None of the four developer proposals to “reinvent” the Nassau Veterans Coliseum is shockingly flawed or disturbing.
A couple of the artist’s conceptions seem like real improvements to the look of the arena building, but it’s not clear that making a cooler coliseum is what we should be looking for. Now that we no longer have to focus on what the public can do for the Islanders hockey team, we no longer need to lock ourselves into merely a newer version of what we already have.
Yet we haven’t unleashed the public’s creativity, and we still haven’t measured or reassessed what it is Nassau County needs, wants and expects out of that site and any remaining space around it. The county government seems resigned to give us Islanders Lite. No NHL hockey? We’ll have minor league hockey. Minor league something.
Maybe all of us wear clothing or use electronics or a hundred other things manufactured in conditions we wouldn’t tolerate for our children or in our communities. We choose not to live hidden away in caves, and for important items for which there are few obvious alternatives we can put our heads down and plow through our day and make another small compromise with the world.
Most of us don’t want someone to die or endure suffering for our pleasure. Many of us draw our own lines regarding non-critical products. Most readers would not knowingly purchase “conflict diamonds,” which have helped fund murderous civil wars in Africa.
If 18, 19 and 20-year-old citizens are too immature to handle a cigarette, then they are too immature to handle the standard M4 carbine issued by the U.S. Army. Bring the kids back home.
In both the New York State legislature and the New York City Council, bills to ban sales of cigarettes to adults 18-20 years old look like they have legs, and now there’s a race with other states to put selective smoking prohibition laws on the books, maybe by the end of Spring. Some county legislators are probably readying their own press releases.
We’re all still peeved about the Long Island Power Authority’s response to the last two major storms, and its explanations. Most of us want to lash out in some way. The rails are being greased for a re-privatization of our power supply system, and this is all backwards and upside down.
We’re not starting with some noble value. There’s no goal to significantly increase renewable energy or decrease emissions more than LIPA, or to offer better reliability or accountability to customers than LIPA. It’s not clear at all how in the long run this can cost Long Islanders less than LIPA.
Five state legislators do the perp walk on criminal charges in five weeks, with maybe more on the way.
I always try to look at the bright side. One of these legislators wore a wire for three years and there haven’t been nearly as many arrests or indictments as some might have figured. Another silver lining is that a bunch of the charges really aren’t about corrupting government functions, but about political greed and personal sleaze. So we’ve got all of that going for us. Call me Mr. Sunshine.
If you are in the market for health insurance coverage in Nassau County and are merely an individual, not part of a business or organization that helps pay for your policy, you don’t have a lot of attractive options. The largest health insurance company in this state, covering more than 5.5 million New Yorkers, offers two comprehensive insurance options. They will cost, depending on how much choice you want in what care providers you see, between $1,533.76 and $1,916.32 per month.
We haven’t added in your spouse or your kids, dental or vision, or the many copayments. You will have to wait nine to 11 months to be covered for pre-existing conditions, so if you have a chronic illness and some prescriptions, you may well have to pay tens of thousands of dollars before your insurance policy kicks in.
Ithaca, a little city in Upstate New York, has done it. Seattle and San Francisco have done it. I hope that more of our local governments will be doing it, because when I started writing about potential catastrophic climate change some 13 years ago, I never thought that we’d go down with barely a fight. Most of us are going to want a record, some proof, that there were indeed lines drawn.
What these municipal governments have done is to adopt policies in support of public divestment in fossil fuels. Ithaca says it will not hold financial investments in the fossil fuels industry and urges New York’s massive pension funds to also divest and redirect our monies into financially safer, biochemically cleaner, socially responsible investments.
Most of the readers who saw it were likely confused. At 9 p.m. on the night of the Patriots’ Day detonations in Boston, Governor Deval Patrick and key law enforcement officials held a widely broadcast media conference. After running through what was going to happen next for the people of Boston, the governor began to take questions from reporters. The first person he called on asked this:
“Is this another false-flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?”
The first English to plant themselves on Western Long Island brought property taxes with them. The Dutch didn’t leave us much in the way of culture or government, except for some words (cookie!). Medieval English tax systems, they stuck. A little later in the 17th century, colonial New York’s earliest property tax assessment laws actually borrowed language from England’s “Saladin Tythe” of 1188, used to pay for one of the crusades. Some of these concepts survive intact in our property tax system to this day.
Yes, the land taxes that we pay to fund our schools and local governments are pretty much the same taxes that so annoyed Robin Hood and his gang.
There are zombies here. Check your property tax bill. Some of those taxing units are dead districts walking. We can get in front of it and manage it, or sit back and eventually watch bankers and brokers and corporations tear at the carcasses.
In 2011, the last year with finalized figures, government units within Nassau County government units collected $5.85 billion in real property taxes. The biggest chunk of this went to school districts ($4.16 billion), followed by the county ($985 million) and the towns, villages and cities ($702 million). Almost uniquely among New York districts and municipalities, most of the overall revenue stream to the state’s public school system is made up of local property taxes (the county, for example, expects to get only 29 percent of its revenues from property taxes in 2013).
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Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org