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, MFBARRY@optonline.net Thursday, 14 March 2013 00:00There was a time not long ago when millions of New Yorkers learned something for the first time when they opened their morning newspaper.
And a few of the people who wrote for the city’s tabloids in the late 20th century were themselves larger than life, such as the late New York Post reporter Nora Ephron (1941-2012), who would go on to fame and fortune in Hollywood, and the late New York Daily News columnist Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the infamous Abner Louima case. McAlary died of cancer in 1998. He was 41 years old.
Given their shared newspaper pedigree, it is fitting that Ephron’s final script was the Broadway play, Lucky Guy, which is in previews this month and opens on Monday, April 1, at Manhattan’s Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St. Tom Hanks portrays the Lucky Guy, McAlary, who made a name for himself in the 1980s and 1990s with his sensational stories about police corruption. His work appeared in the New York Post, New York Newsday and the Daily News. McAlary, his wife, Alice (played by Maura Tierney) and their four children had a home in Suffolk County’s Bellport. Indeed, a significant part of Lucky Guy takes place there.
One of Lucky Guy’s characters is Jim Dwyer of The New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist in his own right. In an e-mail exchange with me last week, Dwyer offered an observation about Ephron’s script (“I’ve read it, and think it’s great”), what it’s like to see yourself portrayed on a Broadway stage and how he met McAlary.
“I’ve met Michael Gaston [the actor playing Dwyer] and he seems like much too nice a guy, and far too good looking, to portray me. But I’m not going to fight with that,” Dwyer wrote.
“The level of work that he [Gaston] and all the actors are putting in is very impressive; I suppose this goes on all the time in theater, but getting a little bit of the backstage look has been a big eye-opener.”
“We met at New York Newsday in the late 1980s and became very good friends,” Dwyer continued. “He [McAlary] went on to write columns at the Daily News; I was writing columns for New York Newsday, and then later, with him, at the News. We would speak every day, practically, and help each other with phone numbers and sources. Mike was the premier reporter of his generation on New York City police. He broke more stories, helped bring about more reform, and had more front pages than anyone. The play, at least on paper and I’m betting on stage, does full justice to his humor, his humanity, his flaws and his greatness. It’s an amazing story of a guy who flew high, had a tragic setback, but then got back up to expose an atrocity and win the Pulitzer Prize just before he died.”
Beyond introducing McAlary to a new generation of New Yorkers, Hanks also is being asked to generate on stage the kind memorable performances he gave in Ephron-directed movies such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). Hanks’ love interest in both of those films was Meg Ryan. Ephron, along with David Ward and Jeff Arch, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle.
In fact, I sense that Ephron, McAlary and Hanks share the same worldview and dark humor of the Sleepless in Seattle character who, after hearing someone talk excitedly about a budding romance, was asked “What do they call it when everything intersects?” Their answer: The Bermuda Triangle.