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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Government Beat

1. In 1998, when previous owners threatened to move the Islanders even temporarily, county officials marched into State Supreme Court and got a ruling and an injunction that said the lease on the Coliseum was ironclad, and that the Islanders could play only in the Coliseum until the lease ran out in 2015. Now it seems like the county administration is shoving Islanders’ owner Charles Wang toward the exit and saying, “See what you’re making him do?”…

 

2. Back in 1998, County Executive Thomas Gulotta accused the Islanders’ owners of using the condition of the Coliseum as “a ruse”to improve their bargaining position in negotiations to build a new arena and to develop the surrounding 70 acres. I leave it at that…

3. Businesses along the New York-Canada border are suffering in part because of the passport requirement that went into effect on May 1, an extra expense and hassle that has killed impulse travel. Also, Canadians don’t want to shell out high fees for temporary health insurance in case they become sick on American soil and need to visit one of our doctors or hospitals…

4. Recently, I was in a county office, doing some research for one of these essays. Handing in a request form, I asked the clerk if the information could also be found on one of the public computer terminals in the room. The clerk said, “Don’t ask me about the computers. I don’t know anything about them.” She handed me the information on microfilm. It’s the New Nassau. It is not the fault of this worker, who was quite pleasant and trying to be helpful, that he or she received inadequate training and information about basic office services. It is the fault of the elected official and other managers who run the office…

5. There’s a reason we pay for a county legislature, besides protecting us from the threat of inadequate restaurant menus. The legislature is supposed to provide oversight and a degree of analysis of areas that need improvement. Legislators at all levels of government might consider occasionally stepping into some of the offices within their purview and try to do business like anyone else. Mayor LaGuardia was known to sometimes stroll onto the line at the Welfare office, in disguise, just to see what was going on. Service at Welfare offices improved very quickly…

 6. I’m not writing another column about this. North Hempstead officials are doubling down on waste and wacky with another Orwellian “North Hempstead Day” celebration of events that never happened. Town officials, who get to pose for pictures in precious costumes, have bought into a one-dimensional myth about the split of Hempstead into two towns after the Revolution. This smugly superior, somewhat malicious story doesn’t make sense, was developed and embellished decades after the fact, and isn’t supported by a shred of contemporary evidence…

7. I was recently using the microfilm reader at a local public library, trying not to disturb the twentyish-patron nearby who seemed to be studying for a college course. As I was preparing to leave, she asked me, very politely and sincerely, “What does that do?” She did not know what a microfilm reader was for…

8. There are now few sources for replacement microfilm and microfiche equipment as relatively expensive and bulky film gives way to digital formats. It’s becoming difficult to find people to repair and service old readers, as I was discussing recently with a frustrated reference librarian in one of our local public libraries. It is often easier and cheaper to just buy a second-hand machine from agencies that have old readers rotting in the basement. Unfortunately, public agencies are often hemmed in by well-meaning but counterproductive purchasing restrictions that may no longer fit today’s circumstances…

9. If President Obama’s current plan is adopted, it will take four years, if it all works out, to set up the “Exchange” in which Americans can compare and buy health insurance plans at competitive prices. 75 years ago, the entire Social Security system was set up in a matter of months. It is taking years longer for American automakers to come out with new lines of high-mpg cars than it took to temporarily close auto factories and convert them to bomber production in 1942. What is it that we’ve lost?

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