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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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A Dozen Quick Conversation Starters

1. Senator Gillibrand has been in office for six months and now has eight official district offices around the state, which is five more district offices than Senator Moynihan had after he held the seat for more than 20 years.

2. This is what insiders sometimes call, “the permanent campaign.” Yes, taxpayers pay for the offices. Do they exist to take more information in or to merely shoot more public relations material out?

3. I am somewhat disappointed in that the Nassau County homepage now has eight mentions of Mr. Suozzi by name and two photographs of him, down from ten mentions and three photos a few weeks ago.

4. The home page of the Nassau County website (www.nassaucountyny.gov) has a large banner about the proposed Lighthouse Project at Mitchel Field (“Learn about the county’s most exciting project in decades”). When you click on the banner, you are connected to lighthouseli.com, a private promotional web site produced by the project developers. There isn’t even a standard warning the user that he or she is leaving the official government web site for a private site. This isn’t very different from connecting to a campaign web site. Your tax dollars are driving viewers to a lobbying site.

5. Who do we complain to in Nassau County when things like that happen? No one. There is virtually no meaningful ethics enforcement structure in place. The subject doesn’t even get a sentence at the official county web site. Fortunately, the site’s “Suozzi in the Community” page still has seven photos of the county executive, and mentions him by name 15 times. So we still have some standards in place.

6. From the vault: “Mr. Suozzi proposes adopting a campaign finance system similar to New York City’s. He would prohibit corporations and unions from contributing and cap individual contributions at $2,100. He would seek to make legislative elections competitive by pushing for nonpartisan redistricting...” That’s from The New York Times, Sept. 10, 2006.

7. Here’s another: “We need to pass redistricting reform this year,” Suozzi said. “Having more competitive elections will force our elected officials to be more accountable. Democracy does not work unless there’s competition.” That’s Newsday, May 10, 2006.

8. The Nassau County Legislature has full and complete authority to adopt these and other reforms for its own campaigns.

9. It is a little scary, is it not, just how fast the Democratic Party establishment is not only lining up to support Senator Gillibrand, but to push out any opposition. Senator Moynihan’s first election in 1976 was seen by some as a fluke after he squeaked by in a five-way primary, and it was assumed that he worked under the assumption that could well face serious opposition from another Democrat in 1982. He had primary opponents every time he ran. It made him a better Senator.

10. As a promotion, a popular website will allow attendees at an upcoming genealogy conference 15 minutes to digitize family documents and photographs using high-speed scanners. This is typically enough time to digitize about 100 items. Meanwhile, we’ve still got local governments in this county working off paper and index cards. Why?

11. The Mike Miller who the Democratic and Conservative leaders picked to represent their parties in the 38th Assembly District (Ozone Park) special election is not me.

12. Medical costs cause a majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States, and a majority of those facing medical-related bankruptcy have what they thought was health insurance. System broken.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. He lives in New Hyde Park.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net