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.
Success is the only word that can describe Mary Ann Fearon’s store, the Whistle Stop, located right next to the East Williston railroad station. With a limited amount of cash, she opened her store three years ago. In the current economy, few have the courage to open a new business. Mary Ann had worked at Lou Citro’s C&J Gift Shop located at Mineola Boulevard and Harrison Avenue for 12 years when she left to open her Whistle Stop. Every single person that was a regular at C&J went to her new store. Her business really took off when she got the lottery. The signs of her success are ubiquitous. Her store is always full of customers. She takes advantage of each occasion – Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. The former Mary Ann O’Hara has a winning Irish wit. Her love of the New York Rangers and other sports gives her talking points to most customers. Her husband, Peter, works for Mercedes Benz. He left Volvo after 20 years and is now with Helm’s Bros. She has two sons, Pete and Kevin. Her dad helps out once in a while; John O’Hara is 80 years old.
In the South, if you were to make a plan that isn’t particularly sound or useful, you might hear someone utter, “That dog don’t hunt.”
For example, if a husband planned to golf on his wedding anniversary, that’s definitely “a dog that don’t hunt.” His decision to smooth things over by telling his wife he’ll take her along - even more so. If she responds with tickets to a Broadway show on Super Bowl Sunday – well, you get the picture.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has been honored by being named one of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) “Top Ten Animal Defenders” nationwide for her creation of the office’s first specialized unit dedicated entirely to the investigation and prosecution of animal crimes.
Since its creation in February 2010, the Animal Crimes Unit, led by Assistant District Attorney Jed L. Painter, has drastically increased the number of investigations into animal cruelty and neglect and seen the number of people arrested for animal crimes skyrocket. In the 24-month period prior to the unit’s creation, eight people were arrested in Nassau County for animal-related crimes, none of them felonies. In the 24 months since the unit’s creation, there have been 40 arrests, including 10 felonies, and the Animal Cruelty Hotline has fielded more than 1,200 calls.
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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