Each day, including weekends, I receive emails from the Senate Communications Office that contain news stories from media outlets around the state. The emails cover just about everything that would be of interest to state senators and we’re asked to review them to keep abreast of developing issues. I actually kind of enjoy reading most of them. It’s like having all the key issues conveniently delivered every morning and it makes my job that much easier.
Most news “trends” come from unplanned events or circumstances. For example, a hurricane will naturally trigger stories for several days on emergency preparedness or our lack of it. But I’ve been in politics long enough to read other stories and decipher that something’s happening behind the scenes, a story behind the story. These seemingly innocuous items are gently spun into the news stream to slowly start beating the drum of support for some upcoming issue or agenda.
New Yorkers said, “Play it again, Sam,” and we did. For the second consecutive year, your state government produced an on-time budget that puts the breaks on state spending and does not increase taxes or fees. You heard that correctly: holds spending in check with no new taxes or fees.
We had been working very hard, noses to the grindstone, but frankly, I thought there’d surely be some last-minute hitch that would send us back to the drawing board. It’s always difficult reaching consensus in a state as large and diverse as ours. Thankfully, nothing so difficult materialized and we moved forward with not only an on-time budget, but a responsible one as well. However, before I highlight it, I’d like to share why this is so significant.
It started out simple enough. Since taking office I’ve had a small but steady stream of constituents who seek help with various mortgage and foreclosure problems. I regularly connect them to appropriate state agencies and having heard back about a number of successful resolutions, I decided to host a local seminar for anyone experiencing similar issues. I invited the New York Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office, the state’s Department of Financial Services, and even some of the larger lenders.
Last year, my son decided to leave his bachelor life behind. He moved in with his longtime girlfriend – now fiancée! – packed up his apartment in New York City, and bought a house back in the Glen Head neighborhood where we raised him. I couldn’t have been happier.
As you know, he’s the exception. Hordes of young people are leaving Long Island and not coming back: a lack of jobs, affordable housing, and entertainment are luring them away: to Brooklyn and Queens, to other parts of the country, and to strange places like Manhattan.
When was the last time a backup quarterback got his own press conference to introduce him to the media covering his new NFL team?
The media circus, billboard marketers’ dream from the heavens, or whatever you want to call Tim Tebow may do more harm than good for the unnamed player bashing, loud-mouthed huddle fighting New York Jets if three-year signal-caller Mark Sanchez develops a case of the hiccups to start the 2012 season. It took three games for Denver Broncos fans to start chanting the former Florida Gators’ surname. After a 1-4 start by then-QB Kyle Orton, the clock on “Tebow Time” started ticking.
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Rockets, planes, trains, cars, and even telescopes and microscopes are some of the myriad items found at Willis Hobbies in Mineola. The store, now celebrating its 60th anniversary has three floors full of fun and games and is one of the largest of its kind on Long Island. The store was opened as a little shop owned by Karl Boelinger in 1949 who three years later sold it to Al Ford. Today, the business belongs to Al’s two sons Steve and Ken. Steve is the past president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce.
Josephine and Robert Liebl of Arlington Street like to shop at King Kullen.
This past week saw the state legislature, Senate and Assembly, work with the governor to pass significant legislation and reforms in what is being hailed as a week of momentous initiative. Unfortunately, no matter how much was positively accomplished, there will always be special interests that focus on the negatives and attempt to diminish the accomplishments as insufficient to their cause.
The fact is no legislation is ever perfect and I’ve shared my own concerns a number of times with you in the past. That being said, our goal is bi-partisan progress, no matter how incremental. We can’t afford to keep taxpayers forever mired in the mud. And to be honest, this was a pretty big week so I’d like to offer an overview of what we were able to achieve while addressing some criticisms you might have heard.
A recent report from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) stated that the nation’s buried water infrastructure is approaching the end of its useful life and is in dire need of replacement. Long Island’s water suppliers can confidently assure our residents that we will have the same access to high quality, affordable drinking water for generations to come. That said, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to invest in our drinking water supply systems over the next few decades if we wish to avoid future infrastructure concerns.
Much of the country’s drinking water infrastructure, the more than one million miles of pipes beneath America’s streets, is nearing the end of its useful life and approaching the age at which it needs to be replaced. Moreover, our shifting population brings significant growth to some areas of the nation, requiring larger pipe networks to provide water service.
Senator Jack Martins’ bill to keep fracking wastewater out of Long Island may be well-intentioned, but it is focusing on the tail end of the problem. Fracking poses a host of hazards to many areas of the state. The drilling process threatens to contaminate the drinking water of millions, increase air pollution across the state, and exacerbate climate change due to methane gas being released, just to name a few problems associated with hydraulic fracturing.
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