Written by Joe Scotchie: email@example.com Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00
New York is losing some of its influence, and that can mean trouble for Long Islanders.
In 1950, when Harry S. Truman was president, New York had 45 congressional seats, the most in the nation. The recent past had seen the four terms of Hyde Park’s Franklin D. Roosevelt, with FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore, serving as president earlier in the century. Further back, the 19th century had seen several New Yorkers as president: Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, and the popular Grover Cleveland.
From 1868 to 1948, a span of 80 years, a New Yorker was on the presidential ticket every election year, either as president or vice president, save for 1896 and 1924. That included the all-New York races of both 1904 and 1944, the former pitting Theodore Roosevelt against Alton B. Parker and the latter a contest between Franklin Roosevelt and then-Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. There was also the legendary 1876 race, where the Democrat nominee, Samuel J. Tilden of New York, won the popular vote, but lost the White House to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the famous “deal” of 1877.
However, 1950 represented the zenith in the state’s Electoral College clout. Since that census, New York has lost a jaw-dropping 18 congressional seats, including two more from the 2010 tally. If present trends continue, New York, decades hence, may only have around the same number of Electoral College votes as not just Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, but also Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
Are such trends permanent? What would that mean for New York’s standing in national politics? Is the problem that other states are just growing at a faster rate? Are there reasons for the out-migration other than taxes? Anton Community Newspapers recently sought the opinion of several longtime political observers.
William Burton, village attorney for the Village of Roslyn, acknowledged that fewer congressional districts has negative consequences.
“Loss of districts in a state due to redistricting means a loss of influence in Congress,” he said. “Leaders in the House need votes to pass legislation and the larger delegations can deliver votes and therefore become more influential. Larger delegations can also place more members on influential or what is referred to commonly as ‘A’ committees. With more members on committees, states can also get more funding for the state.”
Burton also lamented the loss of learned members of congress from New York, men who contributed to the national debate.
“When New York lost Representative Stephen Solarz because he did not want to run against another member, Ted Weiss, it lost a valuable position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” he added. “Then too, highly experienced Congressman Gary Ackerman announced his retirement at the same time as new lines for districting were being drawn. While the congressman may have made his decision based on other considerations, it may well have played some role in his ultimate decision not to run in the newly designed Flushing-based seat. The loss of Rep. Ackerman means the absence of one of the most knowledgeable and influential members of the New York delegation.”
Mike Miller, a columnist for Anton Community Newspapers, a resident of New Hyde Park, was also disappointed by Rep. Ackerman’s decision.
“A lot of political people in both parties are more than a little annoyed that Congressman Ackerman insisted that he was definitely running again right up to the point that the districts were finalized, and then announced he was retiring,” Miller said. “This information would have made the collapsing of two districts easier and more logical. A district was virtually drawn for Mr. Ackerman in Queens, wasting opportunities to maintain districts in other parts of the state, such as the Hudson and Delaware Valleys, where the 22nd district was cannibalized.”
Miller, however, believes the tide may be stemmed in coming decades, noting that California and other Sun Belt states might experience a slower population growth. Much of New York’s losses have been due, he added, to upstate communities as Long Island has experienced some growth in population.
Above all, Miller focused on the ever-growing size of congressional districts. In 1980, he said, the average New York district had 467,000 people. Now, it has ballooned to 717,000 people. The House of Representatives has been fixed in size at 435 members since 1929, in a law that Miller maintains does not reflect the intention of the Founders.
“It is incredibly expensive to run in a district that size, and it is incredibly difficult for citizens in the district to play a meaningful role in the legislative process,” he said. “With 700,000 people in a district, we are way past the point where effective representation is diminished. The sheer size of these districts breaks down connections between Long Island and Washington. This ceiling of 435 seats isn’t found in the Constitution and it has never been ratified or endorsed by any of the state legislatures. The system we use now, with a fixed number of representatives automatically apportioned based on the census, is not the system that has been in place for the most of this country’s history.”
As with Mike Miller, another Anton columnist, Mike Barry, also believes that the 435-seat limit is a reason for New York’s decades long hemorrhaging of congressional seats. Despite such losses, Barry believes the state will remain a major player in national politics. But he also maintains that taxes aren’t the only reason for out-migration.
“Many New Yorkers become former New Yorkers for reasons having little to do with the state’s tax burden,” he said. “Having said that, I imagine most people in this state periodically weigh the high cost of living here with their quality of life, and some within that group subsequently start looking to see whether better opportunities exist elsewhere.”
“I believe the real reason we are losing people is tied directly to stagnant wages as well as a three-season climate,” said Village of Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna, referring to sunnier destinations, bereft of heating bills. “Both put a large burden on people living in New York.”
The coming years will, of course, decide if Miller’s guarded optimism about negative trends being slowed down are true or if, a decade from now, one or two more New York congressmen will be made to fall on their swords and announce their retirement.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00
Submitted by Manhasset Post 304 American Legion
Matthew Falcone, commander of the Manhasset Post 304 American Legion, and James Brooks, parade chairman, have announced the parade order and schedule for the 2013 Manhasset Memorial Day Parade and Memorial Services. All Manhasset residents, their families and friends are invited to join the Legion in this remembrance of the great sacrifices of our American heroes. The theme of the parade this year, “Honoring Those Who Serve in Special Operations,” is a reminder that, while Memorial Day honors all deceased veterans, the intention is to remember service personnel engaged around the world in an effort to preserve American freedom and way of life from global terrorism.
A memorial service in honor of Manhasset’s war dead will be held at the Community Reformed Church, 90 Plandome Rd., on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. Pastor Steven D. Pierce will officiate. All are urged to attend and to join with the Legion in the remembrance of the great sacrifice of our military.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
That first meeting, culminating in the May 2 ribbon-cutting for organic vegetable and herb gardens at all three Manhasset school campuses, was in September 2012.
Two organizations, both formed under the auspices of the SCA, were involved: Planet Manhasset, which under president Angela Classi and officers Merilyn Donnelly, Zari Ginsburg and Connie Parsons, spearheaded the construction of each site and Project Share, the which will distribute the produce raised to families in need. Classi, during the ribbon-cutting, told the students they were limited only by their imagination, and encouraged each one to embrace the secondary school garden as their own.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Gymnast Alexis Stern, an eighth-grader at Manhasset Middle School, represented New York State in the Junior Olympic National Championships held in the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, MI the weekend of May 3. Competing against the top Level 9 gymnasts in the country, Alexis took home a bronze medal on the balance beam with a 9.45 and finished 12th in the country with an impressive 36.80 all around score (bars, beam, floor, and vault). Alexis earned her spot on the Junior Olympic team with a third place finish at the Level 9 North East USAG Regional Championship held in Springfield, MASS and was also recognized as one of New York’s top Level 9 gymnasts. Alexis trains five days a week at Gold Medal Gymnastics Center in Greenlawn under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach Tammy Marshall.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
On April 7, the Manhasset High School Crew Team held its first 5K Walk/Run fundraiser, which started and ended in the Flower Hill Village Park. More than 300 participants came out to race or stroll through Flower Hill, while raising funds for two great causes.
Proceeds from the event will fund additional equipment for the growing MHS crew team, with 10 percent of monies raised contributed to the Manhasset UFSD Fields Initiative, a fund created to re-turf the MHS Stadium Field and create a new field at Shelter Rock Elementary School. Barbara Thermos, who organized and coordinated the 5K event, noted, ”It was a great way for the community to come together for these causes, connecting with neighbors and friends while getting some exercise on a gorgeous, crisp sunny morning. Both causes support healthy athletic opportunities for Manhasset’s youth.”