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.
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.
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