Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
If you’re a Seinfeld fan like me, you’ll probably remember the episode “Bizarro Jerry,” in which the gang’s world seems strangely inversed. The writers were apparently inspired by the Bizarro World found in the old DC comic books where good and sensible things were shunned and stupidity and recklessness were embraced.
I think I work in Bizarro Albany sometimes, especially after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent proposal to give convicted felons free college educations on our taxpayer dime. Our governor has actually proposed providing prison inmates with free associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and he’s serious. His public relations machine is already out in full force.
They claim it’s to reduce recidivism, the rate at which released inmates return to prison and base it on one very small, privately funded inmate college program that produced 250 graduates. (There are more than 55,000 inmates in New York.) Their recidivism rate was about 4 percent, compared to the state-wide average 41 percent. But most agree the results were inherently flawed as those inmates were already focused on improving themselves and were the least likely to return to prison.
In any case, we all understand the value of inmate rehabilitation and as I’ve said before, society benefits when you educate anyone. But let’s get real. It may be you reading this column, or it may be a friend or neighbor, but we all know someone being crushed by sacrifice to send their kids to college. They’re refinancing their homes, borrowing against pensions, working countless hours of overtime and two or three jobs. And it’s still not enough. Our children are graduating and starting their lives with astonishing debt, the total surpassing $1 trillion nationally.
Tuition at private universities jumped 474 percent from 1970 to 1990. In 1980, it commanded about 26 percent of the median family income while in 2004, it was 56 percent.
Why not give families who are putting their children through college a reasonable tax credit? Or at least extend it to those working full-time, like single moms, to put themselves through school. Or even minimally lower the cost of our state university. We could restore funding to extend the Tuition Assistance Program to graduate students or offer low-cost, state-backed loans. I can think of countless better ways to invest in higher education, but in all of them, the taxpayer would take priority.
Supporters claim that the “estimated” expenditure of $5,000 per inmate will eventually save some of $60,000 per year on each felon. I suggest their time would be better spent asking why New York prisons cost as much as an Ivy-League education and then looking for savings within that system. Our first responsibility is to be good stewards of public monies, not use it to gain votes via special interests.
It is not coincidence that the governor’s proposal dovetails with a recent national effort to change how convicted felons regain their right to vote. Traditionally, government demands a waiting period with the understanding that if you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you should hardly have the right to shape it for everyone else. This common sense, social contract is now being assailed by partisan groups trying lure a potential new voting bloc.
New York has a long and venerable tradition of taking care of our most vulnerable, but this is simply ill-conceived. If they wanted to make a difference, they’d focus on getting inner city schools on track to give real opportunities and avoid prison all together.
Please sign the petition on my website at http://www.nysenate.gov/webform/say-no-taxpayer-funded-college-inmates-3 and say no to Attica University.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
The Sewanhaka Central High School District renewed Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie’s contract for the next five years at a recent board meeting. Ferrie will receive no pay increase in 2014-15 at a $238,000 salary. The contract expires on June 30, 2019.
“You can’t get [work] done without a unanimous board,” Ferrie said. “This board took a leap of faith with the program plans for the district. We also have an excellent team [of administrators]. That’s an awesome team.”
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00
New Hyde Park resident Tom Madera, of 7th Avenue, doesn’t want another car crashing into his house and hopes a Nassau County plan to install traffic calming features along Covert Avenue will prevent another incident.
“Anything would help, even if it makes noise like rubber strips along the road,” he said. “I can assure that it doesn’t make as much noise as a screeching Cadillac which has decided to reorganize the front of your house. That happened two years ago.”
The project would run down Covert Avenue from Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park, south to Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont. The project could cost more than $250,000, according to Aryeh Lemberger, unit head for Nassau County traffic engineers. He expects the plan would begin in 2015.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
The Sewanhaka Indians’ very talented lacrosse defenseman, Tyler Regnier, will be playing next season for the Division 1 Rutgers University Scarlet Knights.
Regnier started playing lacrosse as a third grader, when he played with the New Hyde Park Police Activity League, a youth lacrosse program.
“At first, I wasn’t too serious,” he said recently. “But I just stuck with it, a lot of training, a lot of travel and a lot of practice made it happen.”
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00
Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness in Williston Park received belt promotions after completing a series of extensive exams.
From New Hyde Park: Jonah Khorrami to brown belt, Isabella Castelli to purple belt.
From Mineola: Alexandra Santos and Kayla Toal to, Kayla Toal yellow belt, Jason DeJesus to Yellow/White Belt.
From Williston Park: Mario Lombardo to red belt, Daniel Melore to blue belt, Grayson Lee to yellow/white belt.
From Garden City: Alexandra Delgais: to brown belt, Jake Delgais to yellow/white belt.
From Roslyn Heights: Suhani Jain to red belt.
From Uniondale: Isiah McClean to yellow/white belt.