Throughout my career, both in the public and private sector, I have supported private-public partnership projects that truly benefit the general public and do not rip-off government sponsors, ratepayers or taxpayers.
For instance, in 1996, as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, I initiated what was at that time the largest privatization project in New York public finance history—the $1.2 billion privatization of JFK’s International Arrivals Building. The old I.A.B., which was owned and managed by the Port Authority, was a public embarrassment. The new building, which was built by private developers and is managed by a renowned professional corporation, is a model for airports throughout the nation.
The NIFA board is clearly confused about the potential public-private partnership for Nassau’s sewage treatment plants - which are in a state of disrepair and face fiscal crisis. The public-private partnership is not a loan or borrowing.
I have presented several options to the public to prevent the impending fiscal crisis that NIFA warned the county about in its October 2009 report, which stated the Nassau County Sewer Authority faces financial problems as, ‘…substantially all of the fund balance will be gone and significant tax increases in the fund will be needed.’
“I don’t watch the news. It’s too depressing.”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. Of course, when you work in the newspaper industry, it’s hard to avoid the news, but is it that depressing? Let’s recap some of the major news stories from this week.
I’m aware that addressing any group as “those people” sounds judgmental, but in this instance I don’t think I can get around it: I just don’t get those people who park in the fire lane in front of Starbucks, or a similar establishment, presumably because they’ll “just be in there for a minute.”
We all know that most customers of Starbucks and its ilk are only in there briefly to pick up a drink, so the “just a minute” excuse can be unilaterally ignored. These people park in the fire lane because they seem to think, for some reason, that parking in the lot and walking to the store is something only other people should have to take the time and energy to do.
An April 27th letter to the editor [published in Anton Community Newspapers] authored by Philip H. Smith, president of the United University Professions, leads one to believe that Mr. Smith does not closely follow the topics or institutions about which he writes. In his letter, titled “Let the Sun Shine on SUNY Foundations,” Mr. Smith states that The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (“Research Foundation”) is “largely led by government officials”; that it feels “no...compulsion to share information with the public,” and that it is an organization that “cloak[s] [its] activities in secrecy.”
All three statements are easily refutable and simply untrue. The Research Foundation is not led by government officials. Most importantly it is an organization that over the past year has demonstrated, and has been recognized for, its pledge to accountability and transparency.
On April 26, a seminal voice that was an integral part of the local airwaves was silenced when Port Washington’s hometown hero Pete Fornatale died from a stroke at the age of 66. Part of the class of free-form rock DJs whose ranks included Dennis Elsas, Vince Scelsa and Carole Miller along with late lamented names like WNEW-FM icons Scott Muni, Fornatale mentor Rosko and Alison Steele, the former high school teacher was part of a vanguard of FM broadcasters who counterbalanced the condescending and infantilized manner in which the dominant AM stations of the ’60s and early’70s treated rock ’n’ roll. And while corporate radio monoliths eventually wrapped their rapacious tentacles around any semblance of creativity by way of narrow formatting, skeletal playlists and jocks who were essentially scripted if not automated, Fornatale was one of the dwindling group of Don Quixotes titling at the Clear Channel windmills of the world.
I am puzzled by the brief article published last week that described my lawsuit against the village (“Supreme Court Judge Allows Demolition Work To Go Forward,” The Roslyn News, April 26). What was published was misleading, suggesting that the case was “dismissed” and construction was “allowed” by a judge.
The fact is that a judge granted two orders to temporarily halt work in order to allow a legal inquiry into village’s actions that I outlined in a sworn affidavit. The subsequent dismissal was strictly pro forma, because I chose not to proceed, for non-legal reasons I will describe.
I still prefer the plan by a group of Roslyn Country Club (RCC) homeowners to purchase the club and sell part of the land for a small number of homes to cover the cost of the ownership the club property (“Negotiations Continue Over Pool Status,” The Roslyn News, April 26).
On Tuesday, May 15, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Roslyn High School, you will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed annual Bryant Library budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year. The library budget will appear, as it does each year, as Proposition #2 on the ballot.
As community members, the library trustees are striving to balance the excellent service you expect with the economic realities we all face. This year we are confronted with multiple challenges: An 18.9 percent increase in our NYS retirement costs, the imposed sewer tax, and a decrease in revenues due to low interest rates.
You would expect an organization created for public benefit that is largely led by government officials would be obligated to report to the public about its activities. Yet the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and its many campus foundations are not required to do so and apparently feel no such compulsion to share information with the public. Instead, these organizations often cloak their activities in secrecy.
As president of United University Professions – the union representing academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s state-operated campuses – I think it’s time to let the sun shine in. It’s time to require the SUNY Research Foundation and campus foundations to be held accountable and to be more transparent.
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