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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Items That Were Almost Columns

Members of the Hempstead Town Board are only the latest in a long line of elected officials of both parties who have voted to give themselves a pay raise in the period between Election Day and the start of their new term. You knew what the pay was before you accepted the nomination. This practice should be prohibited in all New York government units. Don’t count on that, since the state Legislature has done this three times since the 1980s. It will have to be banned one municipality at a time.

 

For those planning to file property tax assessment appeals, propertyshark.com and redfin.com are two websites that provide useful real property information you can’t find at the official Nassau County site. Both services are free and clearly present excellent information on neighborhood trends and prices.

The same state Senators now trying to score points by ejecting or censoring controversial Senator Hiram Monseratte were only months ago offering him almost any stipended leadership post to secure his support. One of those who will sit in judgement is Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, the subject of multiple corruption investigations by Attorney General Cuomo.

The question of whether NY officials can be removed from office for acts committed prior to taking office (and which are not technically crimes) has never been satisfactorily litigated. The most infamous case was the Assembly’s expulsion of five Socialist members on highly questionable charges of disloyalty in 1920. One of the Members of Assembly who strongly opposed the expulsions was Nassau County’s Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., whose golden name and wartime heroics made him the most famous state legislator in America, and a presumptive future president. Some never forgave him, but most recognized his integrity and his guts.

All five expelled Socialists were re-elected in special elections later in 1920. For years, Ted Roosevelt was a star attraction at Nassau County Republican functions. The very existence of a “Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.” convinced his ambitious cousin, Franklin, that he would be blocked in the G.O.P. and should become a Democrat. In 1924, Franklin and Eleanor helped sink, by a small margin, Ted’s campaign for Governor, causing a bitter break between Oyster Bay and Dutchess County Roosevelts.

We’re down to maybe six New York counties out of 62 that on paper can realistically be called “solid Republican.” And yet, New York Democrats have maneuvered themselves into a position where they may be underdogs next November.

One out of three American military casualties in Afghanistan have occurred since President Obama took office.

A recent survey by Research 2000, a national non-partisan polling firm, found that 45 percent of Democratic voters are not sure if they will vote this November.

As of December, only 80.3 percent of American men between ages 25 and 54 had jobs. This is the lowest percentage since the Labor Department started calculating this figure in 1948.

In 1973, 9 percent of our national income went to the wealthiest one percent of Americans. In 2007, it was 23.5 percent. Middle Class Americans work more hours than they did in 1973, but their wages, calculated for inflation, are lower and they are deeper in debt, despite the addition of Mom to the workforce.

Moment from an old movie: Eddie Cantor in the 1943 flick, Thank Your Lucky Stars, singing about doing his patriotic duty by saving money and staying home with his girl on Saturday night (“We’re Staying Home Tonight”). Today, we are almost ordered to shop and spend. This was the only movie in which Bette Davis sang. Errol Flynn also sang. Big hit of 1943.

As of mid-January, incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives have raised an average of $488,000 in donations for the 2010 elections, while challengers have raised $105,000. Incumbent U.S. Senators have raised $6.1 million, and their challengers have raised; 80 cents out of each of the $41.4 million 2010 campaign dollars contributed by New Yorkers have gone to Democrats; $5 million has been raised from Nassau and Suffolk counties. Nationally, nine of the 20 ZIP codes with the highest federal campaign donations are in Manhattan.

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