Taxes have been the key issue on Long Island for as long I can remember. Whether you were attending a school board meeting, shopping for a new home, or even speaking with neighbors in a local deli, the subject would invariably turn to our skyrocketing taxes. Usually, it was accompanied by much hand wringing and a chorus of resignation that “things would never change.”
Well, here’s some good news. Things just changed.
Sometimes, writing a weekly column about state government is more challenging than others. There are complex issues not easily addressed in so few words yet are of vital importance to my constituents. This is unquestionably one of those subjects.
This past week, together with Governor Cuomo and the Assembly, the NY State Senate passed an historical and long-overdue tax cap. While New Yorkers will finally get the tax-relief we deserve, some very real problems have come along with it. Most pressing among these are public employee pensions.
First, some brief background. Back in 1987, the Suffolk County Comprehensive Plan revealed disturbing levels of contamination in Long Island’s aquifers—the sole source of all our drinking water. The findings served as a catalyst for countywide efforts to protect these precious supplies.
It’s been said that, “democracy is noisy.” The debate surrounding the Cross Street lease certainly proved that to be true. While it motivated people to take a positive interest in their local government, it also, at times, took a patently unconstructive tone.
For many here in Williston Park, most disturbing was the insinuation that our concerns were motivated by anti-Semitism. This is simply not true. Go to any village meeting and you’ll witness good people who routinely and firmly question anything, even very small matters, which might disturb the quality of life.
This week I write to you about a subject that touches the lives of just about everyone in some way: autism. Perhaps you know a child who suffers from it and the family who struggles with it. Maybe you don’t know anyone personally but admire the local family you see about town who determinedly shares a special love with their autistic child. Or, perhaps it is your child and your family. If so, you already know that one in every 110 children is diagnosed to be within the autism spectrum and while there is debate over diagnostic criteria, we know that more and more of our children are locked in this invisible prison.
Red light cameras are a subject of controversy. Law abiding citizens who stop at all red lights think that they are fine. Those who like to beat the lights, of course, hate them. They say it makes them slam on their brakes and risk being rear-ended. Others say they shouldn’t be approaching intersections at such a high rate of speed.
Like so many of you at this time of year, I recently had the pleasure of watching one of my own children graduate from middle school. The auditorium was awash with the pure, unadulterated excitement of students, parents and even their teachers. As I sat quietly wondering where the years had gone, I got to thinking about this phenomenon. Exactly what were the ingredients of this energy? Was it pride in accomplishment? Was it a sense of relief? Or was it simply the prospect of summer vacation?
The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) in Port Washington is well known for its innovative programs in Nassau County. They have been offering group brain training programs for early-stage dementia clients for more than two years, as well as personal coaching in computer based cognitive training.
In order to accommodate the growing needs, for learning computer skills or online cognitive training programs, they are pleased to announce that they have opened a Computer & Cognitive Training Center, with three computer stations, printer, scanner, headphone, right and left-handed mouse and Internet access. Clients now have the opportunity to learn or use email, google, websites, Skype, or word programs to meet their personal interests and needs with or without the assistance of staff.
I recently had the honor of installing the 2011-12 Mineola PTA/PTO Executive Officers. Forty volunteers from eight units serving six schools have bravely and generously stepped forward to play an even larger role in their children’s education than that of the already involved parent. I applaud their enthusiasm and offer my continued support.
On May 31, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my copy of Newsday to read a description of the wonderful Memorial Day Parade and the ceremony following that took place in Mineola. I found glowing reports (and rightly so) of Freeport, East Hampton, Long Beach, Little Neck/Douglaston, West Islip and Sayville, but Mineola (Isn’t Mineola the hub of Nassau County?) was glaringly missing. Our number of World War II veterans decreases every year and many of these good men are no longer able to march but they proudly ride in private cars plainly marked “American Legion” or “Veterans of Foreign Wars.”
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