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Editorial: Even Apple Pie Can Be Hard to Swallow

It is not easy to stand up against a political avalanche. Both of our state legislative representatives, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and Senator Craig Johnson, listened to their constituents, studied the fine print of legislation touted as a panacea to lower property taxes and took courageous “No” votes in spite of tremendous political pressure from the Democratic leadership. From the drumbeat of the rhetoric surrounding the legislation, it was like voting against apple pie and motherhood.  We applaud the wisdom and strength of character it took to take such a stand.

The New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act that awaits Governor Paterson’s signature swept through the Albany maze at a breathtaking speed starting on the Memorial Day weekend and culminated in a vote in the Assembly on June 1 and the Senate on June 3.

If it becomes law, it will make it much easier for villages and special districts to be dissolved or consolidated by local or countywide referendums. Voting decisions would be based on emotionality rather than data because hard information about the details of how the functions of government would be handled and the assets and liabilities distributed and a host of related issues would only be made public later.

Just because a unit of government is dissolved does not mean that its functions go away. If your village is dissolved, the streets still need to be swept, plowed and repaired; zoning laws still need to be protected; garbage still needs to be picked up; parks still need to be maintained. Sure, everyone would like lower property taxes, but wouldn’t you like to know how much lower your taxes would be before voting to turn local government upside down?

Haven’t you ever had a slice of apple pie that wasn’t too tasty? This one was made with sour apples, no sugar and was half-baked.