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) Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00
15 Below, an alternative rock band composed of Sewanhaka High School students, rocked the William Gill Theatre in New Hyde Park Village Hall on Wednesday, July 23. The band had the crowd tossing up beach balls to energetic beats and swaying their iPhones along to slower tunes.
“They were very good tonight,” said Darren Derick Polanco. “I always come to their shows.”
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
New Hyde Park Village trustee Donald Barbieri contends helicopters are still flying right over New Hyde Park and other residential parts of the north shore, harming citizens and the town with excessive and unlawful aircraft noise. In spite of what federal law says and in spite of what a federal court says, the noise levels are still an issue.
Barbieri drafted a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, apprising the entity of New Hyde Park’s situation. The FAA did not return calls for comment.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently received belt promotions after successfully completing a series of extensive exams.
“Our goal at Charles Water Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Charles Water, owner and director of the school.
“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Runners and walkers from New Hyde Park are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5K courses on Long Island at the Saturday, Aug. 9 Sands Point Sprint.
The run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve.
The August 2013 edition of the Sands Point Sprint attracted 313 finishers, including top New Hyde Park finishers Michael Ringel, who scored first in the 11-14 age group and Dave Frisone, who earned first place honors in the 65-69 age group. Race organizers are looking for both Ringel and Frisone, and a host of other New Hyde Park runners, to be back next week.