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, 22 February 2013 00:00Violet Epps, the 37-year-old protagonist in Ellen Meister’s just-published novel, Farewell, Dorothy Parker, needs to channel her inner b____, and the late Dorothy Parker’s often-inebriated ghost takes Epps under her wing to help Epps do just that.
Meister, a married mother of three who resides in Jericho, will be promoting her fourth novel with appearances on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m., at Huntington’s Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., and on Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m., at Barnes & Noble, 91 Old Country Road, Carle Place.
The narrative device Meister conjures up—the idea that the late writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) could return, albeit in spirit, to inspire a modern-day woman to be more assertive in all aspects of her life—works surprisingly well. And the author definitely knows every facet of Parker’s biography, effectively weaving many of the famed Algonquin Round Table member’s actual life experiences into the many challenges the fictional Epps faces. In the 1920s, New York City’s Algonquin Hotel regularly hosted a luncheon attended by the era’s top writers and editors, and Parker was one of the Table’s most celebrated members.
Set primarily on Long Island, the story focuses on Epps, a divorced woman who has found professional success as a movie critic at Enjoy magazine, reaching millions of Americans each week with a publication that sounds comparable to US Weekly. Yet Epps cannot translate the moxie evident in her written words into the concrete actions needed to bolster her day-to-day life, where office politics, a bitter custody battle, and the prospect of romance looms with her kung fu instructor, a fellow named Michael from Plainview.
Parker’s ghost provides wise counsel to Epps on how she should address all of these matters, and the late writer is able to launch an endless series of entertaining observations and one-liners while consuming more alcohol than a frat house on a Saturday night. Epps’ enemies at Enjoy, the grandparents who want sole custody of Violet’s 13-year-old niece, and Michael, the martial arts expert, have no idea what they’re in for when Parker’s various game plans are set into motion. The action only slows down when Parker’s ghost runs out of gas near the end of the book, perhaps because her heightened blood alcohol level has rendered Parker speechless.
Meister also keeps Parker’s spirit alive on Facebook, where the novelist launched a Dorothy Parker Fan Page that has attracted nearly 70,000 followers, making Parker the “liveliest dead author” on Facebook, according to G.P. Putnam’s Sons, the book’s publisher.
“I always suspected there were legions of Dorothy Parker fans out there, and finding so many of them has been a singular joy,” Meister said. “Best of all, the page has become a community—a place where smart, literate people can connect to enjoy a national treasure.”
In addition, Meister teaches creative writing at Hofstra University School of Continuing Education and runs an online group where she mentors aspiring women authors.
One minor complaint about Farewell, Dorothy Parker: I read fiction to escape current events so I groaned audibly when Parker’s ghost got teary-eyed in one scene upon recounting Barack Obama’s victorious 2008 presidential campaign. I was wondering why Parker would be crying about that turn of events, and then it occurred to me that Parker’s ghost is probably earning at least $250,000 a year.