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#StopTheMadness – Tax Amnesty could solve the MTA dilemma

#StopTheMadness – Tax Amnesty could solve the MTA dilemma

NEW YORK – DECEMBER 19: Commuters pass through Grand Central Terminal during morning rush hour December 19, 2005 in New York City. Transit workers continue to negotiate a contract with the Metropolitan Transit Authority while saying a system-wide strike will occur if an agreement is not reached by 12:01 a.m. tonight. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Watching the epic battle between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio as the MTA falls deeper into crisis, reminds me of the Lord of the Rings battle for Middle-earth. Only, New York is not dealing with a fictional problem – our main transportation system is literally crumbling beneath our feet.

So, while our politicians are shuttled around in black SUVs while playing the blame game, the rest of us are asking who’s going to pay to clean up this mess. There is no reason to mandate another wealth tax on the 32,000 city residents who already pay almost half (49.2 percent) of the city’s income taxes or implement congestion pricing, which is a backdoor tax that hits a struggling middle class and small businesses. Instead the city and state could fill the MTA coffers by December with a comprehensive tax amnesty initiative.

MTA officials have pegged the cost for emergency repairs of the subway system at over $800 million. History proves that the development and execution of a professional tax amnesty program could net the MTA these badly needed dollars.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post

Long Island, Pay Attention to the Toxins in the Water

Long Island, Pay Attention to the Toxins in the Water

As Long Islanders are easing into the New Year, many are hopeful they can keep their resolutions and that this year will be better than the last. Some are beginning to rethink that hopefulness after reading the in-depth reporting done by Long Island’s Newsday on the Island’s tainted drinking water supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency and local government officials have recently announced a new potential carcinogen 1, 4-Dioxane (used in personal care products), which has been found in a large number of wells that supply Long Island’s drinking water. In fact, the EPA believes Long Island has the highest level of this contaminant in its water supply than in any other region in the nation.

Long Island has been suffering with the long term effects of illegal dumping of industrial waste for decades, which has seeped into the sole source supply of drinking water. Many concerned citizens and public officials have been fighting for years to protect our fragile aquifers. Understandably, many residents have paid faint attention to this issue as they are just trying to survive all of the financial pressures of living in this region.

Read the full article in The Huffington Post

Challenges Give Pols Chance to Show Courage

Long Island has faced many challenges in recent years.

Sandy hit our seashore communities hard and to this day, we have not fully recovered. But during the next six months, the Island will be confronted with other issues that may well decide whether this region can stay economically alive and well.

It’s hard to pick which challenge should be at the top of the list,but I will start with the future of the Islanders hockey team.

The move to Brooklyn away from the Nassau Coliseum was the result of a lot of political bungling.

The county lost the opportunity to keep the team here by dragging its feet on development of the Coliseum site.

Developer Charles Wang may have been asking for too much when he proposed his massive development of the site, but Hempstead town officials resisted doing anything and in the end, they chased the Islanders away.

Regardless of whether you are a fan of Wang he was dedicated to keeping the team here but faced with empty seats in an aging arena, is not a good business deal and it was only a matter of team before Wang gave up and moved the team to Brooklyn. Brooklyn has turned out to be a horror show for hockey seating and now the Islander’s new owners want out.

The new Islander owners are successful people in the world of finance and they don’t believe in losing a lot of money on their team.

As a last resort, they have set their sights on Belmont Race Track, which is run by the Racing Association. There is ample room at the track to erect a brand new arena which could accommodate upwards of 18,000 fans or more.

The team owners will be making a proposal to build an arena at Belmont and if that proposal is turned down, they have options.

The first and worst option is to move the team to another city where the local governments would do anything possible to bring professional hockey to their town.

New York State has never treated the Belmont track with any respect.

As far back as the 1960s there were proposals to put a dome over the track for year round racing and events.

The Racing Association has not given Belmont much love either.

Racing at Saratoga in upstate New York is very lucrative for the state and Belmont comes in third with the Aqueduct track in second place.

Any user of the Queens track will tell you it is a dump, but it adjoins the casino in Queens and big money for the state clouds the vision of the politicians.

So if the state plays too much politics and tells the current owners of the Islanders to go away there is a good chance that the Islanders could wind up in some far away city.

The next issue the island faces is whether companies like Uber and Lyft should be allowed to operate in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

To start with, both counties would gain enormous financial benefits if these ride-sharing companies were allowed to operate here.

From my perspective, there are more reasons for them to operate here then there are arguments against it.

Local taxi companies are vehemently against having them here but what about the consumer?

Nassau County’s bus system doesn’t reach every important area of the county and an Uber or a Lyft would be a big break for people who need to get to work or keep a doctor’s appointment.

Drunk driving accidents dominate the local news because there needs to be a service that will keep young drivers off the road.

As the father of four daughters, I would feel a lot better if they could take a ride sharing company, rather than getting a ride with some young untested friend.

The last and most potent issue the region faces is the proposed Third Track project for the Long Island Rail Road.

The island desperately needs to have better service and access to Penn Station and Grand Central.

Our young people are fleeing this area for a lot of reasons, but easy access to the city is their No. 1 need.

Plus, the new scaled down version of the Third Track proposal will bring millions of dollars in local improvements to villages from Queens to Hicksville.

Local and state officials will have a chance to show their courage in the months ahead and move forward on all of these challenges.

Not everyone will be happy but progress helps more people than it hurts.

 

To read the original article on The Island Now, click here.

 

Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer Discusses the Financial Impact of Free College Tuition

On Bond Buyer’s latest podcast, Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer discusses the New York State free college tuition plan. Even though the plan appears to be beneficial in theory, Kremer states that it actually contains several flaws that will only damage the small private college sector in the long run.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.

In Trump World, It’s about Relevance, Reluctance and Russia

People frequently ask me to explain what’s going on in Washington, because every day is a jumble of bad news. Whether it’s the tweets from the president, the battles between Democrats and Republicans in Congress or the allegations of campaign misconduct, seemingly every report contributes to unhappiness and general disgust with the political process. I try to make it simpler by referring to them as the three R’s.

The first R is for “relevant.” President Trump has done such a good job of stepping on his own toes that it’s impossible to predict what he will do or say next. His daily contradictions confuse everyone, and his incessant battles with the press have reduced him to the size of a statuette. What Trump is learning is what Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton learned during their presidencies about how presidents do or do not stay relevant.

Carter was handicapped by one misfortune after another. Some of his closest confidantes got into criminal trouble, and the antics of his brother Billy made him almost invisible. Month after month, Carter had to remind the outside world that he was still the president and was owed the loyalty of the country.

Clinton, in 1995, found himself eclipsed by then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose Contract with America clouded the president’s message. It seemed that the House of Representatives had a very specific agenda, and Clinton looked bewildered in his efforts to be thought of as the commander in chief. At one of his news conferences, he stated, “I am still relevant and the Constitution makes me relevant.”

President Trump’s challenge, after he finishes his overseas trip, will be to give people a reason to take him seriously on anything he says. The conflicting statements from him and his media staff are driving everyone crazy. His original spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, has been assigned to other duties because the television networks don’t want her on as a guest anymore. Sean Spicer is a household name now, thanks in no small part to Melissa McCarthy, but he’s taking a lot of flak in the White House and may disappear very soon into the West Wing basement.

In the weeks ahead, the president will be bombarded by daily leaks from every intelligence agency that he has insulted. The drip, drip, drip may make him retreat into hiding, and no doubt by July 1 the world may wonder whether Trump is still relevant as a leader.

The second R stands for Russia. No matter how many times the subject comes up, the president bashes it as fake news. The charges that his campaign staff colluded with Russia were answered at the outset with, “It didn’t happen,” and now Trump says, “Others may have done it, but not me.” Whether or not you want to believe that Russia was involved in our election, it doesn’t matter. The investigation, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, has become a criminal one.

The third R is for “reluctant.” You can count on your fingers the number of Republican members of Congress who have been willing to criticize Trump. One member described his actions as too “dramatic.” A few say the president is being “distracted” from accomplishing anything while in office. But to their shame, no one has told him directly, in so many words, that it’s time to grow up and do the job.

Why are Republican senators and House members so reluctant to criticize their own leader? One reason is that Republicans live and die as a unit. Internally, they may hate one another, but they’re sticking together so they can kill Obamacare and pass a package of big tax cuts for the rich. Health care and tax cuts are tied together because the savings realized by harming poor people will be translated into big dollars for the very wealthy.

So it’s really quite simple. When anyone asks you what in the world is going on in the nation’s capital, just recite the three R’s.

Published on May 25th, 2017.

 

Click here to view the original article on LI Herald.