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 Mike Barry Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00
Comedian Jeff Ross was roasting actor Charlie Sheen when he rhetorically asked whether anyone knew how much cocaine Sheen had used in recent years. The answer: “Enough to kill two-and-a-half men.”
I thought of that joke late last month while at the Republican National Convention (RNC) because every time I lifted my head and glanced at a television there was an advertisement which called Rep. Connie Mack, the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in Florida, a “Charlie Sheen Republican.” The ad stated that Rep. Mack loves Hooters restaurants, periodically gets into bar brawls, and often asks his father to settle his unpaid bills. I’m still not sure how that makes Mack unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Don’t worry; that’s not the only story I’m bringing back from my Florida trip. This columnist’s theme this week is how difficult it is to gauge how the media is portraying the RNC when you are at the RNC. To make the point, let me offer a few observations about three storylines which emerged in Tampa during the final week of August: Hurricane Isaac, Rep. Paul Ryan’s vice presidential nomination speech, and the after-hours scene at the RNC.
Hurricane Isaac, had it made landfall near Tampa, would likely have caused either the cancellation or postponement of the RNC. Most RNC delegates were housed far from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the RNC, residing in St. Petersburg and Clearwater hotels situated to the west of Tampa. More importantly, someone traveling to Tampa from either of those cities usually crosses the Howard Frankland Bridge, which appears to have been built about 10 feet above Old Tampa Bay. Days after Isaac had come and gone, the bay’s choppy waters appeared close to jumping onto the bridge, which would have forced its closure and made it impossible for hundreds of RNC delegates to attend the RNC.
The morning after Rep. Ryan’s speech, and a few hours after I left the Kid Rock concert which took place immediately afterwards (more on that in a moment), I was stunned to see on the CNN news crawl this line: ‘Romney camp defends Ryan’s speech.’ That’s news? The Romney camp probably wrote Rep. Ryan’s remarks. I did not know at the time that the Wisconsin congressman’s stated timeline about a General Motors (GM) plant’s closure in Janesville, Wisconsin, had been discussed endlessly on the cable news programs.
I would have learned about the GM controversy earlier on the RNC’s final day had I not attended the incredibly entertaining Kid Rock concert, which was held at Liberty Plaza, a so-called insta-venue built not far from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. I can report to my fellow middle-aged people out there that more than half of the sizable crowd was 40-plus and, like me, a little surprised, but happy, to find themselves at an event which began after midnight.
Those unfamiliar with Kid Rock should know he was briefly married to actress Pamela Anderson, was once involved in a late-night brawl at a Waffle House, and opines about mind-altering drugs in some of his songs. In other words, Kid Rock is a Charlie Sheen Republican.