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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
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.

MTA’s Cash Grab

Election campaigns conclude but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) search for additional revenues never ends.

I truly believe Spinal Tap’s Gimme Some Money should be played at the start of the MTA’s Wednesday, Nov. 7, 5 p.m. public hearing at Farmingdale State College, Roosevelt Hall-Little Theatre, 2350 Broadhollow Road, in Farmingdale.  The MTA is billing the gathering as an opportunity to discuss 2013’s Fare, Toll & Service Changes. Spoiler alert: the MTA’s fares are going up; it is just a question of how much.

But I must give MTA chairman Joseph Lhota his due. He found well-placed people to justify the upcoming Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New York City subway, bridge and tunnel fare hikes. They are slated to take effect in early 2013 unless the public objects vociferously to the MTA’s plans. I’m kidding, of course. This thing is a done deal.

The New York Post’s lead editorial on Wednesday, Oct. 24, (‘Paying for TWU Pensions’) stated that “when the protestors line up at the MTA’s upcoming public hearings on fare hikes, they might spend a little less energy yelling at [Joseph] Lhota, and a little more pondering how much they’ll be contributing to [Transport Workers Union] Local 100’s lush benefit plans.”  The TWU represents thousands of New York City transit workers and I’ve complained previously about their illegal 2005 strike and the outrageous 11 percent wage increase their members received over a three-year period as the economy collapsed. But this state allows for binding arbitration, and the TWU encountered a friendly arbitrator the last time their contract expired, so they won while transit riders and taxpayers lost.  

Rather than demonize public employee unions who take advantage of a flawed system to shake down the populace, The New York Post should ask its best investigative reporters to explore the following passage from the Citizens Budget Commission’s (CBC) just-released A Better Way to Pay for the MTA.

“This project [the Fulton Street Transit Center in lower Manhattan] is a new terminal for multiple subway lines at the existing Fulton Street subway station.  The initial plan was for completion in July 2009 at a cost of $750 million; the latest estimates are for completion in June 2014 at a cost of $1.4 billion,” the CBC report states.

To its credit, the CBC in that same study calls for the placement of more tolls on vehicular crossings into Manhattan to fund mass transit and discourage urban driving. But Carol Kellermann, the CBC’s president, ruined everything by downplaying that proposal, and instead highlighting what might as well be the MTA’s current talking points in a Monday, Oct. 22 letter to The New York Times. Ms. Kellermann’s first observation was that “transit riders pay less than half of the cost of their rides,” ignoring the fact that these same riders pay for the rest of their trip via various MTA taxes. She then had the audacity to write “the MTA policy of regular and predictable fare increases is preferable to the historic pattern of large irregular increases in tough times.”

Well, Kellermann does have a point. Governmental agencies overseeing projects which are five years late, and $650 million over-budget, need regular and predictable fare increases.