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 Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Comedian Chris Rock, in an HBO special which aired after 1999’s Columbine High School massacre, observed that the two murderers were supposedly depressed because they had only six friends. “I didn’t have six friends in high school,” Rock said. “I don’t have six friends now.”
Novelist Kristin Hannah has made a name for herself in the world of contemporary women’s fiction by exploring female friendship, with 2009’s Firefly Lane focusing on the lifelong bond between Kate Ryan and Tully Hart. Firefly Lane is the street where they grew up.
Hannah, who lives in the state of Washington, where many of her stories are set, is coming to Huntington next week as part of her book tour for Fly Away (St. Martin’s Press). It is the follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Firefly Lane. One critic compared Firefly Lane favorably to Iris Dart’s Beaches, a novel adapted into a film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.
Before coming to Long Island, Hannah will be in Manhattan on Tuesday, April 23, Fly Away’s official publication date, at the Barnes & Noble, 150 East 86th St., at 7 p.m. She will then travel on Thursday, April 25, to Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, at 7 p.m. for a talk and book signing.
One of the theories I’ve developed about soap operas and cable TV networks that appeal to women, such as Lifetime, is that it is all about the bed: who’s in it, how did they get there, and is there someone lying next to them who you didn’t expect to see there. Hannah’s Fly Away has plenty of such moments, with one of the novel’s main characters ending up in a hospital bed because of an auto accident, and another landing in her godmother’s bed with a guy wearing more make-up than Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Fly Away chronicles the epic aftermath of Kate’s death, and how it sends Tully into a personal and professional tailspin, and Marah, Kate’s daughter, into the arms of a mascara-wearing man. They met in a group grief counseling session, in case you were wondering how that happened.
Kate was married and had three children while Tully, the love of her life having wed another woman, became a nationally renowned television personality. Tully walked away from her popular TV program, The Girlfriend Hour, to care for the cancer-stricken Kate in the final months of Kate’s life, a decision that comes back to haunt Tully. There’s also an extended sub-plot in Fly Away involving Tully’s estranged mother, Dorothy, whose lifetime addictions to alcohol and marijuana lead Dorothy to another bed, this one at a rehabilitation center.
In her official bio, Hannah volunteers that she and her mother, who was hospitalized while suffering from cancer, spent two months together during that time co-authoring a historical romance that was not ready for prime time. A bed again took center stage for Hannah’s writing years ago when she was placed on five-months’ bed rest while pregnant with her son.
There’s a missive posted at Kristin Hannah’s Facebook page which says “Reminder: Your Girlfriends Will Probably Outlive Your Husband. So Find Good Ones.’ The actuarial tables say that’s generally what occurs in real life, but it wasn’t the case for the fictional Kate Ryan.