The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Giving up is not “reform.” County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal to transfer property assessment from the county to the towns might possibly speed up assessment decisions by replacing one large and overwhelmed bureaucracy with several somewhat smaller ones. It will likely recreate problems that were major motivations in creating our highly centralized county government 75 years ago.
The 1938 county charter merged the town Boards of Assessors and the County Board of Equalization, ending three decades of complaints, lawsuits and hard feelings about the lack of specific, uniform levels of property assessments between the towns. In a tax system screaming out for simplification, clarification and a sense of certainty, spinning off assessments to the towns will reintroduce “equalization” as an annual issue. Tens of thousands of residents are still trying to figure out why their assessment went down but their tax bill still went up. The division of taxes heading up the tax food chain in an equitable manner is the most complex subject in local government, and it’s all going to make people very sad, particularly in villages and school districts that are split between townships.
Manhattan District Attorney (D.A.) Robert Morgenthau was facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from a former judge in 2005, but his opponent had trouble finding anything substantively negative to say about Morgenthau.
The reason I know this: a city-based tabloid newspaper reporter called me weeks before the election, asking whether it was legal to have a Manhattan driver’s license while at the same time registering and insuring a car in Dutchess County, where auto insurance premiums are much lower. The answer: yes, so long as the insured vehicle is primarily garaged in Dutchess County. I was the director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department at the time and knew immediately the question pertained to Morgenthau because he met those criteria.
Written by Michael A. Miller Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
1. It’s a simple premise. No one should have to see six-year-olds with the 2,000 Yard Stare.
2. Real Americans don’t want to see it ever again. If there is a silver lining to any of this, it’s that rank-and-file citizens, inured enough to mass killings that we can’t remember most of the previous twelve in 2012 without difficulty, are now saying, “No More. No.” We don’t know how and we don’t know what, but we have to change some things.
3. I’m writing this a week before you’ll read it, so you will know much more than I know. Developments are unfolding almost hourly, including some that were unrealistic only days ago. The NRA, whose power and influence is based not in cash but in lists, has taken down its Facebook page.
4. Officials at every level of government need to think about what they can do. Or what they have done.
5. For almost 10 years, the Center for Disease Control has been prohibited by law, passed by Congress and signed by the president, from even studying health and safety issues related to guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been prohibited from releasing critical statistics and data related to guns and gun violence. Because some Americans can’t handle it. Because some corporations can’t risk it. Because we’re all distracted. Because.
6. We aren’t being given the information we need. We’ve had options. More than 15 years ago, I wrote political campaign literature used in Nassau County about new technologies that restrict who could fire a weapon. President Clinton was in his first term. The police can use your smartphone data to track your movements. Chips can track your pets. Many water suppliers read your meter by driving up the street with a computer. We’re already in a Surveillance Society, but the one thing we should be able to catalogue, locate and track— military weaponry—is off the grid.
7. There are almost three times as many firearms floating around as there are households in the United States. We couldn’t find all of them. Can’t the ones that are sold from this point forward, and any others that responsible owners are willing to modify, be made as safe as possible?
8. The technology that can alert the police if an assault weapon comes within a certain distance of the front door of a school building is simpler than the technology you might use to order movie tickets on your phone.
9. Simple is as simple does. Legislators in Tennessee have announced that a bill will be introduced requiring every school to have at least one armed staff member. It can be either a “resource officer” (an armed guard) or a secretly armed faculty member. Three governors have publicly endorsed this kind of legislation. One congressman has suggested that all principals should have access to their own assault rifle. Think about some of your old school principals, packing heat. Imagine the costs for prison-like security when it’s known that there’s an arsenal for the taking in every school building.
10. Even the obvious, sensible measures being talked about most wouldn’t stop some of these things, maybe wouldn’t have stopped Connecticut. But they would reduce risk.
11. Doing nothing is not an option if the United States wants to maintain any of what is left of its moral leadership of the Western world.
12. Because there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, one even many ardently progressive gun-safety advocates will have to think hard about. I’m glad that surveys already show that most Americans recognize that this wave of massacres is about more than access to guns, or cuts to mental health programs or an economic reality that produces disaffected, frustrated males.
13. The president has a secret Kill List that includes U.S. citizens. Increasingly, the answer to every international challenge is violence, to the point where politicians have to defend themselves if they don’t call for war.
14. These gunmen don’t relate to the people on the ground. They relate to the drones.
15. And the world increasingly asks, “What has happened to America?”
16. One answer starts with, “No More. No.”