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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: May 8, 2014

The Power Washer Approach

I somehow blew up my brother-in-law’s power washer last week. I don’t know how, but you know the feeling. You try never to borrow anything but when you finally do, not 20 minutes in, the otherwise indestructible machinery that’s been well-used for 15 years suddenly and inexplicably starts sputtering and belching smoke like a wounded Godzilla.

It’s a shame too. I was trucking right along, smoothly blasting away muck and grime when I suddenly heard a bolt blow clean off the side of the machine. So my meticulously planned three-hour task turned into a full-day excursion as I headed to the Home Depot to educate myself on the wide world of power washers and where I bought new ones for both my brother-in-law and myself. Lesson one: better not to borrow anything expensive, for Murphy’s Law will surely intervene.

But that old adage aside, my column is actually about the process. If you’ve ever used a power washer you know how strangely satisfying the experience can be. To be sure, it’s slow and tedious work that requires careful attention so as not to let the water’s force damage what you’re cleaning. But as you progress inch by monotonous inch, you’re rewarded with a renewed surface gleaming back at you.

In reality, this is precisely how so many of life’s challenges have to be managed. I think power washing might be the perfect chore by which to teach our teenagers the value of slow and sustained effort. It’s also what came to mind this past week as I spoke at the WOR Business Breakfast at Jericho Terrace. As the newly appointed Chairman of the Senate’s Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, I was invited by WOR and CNBC contributor Ron Insana to speak with more than 100 local business owners about the business environment and what’s being done to help it flourish.

The session immediately took off because our hard-nosed, passionate business owners have no problems telling you what needs improvement. But that’s the kind of honest discussion that has been lacking in New York’s business policy-making for far too long. In the past, officials took businesses for granted and let New York City special interests dictate the discussion.

I think we all agreed though, that we’re finally turning that corner. In just the past four years we’ve delivered on-time, balanced budgets with no business or personal tax increases. We cut personal income taxes to their lowest level in over 50 years, kept state spending to less than two percent growth and even established a real property tax cap. In essence, we’ve maintained state finances much as a successful business would maintain its own.

But we also agreed that we have to strike while the iron is hot and incentivize existing businesses to stay, while convincing new ones to open in New York. That simply can’t be done until we tackle New York’s notoriously excessive regulations. I’ve already reviewed thousands of pages of what appear to be ambiguous and often duplicative regulations, but untangling this mess, with an eye toward simplification is very appealing to me. Much like the power washer, it’s slow and steady work, taken inch by painstaking inch. The reward will be a much improved and attractive business environment that’s better for all working people.

Yet, I know I’ll need help. I’ll be hosting a series of Senate hearings where business people can share their insights and expertise. Just like this week’s WOR breakfast, the more frank the discussions, the better. In the meantime, I urge any small business or would be start-ups to reach out to the Long Island Business Council (516-396-0600) and the Nassau IDA (516-571-1945). They have a wealth of resources that many people just aren’t aware of, as well as invaluable advice, garnered from years of collective experience. These are business people just like you, and they’re dedicated to helping in whatever way they can.

So break out your power washers (be sure they’re not borrowed) and together, let’s get to work.

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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