I come bearing a little holiday good cheer.
At a time of year when many Long Islanders find themselves being a little more interactive with the religious faith they celebrate – either by birth or by choice – we bring some good news from the faith community.
While the modern media’s approach to the religious debates of the day may miss this point, the Christian imperative has always been to be welcoming to immigrants.
These past several years have been difficult times for many New Yorkers hit hard by the national and regional recession. Unfortunately, many of our neighbors suffer in silence, and must turn to food banks, pantries and soup kitchens. Now, however, the food banks are struggling to provide enough food and supplies for those in need, and can really use our help.
I am pleased to announce that I am sponsoring my annual Food Drive to benefit the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), who will be distributing all that is collected to the needy this season. I have partnered with several grocers and others throughout the Sixth Senatorial District, which will serve as convenient collection centers.
It started even earlier this year. No sooner were Halloween decorations put away than began the blitz of drugstore Santas and catalogs from retailers eager to seize the first Christmas dollar. I happen to be a big fan of Thanksgiving so I find it a pretty sad state of affairs when people rush away from their turkey dinners to stand in bone-crushing lines for a flat screen TV. I try to remember that everyone marches to their own drum, but alas, it seems our venerable holiday might soon become known as “the day before Black Friday.”
The news that day was dark indeed. A near-riot broke out as consumers battled for two-dollar waffle irons while elsewhere parking-lot marauders robbed shoppers of their goods. In one store, bargain hunters stepped over a fallen heart-attack victim to continue their spree but the year’s most bizarre performance belongs to the consumer who pepper-sprayed other patrons to get an Xbox 360.
I must have forgotten how much I dreaded impromptu writing assignments because this past month I asked sixth-graders in our district to do just that – write a Thanksgiving essay about what they’re thankful for. Despite jam-packed schedules and “tons of homework,” more than 300 participated. I had the pleasure of meeting many of them at a recent recognition ceremony. While I realize the assignment wasn’t easy for them, it did make it abundantly clear that we can all be thankful that our young people offer us some real promise.
Despite their youth, our students show remarkable wisdom and empathy, not just for those struck by misfortune but for their families who navigate everyday challenges with love and sacrifice. I am struck by their heightened awareness of issues that we would consider adult realities, and by their uncanny ability to boil it down to what really matters. I couldn’t do it any better, so here are just a few observations from your local sixth graders on what we should be thankful for.
There are weeks I feel like I should wear a football helmet to the office. That’s because whenever powerful, special interest groups feel I’ve somehow threatened their status quo, they launch attacks. This past week a number of local teachers’ unions targeted me as the “deciding vote” in favor of the tax cap and, in that vote, as having participated in an attack on our children’s education.
I’d like to set the record straight. The tax cap passed the Senate with a near-unanimous 57-5 bi-partisan vote and was enthusiastically signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It limits increases in school and local property taxes to 2 percent a year, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
Over the last several weeks many of our members have been contacted by concerned residents asking about the amount of fluoride in their drinking water. Despite erroneous media reports and the practices of bottle water distributors, the Long Island Water Conference wants to once again assure Long Islanders that there is absolutely no fluoride in any of Long Island’s drinking water.
In a column earlier this year, I noted that the federal government announced concerns that fluoride levels in various parts of the country are too high. The determination is based on studies that show adding fluoride to drinking water provides little or no benefit to dental health and can, in fact, lead to adverse health conditions.
Before my wife can comment, I’d like to disclose right up front that I have yet to clean out our garage, but I did attempt to help a friend with his this past week. It was an attempt because just as we began his annual “toss or keep” fall ritual, we were surprised by the scurrying of little feet around the garage.
My friend, doing what any self-possessed, confident guy does, immediately decided not to mention it to his wife, and then armed with a leaf blower and a broom set out to evict the unwelcome visitor. His crusade grew exponentially as he emptied the garage of all patio furniture, bicycles, rakes, and every seasonal ornament known to man in an effort to locate his new-found nemesis. I was systematically assigned guard duty at various locations as he tried to scare the mouse out of hiding. Somewhere about mid-morning I yielded to futility and left only to return that evening to a driveway full of junk and news that the mouse had gotten away.
I am opposed to any type of casino, coliseum, or sports complex being built at Belmont Park and to express my views about what should be done with at least some of the open space there, I would like to see a major portion of the development turned into senior housing.
The north end of the property, in the area of the Floral Park-Bellerose School District would be a perfect location, acting as a buffer between the beleaguered residents of the West End of Floral Park and the other situations at the track, posing absolutely no threat to the school, the neighborhood, or to traffic congestion.
On Sunday, October 30th, the Nassau County Legislature approved my budget for 2012 that includes the tough medicine needed to help our County to recover from decades of poor fiscal policies. Most importantly, the budget represents an opportunity to work cooperatively to achieve success for our residents. The budget, developed in consultation with NIFA, sets forth a comprehensive plan that makes Nassau County fiscally stronger each year over the next four years.
Despite the fact that the Democrat Minority Conference failed to support the budget, for a second consecutive year, I have been able to provide a budget that addresses Nassau’s issues without raising property taxes and I implore them to join me in working together to successfully implement the enacted solutions.
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