A Fun Afternoon With Dan Halloran
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I like Dan Halloran.
Yes, I am talking about the Republican Councilman who in 2009 was on the receiving end of this paper’s investigation into his less than traditional religious leadership. Yup, we called Dan a pagan lord and printed pictures of him regaled during some religious ceremony.
The voters were right when they said who the heck cares about his religion.
I agree. I agreed then, that religion wasn’t an issue and I agree now. And the voters demonstrated they were a smart bunch.
And although his opponent was a dedicated worthy candidate, the voters gave the nod to Dan Halloran. And he has performed for them with courage, hard work and drive.
Dan is all over the place. He seems to appear at just about every civic event, meeting, or community focal point, in his district. He is not afraid to speak his mind, even though he occasionally is overzealous. An expletive or two may merely be punctuation marks for Dan when he’s animated.
His conservative form of libertarianism has not always won my approval. Some of his ideas are, well . . . nutty, to this progressive. Dan and I have our list of things we agree to disagree on. Gun control probably tops the list.
But when two politically animated, informed people from opposite sides of the spectrum, get together for lunch, it’s a lot more pleasant to ignore those topics where there is no middle ground.
And Dan and I did just that as we shared a sushi lunch at Ai Passion in Whitestone, last week.
It was really the first time we spent together where we could talk.
|Dan Halloran and Mike Schenkler
Although we broke the ice, of a potentially icy relationship when Dan came to the Trib holiday party, after being elected in 2009. He showed up in spite of a less than gentle reception our paper showed to his candidacy.
I liked the fact that he came to the party and enjoyed the several minute exchange we had at that loud holiday celebration at Douglaston Manor.
We have gotten to know each other better on Facebook where in spite of a large group of onlookers, you can understand someone’s passion, beliefs and sense of humor by their posts and comments.
Dan is quick, clever and posses a sarcastic humor that I enjoy. As strange as it may sound – no it’s not really strange – Dan is my kind of person only he is stuck politically in some ancient time warp. He still clings to some oddball old-fashioned ideas like the strict constructionists one may encounter in academia or debating societies.
And although he wears his Republican label proudly, I think deep down, he can relate to Occupy Wall St – he was one of the first elected officials to go to Zucotti Park and engage the protestors in dialogue — and certainly cares deeply about the plight of the little guy. His working class background prepared him well for the community pressures that result from the economic crunch of the current long-term downturn.
His mind is sharp and analytical but like a number of conservatives, he occasionally allows ideology to interfere with reality and problem solving – I can picture him chuckling as he reads that line.
His Council position necessitated his giving up the profitable practice of criminal law and so Dan has taken a significant income cut to be a public servant. And he reminded me, that elective office was never meant, by our founders, to be a career. And although the libertarian in him may prevent him from outright endorsing term limits for elected officials, there is little doubt that he applauds the positive effect it has had in the Council and would welcome it elsewhere.
He’s a rising G.O.P. star and when the likely disingenuous process of redistricting is complete, Dan will look at the lines and carefully analyze where he wants to be in the future. Certainly, joining the Republican fight to hold the State Senate by recapturing Frank Padavan’s State Senate seat is high on his list. However, the G.O.P. controlled senate may very well decide to draw two seats they could capture – one in northeast Queens, for Dan and one in southwest Queens for Eric Ulrich. Dividing the strong Republican areas into two, could very well doom any G.O.P. Queens Senate shot.
While it’s a free run – they don’t risk their seats – neither needs a loss to tarnish their impressive first-run win.
Perhaps more attractive to Dan would be a shot at Congress where his philosophical approach to government would have more meaning. But if the Republicans can control or influence the new lines, they will work to keep Bob Turner in Congress, leaving Dan little hope at a district he would consider. He dreams of connecting his conservative neighborhoods with Carolyn McCarthy’s blue collar Nassau County portions, but it’s just dreaming.
Much of what you’re reading here, are conclusions or my take on the guy who I spent last Thursday afternoon with. Basically, our chat was informal and off-the–record. I didn’t take notes and was not necessarily planning on writing a column. I haven’t quoted Dan once. But I think I captured the fun-loving guy with drive and principles from a couple of centuries ago.
I spent a couple of hours with Dan Halloran, a Councilmember who cares about his district and our society and although he has a couple of ideas that make me shake my head, I really enjoyed myself.
I have little doubt that Dan is saying very much the same thing about me.
Thanx for lunch, Dan.
Follow me on Twitter @MSchenkler
Gov Defers Budget Decisions, Blames World Markets
By HENRY STERN
A widely used political metaphor is the canary in the mineshaft. The small yellow bird is said to be more sensitive to carbon monoxide and methane than human beings. Therefore, when poisonous gases accumulate in an enclosed underground area, the canary is reputedly the first creature to sense its toxic effects. This makes the bird a living smoke alarm.
The canary rule can be applied to financial situations. The canary in the mineshaft provides an early warning of danger ahead. Theoretically, this avian warning gives the authorities the opportunity to take remedial action in an attempt to forestall the disaster that lies in wait.
Advance information is also a valuable asset in the business world. People have gone to jail for using it for their own benefit at the expense of others.
People who trade stocks and bonds make decisions based on their beliefs of what the market will do. Investment decisions should be made on the basis of the informed judgment of market professionals. It is logical that such judgments should be made, in part, on the basis of what other investors are doing. It is illegal, however, to be too well informed, and people can be prosecuted if they are caught at insider trading.
An opposite flaw in the dissemination of information was criticized by the Post. It observed that an important budget document was then more than ten days overdue. Every October 31 in New York State, the governor’s Division of the Budget is supposed to issue a mid-year financial report, detailing the degree to which the state’s real-world economic situation conforms to the projections laid out in the annual budget adopted by the legislature at the end of March.
In addition to tracking the state’s actual tax revenues, which according to the comptroller’s office are down by almost $400 million from the forecast, the mid-year accounting is an important indicator of the “fiscal trends that will shape the next Executive Budget.” It also provides a context to evaluate the budget requests made by each of the state agency heads, which were due this week.
Governor Cuomo explains his decision to delay the DOB’s mid-year report, and, consequently, to postpone indefinitely the deadline for agency heads to submit their budget requests, as follows: “Between Greece and Europe and the stock market going up and down, there has been significant ... volatility. We want to make sure we have the best possible [projections], because we are going to start making real decisions based on this information.”
The phrase “making real decisions” in government usually means firing people or shelving capital projects. Since the state has won major concessions from the unions in exchange for a no-layoff pledge, it will be more difficult to find areas in which expenditures can be substantially reduced.
Since it is unlikely that there will be a tide-turning economic recovery in the state in the next few months, the delay in submitting reports and budget requests will most likely mean that the reductions, when they come, will be sharper. This is a perennial situation; it recurs with monotonous and unsurprising regularity each budget cycle. The administration buys breathing room, but at a cost.
The next four and a half months will complete Fiscal Year 2011-2012. As the due date for the next budget approaches, the struggle to balance the budget, or to find a ruse to avoid a balanced budget, will intensify. Mandatory cost increases and a projected $2.4 billion budget gap will create an even more difficult situation for next year.
Some alleviation of the bad news may come from the fact that if the budget is so dire than reasonable people will not fault the governor for being unable to keep his commitments. However, Cuomo appears to be proud of his promises, and as a strong governor and potential national candidate, he is under closer scrutiny than some of his rivals.
We fear the silence of the canary. Muzzling or ignoring the bird may provide time to work on the problem, but it will not add any oxygen to the mineshaft.