Cuomo’s consolidation push just one more imposition on locals
I am never comfortable accepting the pronouncements of authority figures when they are presented without justification as self-evident facts. So I am naturally suspicious when Gov. Cuomo proclaims that local government consolidation is the solution to the high taxes in New York.
Armed with no facts beyond the number of municipalities (10,500 he claims), the governor has proposed to withhold tax rebates from individual property owners that live in areas of the state that don’t meet his mandates for consolidation of local government.
This is, at the very least, arrogant. Does the governor assume that local municipal governments are just blindly thrown together, and that he knows better than the local officials how their governments should operate? What happens when, as in the case of the Scotia and Glenville courts, the assessment of the local officials is that consolidation doesn’t make sense. Should this subject local property owners to a tax penalty?
What makes the governor’s plan even worse is that a substantial majority of local taxes do not pay for municipal government costs: rather they go to pay for unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments. It just plain doesn’t make sense that the root of the problem is that we have too many municipalities.
When something can’t be what it is claimed to be, I have to wonder what it really is. My least paranoid side wonders if local costs are being lowered to make room for more unfunded mandates. My other side wonders if 10,500 things are just too many to control from Albany. Certainly local resistance to the governor’s new laws has been well documented, and centralized control will improve compliance.
Governor: Our tax problem comes from higher levels of government imposing their will onto local governments. The solution is not more imposition.
For more income equity, raise minimum wage
Inequality has deepened and upward mobility has stalled. President Obama has called upon Congress to help raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, suggesting that this would aid in reducing inequality significantly.
At the current federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, it’s impossible for a family to breach the poverty line without at least working two or more jobs. The poverty line for a family of four is a household income of $23,550. The current federal minimum wage only allows a worker to make $15,080 annually before taxes working full-time. Even with a second job daily life can be a struggle, with fear of going into debt due to potential health care costs if a family member is injured or becomes sick.
All the while during this rough period of economic mobility for middle and lower income groups, corporations have been seeing profits at all-time highs. This period of elevated corporate profits just so happens to be running parallel with a period of the highest inequality since the eve of the Great Depression. Only those in the upper income percentiles have seen significant increases in real wages, increases that are several fold those near the bottom.
There is a need for a new national mandate on minimum wage. This need has driven a handful of states to take their own action by increasing their minimum wage on statewide and local levels. We need a new federal minimum wage.
First-degree murder it wasn’t in Florida
In regard to E. J. Dionne’s Feb. 24 column, I am surprised that a columnist of his intelligence and experience didn’t bother to look up the Florida statute on first-degree murder before penning that column.
Under Florida statute Title XLIV Chapter 782.04 (2) “The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree. . .”
Therefore the jury’s failure to convict Michael Dunn on the charge of first-degree (capital) murder was based neither on racism nor the “stand your ground” act (XLVI 776.012), but rather on a faithful discharge of their duties under the law. The jury rejected both the first-degree murder charge and the “stand your ground” defense.
One questions why the prosecutors did not charge second-degree murder in the first place, and why the jury failed to convict on either second-degree murder or manslaughter, as these are lesser included offenses under Florida law.
Five stars for experience at Bow Tie Cinema
I have read with interest the ongoing discussion on this page regarding the Bow Tie Cinema in downtown Schenectady.
While I guess it might be nice to have some “artier” fare at the theater, I have to say that when I do go to the movies there, and I go often, I always have an excellent experience.
The staff, from the ticket sellers to the concessionaires to the maintenance workers, are consistently polite, informed and helpful. The facility continues to be in excellent condition years after opening. Parking in the Broadway garage — free. Popcorn — great.
I am a frequent patron of the Bow Tie Cinema, and I thank them for continuously providing me with terrific entertainment in a wonderful environment. Bravo!
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