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, 14 June 2013 00:00
Lawrence Quinn, a former Glen Cove resident and the father of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is an Irish-American man of a certain age. So I can only imagine the look on his face when playwright Eve Ensler read aloud graphic passages of her best-known work, The Vagina Monologues, at his daughter’s 1999 City Council swearing-in ceremony.
When Ensler was finished, Mr. Quinn, who was sitting onstage during Ensler’s performance, looked at his daughter and said, “You couldn’t just have had the Pledge of Allegiance?”
Nope, that’s not the way Councilwoman Quinn rolls. A person’s sexual preference(s) are the prism through which his youngest daughter sees almost everything, if her just-published memoir, With Patience and Fortitude (William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), is a representative assessment of her worldview. Exhibit A: the emcee of the aforementioned 1999 event was a person identifying as transgender.
Christine Quinn is one of the top contenders in the Sept. 10 New York City Democratic mayoral primary, so some of her book’s passages have already made headlines, such as Quinn’s admissions that she once combated bulimia and has also needed to curb her intake of alcoholic beverages.
One of the running themes throughout Quinn’s autobiography, however, is the impact her mother’s death, in 1982, had on the then-16-year-old Quinn. The late Mary Quinn battled breast cancer for years before dying, leaving a husband and two daughters: Christine, and her older sister, Ellen. The family lived at the time on Libby Drive in Glen Cove. The future City Council Speaker graduated from Old Westbury School of the Holy Child, where she was the class president, before moving on to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Quinn’s moxie and political activism came into view during her years at Trinity, from which she graduated in 1988, after majoring in urban studies and education. She even spent one year as the institution’s mascot, dressing up as a Bantam at athletic events, and worked periodically for Connecticut’s Public Interest Research Group.
Her long, slow climb in the New York City political world began in 1991 as campaign manager, and then chief of staff, for City Councilman Tom Duane. His district covered Manhattan’s West Village and Chelsea neighborhoods. After Councilman Duane, an openly gay man who volunteered he was HIV-positive, won a state Senate seat in 1998, Quinn prevailed the next year in a crowded race to succeed him as a City Council Member. She has represented that district for 14-plus years, in part because Quinn, the City Council Speaker since 2006, convinced the City Council to set aside the voter-approved term limits law, which held that city lawmakers should only serve two terms. The maneuver allowed her, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to seek four-year terms in 2009. They won while paying a political price. The mayor spent about $100 million of his own fortune but won re-election by only a few percentage points, and Quinn is being repeatedly asked in 2013 to defend her term-limits decision.
As for her personal life, the state’s marriage equality law allowed Quinn and her longtime partner, attorney Kim Catullo, to marry one another in 2012, and Lawrence Quinn was there to walk his daughter down the aisle. To Mr. Quinn’s relief, I am sure, Eve Ensler was not asked to provide entertainment at the reception.