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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

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.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages

In early 1946, a brouhaha erupted between the AFL and the CIO, the state’s rival federations of labor groups. Republican leaders in the state legislature endorsed the upstate-oriented AFL’s proposal that New York license and regulate barbers and cosmetologists. The downstate-oriented CIO, which had members who couldn’t document the required formal education, launched opposition so fierce and threatened political retaliation so severe that the legislation was considered dead. And then, as the 1946 session was drawing to a close and the CIO was concentrating on other things, the “barber and hairdresser bills” started moving through both houses, with almost total Republican support and Democratic opposition. Member of Assembly Genesta Strong, first-termer from Nassau County, dependable, safe and already expected to step aside, was asked to be the official sponsor of the cosmetologist licensing bill.

Governor Dewey’s signing of the bill cemented support for his re-election from the powerful AFL, which had been the whole point. To those in political inner circles, Mrs. Strong had proved herself a reliable team player whose dignity was useful in deflecting potential attack.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.

Nassau County: Wild, Wild West Of Ethics

1. Wow. Low turnout. Who could have seen it coming?

2. Don’t underestimate voters. They are so, so much smarter than they used to be. Generations have grown up being disappointed when the toy in the cereal box didn’t look like it did on television. They see right through all the plastic postcards with the witty catch lines. If you don’t get your head around this, you don’t get your head around why Governor Christie may be the next President.

3. Good for County Executive Ed Mangano’s campaign. On November 1, they mailed a personalized-looking letter to Republicans, in a stamped envelope, hand-signed “Ed” (by someone). At least it was a try. Marketers are desperate to make everything seem personal, closer, sincere. Most Long Island campaigns, utterly misinterpreting an entire era, seem to crave making their candidates seem distant, manufactured, insincere.

4. Even social media is being used by local political campaigns and organizations mostly as one-way bulletin boards. Part of it is the inconceivability of releasing “control” to outside civilians, which is exactly what businesses successfully navigating “new media” have learned to do. Part of it is campaigns driven by “metrics” (statistics) and not about building relationships and connecting in a more meaningful way.

5. Back in June, a media placement company posted two available positions on a popular job site, an entry-level staffer and an intern, who wanted to learn about media buying by working on a Democratic campaign in Nassau County. No experience necessary. Think that campaign was the firm’s highest priority? Was the campaign provided with the latest creative, cutting-edge strategy?

6. So many political candidates and government officials are satisfied at seeing their pictures on the ‘puter thing. No clue that what they’re doing is dull, difficult and ineffective.

7. Nassau County’s online property database and its online assessment appeals system are important tools for thousands appealing their tax assessments. They are buggy and confusing to use. Neither tool has been updated or refined in any significant way since they were launched during the Bush Administration.

8. It’s been a while now since

either major party in Nassau County took a stand for higher standards.

9. On September 26, Democrats in the county legislature complained that Republicans had cut off their taxpayer-funded mailings. They made the same public argument that they made regarding the vulgar, highly partisan legislative redistricting. Instead of presenting a serious proposal for reform or a positive change in culture, here is what they said to the people of this county, over and over: “We didn’t get ours.”

10. On October 30, five days before Election Day, taxpayers received another mailing from their county government. This one featured the name of the county executive six times, with his photograph, in color, on each side. The mailing was ostensibly about a job fair at the Coliseum. The job fair was scheduled for the day before Election Day. For bonus points, the card twice says “Follow Ed Mangano on Facebook,” and the Ed Mangano page on that private site features lots of photos of banners that suggest we vote for him on Row B.

11. If this was Washington or Albany, he couldn’t do this. It isn’t allowed. In Nassau County, no standard is too low. No action is too partisan. There are no checks. We are Ethical Dodge City.

12. From consistent, reasonable standards comes trust, both between individual decision makers and between the public and their government.

13. It isn’t just some pleasant idea that you might see on a greeting card. It’s also good politics. More than that, it’s the only hope we have of fixing what is broken and maintaining the daily quality of life we’ve come to expect.

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