Donald Trump The Divider

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Donald J. Trump has been President for the past nine months.

He frequently refers to President Abraham Lincoln, compares his actions to Mr. Lincoln, and occasionally gives credit to Harry Truman. If the President spent more time studying Lincoln he might learn about the great line uttered on the eve of his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate. His remark was “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln eventually became the national face of the Republican Party, and his words and deeds gave that party the basis for its existence.

While the President is not really a Republican, he has become the unwanted face of the party and, to their utter dismay, he may well be tearing the party apart to the extent that it will take them decades to recover. One recent NBC survey showed that there are more people who call themselves “Trump voters” than “Republican voters.” If the Republicans are meek enough to let Mr. Trump block their priorities and bludgeon their reputation that is their problem.

On the other hand, should Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and the House Speaker Paul Ryan sit by idly as their leader tries to tear apart the America we know and love?

Look back at the political landscape since Donald Trump rode down his gilded escalator to announce his candidacy. His campaign was based on his appeal to the working-class citizens of our country, but at the same time he gave a wink and a nod to the racists, Neo-Nazis and all the other sick factions in our country. Stating that he had no idea who Ex-Klansman David Duke was, even though he was a visible Trump supporter, turned out to be the first hint of the dark side of this President. From those very early days until the present, one man with an ugly agenda has torn the melting pot that we call America, apart…

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm.

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

Living in The Land of Wasted Potential

Living in The Land of Wasted Potential

 

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I recently attended a breakfast meeting, and sat in a room full of successful business leaders along with a large number of attorneys. The subject was the business climate on Long Island, and somehow I left the event slightly depressed. While some companies are making a lot of money, that doesn’t make up for the fact that Long Island really needs a major boost from someone and from somewhere.

There’s no question that, locally, we are blessed with some great natural resources. We have spectacular beaches, wonderful parks and many historic sites. We have a talented workforce and many skilled young people who are eager to live on Long Island, but something is missing: leadership. I’m not talking only about politicians. We have a handful of hard-working elected officials, but the region could use a lot more. We have quite a few successful company executives, but we could use some more success stories.

As a follower of both the local and national media, I would love to see announcements more often that a major company has decided to plant its flag in one of our two counties. Many of our smaller and midsized companies are enjoying record profits and have dedicated employees. The health care dynamos such as Northwell are booming, and more and more major hospitals are becoming affiliated with our local health care centers, which means good jobs and access to more skilled medical services.
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While I don’t expect Amazon or Facebook to build a gigantic headquarters here, I don’t get the feeling that there are any Long Islanders out there knocking on the doors of those companies’ executives, like elected officials used to do years ago. Suffolk County has been much more aggressive, thanks to the hard work of County Executive Steve Bellone, but Nassau County, with a host of budget headaches, is sound asleep when it comes to recruiting new companies to this great area. There are three towns in the county, and they all function as separate entities. It would be productive if they would sit down one day and figure out how to promote the whole county, to make up for its failure to attract big businesses.
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Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm.

 

To read the entire article on The Long Island Herald, click here.

#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.