Like many of you, I’m up early, reading the news and making breakfast before the rest of the family wakes up. Later, I manage to grab a few minutes to get ready between my wife and (four) children before embarking on daddy’s a.m. taxi service. This day, I’m a little late to an 8 a.m. meeting with union officials to discuss issues impacting them, but I’m sure I’ll make up the time somewhere in the day’s schedule. By 9:30 a.m., I’m at a grammar school in another part of the district explaining how a bill becomes law to 200 fourth-graders. They prove remarkably well-informed and pursue an analysis as to what recent legislation is likely to work and what they believe will not. I take mental notes.
Next up, I have the honor of introducing Governor Cuomo at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, where he is giving a presentation on his new budget. He stirs the pot and immediately following, I listen to many people sharing many opinions. Then I’m off to a 12:30 p.m. meeting (I haven’t made up that lost time yet, in fact – I’m falling further behind!) with the Manhasset Men’s Club where I give a speech and host a Q&A session about what’s happening in Albany and what this year’s goals are. At 2:15 p.m. I’m at Westbury High School for “Pizza and Politics.” My office established this program to encourage high school students to discuss their views on current events and to encourage careers in public service.
Nassau Community College recently held their semi-annual Presidential Awards presentation. Scholarship recipients, honored guests, administration, and faculty filled the seats of the college’s multipurpose room.
The program was kicked off with a musical ensemble showcasing the talent of Sean Lucas, a current student of Nassau. More than 75 deserving full and part-time students were awarded with generous scholarships thanks to the benevolence of many esteemed donors and business partners of the college. Five honorable and commendable students were awarded with the Nassau Community College Foundation Diversity Honors Scholarship.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d ask you to imagine a very complex flow chart, one with a jumble of miniscule numbers and overlapping arrows pointing in every direction that are nearly impossible to decipher. That’s what government bureaucracies tend to create. But in my years of public service, I happen to have gotten pretty good at analyzing these labyrinths, tracing their complexities back to their respective centers. What’s more, I can now almost always predict what you’ll find there: an overburdened taxpayer that doesn’t know what hit him.
You see, bureaucracies avoid coming right out and asking you for more money because they know it makes you angry. Now I know you’re saying “Are you kidding, Jack? Have you seen my property tax bill?” But I can assure you that if government truly approached you, the taxpayer, directly for everything they want, your head would explode. Rather, they prefer creating ingenious new taxes and fees, pinching a bit here, squeezing a bit there and hopefully distancing taxpayers from the sting. The former Senate majority came up with an astonishing 214 of them in 2009 alone, imposing billions of dollars in new taxes and fees as we struggled through a recession. If there was a trophy for creatively fleecing people, I have no doubt it would be found sitting on their mantle.
Giants – Patriots Super Bowl was a winner with a huge crowd attending the annual Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast. Pancakes donated by iHOP and the sausages by Churrasqueira Bairrada owned by Manny Carvalho. Orange juice, sausages, eggs and coffee were served. Paul May, the co-chair, said it was an “all you can eat” breakfast.
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At long last the diner on Herricks Road has opened. This is the site of the old Sparta Diner. The new place, called The Park City Diner, opened with a bang; enjoying breakfast were Tom and Christina Martins, Sean and Ryan Burke, Helen Culleny and Paula Calao and, at another time, Christina Barcos. She is the lay reader at Corpus Christi Church. Christina is the lady with the accent of East London. She and her husband Claude live on Emory Road. In the evening we met Larry and Sarah Cascio. The diner was closed for more than four years. Breakfast and lunch were always busy at the old Sparta. But dinner was very slow but since then, we have a popular new Portuguese restaurant nearby and lots of new offices in the area. Dinner business has been good so far, along with breakfast and lunch. Park City has 45 parking places and with parking allowed on the side streets, it shouldn’t be a problem.
We are writing this letter on behalf of PEACE – People for Excellence, Affordability, and Commitment to Education. PEACE is comprised of a number of community members from throughout the Mineola School District. We continue to be involved and committed to issues, both financial and educational, that affect the students of our district and the community as a whole.
Mineola has gone through the long and difficult process of deciding to close two buildings to cut costs while saving the programs so vital to students’ educational experience. We succeeded in containing costs last year by passing a budget with a 2.3 percent tax increase, our fourth consecutive year of 2.5 percent or under.
I flipped through hundreds of pages until I found it. I was scanning the proposed budget released by Governor Cuomo last week, looking to see how our district fared with state aid, in particular the amounts for our school districts. I guess to say I was disappointed by what I saw is an understatement – the Governor had proposed increasing state aid to education by 4 percent, yet time and again our districts were shortchanged.
It’s no secret that I happen to agree with many of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to get New York’s fiscal train back on track. For too many years, the obvious truth that many in Albany were all too happy to ignore was that New York was well on its way to financial ruin. But in tandem with Governor Cuomo, we were able to change that paralyzing mindset. In fact, the nine State Senators from Long Island were instrumental in helping to close last year’s $10 billion budget gap, capping taxes and reducing overall spending. This year, we face a $2 billion budget shortfall but we remain as committed as ever to balancing the budget without increasing taxes or raising fees.
Cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan is a popular man with a winning Irish smile and a quick wit. He enjoys good relations with Governor Cuomo in spite of difference over gay marriage. He also found President Obama receptive to many of his ideas. On a personal note, we appreciate Bishop Dolan’s cutting the ribbon on the “Women of the Spirit” exhibit at Ellis Island. This is the history of America’s nuns put together by our daughter Sister Annmarie and six other religious sisters. It has toured the U.S. and has been seen by more than a million people. Bishop Dolan said the exhibit was wonderful.
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At last the local St. Patrick’s parade staged by the Irish American Society will be held in Mineola on Sunday, March 4. Since the parade’s inception it has been held in Garden City.
Response to January 11 Letter to Editor
Mr. Robert Catell, we the people of New York are educated and you can not pull the wool over our eyes. I know you have a vested interest in fracking as the drilling sites are operated by Energy Departments. I am just going to give the hard facts about fracking.
Fracking: Drilling for natural gas where chemicals and high-pressure water are used to fracture rock, releasing the gas.
It’s called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and some herald it as the future of clean, safe energy from natural gas. But from Pennsylvania to West Virginia to Arkansas, residents are seeing earthquakes, poisoned watercourses and contaminated drinking water.
As is custom, Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State speech in which New York governors traditionally outline where we stand and where they hope to take us. The news outlets naturally put their own spin on things so although there’s not enough room here to touch on all aspects of the speech, I thought it would be good to review a few major ones together.
Much attention was paid to the Governor’s call for a constitutional amendment legalizing non-Indian casino gambling and the plan to build a convention center, casino and hotel complex at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Constitutional amendments have to be approved twice by the legislature, then once in public referendum so I think it will be difficult to build that kind of consensus.
I hoped there was more to the update than was provided so I could fully understand the issues that Congresswomen McCarthy wanted us to be aware of.
I can certainly empathize with the Congresswomen’s frustration with the state of affairs in Washington D.C. I do agree with her that we deserve more stable and responsible leadership than what we are getting but it is not because of the Tea Party Republicans.
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