February, 2013
Kremer: In the political season, anything goes |

Kremer: In the political season, anything goes |

Despite the rush to enjoy the waning days of summer, there’s no way to avoid the hints of a political season yet to come. Whether you live in Montauk or Manhattan, the airwaves are crowded with commercials for those running for public office.

Because the New York City media reaches every community on Long Island, the Nassau-Suffolk area is being bombarded with commercials highlighting the city races for mayor and comptroller. It seems like candidates are buying up every available second of television and radio time to tell us why they’re the best choice.

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Cutting government is much easier said than done |

Cutting government is much easier said than done |

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney got himself into a lot of trouble last year by making disparaging remarks about the so-called “47 percent” of Americans who rely on the government for their needs. Actually, that number is much higher, and without a lot of those government programs, you may as well move the country to Botswana or someplace like that, which also doesn’t have indoor plumbing.

Regardless of who you are or what your economic level is, we all get a lot of things from the government that we take for granted. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs of New York state, mass transit is a big deal. Many of the high rollers who run hedge funds as well as the blue-collar employees of Wall Street rely on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro North to get to work each day. Without the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, there wouldn’t be any mass transit.

Long Island residents like to brag about their quality of life and boast about the best parks and beaches. Last time I looked, those much-cherished facilities belonged to the government, and without taxpayer support and subsidies from the government, they wouldn’t exist. If you think that the commuter railroads and subways are just paid for out of the fare box, you’re very mistaken. Without federal subsidies, none of the trains and buses would be running.

Which brings me to the issue of the U.S. Postal Service. The people who run our mail system are threatening to do away with Saturday delivery starting this August. The postal system lost almost $16 billion last year, and it has to do something to stop the bleeding. Cutting out Saturday service would save at least $2 billion, which isn’t small change. There is no doubt that emails and such services as FedEx and UPS have taken a lot of business away from our postal system. Oddly enough, the cost of these overnight delivery services would probably be doubled or tripled if there weren’t a postal service to keep the rates down. No doubt many of our readers wouldn’t care if there were no mail delivery, but the vast majority of Americans would suffer greatly. So who do we blame for the current postal mess? It’s no surprise that Congress has created it. Members of Congress are the first people to scream when a local post office is about to close. But last year Congress forced the postal service to default on a multibillion-dollar pension fund payment by denying the funding.

The postmaster general said last year that there was a need to close 252 of the 487 mail-processing services and reduce overnight delivery of first class mail. Within seconds of the announcement, it seemed, a handful of Tea Party-supported congressmen started screaming in protest. These are the same people who are always complaining that government has to be downsized and run like a private business.

In addition to mail delivery, there are quite a few other services we take for granted. Millions of people rely on Amtrak for train service throughout the Northeast. Not everyone can afford to take an airplane to Washington or Boston, and those discount bus companies aren’t always the safest. Take a ride on an Amtrak train and you will see every class of citizen sitting in the same car.

There’s no doubt that government is too big and needs to be selectively downsized. But where do we start? Social Security checks for widows? Aid for college students from poor families? Payments to returning soldiers for career retraining?

Mitt Romney was totally wrong when he talked about the “47 percent.” The number is a lot bigger than that, and it covers all of us, including me, who respect what government does and can do.

Cutting government is much easier said than done – Long Beach – – Nassau County’s source for local news, breaking news, sports, entertainment & shopping.

It’s time for a tech revolution | NY Daily News

It’s time for a tech revolution | NY Daily News

New York City is quickly becoming the destination of choice for emerging tech companies, and countless young tech entrepreneurs are moving here every year. And while the economic growth in the tech sector has been significant, it’s important to recognize that other, smaller towns are trying to take some of that business away from us.

Chattanooga, Tenn., is not the first place people think of when they imagine a tech capital, but economic development officials there are working hard to transform that city’s economy and position as a destination for startups. It is now advertised as having the fastest Internet speeds in the Western Hemisphere — more than 200 times the national average — and capable of offering “one-gigabit-per-second fiber Internet services to all residents and businesses.”

Young talent is flocking to Chattanooga to take advantage of programs like “GeekMove” and “GigTank,” which incentivize relocation there for developers and system administrators, and offer techies up to $11,250 in relocation costs. A consortium of public and private entities have joined together to form “Gig City,” a creative program that seeks to reinvent the city’s economy and draw tech workers to specific neighborhoods that need revitalization.

Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., are also becoming players on the tech front with the installation of the Google Fiber project. The cities won a competitive project to become a guinea pig for the new high speed broadband Internet service that is capable of delivering one gigabit per second. Now, tech companies are flocking to the area and bringing economic benefits to both cities.

Similarly, Lafayette, La., decided a decade ago to build 800 miles of fiber-optic cables that can deliver exceptionally fast Internet speeds.

New York City has approximately 1,000 tech companies operating within the five boroughs, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future. The report cites that New York tech companies have seen a 35% increase in Venture Capital funding, surpassing all other tech regions including Boston and Silicon Valley. According to the New York State Department of Labor, technology jobs have risen by a whopping 60% since 2007 and the New York City Economic Development Corporation has reported employment gains of 30% since 2005.

The tech revolution is not just hype. In fact, New York City has had a handful of successful tech startups, including online fashion sites Gult Group and Ideeli, as well as Tumblr, ZocDoc and Foursquare. The city is making strides with plans for a Cornell University technology campus on Roosevelt Island and a Google initiative to bring free WiFi to parts of the West Side.

These gains, however, can quickly be reversed if we’re not paying attention to the industry’s needs. If the cost of living continues to rise faster than compensation, many companies will give birth here and seek to move to places like Chattanooga, Kansas City or Lafayette.

New York currently has a thriving ecosystem of major multinationals, emerging startups and a talented workforce of developers, designers and engineers. We must explore “tech communities” — places where employees can live and work — which have been successful on the West Coast.

As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, our telecommunications network is not indicative of a world-class city. With federal dollars coming to the area to improve our disaster readiness, let’s take the time to explore how improving our emergency communications network can have a rollover effect on our city’s thriving tech community.

Imagine outer-borough neighborhoods like Red Hook, Brighton Beach in Brooklyn or Howard Beach in Queens becoming tech centers. It’s possible if we think big.

We must invest in our communications infrastructure now while we still have the chance or we’ll soon be playing catchup to Chattanooga and Lafayette.

Be Our Guest: New York City must become more ‘tech friendly’ or risk losing out to other U.S. cities   – NY Daily News.

Nassau and Westchester County Executive Races Critical for GOP | City & State

Nassau and Westchester County Executive Races Critical for GOP | City & State

The political tide in 2009 was changing. Fresh off the historic victory of Barack Obama, Democrats, confident that they could win any contest at any level of government, fell asleep, allowing the nascent Tea Party to gain steam and captivate the Republican base. That summer, Tom Suozzi, a popular incumbent Nassau County executive, was focusing on the 2010 statewide election, anticipating a possible run for governor. He expected to coast to victory and win reelection without any serious competition.

Suozzi didn’t pay much attention to his challenger Ed Mangano, a virtually unknown county legislator, and it wasn’t until about two weeks before the election that Suozzi began to mount a serious campaign. Even with more than $1 million in his campaign account it was too late to resuscitate the contest. The race went on well after Election Day, with recounts and court challenges, and Mangano was eventually declared the winner several weeks later.

Now, after three years to reflect on his loss and the campaign mistakes he made, Suozzi is eager for a rematch and recently announced that he’s running for his old job again. This time around the stakes are incredibly high for the GOP.

It’s no secret that the New York State Republican Party is in a state of crisis. The last time the GOP won statewide office was in 2002 when Gov. George Pataki cruised into his third term. Now, with 2014 on the horizon, it’s unclear if anyone can run a viable campaign against the widely popular Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Part of the problem has been candidate selection. In recent years the GOP has run Wendy Long, Joseph DioGuardi, Jay Townsend and Carl Paladino—people who lack name recognition and who were part of the party shift to the right in statewide races. (Harry Wilson, who ran a very strong campaign for state comptroller in 2010, may resurface again but it is unclear in what capacity.)

In order to rebuild the party the GOP must hold onto some of the gains they have made in recent years—particularly the badly needed county executive position in Nassau, with Ed Mangano, and Rob Astorino’s county executive seat in Westchester. For Republicans, these seats are great springboards for runs for higher office. But holding the suburban executive positions is going to be tough this time.

Suozzi is a proven vote getter and is capable of raising substantial cash. He starts out his election with at least $1 million in the bank and pledges of substantial future support. He may be facing a significant challenge in the Democratic primary from newcomer Adam Haber. The financier and restaurant owner has pledged $2 million of his own money for the campaign. With seven months until the primary, Haber has an opportunity to distinguish himself among the party faithful in Nassau.

Further complicating matters is the possibility of North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman throwing his hat into the ring, though I strongly believe he will step aside and run for his current position. The prospect of a Democratic primary in Nassau is not too palatable to party leaders and they will do everything they can to avoid a nasty intraparty contest.

Democrats clearly underestimated Mangano in 2009, but this time they are eager to reclaim the seat and they sense that he is vulnerable. Despite record high approval ratings after his handling of Hurricane Sandy, Mangano is going to need to motivate Republican and independent voters to support him. In the last ten years Democrats have seen their enrollment swell in Nassau and the growing African-American community in western Nassau is likely to support the Democratic candidate. If Mangano is capable of holding onto his seat then he will no doubt get the attention of state Republican leaders.

Westchester is also incredibly important for Republicans to hold. County Democrats, in an effort to avoid a messy and costly three-way primary, have now cut a deal to allow local district leaders to choose at their upcoming party convention who will run against County Executive Rob Astorino.

Democrats will have extra incentive to take the seat from Astorino as he has been an outspoken critic of Andrew Cuomo and mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2014. Knocking Astorino out of office will inevitably hurt his chances of running for higher office in the future.

The New York City mayoral race will gain a lot of media attention, but the Nassau and Westchester races will be just as unpredictable.

Nassau and Westchester County Executive Races Critical for GOP | City & State