Earlier this month, along with Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, I submitted to the County Legislature a Community Policing (COP) Plan that reassigns 48 police officers from desk jobs to community policing positions. This plan includes the transformation of four current precincts into new Community Policing Centers to be located throughout the county, with a police presence maintained at all current locations. These Centers will have police officers posted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will have community rooms for residents to visit and for the police to host neighborhood meetings.
Keeping the families and senior citizens of Nassau County safe is my number one priority and this plan improves public safety, while increasing accountability and protecting our residents’ wallets.
All aboard! A bad idea is about to leave the station.
I won’t be getting on, but I’ll tell you about it in case you missed the news this past week. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now considering a proposal that will allow Metro-North railroad to operate trains into Penn Station using the existing tracks.
I can already hear the gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair as I write this but some of you may wonder what the harm is. To answer that, neighbors may suggest making their commute on an average business day. Wake up before dawn, wait on a freezing platform for a Long Island Rail Road train on which you will likely stand elbow to elbow with fellow commuters the entire way, due to over-crowding. Once you arrive, you must launch yourself out of the train and be swept along with the wave of people rushing up woefully undersized staircases, being sure to avoid perpetually out-of-order escalators.
At this time, I would like to reaffirm my strong opposition to County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal to shut down the 5th Police Precinct in Elmont. Public safety is too important an issue to be politicized. The 5th Precinct is a vital part of the Elmont, Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Valley Stream, North Valley Stream, South Floral Park, and Bellerose Terrace communities. Any plan to reduce the number of officers working in the 5th Precinct would be disastrous for residents.
On Feb.2, I spoke at a community meeting at the Elmont Public Library regarding the proposal to close the 5th Precinct. County Executive Mangano sent two representatives to the meeting who could not answer basic questions as to the details and feasibility of this proposal. Residents at the meeting made it clear that they were not in support of the proposal and vowed to oppose the plan.
Stalemate in Washington and a rocky national economy has actually created an opportunity for the New York State Legislature this January. The back-and-forth partisan rhetoric at the national level acts as a roadblock to financial stability and growth for Long Island families and businesses. It will be crucial during the 2012 legislative session to once and for all address private sector job growth and a lagging economy to avoid similar perils here in New York. Now is the time when the Legislature needs to lead by example and take charge in order to stabilize our local economy and communities.
This certainly is not be the first time that Albany has faced an economic crisis stemming from an outcry from the public. Some of the state’s greatest accomplishments have come during difficult economic periods: for example, look no further than last year’s property tax cap, on-time state budget and Power for Jobs program. The Legislature has been tasked before with addressing such dire economic situations, because as New Yorkers, we have demanded it. We can do it again.
Like many of you, I’m up early, reading the news and making breakfast before the rest of the family wakes up. Later, I manage to grab a few minutes to get ready between my wife and (four) children before embarking on daddy’s a.m. taxi service. This day, I’m a little late to an 8 a.m. meeting with union officials to discuss issues impacting them, but I’m sure I’ll make up the time somewhere in the day’s schedule. By 9:30 a.m., I’m at a grammar school in another part of the district explaining how a bill becomes law to 200 fourth-graders. They prove remarkably well-informed and pursue an analysis as to what recent legislation is likely to work and what they believe will not. I take mental notes.
Next up, I have the honor of introducing Governor Cuomo at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, where he is giving a presentation on his new budget. He stirs the pot and immediately following, I listen to many people sharing many opinions. Then I’m off to a 12:30 p.m. meeting (I haven’t made up that lost time yet, in fact – I’m falling further behind!) with the Manhasset Men’s Club where I give a speech and host a Q&A session about what’s happening in Albany and what this year’s goals are. At 2:15 p.m. I’m at Westbury High School for “Pizza and Politics.” My office established this program to encourage high school students to discuss their views on current events and to encourage careers in public service.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d ask you to imagine a very complex flow chart, one with a jumble of miniscule numbers and overlapping arrows pointing in every direction that are nearly impossible to decipher. That’s what government bureaucracies tend to create. But in my years of public service, I happen to have gotten pretty good at analyzing these labyrinths, tracing their complexities back to their respective centers. What’s more, I can now almost always predict what you’ll find there: an overburdened taxpayer that doesn’t know what hit him.
You see, bureaucracies avoid coming right out and asking you for more money because they know it makes you angry. Now I know you’re saying “Are you kidding, Jack? Have you seen my property tax bill?” But I can assure you that if government truly approached you, the taxpayer, directly for everything they want, your head would explode. Rather, they prefer creating ingenious new taxes and fees, pinching a bit here, squeezing a bit there and hopefully distancing taxpayers from the sting. The former Senate majority came up with an astonishing 214 of them in 2009 alone, imposing billions of dollars in new taxes and fees as we struggled through a recession. If there was a trophy for creatively fleecing people, I have no doubt it would be found sitting on their mantle.
Elementary and high school principals from five Long Island school districts and two college professors will present a public forum on New York’s new teacher evaluations on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at LIU Post (formerly the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University).
The principals oppose the new evaluations, which they say are detrimental to education. Under rules that took effect in September, test scores can account for up to 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
“At first glance, using test scores might seem like a reasonable approach to accountability,” said a paper endorsed by the teachers who will take part in the forum at LIU Post. “As designed, however, these regulations carry unintended negative consequences for our schools and students that simply cannot be ignored.”
I flipped through hundreds of pages until I found it. I was scanning the proposed budget released by Governor Cuomo last week, looking to see how our district fared with state aid, in particular the amounts for our school districts. I guess to say I was disappointed by what I saw is an understatement – the Governor had proposed increasing state aid to education by 4 percent, yet time and again our districts were shortchanged.
It’s no secret that I happen to agree with many of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to get New York’s fiscal train back on track. For too many years, the obvious truth that many in Albany were all too happy to ignore was that New York was well on its way to financial ruin. But in tandem with Governor Cuomo, we were able to change that paralyzing mindset. In fact, the nine State Senators from Long Island were instrumental in helping to close last year’s $10 billion budget gap, capping taxes and reducing overall spending. This year, we face a $2 billion budget shortfall but we remain as committed as ever to balancing the budget without increasing taxes or raising fees.
(Editor’s note: This letter is in response to “Denenberg Asks AG to Investigate Privatization of Sewage Plants,” that appeared in the Thursday, Jan. 14, edition of The Roslyn News. This is the second of two letters from Claudia Borecky. The first letter appeared in last week’s edition.)
County Executive Mangano is proposing to sell or lease three of the County’s sewage treatment plants (STP), Cedar Creek, Bay Park and Glen Cove, to fill the county’s budget gap. He stated in a Long Island Press article, “In this case, we have the ability to protect the taxpayer, increase efficiencies and protect the environment.”
In last week’s letter, I discussed how Nassau County will lose its ability to protect the taxpayer and sale of our STPs will mean a huge increase in our sewage tax bill. Research has also shown that the quality of service often declines when operated by a private system. Although faith in the private sector to outperform government agencies is ingrained in the American psyche, facts disproving that belief are steadily mounting. Private companies seek to maximize profits, often by cutting corners to reduce costs. This can greatly impair service quality and maintenance. Over 60 percent of governments that brought functions back in-house reported this as their primary motivation.
It never ceases to amaze me how much suffering can stem from things that were actually intended to be helpful. Case in point would be the latest drug epidemic that has seized our country, and more so our state. Surprisingly, it doesn’t involve heroin, crystal meth or any of the many other illicit, designer drugs out there, although each certainly brings plenty of heartache and loss. Rather, the crisis that now challenges us involves the abuse of prescription painkillers. What many of us have had in our medicine cabinets at one time or another is now responsible for tearing apart the lives of thousands of individuals and families.
Let’s begin by wrapping our heads around some astonishing numbers. New York has seen a rapid escalation for these painkiller prescriptions, more than 22 million of them written in 2010, a 36 percent increase since 2007. Worse still, scripts for oxycodone, a widely-used narcotic, rose by a whopping 82 percent. As a Newsday editorial so deftly pointed out, “Life hasn’t gotten 82 percent more painful in three years.” Nationally, the number of overdose deaths from these drugs is now greater than those of heroin and cocaine combined and before we mistakenly characterize this as a young people problem, middle-aged adults have the highest rates of painkiller overdose. The non-medical use costs insurers about $72.5 billion per year and those costs inevitably work their way down to each of us.
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