Beware mayoral power grab in aftermath of Spa City charter vote
Thanks and congratulations are due to all who worked to preserve Saratoga Springs’ unique and effective form of government on Nov. 6.
As Mayor Scott Johnson takes steps to appoint his own charter commission, he should take note that this was the third referendum in the last 12 years that has resoundingly affirmed our citizens’ support for the commissioner form of government.
Mayor Johnson’s appointees should proceed with caution. The voters and taxpayers like two-year terms and direct access to elected heads of departments. Most of all, our citizens like the checks and balances inherent in the current charter. The mayor’s idea of taking budgeting power away from the finance commissioner and giving it to the mayor creates the potential for runaway capital spending and higher taxes.
Under the present charter, the mayor coordinates the capital budget and submits it to finance for a determination whether enough money is available to proceed. If the mayor’s capital budget only required such a determination by the mayor, we would lose a critical “check” on fiscal matters.
If voters rejected anything in the past three referenda, it was the idea of consolidating power in any one elected or appointed official. Checks and balances keep officials accountable, keep our taxes low, and will maintain our credit rating.
As a former mayor [1974 to 1980], I know how mayors yearn for more say-so over city government affairs. But let’s face it: That’s not what Saratogians want, and it’s not what they’ve voted for time and again.
GOP lost with Romney right out of the gate
The Republicans blew it. They lost the day they picked Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate.
The way you beat the ethnic vote is to join them. The GOP knew they needed help getting the women’s vote; they knew they needed help getting the Catholic vote, and they knew they needed help getting the Hispanic vote.
So they picked Ryan, who actually polarized the women’s vote. They passed up female Gov. [Susana] Martinez of New Mexico, who would have given them all three things they needed, and they even passed up Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who would have given them two of the three.
Ryan is so far right of Romney, he didn’t bring one vote that Romney didn’t already have. Surely Karl Rove knew this. How did he let this happen?
Time Warner confusing on modem lease options
I am writing to bring some attention to Time Warner Cable’s new policy of charging a lease fee for cable modems we use for Internet access.
Recently I received a card informing about this fee that would be included in my November bill. It also gives a Website to check for approved cable modems. One of the online merchants it lists, H.H. Gregg, does not carry any [for purchase, instead of leasing].
After contacting Time Warner support, they agreed to give me a credit in my next month’s bill for the fee.
Another point is that the modem I currently have from Time Warner and the one they want me to pay $3.95 a month for can be purchased for about $20-$25, but it is not in their approved devices list.
I already have filed a complaint at state Consumer Protection Board.
If you are not happy with Time Warner raising your bills retroactively or not letting you purchase a device that is identical to the one they will lease you, please contact the Consumer Protection Board at 474-8583.
Obamacare has version of long-term insurance
Re Nov. 11 letter, “Beware long-term-care insurance minefield”: Patricia Misiuk writes of many of the perils of private long-term-care insurance. She makes a great case for why the CLASS [Community Living Assistance Support and Services] Act needs to be implemented. The CLASS Act, now a law, is part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and is waiting for Health and Human Services to develop policy and procedures for its implementation.
The program is on hold since it required an accounting certification that would be self-sustaining for 75 years. A bill to reduce that to 15 years is in Congress and was waiting until after the election. Hopefully, now Congress and the president will re-focus on the CLASS Act and develop the necessary requirements.
The CLASS Act provides a public long-term-care insurance program alternative to private insurance with a monthly payment between $5 and $100, depending upon income, for a daily benefit of $50 to $100, if two of six Aides to Daily Living — bathing, feeding, toileting, ambulation, dressing, medication reminder — are met.
The specific monthly fee and daily payments are being worked out by HHS. It will be an op-out contribution with automatic enrollment unless the employer or enrollee ops out. One will need to be employed for three of five years of contributions, vesting after five years, with a minimum income of $12,000 per year.
Congress needs to act on the CLASS Act.
Obama too busy getting re-elected to do right
Re the “Now, where was I?” question posed in the Nov. 8 Opinion cartoon by a satisfied-looking President Obama:
Mr. President, you were busy running up our national debt to never-before-seen levels (for your own political gain), misleading us about the reality of the terrorist attack in Libya (for your own political gain), and doing your best to divide our country along racial, gender and net worth lines (again, for your own political gain). All done while maintaining your golf handicap, making an appearance as “eye candy” on The View, and looking presidential on your Sandy photo-ops.
Congratulations on your re-election, Mr. President, can’t wait to see what you will do to this country the next four years.
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