Fifty years ago, the eloquent political activist Michael Harrington published a book called The Other America. It was a powerful indictment of America’s capitalist culture that Harrington claimed left 25 percent of its population in poverty. A rhetoritician with few peers, Harrington was an enormously influential thinker. The Other America is said to have inspired Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the erection of its twin pillars: Medicare and Medicaid.
In 2012, the “Other America” still exists but in a guise that was neither expected nor desired when Harrington’s book was published in 1962. In modern America, subsidies are dispensed freely and happily as if they were the holy sacraments handed down by the high priests of progressive politics. More than one in every five Americans, some 67 million are dependent on federal aid for housing, food, income, health care and education.
Somewhere back in the unfathomed depths of ancient human history, a conscious effort was made to leave the confines of the envelope of the North African Continent, where the species originated, to venture forth in the world, an exodus that would lead our race to the far corners of the earth. The conqueror Alexander the Great would lead a great army over 20,000 miles, much of it on foot, over daunting mountain ranges and desert terrain to propel a still inchoate civilization toward cultural unity and globalization. From a small Republic, Julius Caesar built Rome into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Christopher Columbus and his fellow mariners discovered and then bridged a vast ocean to join the Old World to the New World. In that New World, 13 fledgling colonies situated at the Atlantic rim of the Northern Hemisphere would build a civilization upon an immense wilderness creating, in Jefferson’s words, a Continental Empire of Liberty.
You might call it a pedestrian “no-man’s land,” a 16-mile stretch of roadway where an average of five people die each year. It’s not Manhattan’s Broadway or the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, nor is it notorious Queens Boulevard. It’s actually here in our backyard, Route 24, better known as Hempstead Turnpike.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has identified the turnpike as the most dangerous road for pedestrians in the region for the last three years. This is an unfortunate distinction, but one that is finally drawing attention to a problem many of us have at least intuitively recognized for a long time. If you live, work, or even regularly drive there, you know it can be dangerous.
The ideological fires are burning hot in the White House. In stoking the flames, however, one needs to remember that the same fire that warms you and cooks your food can also consume you. This is the lesson that the Obama Administration is painfully learning as it awkwardly retreats from its requirement that religious employers cover contraception in health plans.
As with its “Affordable Health Care Act,” the administration has recklessly challenged the “separation of powers” clause, which is one of the centerpieces of constitutional government. Under the initial Health and Human Services regulation, all religious institutions except houses of worship would be required to cover birth control, including hospitals, schools and charities. If this isn’t a clear breach of the “free exercise” of religion clause then I don’t know what is.
A regular meeting of the Floral Park Board of Trustees was held on Feb. 7, at 8:30 p.m.
Trustee Rhatigan reported that last week the Building Department filed their annual report with the state on the Department’s activity for 2011. The Department reported that 125 residential and commercial building permits were issued; 14 permits were issued for in-ground pools, garages and accessory structures; 566 permits were issued for fences, signs, above-ground pools, pool renewals, electrical and plumbing permits. They also issued 261 certificates of completion and certificates of occupancy. The estimated construction cost for the year was $6,560,250. Other than permits, the Building Department issued 162 ‘in lieu of’ certificate of occupancy letters and approved 16 renewals for expired permits. The months of January and February are historically quiet at the Building Department with respect to building permit activity. This time is filled with fire inspections, multiple housing inspections and contacting property owners about their expired permits.
The State of New York Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment Group that is responsible for setting the new district lines for the State Assembly and Senate have released their eagerly awaited redistricting maps. Floral Park’s representation remains relatively unchanged by the senate redistricting, with the proposed State Senate District 7 mostly following the contours of our present State Senate District. Therefore, every constituent within the Village of Floral Park will be represented by the same Senator under the proposed maps.
The senatorial Senate lines were primarily drafted by the Republican controlled Senate, which is led by State Senator Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre. State Senator Jack Martins’ hometown of Mineola will remain in the same district as Floral Park. Long Island may even pick up an additional senatorial district, making 9 of the 63 senatorial districts located on Long Island.
There are, in the human condition, many dimensions and shades of being that defy conventional expectations and trying to twist and hammer them into self-imposed categories is not only fruitless but also harmful. Take the happy notion that everyone should own a house. Up to the end of WWII, most people did not own a home, but then someone decided it was the American dream and that all Americans should share this dream.
William Levitt, who developed America’s first suburban community, believed that anyone who had a little house, a backyard to plant their tomatoes and a lawn to mow will never become a Communist. During the “Red Scare” when the Soviet Union, the world’s largest country, and China, the world’s most populous country, were Communist, Levitt’s propaganda fit right into the tenor of the times. Home ownership gave people a vested interest in private property by making it their largest investment. That for decades real estate proved to be the best investment one can make only added to the mystique of holding it. As the humorist Will Rogers was fond of saying: “Buy land, buy land — they’re not making it anymore.”
There have been, as of this writing, 19 Republican presidential debates with several more scheduled. Enough is enough. Those who have not made up their mind are probably those who shouldn’t be voting. I’m referring to the too indecisive, ill informed and indifferent.
A presidential debate gives voters a chance to see what candidates think and candidates a chance to shape the way voters think. While it carries the risk that voters will pick the best debater and not the best candidate, this hazard can be minimized by fewer, not more, debates. Newt Gingrich had been outdebating Mitt Romney with good results until the former Massachusetts governor hired a new debate coach to polish up his forensic skills. Romney came roaring back partly because his debate performances have perked up.
Stalemate in Washington and a rocky national economy has actually created an opportunity for the New York State Legislature this January. The back-and-forth partisan rhetoric at the national level acts as a roadblock to financial stability and growth for Long Island families and businesses. It will be crucial during the 2012 legislative session to once and for all address private sector job growth and a lagging economy to avoid similar perils here in New York. Now is the time when the Legislature needs to lead by example and take charge in order to stabilize our local economy and communities.
This certainly is not be the first time that Albany has faced an economic crisis stemming from an outcry from the public. Some of the state’s greatest accomplishments have come during difficult economic periods: for example, look no further than last year’s property tax cap, on-time state budget and Power for Jobs program. The Legislature has been tasked before with addressing such dire economic situations, because as New Yorkers, we have demanded it. We can do it again.
Floral Park and our sister hosting LIRR mainline communities between Queens Village and Hicksville have enjoyed relative calm since the MTA announced that its unwanted and unneeded LIRR Third Track Megaproject was finally being shelved. As a result, the Village of Floral Park and our neighboring communities have been able to focus on much more pressing and immediate local needs and issues. We were confident, however, that the MTA’s leadership had abandoned their threat to our peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our communities. We believed that the MTA leadership would let a sleeping dog lie, and that memories of it bringing its own attack dogs into our communities were fast becoming a fading memory. Like a recurring nightmare, however, the MTA keeps pulling us back into the Third Track controversy just when we thought we could leave it behind us.
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