he is Chair of the Sports Studies Department at Guilford College. He has written and researched extensively on maximizing the educational value of sports participation for youths, middle and high school, and college athletes. I thought there was no one better to ask about the Penn State mess and what lessons parents could take from it? Here is what he told me:
“For the past few months, we have been inundated with news about what is now commonly known as the ‘Penn State Scandal.’ Although the focus has been on the horrific acts of Jerry Sandusky and decrying the actions – or lack thereof – of Penn State administrators and others, it may be helpful to consider what the parents of young athletes can learn from this tragic affair.
The month of August has not brought another heat wave, but instead, some cooling off in the temperature. As we pointed out in a recent editorial, it has been a trying summer, disputes over block parties seem to be the least of problems. We can echo District Attorney Kathleen Rice in praising various law enforcement agencies for their heroic work in what is allegedly one of the more bizarre crimes in recent Long Island history. We also note the time and money it cost Long Island taxpayers. The weather is cooling down and hopefully, that affects the always strange workings of the human psyche.
New Yorkers are debating the many serious issues related to the extraction of natural gas from shale deposits that underlie parts of upstate New York. Recent news stories indicate that the state Department of Environmental Conservation may soon begin to permit high-volume hydraulic fracturing in our state on a limited basis.
We need a program that will ensure New Yorkers are protected from harm and cleanup costs are covered if contamination from drilling happens. We simply cannot afford to cross our fingers and hope accidents won’t occur.
The 2012 Olympics in London have ended. Since the Olympic spirit has always been about competing, we congratulate the Long Island contingent who performed in a variety of challenging sports: Sue Bird of Syosset, Debbie Capozzi of Bayport, Brandon Escobar of Rocky Point, Amanda Clark of Shelter Island, Jamel Herring of Coram, Lisa Karcic of New Hyde Park, Erik Storck of Huntington and Maria Michita of Nesconset.
The Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District has long provided cost- effective, efficient, and valuable services to all of the people of Nassau County. Since the district opened in 1977 it has been serving residents, businesses, nonprofits, agencies, schools and municipalities with environmental expertise and assistance. Like all conservation districts throughout New York State and the nation, it is a proven public-private partnership that leverages local taxpayer dollars by bringing in funding from grants, state matching funds and other sources. Yet, Nassau County may soon become the only county in the state without a Soil and Water Conservation District. The steady decline in funding over the last four years has depleted the district’s small reserves and it is in danger of closing.
If you think that a vacation to Canada might be an escape from the heat, you’re wrong. It was pretty humid in Quebec province last week, also. Since Canada is a cold weather nation, the businessmen keep hotel pools well heated year-round. They are at least as hot as the weather. In Canada, the Summer Olympics were an important event. Each medal winner, even in obscure sports such as synchronized swimming, is a front-page story, complete with four-column color photos, a cause for great national pride. This year, 2012, is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This, too, is an important event in Canada. In fact, a Canadian studio has produced a full-length movie on the war. A promotional advertisement displayed both European settlers and Native Americans coming together to repel an invasion from the United States. The youngsters we were with wanted to know if this was true: Did the United States invade Canada? In that brief conflict, the U.S. was at war with Great Britain. Canada was British territory. So it did make sense for the U.S. to take the battle deep into enemy territory.
Recently while watching the hit movie The Bucket List, I found myself wondering why a person waits until there are stressful health issues on the horizon in order for them to give themselves the permission to accomplish feats that they never were able to address before.
Most of us do not aspire to jump out of planes, get tattooed, or go on a safari through a jungle as these mega stars portrayed. We cross the threshold of milestones every day of our lives. Maybe they aren’t lofty ones but it is just these accomplishments that make us who we are. Looking back to early years, starting as young as a toddler – wasn’t it an accomplishment to fill our pail with sand and then turn it over to see little mounds that we created? A small accomplishment but never the less it made us laugh and be happy. Some years down the road making the sports team, achieving badges in Scouts, being in the drama club, wasn’t that having your goals met at a young age? On to college the opportunities for achieving and excelling abounded and hopefully the plans for the future were in our grasp. Somewhere on this journey raising a family would undoubtedly offer challenges and rewards that are priceless.
The Town of Oyster Bay got it right with its “One Town, One Book” program, namely in choosing the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, The Great Gatsby. First, the novel has a Long Island setting with “West Egg” as the fictional name for Great Neck, plus it tells the ancient story of wealth, desire and ruin. T. S. Eliot called the novel “the first step forward in American literature since Henry James,” and indeed, Fitzgerald’s own career was a turning point. When Scribners published his first novel, The Beautiful and The Damned, it promptly took American literature in the twentieth century. Fitzgerald was a kind man who enjoyed promoting the work of others, including his friend, Ernest Hemingway who was also, at Fitzgerald’s urging, published at Scribners. So with The Great Gatsby, readers are not only introduced to an American classic, but also to the Golden Age of American Literature: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Eliot, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane and others. Such creative outbursts only happen once or twice in the history of any civilization.
Currently, newspapers have published dozens of articles highlighting the public pension system. In addition, letters to the editor and editorials underscore public workers and private workers arguing about who has the best wages and retirement benefits. Meanwhile, the millionaires who have caused these animosities to surface make sure all middle class workers will continue to get the least during the current economic crisis.
These millionaires have spent vast amounts of their money on campaigns to insure that friction between public and private workers continues and shields their involvement in the criminal Wall Street practices that has destroyed millions of families. Unfortunately, Big Brother State Government Officials who raided and failed to keep their commitments to fund the public employees pension system, now use this balance deficit as an excuse to vilify their public employees.
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