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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

Viewpoint

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.


Cuomo 2014: As Seen On TV

Citizen Action of New York and Working Families Organization sent a direct-mail piece this month to registered Democrats in state Senator Jack Martins’ (R-Mineola) district, asking them to call his office and “tell him to clean up Albany by passing public funding of elections.”

But why should anyone bother? Publicly funded state electioneering is taking place today, something that is self-evident to any New Yorker who has watched television this spring.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have seen on multiple occasions a television ad from the state’s Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC), touting The “New” New York, a place where taxes are coming down, burdensome regulations are being rolled back, and out-of-state businesses are eager to relocate. The online version of The “New” New York is at www.thenewny.com. In real life, it is harder to find instances where these trends are materializing within the Empire State.

Now, I knew I’d heard the “New” New York phrase before. And, sure enough, it appeared in the governor’s January 2013 State of the State address. Knowing few New Yorkers would hear that speech, the ESDC allocated millions of dollars in taxpayer monies toward TV ads in the hope that the “New” New York tag line, and the illusion of progress it conveys, would become imprinted on every TV-watcher’s brain.

Yes, these ESDC TV spots are publicly funded, but what does this have to do with state elections? This is all about the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, even though the governor’s name is not mentioned in the ESDC’s ads. Someone visiting the website cited in these TV spots, however, is immediately greeted by a picture of the governor. The New York Times’ Danny Hakim subsequently reported that the ESDC’s TV ad budget received an influx of federal taxpayer money through the Hurricane Sandy aid package so 49 other states are now funding this initiative, as well. The Sandy-themed ads will tell people New York State is “open for business.” Who knew?

The ESDC’s advertising campaign reached a crescendo this month when the agency touted Buffalo as a place to do business. It was the least the ESDC could do after the ESDC secured for itself a 12-seat suite at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the upcoming Buffalo Bills season, a deal first reported by the Times’ Hakim. Who’s getting the Bills tickets? The ESDC said they’ll be used to entertain decision-makers weighing whether to move their business to western New York. Yet the suite could just as easily be used by state office holders to repay their political supporters.  

So, to recap, here’s the situation. State and federal taxpayers, without being asked, have through the ESDC’s ads lent their indirect support to Cuomo 2014. The state’s taxpayers have also made a $54 million commitment to refurbishing Ralph Wilson Stadium, which may have had something to do with the Cuomo administration gaining suite seats this year to eight Bills home games, too.

Citizen Action of New York and Working Families Organization, through its advertising efforts, has done two things for the governor: promoted his call for publicly funded state election campaigns, and criticized Republican state senators who are unwilling to codify such a system. The holdouts are right. There is no need to have a law on the books; taxpayer-financed state campaigns are already occurring.