After 21 years of keeping us in good spirits and good company with his “Late Show” humor, David Letterman announced his retirement. In his honor, I’ll share highlights from the state’s budget, Letterman-style with a “Top 10” countdown entitled: Top 10 — I mean 12 — reasons to like the new, New York State budget
12. This year’s budget is the fourth, consecutive, on-time budget we’ve delivered. That hasn’t happened in nearly four decades. For a little historical perspective, that’s further back than the Knicks’ last championship.
Last week the Nassau District Attorney made several arrests for tax evasion, with the defendants collectively owing almost $1 million. One alleged scammer seems to be a lotto junkie who doesn’t declare his winnings. Three others are charged with not reporting business income.
This week, Floral Park, you can’t avoid thinking about taxes. As we scramble to get the paperwork together and file on time (even if only for an extension) we see exactly how much we’ve paid, and sometimes we still have to send a check—to Washington or Albany. Nobody likes paying taxes. Nobody really likes paying for anything; if we could get it for free, we would happily do so.
I am running for the Floral Park-Bellerose School Board (FPBSD) as a trustee on May 20, and I would like your support. My main goal, if elected, is to provide a voice for parents that want to better appreciate what is happening in the FPBSD’s education program and to help them understand how their voices can make a real difference to district policies.
I have two children in elementary school at FPBS; both of whom have mixed feelings about school — which I think could change given the right atmosphere. I loved elementary school (FPBS) as a child and had the pleasure of reconnecting with a few of the teachers I had as a child when my children entered school. The last being Mr. Plank (gym) who was the “David Beckham” of gym back then. While my children have wonderful teachers, current and past, changes to the curriculum, administration and overall “community-feel” of the school have really been challenging for me. I want to work with the board of education to make changes based on public opinion and feedback.
Nassau County’s animal protection agency just launched a new website feature that offers another way to report animal cruelty, and at the same time announced cash rewards of up to $5,000 for folks who turn in abusers. Officials were joined at a press conference by Miss Harper, a rescued pup whose ears and a leg had been cut off.
The Nassau SPCA has never offered rewards before, in part due to a perennial shortage of funding. But the county has seen a disturbing rise in animal cruelty, officials said, and the outrage sparked by incidents such as the death of 13 dogs in a garage fire in February opened a floodgate of donations—some $15,000 so far.
Let’s take a moment to think about the most famous and provocative opening line in all of literature: “In the beginning,” says Genesis there was...what? Well, nothing, to be exact. Absolutely nothing—not even the laws of physics. And then, inexplicably, there appeared a mass smaller than a proton that compressed, incomprehensibly, all the matter there was and ever will be. The concentrated density of this infinitesimal mass was so immense that it exploded with a force that made all the other explosions in the history of the Universe combined seem like a solitary firecracker.
Despite all this TNT, so to speak, the explosion was not big enough to explain the present nature of the Universe. In 1980 Alan Guth, a young astrophysicist, building upon some earlier postulations explained the discrepancy by hypothesizing an inflationary universe. According to Guth, in one mind-boggling fraction of a second the Universe, after it momentarily cooled from the initial bang, began expanding at many times the speed of light and presently continues to expand at a far slower rate. The phenomenal speed of this expansion (think of a rapidly inflating balloon subsuming everything in it) effectively explained why the Universe appears to be the same in all directions and why the cosmic background radiation is distributed equally --- a uniformity scientists call isotropic.
There is more than one way to make the news.
Last weekend, a couple dozen high schools from Nassau County went to Hofstra University to demonstrate their prowess at building robots in the 15th annual Long Island Regional First Robotics Competition. The teams have been working since early January, when they first got their assignment and parts kits from FIRST headquarters.
Another celebrity [Philip Seymour Hoffman] has died from a heroin overdose. With his death came public outrage, shock and disbelief. Yet, every day since and every day before that overdose, people are dying from heroin and prescription drug use. Our relatives, our friends and our neighbors are devastated from the lethal consequences of drug use; yet, here we are again. Some arrests, some finger pointing, some outrage, yet people, old and young, continue to die.
I am certain John Owens can respond to the recent critical letter faulting his opposition to the imposition of the new core curriculum in New York State schools. I support Owens’ position. The writer assumes Owens opposes excellence because he describes the psychological factors present in every learning environment. Intelligence, and the willingness to apply it are individual endowments. They need the proper atmosphere. A teacher’s job is to provide those conditions favorable to learning. Owens’ insight in this regard is commendable. Excellence cannot be imposed, least of all by bureaucratic fiat nor corporate competition.
The Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once observed that the greatest danger to liberty lurks in the minds of men with zeal, all those social reformers who are well-meaning but without understanding. I don’t know about the well-meaning part, but Bill deBlassio’s assault on Charter schools is certainly stereotypical of those bereft of understanding.
One of the saddest things about these school closings is that nearly all the parents of the children who benefit from Charter schools voted for that overgrown Sandinista who is now the new mayor of N.Y.C. I wrote about my fears of deBlassio’s hard left philosophy not long ago and it’s all coming true faster than I could have imagined. DeBlassio is more interested in protecting special interests, like the self-serving teachers’ unions that supported and elected him, than educating underprivileged children. The fact is that Eva Moskowitz, the founder and CEO of the Success Charter Network, has created an education program that is superior to the public education system, which has been failing for years.
It’s easy to forget suffering in spring. When the winds blow warm and gentle, the world feels like a tender, forgiving place.
There is always an abundance of volunteers at holiday time. Starting at Thanksgiving, chill air and frost on the ground provide stark contrast to the warmth of hearth and home embodied in our year-end celebrations. Through Christmas (the giving holiday) and all the cold winter months, everyone wants to help feed the hungry (often as a kind of object lesson for children) and comfort the lonely.
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