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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Learning Lessons

Some former adversaries shouldn’t be invited to play on your team, no matter how good the deal looks at first glance. That’s a lesson the New York Mets front office and the state Senate’s Republican leadership may someday learn.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, a longtime Mets foe, signed with the New York Mets as a free agent in 2002. Glavine compiled a mediocre record during his five years here and Mets fans never really warmed up to him. Having fulfilled the terms of his contract, Glavine returned to Atlanta and has since been cut by the Braves. Fast forward to last week, the Mets looked again to the Atlanta Braves for a new player, securing the services of outfielder Jeff Francoeur in exchange for Ryan Church. I hope I’m wrong but when the Braves send anyone to a division rival like the Mets, it usually means the Braves have given up on him, for good reason.

Neither Senator Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) nor Senator Pedro Espada Jr. (D-Bronx, or so he says) should have been signed as ‘free agents’ by the state Senate’s Republican leadership. They’ve spent their entire careers climbing the Democrat Party’s ranks and were elected to office by defeating Republican candidates. Moreover, the two lawmakers continued to wear their ‘D’ jerseys in the state Legislature, even after they crossed the aisle to align themselves with the ‘R’ team. What stood in the way of having both of them return to the Democratic fold? The answer: nothing.

Turning to the governmental implications of the state Senate stalemate, which began on June 8 and ended on July 9, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi repeatedly told the media how the city and county were ‘losing’ money because of Albany’s turmoil. Not every journalist bought that line.

Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin explained that Bloomberg’s inability to get his extraordinary city sales tax increase (to 8.875 percent from 8.375 percent) authorized by the state Legislature was actually good news for consumers and businesses. For instance, someone buying a $20,000 car within the five boroughs during the first week of July paid $100 less in sales taxes than they would have if purchasing that same car later this summer because the state Senate has since approved the higher city sales tax levy.

But incomplete information also abounded on Long Island. Newsday had a story last Friday headlined ‘what the coup cost NY.’ Nassau, the article stated, “is losing $100,000 a day waiting for a bill authorizing it to issue bonds for termination payments in lieu of layoffs.” Left unsaid, however, was the county wanted to issue $65 million in bonds to finance these same payments. The state Senate approved Nassau’s borrowing plan days after the stalemate ended. By the way, does that mean Nassau is now gaining $100,000 a day?

County Executive Suozzi has also been pushing, without success, to have the state Legislature authorize a $2 per-pack Nassau county tax on cigarettes. New York lawmakers recognize it would be odd for them to ask smokers to balance Nassau’s budget while the state’s Health Department is touting relentlessly a Smokers’ Quit Line.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net