I am jumping on the Frustration Bandwagon. Peering out of my Assembly office window the day after Labor Day and seeing rain, I knew that any minute the phones would start ringing once again. Sure enough, a woman who had her power restored after eight days post-Irene, lost power once more. And the calls kept on coming.
My own power went on after a mere seven days; looking at the rain, I feared the dark once more. Frustration was rampant in my office as my staff and I just came off a week from ‘Constituent Hell’. My office fielded calls and emails in the hundreds. Particularly compelling were calls from people who depended on electricity for their oxygen tanks and other medical needs at home. One woman had just given birth and needed assistance walking and had a leaking transformer in front of her house. We were able to help her.
First, I am very grateful that many of you found your way to call my office. Because many district residents called to report outages in particular areas, I, along with other elected officials, was able to advocate on behalf of those areas known to be without power and to continue to exert pressure on LIPA to address the problems in those areas. While oftentimes individual citizens were not able to speak to a real human being at LIPA, I was able to get some information from LIPA government liaisons (who were eager to help) that I could then share with constituents who had called me.
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has launched a new web page, “Real Property Tax Cap,” to guide localities as they begin to develop their budgets under the new law enacted this year. DiNapoli noted that localities will be able to report their property tax data electronically.
New York’s new property tax cap law restricts tax levy increases for local governments, most school districts and other smaller independent entities, such as library, fire or water districts, to no more than 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. For local governments with fiscal years that begin on January 1, 2012, the cap will be 2 percent, DiNapoli said.
This past week I was able to once again observe firsthand the professional, dedicated village staff as they provided services to our Village during the course and aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The storm, while not as devastating as anticipated by ongoing news reports, the effects were felt Islandwide. While the village and a number of residents experienced the damaging effects of the storm, there were no reports received of personal injuries. Damaged property can be upsetting but the fact that we escaped without loss of life or physical injuries is extremely positive. It is my belief that no other municipality provided a better response to this hurricane than Williston Park. Others may have done as well, but none better. While village highway crews were prepared and ready to work as an efficient unit to provide our residents with exceptional service, work crews were forced to wait until the storm actually passed due to hazardous working conditions. However, a number were actually out during the storm assessing damage as the storm developed. At the point in which the actual work was able to commence, priorities had already been established and the staff under the direction of Superintendant Keith Bunnell began the arduous task of restoring the village to a safe level. Trees and large limbs that closed streets were the number one priority, although those entangled with electric wires were held in abeyance pending LIPA involvement. Throughout Sunday the crews worked extremely hard and as effectively as possible to clean up as much debris in a limited amount of time. Plans were to work until dusk, however, winds and rain returned around 4:30 which brought work to a halt. On Monday the crews were back in action and by the end of the day the majority of the work was completed. Tuesday saw a continuation with all of their activities.
At the Town of North Hempstead’s Board Meeting on July 12, the agenda included a hearing regarding the purchase and restoration of the private Roslyn Country Club which would impact all town residents tax-wise. At that time, there was a hearing, both pro and con, and John Kaiman admittedly said they do not have all their figures together yet on this, and that this would remain on the agenda and there would be a hearing at the Aug. 23 meeting.
I live in Williston Park, in the 5th Congressional District. The House of Representative member for my district is Gary Ackerman, a 30-year veteran of Congress. Last week Ackerman released a statement of why he did not vote for the Debt Ceiling Agreement. In his letter he identified the members of Congress who voted for the agreement as “Thugs” who were intent on destroying the government. The agreement is surely not perfect, but it at least forestalled a government shutdown and, hopefully points the way to better government in the future. Ackerman says the agreement protects loopholes, billionaires and greedy elements in our society. But I didn’t see or hear anything in the news that said he contributed one idea to an alternate plan that he could vote for. He claims that in contrast to the thugs that he is intent on helping those who really need help. Those people, he defines as “…more concerned about having a roof than they are the national debt ceiling.” That is a fine motive in a glib phrase; pity Ackerman has not always had it! When speaking about greed and helping those who need help, I am still waiting for Ackerman’s explanation of how it came to pass that he was given an interest free loan of $14,000 in 2002 by Selig Zises, a friend, and he used that money to purchase stock in a company where Zises was a large shareholder. Years later, when the company went public, Ackerman sold the stock and made an $86,000 profit, as reported by the Daily News in a series of stories in January 2010. Also, contrary to Congressional Ethics rules, Ackerman arranged a meeting for the company in his Washington office with a representative from Israel regarding the sale of company products to the Israeli military. That was a fine example of Ackerman helping those in need. And, in an effort to help the downtrodden again, Ackerman tried to get legislation passed that would have allowed Seymour Zises, another friend and brother of Zelig, to write off taxes he paid on monies he earned from Bernie Madoff investments in 1994 before that Ponzi scandal broke. Based upon those January 2010 Daily News reports, Ackerman should not really call others “Thugs” until he is ready to explain his past actions.
Alan J. Reardon
On behalf of the individuals whom we feed and shelter at The INN, I wish to extend my gratitude to you for your generous donation of baby items.
Your donations were distributed to the guests living in The INN’s two family shelters and the guests who visit the Mary Brennan INN Soup Kitchen, who are in need of not only food and shelter, but other basic amenities including personal care items.
The summertime is a very difficult time for our guests, and your generous donations surely comes at a time when there is much that needs to be done to assist the growing number of Long Islanders who are faced with hunger and homelessness. We have seen the face of hunger changing more and more. It’s no longer just the working poor who are in need, but we are now seeing more of the “middle class” seeking assistance.
We could never do what we do if it weren’t for people like you, who believe in what we do and who are driven to help make a difference in the lives of our neighbors seeking assistance.
Again, on behalf of the guests and staff at The INN, we thank you for your support.
Interfaith Nutrition Network
Every morning I have to go out and clean up their mess from the night before. I am a senior citizen and it is not right for anyone to have to do this day after day.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who has made protecting public health and safety during a tough economy a hallmark of her work in Congress, announced the opening of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program application period for local fire departments today. The FY 2011 application period will open on August 15. All applications must be submitted by September 9 at 5 p.m.
“During tough times like these when local funding is at record lows, these grants can help Long Island fire departments get the equipment and staffing they need to keep our communities safe,” Rep. McCarthy said. “I encourage every fire department in my district to take advantage of this opportunity.”
If you could afford only one, would you pay for heat, your rent, or buy groceries?
If that seems like a rhetorical question to you, be thankful, because for thousands of less fortunate Long Islanders, it is not. The disturbing truth is we have neighbors right here on Long Island, in our very own towns and villages, who struggle with questions like that every month.
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