Jean Baptiste Colbert, the Minister of Finance under King Louis XIV, once famously said, “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”
I’m sure I quoted this line once before; first because I delight in it and second because it is the truth. The one irrefutable fact about modern democracies is that they spend, spend and spend some more. It doesn’t matter whether there is money in the coffers, which is why our nation has a $15 trillion debt. As a society of entitlements and government largesse we are also a nation of taxes — high taxes.
WHEREAS, the Village of Floral Park has been a hosting community of Belmont Park, which has enjoyed a peaceful, neighborly relationship for over a century; and,
WHEREAS, since 2008 the State of New York has retained full ownership and control of the over the 430 acre constituting Belmont Park property, which, pursuant to its agreement with the New York Racing Association, continues to operate one of the world’s premier thoroughbred horse facilities; and,
WHEREAS, in the most recent State of the State address, the State of New York’s Governor has called for a constitutional amendment allowing for casino gaming in the State of New York; and,
Capitalism has given us the most affluent economy in world history. But it also has given us the politics of envy and the rhetoric of stupidity. That is bound to happen when 1 percent of the people have 35 percent of the nation’s income. Many people just can’t stomach the idea of the rich getting richer. It offends their sense of proportion and strikes at the heart of life’s basic unfairness. But hunting the rich is a foolhardy sport. Is it morally right to take more than a third of an individual’s income in the hope that it will improve the standard of living for others? You can take all the money of the richest people in the nation, sell all their assets and still not pay down the outstanding debt. And then what’s next?
As a nation we already have high progressive rates of taxation, the highest corporation tax in the industrial world and some 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. A hundred years ago, no one paid any taxes on their income and the architects of the income tax believed that the top rate would never exceed 10 percent. Everyone avoids the real question, which is how America became so fabulously rich. It did so by investing more and producing more. Investment and risk are two sides of the same coin. Without the prospect of a healthy return, wealth burrows into hovels of low risk securities, which do not produce anything or create jobs.
Floral Park does not want a casino or casino gaming at Belmont Park. The village board, its mayor and trustees, do not want a casino or casino gaming at Belmont Park. Any assertion to the contrary is completely wrong.
Since becoming Floral Park’s mayor in April of last year, I have made issues relating to Belmont Park’s relationship with Floral Park a top priority. I have listened to the concerns of you, my constituents, relating to our neighboring Belmont Park. In my official and personal discussions with our elected representatives, from Hempstead to Mineola, as well as from Albany and even our nation’s capital, I have told them of Floral Park’s deep concerns as a hosting community of Belmont Park, especially relating to its potential site as a gaming casino.
A regular meeting of the board of trustees was held on Jan. 3, at 8:10 p.m. The meeting opened with a Pledge to the Flag. Present were Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy, Trustees James E. Rhatigan, Mary-Grace Tomecki, Dominick A. Longobardi and Kevin M. Fitzgerald, Village Administrator Patrick E. Farrell, Village Clerk Susan E. Walsh, Superintendent of Building Department and Superintendent of Public Works Stephen L. Siwinski, Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister and Village Attorney John E. Ryan
Trustee Rhatigan reported that annual fire inspections and public assembly inspections are currently underway at the Building Department. There were 25 fire inspections performed and there are approximately 45 premises that will be inspected next month.
The voters of Floral Park have been generous to Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy in elections over the past decade. In recent years, she has not returned it in kind. She was aggressively in favor of the 3rd track proposal by the MTA and now strongly favors a full-fledged casino at Belmont Park, both positions very much opposed by an overwhelming majority of the residents of Floral Park and Bellerose.
I wholeheartedly support the effort to stop the casino. I agree with those who believe it will expose Floral Park to enormous harm: lower property values, increased crime, moral threats to our children and environmental disaster. The tidal wave of increased traffic that a casino will bring to our area will crush the communities surrounding Belmont Park.
Kate Murray, Hempstead Town Supervisor, extended an extraordinary show of support for the anti “Casino-at-Belmont-Park” movement last week. In response to an e-mail I had sent her about the issue, she replied in a letter on Dec. 29 that was far beyond anything I expected.
I am one of the organizers in Floral Park to stop a gambling facility at Belmont. Ms. Murray drew a line in the sand on our side. She wrote, “I remain poised to confront prospective casino plans that would impact Floral Park with the same determination and protective nature that surrounded my opposition to the [MTA] proposal for a third LIRR train track.” I was floored.
Its baroque eloquence is nothing less than an imperishable monument to the mysteries and longings of the human heart. Its stately cadences, like waves of rolling thunder, rock the firmament starting with the most awe-inspiring opening in the history of literature: “In the beginning God created the heaven, and the earth.” From this simple, short, declarative sentence the King James Bible soars in winged flight with the Complete Works of Shakespeare to the very summit of English literature. On the 400th anniversary of the completion of the text, it continues to shape and define our culture, language and history.
In March of 1603, by decree of King James I, black-gowned clergymen with no conspicuous literary pedigree labored for eight years to capture the rhythm and sonorities of the ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. The author Adam Nicholson called them “God’s secretaries,” because of the treasures they unearthed from the black soil of ancient literature. Genius is rarely found in the dry and bloodless pronouncements of committees; but Elizabethan England proved the exception, even though absent from the committee was the 39-year-old playwright William Shakespeare, who was just then reaching the heights of literary expression.
Recent Op-Ed pieces in prominent newspapers have suggested that with proper regulatory oversight, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” can be accomplished safely in New York, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and bringing much needed economic benefits to hard-hit areas of the state. If the issue was that simple, and if the statements were true, surely everyone would be in favor.
But the facts don’t support these statements, and the issue is not as simple as the TV ads would have citizens believe. Fracking is an inherently dangerous and destructive extreme form of energy extraction that brings with it a myriad of serious environmental and economic problems. Now that we have the opportunity to see how fracking has actually impacted citizens in Pennsylvania and other states, we can more easily distinguish fact from fantasy and make smarter choices for New York.
I was three-quarters the way through Christopher Hitchens’ tome of essays entitled Arguably, when I got word of the fiery controversialist’s death. Suffering from esophageal cancer, the news of his demise was not unexpected. Encountering the Oxford-educated Hitchens was an experience; his often sneering, contemptuous, supercilious style did not lend itself to a polite, cerebral colloquy, but a rough and tumble brawl replete with eye gouging, head butting and an occasional knee to the groin without so much as an apology.
His life was one big fight. I suspect he even grappled with himself, notwithstanding his legendary savoir-faire and cool self-assurance. His bacchanalian lifestyle included smoking more than 15,000 cigarettes a year and a daily consumption of alcohol that, he boastfully noted, could kill a small mule. His craving for nicotine was so intense, he actually smoked in the shower. Hitchens lived life burning the candle at both ends and it cast, he assured us, a lovely light.
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