The State Budget: Exactly How Late Is Failure?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
The State Legislature is required to approve the NYS budget by April 1 of each year.
A month and a half later, little has been done to close the more than $9 billion deficit in the current fiscal year’s budget.
The one man that may have had an inkling on how to try to deal with the overwhelming problem in a fiscally responsible way was pushed aside by the Governor and rejected by the State Senate.
Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch was appointed by an accidental Governor late last summer in response to a pathetic deadlock caused by two State Senators jumping parties in exchange for 30 pieces of silver and a roll in the hay – or its vague political equivalent in Albany terms. Ravitch, the one man not in the room who may have the fiscal ability, respect and integrity to navigate the mine field of the Albany budget process, has been excluded by a failing Governor trying to reassert his own relevance in a process where the train left the station before he found the station.
And those aboard the train are led by conductors who haven’t heard the music of the people for years. The group in its entirety is no group at all. The Democrats, now in control, are apparently not involving the Republicans. Bipartisanship is no more evident here than it has been on the Federal level. Only on the Federal level, no matter the problems, bills seem to get passed, the government runs and Congress shines when compared to the New York State Legislature.
The Assembly catering to special interests leans toward restoring the Governor’s proposed cuts to education and health care while the Senate seeks property tax relief to win votes from suburban and upstate voters in an election year.
As a matter of fact, both houses are driven by anything but what is best for the people, the state and prudent fiscal management.
And as the clock ticks, each second of each day that there is no resolution to the budget impasse, the state moves closer to the precipice – a cash flow crisis approaches as rapidly as the high speed train moving through the month of May with no governor and no budget controls in place -- and billions fall due to school districts throughout the state.
The Mayor of the City of New York had to create his budget without knowing the State’s contribution. Next Tuesday, school districts – other than the City — across the State will put their budgets to public vote without ever knowing the extent of the State’s participation.
So what has been going on in Albany as the clock ticked up to that legally proscribed April 1 budget deadline and then has ticked passed it 3,888,000 times.
The leadership, a handful of Senators and Assembly members, occasionally sit behind closed doors, rarely if ever talking to the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor – remember him, the man with the best chance of finding a real solution – he’s not included.
And the rest of them sit collecting their per diem for being in Albany.
No, they are not hard at work looking for other potential cuts or analyzing the budget. No, they are not involved in the important process of ethics reform nor are they working to protect our environment nor develop a system of non-partisan redistricting or any other meaningful legislation.
They basically are doing nothing.
And sadly those infamous three men in a room don’t seem to be doing much either.
They apparently have agreed on some $6 billion in reduction – we’re all just guessing here because that room door is locked and the press and the public are not entitled to observe the process of how government works in the Empire State.
Well, the real deficit is apparently moving closer and closer to the $10 billion figure as each day passes. Cutting $6 billion doesn’t solve the problem. The Governor has been ineffective from the get go. He is a lame duck probably looking for a job to call his own next year.
The Senate has still not recovered from its devastation of the past year where leadership changed, Senators changed party allegiance, Senators’ votes were bought and sold and then one of the two Senators at the center of the fiasco was expelled and the other indicted for stealing millions from the people. Don’t expect too much from the Senate.
Then there is Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver – not one for opening the process of government – bright and capable of getting the job done. This fixture in the secret room cannot do it alone and doesn’t recognize it’s time to seek the support of the people and the press.
New York government does not work.
And sadly, this time, it is my party in control of the entire process - the Democratic Party.
The Democrats have failed us.
New York State Government has failed us.
The cost of the budget failure will ultimately come due and who will have to pay it?
We will – for years and years to come.
Remember what our State Legislators have done to us when election time rolls around.
City Narrowly Escapes Bungling Bomber’s Plot
By HENRY STERN
By HENRY STERN
New Yorkers have thought a great deal about the attempted bombing in Times Square. Our narrow escape from death and destruction in the heart of the city reminds us of the police work that frustrated the July 1997 plot to explode bombs on the New York City subways. That attempt came four years after the first attack on the World Trade Center, and four years before 9/11. There was also a conspiracy in 2009, when a New York immigrant trained by the Taliban in Pakistan bought supplies in Colorado to attack the subway system here. An imam may have tipped him off that he was under surveillance.
It should now be apparent that, in recent years, there have been a number of plots aimed at wreaking havoc in the City of New York. We generally write about policies and practices of state government. We do believe, however, that plans to detonate explosives which could demolish buildings and immolate their inhabitants (actions which have been attempted at least five times over the past 17 years) would have a significant effect on the city government, its economy and its viability as a place in which people would want to live and stay alive. That is the assertion of relevance, which prompts us to offer the following thoughts, some of which lead to conclusions of one sort or another.
Herewith our observations:
First is that, if not for the incredible incompetence of the bomber, the Times Square plot would have succeeded.
Second, if the bomb had gone off, it would have attracted enormous worldwide attention, disproportionate to the physical damage that it would have been caused. It would have shown that one of the nation’s most famous and crowded places was vulnerable to deadly attack by one individual.
Third, if enough other would-be bombers attempt the same or similar assaults, one or more will eventually succeed.
From there, we proceed to the greater danger:
Fourth, the proliferation of nuclear weapons would make the outcome of such an attack devastating rather than symbolic.
Fifth, although there are now nine nations which have nuclear capability, none of them has proclaimed its commitment to the destruction of another country.
Sixth, Iran’s president has repeatedly proclaimed his ambition to destroy Israel, which has done no particular injury to his country, nor has had any territorial disputes with Iran (as Iraq had during their eight years of warfare, which included the use of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein).
Seventh, Iran is developing nuclear weapons as rapidly as it can, and anyone who does not believe that to be true is incredibly naive.
Eighth, (and this is the difficult one to accept), the United States is enabling Iran to become a nuclear power by making speeches denouncing Iran which have no effect, and trying to enlist other nations to support sanctions, measurers which are not in those nations’ immediate self-interest.
Ninth, the United States appears to be quite reconciled to Iran as a nuclear power. Since Iran is already supplying Hezbollah and Hamas with advanced rockets and other weaponry, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that Iran’s nuclear weapons, or the technology to manufacture them, will somehow fall into the hands of non-governmental entities.
Tenth, President Obama said on May 18, 2009, that “by the end of the year, we should have some sense whether or not these discussions [with Iran] are starting to yield significant benefits, whether we are starting to see serious movement on the part of Iranians.” It is now May 2010, and the only movement seen has been increased activity by Iran in nuclear development.
Eleventh, the physical protection of the City of New York has been capably managed over the years by the New York Police Department. But its protection from weapons of mass destruction is a Federal responsibility, which means the national government is obliged to do what it must to prevent a nation which believes war is a religious duty does from getting the opportunity to put that principle into effect at the cost of the lives of our citizens.
Twelfth, national leaders must understand that, just because they want peace and justice, others may still want to kill them and the citizens they are sworn to protect, either as a result of religious fantasy of zeal, or the simple desire for universal hegemony that characterized Hitler and his followers.
As usual, we invite your comments, and we expect some disagreement with our views. Please feel free to express yourself by e-mail, whatever your opinions. This, of course, is far more than the people who would bomb and destroy us permit to those whose opinions differ from theirs.
God bless America, and God preserve the City of New York.