Something is very wrong with Nassau County’s assessment system when 87 percent of appeals are successful. You don’t have to look hard to see evidence of a broken system. The county website shows that several nearly identical homes on one block in Hicksville had assessed values that ranged from $322,000 to $436,000. These were homes built the same year by the same builder and had very little difference in modifications yet their 2013 total property taxes, based on assessed value, vary by almost $2500!
You can easily find other examples of this failed system by looking at page 9 of last week’s Illustrated (October 9-15) where two recently sold homes in Hicksville had nearly identical taxes of $8500, but one sold for $404,000 while the other for $650,000! A little research on the county website shows the $650,000 home had its assessment value reduced 4 times since 2010, from $505,200 to the current $366,800. Based on its recent sale price of $650,000, it is clear that this property should not have seen a reduced assessment.
In his article, John Owens criticized public schools for essentially being expensive bureaucracies that often fail in their educational mission. His criticism is well founded given recent test scores which clearly demonstrate that too many students are not taught at the highest level and lack the necessary critical thinking skills to function in our global economy.
This being the case, one would think that Mr. Owens would promote educational opportunity for all students. Educational opportunity translates into government monetary policy that would enable students to attend schools which better suit their learning style, whether it be a public school, charter school, parochial school, or private school. Why not give parents the freedom to choose the best school for their own child and support this freedom through monetary policy?
There’s a lot of blame and finger pointing for the recent federal government shutdown. Today I’m offering a common-sense solution.
Originally, House Republicans, who are in the majority, offered a resolution to temporarily continue governing operations. It had two conditions: 1.) Fund the government at a level that many Democrats felt was insufficient; and 2.) Defund and delay the Affordable Care Act (known to many as Obamacare). I could not support both of those conditions, particularly using a shutdown of the federal government to effectively repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Nassau County is very similar to other places around the country when election time comes around. You have candidates and incumbents willing to say anything to stay in office or get back in office. This time around we have two former incumbents in Suozzi and Weitzman who for over three years did not say a word about the county’s finances, struggles, or achievements. Yet all of a sudden they come out and say that everything is horrible. They say things like “cooking the books” and “the County borrowed $2 billion and your children will pay the price.” All these statements are meant to grab your attention and make you question your quality of life.
Your “Raise The Age” story pointed out that 74.4 percent of crimes that 16-and-17-year-olds are arrested for are only “minor” misdemeanors. Of course, that means that 25.6 percent are felonies, including burglaries, robberies, muggings, assaults, molestations, rapes, torture and murders. Yet District Attorney Kathleen Rice is against arresting, prosecuting and punishing 16 and 17-year-olds as adults for these horrible crimes “Regardless of the offense.”
Threat of lawsuit, made at public expense, aims to silence political opposition
Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman announced that he received a letter from the law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, at the behest of the Nassau County Attorney’s Office, threatening a lawsuit unless he retracts a complaint he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The complaint, based on an investigative piece published by the Wall Street Journal, highlights evidence that Comptroller George Maragos’s annual financial report is misleading and that the County Attorney’s office colluded with a partisan Republican judge to ‘cook the books’ and misrepresent the county’s financial condition on the annual financial report.
Nassau County has not raised the property tax levy for four consecutive years. The proposed 2014 budget again contains no property tax increase. The critics, rather than applauding the fiscal improvements in the County, elect to sling mud and make false and malicious allegations.
In a letter to former county comptroller Howard Weitzman, the County Attorney’s office, represented by a securities attorney, warned him that allegations in his letter of Sept. 16, 2013 regarding the Nassau County’s 2012 budgetary results, were “patently false and alarmist with potential to harm the County taxpayers by seriously affecting the County’s ability to obtain financing.” The allegation that the County Comptroller has mischaracterized the accounting treatment of $88 million in court ordered payments and that the County has somehow manipulated the Supreme Court order are ludicrous.
As a member of Congress who represents a large population of Americans of Indian descent, I am deeply troubled by the outrageous remarks aimed at the winner of the 2013 Miss America Pageant and a fellow New Yorker, Nina Davuluri. Ms. Davuluri embodies the American dream—the daughter of immigrants who graduated from a prestigious university and plans to pursue a medical degree. She is American in the truest sense, and the fact that this would be questioned is despicable.
Embracing diversity is an American value, and one that I have always cherished. I am the product of grandparents who fled Russia due to persecution and found an accepting home here in America. I have spent my life honoring their memory by fighting against hatred, bigotry and persecution. When I heard of the vitriol being directed toward Ms. Davuluri, I felt compelled to respond.
I join with the voices of the many Americans who have cried out against these hateful remarks. And I will continue to work in Congress to fight against hatred.
I work in education. John Owens’ article “They’re Drowning Our Kids In Snake Oil” (Sept. 18-24) was very interesting, as are so many that are being written now. Obviously, members of the New York State Board of Regents are reading none of them.
One thing that some journalist should look into is the ever-present name of Pearson that appears on everything Common Core, including testing materials, preparatory materials, texts, etc. Sometimes it feels like this publisher is writing the New York State curriculum. Why? And who is cashing in? Not the students...
Pearson is a London-based publishing conglomerate that is the leading provider of test materials in the U.S. Last spring, the company made headlines when tests it prepared for the New York State Education Department under a $32-million contract were found to contain more than 30 errors. The state agreed not to score those questions, and continues a close relationship with Pearson.
Really enjoyed John Owens’s article “They’re Drowning Our Kids In Snake Oil” (Sept. 18-24).
I’ve often felt that if you switched the teachers in the high-flying schools with the teachers in the poor-performing schools the test results would be just about the same. The problem isn’t the teachers, who are being made scapegoats for the much bigger social and economic problems to which you alluded in your article.
Too bad the gutless politicians and their New York State educational cronies can’t come up with a “Common Core” for parental involvement in the education of their children. But that wouldn’t be a “quick-fix” would it?
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