New York State: Can What’s Broken Be Fixed?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
So the online pitch for one candidates goes: “New Yorkers need government to create jobs, cut taxes, and fix our fiscal crisis — but Albany can’t deliver because special interests and lobbyists are standing in the way." It then presents a 20-point plan to clean up Albany:
Reform New York’s Ethics Laws
1. Independent monitoring and enforcement of ethics laws.
2. Outlaw “pay to play.”
3. Disclose outside income sources and clients.
Reform New York State’s Campaign Finance Laws
4. Institute a voluntary system of public funding of election campaigns.
5. Limit soft money.
6. Reduce sky-high campaign contribution limits
7. Close corporate subsidiary and LLC loopholes.
8. Tighten inadequate reporting requirements
9. Restrict fundraisers during legislative session and prohibit personal use of campaign funds.
10. Improve enforcement of campaign finance laws.
11. An independent redistricting commission.
12. Reform process or veto the plan.
Codify & Expand AG Reforms of Legislative “Member Items”
13. Forbid conflicts of interests in granting member items.
14. Increase transparency before award is made
15. Ensure recipients of grants are legitimate.
16. Require state agencies to oversee the spending of the allocated funds.
17. Crack down on member item abuse.
Reform Administration of the State Pension Fund
18. Create a board of trustees to manage the State pension fund.
19. Eliminate “pay to play” in the pension fund.
20. A Constitutional Convention.
I’m voting for him and I pledge to spend the next four years monitoring his success or failure in cleaning up Albany by the yardstick he has laid out above – each by the way is available with detail.
|Republican Attorney General candidate Dan Donovan and Trib Publisher, Mike Schenkler.
Who is he?
Your next Governor.
And may he fare better than the two Democrats he will follow.
New York depends upon him.
The AG Race
Dan Donovan came to visit. If nothing else, he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s bright, relaxed and utterly enjoyable.
“There is no Democratic or Republican way to enforce the law,” was the simplest explanation of the lack of differences in philosophy among the candidates in the race for Attorney General.
While five Dems vie for their party’s Attorney General nomination, Donovan, the successful Staten Island District Attorney is making the rounds as the AG candidate of the G.O.P.
And in spite of the fact he is underfunded compared to the big bucks in the Dem field, he is on target when he point out the people of New York want a two party system and would prefer its chief law enforcement officer from a different party than the Governor, Comptroller and Legislative leaders – well at least one.
Today, we have the Dems – my party – with control of every power position in the State. And sadly, the State is as dysfunctional as ever and corruption and unethical conduct is as prevalent as ever.
I’m not suggesting that the present and previous Democratic Attorney General did not function quite effectively, but we need more.
And perhaps the country charm of this Staten Islander would be an effective counterpoint to the big city, fast moving Democratic sharks.
Dan Donovan certainly convinced us that he is worthy of consideration.
Dan, thanx for stopping by.
Term limits is on the ballot again. Do you think they will finally get the idea if the people again vote for a 2 term limit?MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
All We Are Saying Is Give Geese A Chance
By HENRY STERN
The “Pelham Parkway 87” are mature trees, primarily lindens, with some elms and oaks, who have the misfortune of living too close to a “road improvement”, as the $36 million reconstruction of the two-mile long roadway is euphemistically called. Not enough is being done by the city to preserve these historic trees.
Our efforts to identify the best way to save the Pelham Parkway 87 have been frustrated by the fact that the project falls under the auspices of three different city agencies, each more ready than the last to pass the buck.
The project is funded by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) capital program, designed and built by the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and lies on land mapped as city parkland under the jurisdiction and protection of the Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR).
When we called DOT to inquire about the removal of the trees, we were told that DDC was in charge of the project. When we called DDC, we were told that the trees were on Park land. When we called Parks, we were told that the reconstruction had been initiated by DOT. This round robin of avoiding accountability would be comedic if it didn’t involve the destruction of trees that are older than most people.
t also appears that no environmental assessment was ever performed on this project. According to the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) procedure, the lead agency of any city project should perform such an analysis when it would lead to “the removal or destruction of large quantities of vegetation or fauna” or “the impairment of the character or quality of important historical, archeological, architectural or aesthetic resources.”
Clearly 87 mature trees constitute a large quantity of vegetation. Additionally, according to a 2006 report published by the city’s Department of City Planning, Pelham Parkway is eligible for listing on the State or National Register of Historic Places. It seems apparent that a formal review of the impact of removing these trees should have been done.
Under current plans, the 87 will become sawdust next year as construction proceeds. Some city employees have belittled the prospects of the trees claiming that many of them are dead - although some of the alleged dead are still in leaf. We have no problem with the removal of dead trees, Pelham Parkway was not intended to become a petrified forest. We do, however, take issue with the removal of older trees that still have years of shade to provide.
Guardians of the urban forest must be vigilant to prevent its depredation. Whether greedy entrepreneurs or misguided civil servants threaten trees, the words of George Pope Morris (1802-64) come to mind:
“Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now.”
A review of the health and safety of each potentially affected tree should be performed, with an eye to preserving as many of as possible. Then the design of the project should be altered to save as many of these healthy trees as can be preserved.
DOZENS OF GEESE LAND LAKE
The goose population at Prospect Park Lake has climbed to 61, as geese flying past the lake have settled on its waters. This is nature’s effort to fill the void caused when government agents goosenapped between 250 and 300 geese who lived on and around the lake, trucked them to a gas chamber, killed them with carbon dioxide gas and dumped packages of bodies in a landfill.
This act of ansercide was intended to prevent geese from being sucked into jet engines and endangering the lives of airline passengers and flight crews. On January 15, 2009, tragedy was narrowly averted when a jet was skillfully guided onto the Hudson River. Since that time, there have been periodic exterminations of geese. Guidelines say geese should not fly within five miles of an airport. The goose no-fly zone area was recently increased to a seven-mile radius.
Prospect Park Lake, however, is about ten miles from JFK and LaGuardia airports, and it is not known whether its geese have ever interfered with aircraft. Geese closer to the airport have been slain without complaint, in the interest of protecting human life.
We believe there should be a determination, based on evidence if there is any, as to which populations of geese are likely to be a hazard to air travel and which are not. There are also more humane ways of reducing goose populations such as addling eggs and transporting geese to areas remote from airports.
We need information from government agencies as to what anti-goose measures are being undertaken. We would like to know on what basis specific areas are chosen for the extermination program. Fear not, we do not intend to tip off the geese. But we cannot make policy suggestions until we know just what is going on. Particularly when a program makes life-and-death decisions, the public should be informed so animal and airplane authorities can bring whatever information they have into the search for sound public policy.