I spent Presidents’ Week break away with my wife and our girls and I guess I relaxed as much as a dad with four daughters who text and email actually can. I can’t say that I totally managed to put my Senate work aside either, but my wife says that I was definitely less compulsive about it than usual, so I’ll take that as progress. Anyway, while on break I discovered an interesting book entitled 100 Quotes to Make You Think! and this particular one struck me as a great metaphor for our government and what we should strive for:
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
It’s a Greek proverb and it’s as true today as the day it was first uttered.
Precinct closings are never a good idea. How can we discuss closing four of our eight precincts and still have the same police protection we had before? We will also have 100 less police officers. James Carver, spokesman for the PBA, says that already we have less cops than we had five years ago. Carver, speaking at a press conference here at Anton, said that when we had that hurricane there were not enough police to cover all points. One hundred cops would either accept buyouts or be dismissed. If this is being done to save money, let’s say so and not kid the public that we are getting the same level of protection. The four precincts that are being closed will be replaced by police processing centers with just two cops manning each one. These officers will be handling just paperwork, like receiving accident reports. That is not very reassuring. The administration says that technology advancements allows us to need less police. Carver says that this argument doesn’t hold up because New York City has the best technology of anyone and they are adding cops.
You might call it a pedestrian “no-man’s land,” a 16-mile stretch of roadway where an average of five people die each year. It’s not Manhattan’s Broadway or the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, nor is it notorious Queens Boulevard. It’s actually here in our backyard, Route 24, better known as Hempstead Turnpike.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has identified the turnpike as the most dangerous road for pedestrians in the region for the last three years. This is an unfortunate distinction, but one that is finally drawing attention to a problem many of us have at least intuitively recognized for a long time. If you live, work, or even regularly drive there, you know it can be dangerous.
The New York State Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick), and co-sponsored by Senator Jack M. Martins, to fully restore the state’s pretax commuter benefit to provide savings to commuters who use the Long Island Rail Road and other mass transit. The legislation would fully restore the state’s monthly pretax transit benefit, which would be $240 for 2012, that was cut when the federal government did not approve an extension by the December 31, 2011 deadline.
It would also create parity with the current federal and state pretax benefits which help offset parking costs for commuters who drive. That benefit increased to $240 on Jan. 1.
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Colin Ryan Craine was born Jan. 24 to Annie and Kevin Craine. Annie is the daughter of Kevin and Claire Boland. Among Kevin’s proud aunts are Catherine Boland.
All aboard! A bad idea is about to leave the station.
I won’t be getting on, but I’ll tell you about it in case you missed the news this past week. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now considering a proposal that will allow Metro-North railroad to operate trains into Penn Station using the existing tracks.
I can already hear the gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair as I write this but some of you may wonder what the harm is. To answer that, neighbors may suggest making their commute on an average business day. Wake up before dawn, wait on a freezing platform for a Long Island Rail Road train on which you will likely stand elbow to elbow with fellow commuters the entire way, due to over-crowding. Once you arrive, you must launch yourself out of the train and be swept along with the wave of people rushing up woefully undersized staircases, being sure to avoid perpetually out-of-order escalators.
Like many of you, I’m up early, reading the news and making breakfast before the rest of the family wakes up. Later, I manage to grab a few minutes to get ready between my wife and (four) children before embarking on daddy’s a.m. taxi service. This day, I’m a little late to an 8 a.m. meeting with union officials to discuss issues impacting them, but I’m sure I’ll make up the time somewhere in the day’s schedule. By 9:30 a.m., I’m at a grammar school in another part of the district explaining how a bill becomes law to 200 fourth-graders. They prove remarkably well-informed and pursue an analysis as to what recent legislation is likely to work and what they believe will not. I take mental notes.
Next up, I have the honor of introducing Governor Cuomo at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, where he is giving a presentation on his new budget. He stirs the pot and immediately following, I listen to many people sharing many opinions. Then I’m off to a 12:30 p.m. meeting (I haven’t made up that lost time yet, in fact – I’m falling further behind!) with the Manhasset Men’s Club where I give a speech and host a Q&A session about what’s happening in Albany and what this year’s goals are. At 2:15 p.m. I’m at Westbury High School for “Pizza and Politics.” My office established this program to encourage high school students to discuss their views on current events and to encourage careers in public service.
Nassau Community College recently held their semi-annual Presidential Awards presentation. Scholarship recipients, honored guests, administration, and faculty filled the seats of the college’s multipurpose room.
The program was kicked off with a musical ensemble showcasing the talent of Sean Lucas, a current student of Nassau. More than 75 deserving full and part-time students were awarded with generous scholarships thanks to the benevolence of many esteemed donors and business partners of the college. Five honorable and commendable students were awarded with the Nassau Community College Foundation Diversity Honors Scholarship.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d ask you to imagine a very complex flow chart, one with a jumble of miniscule numbers and overlapping arrows pointing in every direction that are nearly impossible to decipher. That’s what government bureaucracies tend to create. But in my years of public service, I happen to have gotten pretty good at analyzing these labyrinths, tracing their complexities back to their respective centers. What’s more, I can now almost always predict what you’ll find there: an overburdened taxpayer that doesn’t know what hit him.
You see, bureaucracies avoid coming right out and asking you for more money because they know it makes you angry. Now I know you’re saying “Are you kidding, Jack? Have you seen my property tax bill?” But I can assure you that if government truly approached you, the taxpayer, directly for everything they want, your head would explode. Rather, they prefer creating ingenious new taxes and fees, pinching a bit here, squeezing a bit there and hopefully distancing taxpayers from the sting. The former Senate majority came up with an astonishing 214 of them in 2009 alone, imposing billions of dollars in new taxes and fees as we struggled through a recession. If there was a trophy for creatively fleecing people, I have no doubt it would be found sitting on their mantle.
Giants – Patriots Super Bowl was a winner with a huge crowd attending the annual Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast. Pancakes donated by iHOP and the sausages by Churrasqueira Bairrada owned by Manny Carvalho. Orange juice, sausages, eggs and coffee were served. Paul May, the co-chair, said it was an “all you can eat” breakfast.
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At long last the diner on Herricks Road has opened. This is the site of the old Sparta Diner. The new place, called The Park City Diner, opened with a bang; enjoying breakfast were Tom and Christina Martins, Sean and Ryan Burke, Helen Culleny and Paula Calao and, at another time, Christina Barcos. She is the lay reader at Corpus Christi Church. Christina is the lady with the accent of East London. She and her husband Claude live on Emory Road. In the evening we met Larry and Sarah Cascio. The diner was closed for more than four years. Breakfast and lunch were always busy at the old Sparta. But dinner was very slow but since then, we have a popular new Portuguese restaurant nearby and lots of new offices in the area. Dinner business has been good so far, along with breakfast and lunch. Park City has 45 parking places and with parking allowed on the side streets, it shouldn’t be a problem.
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