17 January, 2006

Let the Budget Games Begin!

Governor Pataki has proposed a state budget of almost $111 billion. That is more than the state budgets of California and Texas combined. The governor also proposed cutting taxes by $1.1 billion - or by less than 1% of total revenue. Some of the proposals arise from the Committee on Tax Reform and Simplification, chaired by Lawrence Kudlow. All are geared towards making NY more competitive with other states in attracting capital and employment. Let's face it - Wall Street drives the NY economy. Our eggs are in one basket.

I have not come across one mention of any program that would be eliminated. I cannot believe that all $111 billion - before legislator pork - consists of essential programs.

Now that the governor has proposed the budget, let's see how the legislature disposes it. Let the games begin!


A Spano's Campaign Promise

By now, many readers know that County Executive Spano has moved the shelter for the "hardcore" homeless to a building in downtown White Plains. How many of us have forgotten that one of these men, transported from the old shelter near the airport, killed a woman in the Galleria parking garage? Remember that Spano promised to end the practice of picking these people up and dropping them off in downtown White Plains. Well, you can't say that Spano didn't keep his campaign promise.


UPDATE: White Plains CitizeNet Reporter is polling its readers about the problem of the hardcore homeless in downtown White Plains.

Spitzer v. Suozzi

This will be interesting. Do not count Suozzi out because of his late entry into the Democratic primary. He has an experience advantage over Spitzer. Suozzi became Nassau County executive after the Republican machine overspent the county to near bankruptcy. Suozzi has had to deal with a contentious county legislature. He has had to deal with dissension from withion his own party. He has had to deal. In short, Suozzi has had experience relevant for a governorship. Spitzer's experience as NY AG is probably better suited for a legislative position. However, Spitzer has been running for a longer period of time and has collected more in campaign funds. Lastly, Spitzer is running against Wall Street. While this may be politically popular with the ANSWER crowd, the financial sector is the state's biggest employer. What would NY be if the NYSE and the banks moved? Bankrupt.


Silver Stops Stroking Sex Offenders

Assembly Speaker Silver has stopped obstructing the restructuring of a sex offender registry in NY. The NY legislature has agreed on the structure of the registry. Level 3 offenders will have to be registered for the rest of their lives. Levels 2 and 1 can petition to be dropped from the registry after 30 and 20 years, respectively.


Senator Clinton calls the House of Representatives a "plantation." Again, can this woman be trusted by any part of the political spectrum if she says different things to different audiences? Is she really moving towards the center? I think not.

While the substance of the senator's argument - that House Democrats cannot introduce legislation - is clearly wrong, it is the connotation of her "and you know what I am talking about" comment that is upsetting. It is a smear against Republicans. Ms. Clinton is counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act could not have been passed without the votes of an overwhelming number of Republicans in the House and Senate. Indeed, LBJ's point man on the Senate floor was Minority Leader Everett Dirksen! And Dr. King appreciated Republican assistance on these landmark bills.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a party-political being, even while he helped shape the politics of the 1960's. I think that Senator Clinton and other Democratic politicians ought to remember this at future MLK Day celebrations, for it would give them some dignity that they are currently stealing from the history of a great man.


Let's try this again

Where has the time gone? I haven't posted in over a month. Sigh. I must change this, because the key to a good blog is consistent posting.

02 December, 2005

Big Whoops

I realize that it has been one week since I made an entry on this blog. I owe a post on Tim Idoni's turn as New Rochelle's mayor. I am working on one about land economics in Westchester and in metro NYC and how it has impacted continuing development here. However, pressures of work and extended family have interceded for now. I'll be unreachable by e-mail over the next few days. Back Monday.

27 November, 2005

Why the Journal News drives me crazy

The local paper's problems can be seen in today's edition. There is an excellent article by Bruce Golding and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on today's front page. It is nowhere to be found on the paper's website front page! The lead story on the local section, headlined "2006 elections a challenge for GOP," also cannot be found on the website front page. Furthermore the article is weak. It is weak because there is a disconnect between the article's headline and the article's subject matter. The article leads with discussions about Democratic candidates, and as much of the article deals with the Democratic primary field as with the Republican one. There also is little depth in its treatment of the gubernatorial candidates of either party. It is especially weak on covering those vying for the unsexy spot of comptroller, which is very important as NY's finances are deteriorating even as much of its economy has improved. Lastly, there are these little bits such as a filler announcing a leftist event on page 12A. I cannot recall the paper ever printing any announcement for any conservative event not connected to the Republican Party, much less giving it play in the front section of the paper. I'll bet several of these groups have interconnected directors.

So there is the Journal News. Good reporting is hidden from internet readers, confusing headlines, and a bias evidenced through the selection of community announcements.

There is a good summary of Mayor Idoni's tenure in New Rochelle. I'll comment on this later, as family activities come before blogging.

Do our public schools do too much?

A hat tip to Betsy Newmark on this article from the Washington Post.

26 November, 2005

Have you ever had to wait on a plane

for the bathroom? I think that this was passenger rage at the bathroom line.

Local government budget proposals

The budget proposals for New Rochelle and Westchester County are on-line. On-line availability is a good step towards making government more open to the voters. Check out what you think is waste and what is necessity. In contrast to the county and New Rochelle, I could not find the proposals for White Plains or Yonkers on-line, making comparisons among the entities impossible without acquiring and wading through paper copies. I won't do that because I have a full-time job and a life besides blogging. The Journal News has write-ups of press releases, but they are brief to the point of uselessness.

Dumb Government Stuff - US Customs

The Federal government announced that it is opening a customs center for Mexican trucks in Kansas City. Kansas City??? That is about a thousand miles from the Mexican border. If these trucks will have some special seal on their cargo doors, it is only a matter of time - probably days - before the seals are duplicated. Then, trucks are going to be pulling off I-35, unloading smuggled drugs and people, resealing the cargo doors with the counterfeited seals, and then proceeding to this new center. Anyone with sense can see this coming, even if there are fancy electronics involved in the seals.

Thanksgiving's a Turkey

Over the Throg's Neck to LIE, to mom-in-law's house we go.....

I dislike driving to anywhere on Thanksgiving. This year, I listened to the local traffic reports and played my hunch that an accident on the Cross Island Parkway would not be cleared quickly. I drove the Clearview Expressway to the LIE, thereby saving at least a half hour.

After I arrived at my in-laws, my mother-in-law put out a surprisingly mediocre meal. The brisket was tough. She carved the turkey too long before everyone sat down to eat, so it was cold. Moreover, this was the first time in years I did not carve the bird, and my mother-in-law kind of hacked up the white meat as if the knife wasn't sharp. Still, the alternative would have been for my wife to have done all the cooking for Thanksgiving at our place. That would have made her tired and bitchy for a week before and after. So I guess I shouldn't be too hard on my mother-in-law.

22 November, 2005

More of the Double Game

They're at it again.

Last week, ex-President Clinton said that he had such great respect for Rep. Murtha (D-PA) that he would have to consider Murtha's position on withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq ASAP. After the House vote against that position, Senator Clinton said that withdrawing the troops would be a big mistake.

The ex-President talks to the left wing of the Democratic Party. The Senator talks to the more centrist wing of the party. They are the leading fundraisers. They will be tough to stop in both '06 and '08, barring any scandal involving Hillary. CAVEAT: Sex scandals involving Hillary will not count as they will be seen as revenge on Bill - unless any such scandal involves minors or gets PETA petulant.

Dredging Muck with the Journal News

GE has to clean up PCB contamination of about 45 miles of the Hudson River's bed caused by discharge of PCB's from GE's upstate factories. However, GE wanted to leave the river bottom undisturbed and left to be covered by normal sediment. NY state, on the other hand, wanted GE to dredge. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. The company wound up having to dredge. The process will start in 2007. One reason why GE had opposed dredging was that it would unavoidably leach some PCB's back into the river.

Now, Riverkeeper has dropped a leaked NOAA memo to the Journal News. The NOAA memo says that - horrors! - the dredging could stir up and leave behind some of the contaminant. Moreover, NOAA and GE were exploring capping some sections of riverbed - about 80 acres. Some envronmental groups are livid, saying that the cap material could possibly wash away. However, it is more likely that the cap would be covered by the river's normal sediments.

Nevertheless, these groups which opposed leaving the PCBs undisturbed are not put out that GE's contention that dredging would place the PCBs back into the Hudson is now considered likely. Instead, these groups maintain that it is GE's fault that the dredging will not leave a pristine river bottom. Furthermore, it is annoying that the Journal News does not go back into its reporting history in order to present the story more fairly.


Phil Reisman's article in the Journal News contains one of the great truths in politics - turn out your base. Lesnick's victory resulted from a superior Democratic turn-out-the-base effort during an election where only 35% of eligible voters came to the polls. The Democratic machine simply ran a smarter campaign than did the Republican one. It cannot be overemphasized.

21 November, 2005

Zarqawi Zeroing Zapped

Apparently, the speculation that Zarqawi is dead is premature. No joy in Mudville, yet.

More Plame Name Blame Game

No one knows who leaked her name to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward except for Woodward and his source. My speculation is that the source is Michael Scheuer. Scheuer wrote anonymous articles for the Post while he was still at the CIA.

20 November, 2005

Zarqawi Zeroed Out?

After a firefight in an al-Qaeda safe house, our guys and allies are literally scraping the walls to recover tissue for DNA analysis. Let's hope the news is good.

Who knew what and when? Also, Plame's Pockets

Our elected officials and party functionaries have been blathering on Sunday morning TV. After getting up at 6AM, it was nice to turn on the TV and drift back to sleep as everything on TV was a repeat, even if it was live. The partisan value of the issue of pre-war intelligence will probably wither away as so much of what the present administration asserts is the same as what the previous administration maintained. The MSM rarely mentions that America passed a war resolution with respect to Iraq back in 1998. Moreover, the MSM rearely mentions that the same Michael Scheuer who headed the CIA Bin Laden desk alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and a devil's miscellany of terrorists during the Clinton years.

I will not write more on the pre-war intelligence problems but for one angle. The entire Plame/Wilson mess might be explained by money, or rather the lack of it. CIA analysts have a substantially lower pay structure than those on clandestine duty. Hence, Plame's official status may not have been changed when her duties changed as a way of sneaking her a pay raise. Ditto the trip for hubby, for if Plame would have gone to Niger, it would have just been part of her job. I am surmising this because I have been twice approached by the CIA for an analyst position - once when I left college and once when I left Wall Street 15 years ago. The salaries they offered for middle-level analysts with foreign languages, statistics and accounting under their belts were less than many union janitors made. If the pay scale has doubled since 1990, it is still less that for a middle-level union janitor in metro NYC. As a result of my rather tangential contact with the CIA, I am impressed that there are so few Aldrich Ames cases, given that metro DC is almost as expensive as metro NYC. However, the US still gets what it pays for. If the CIA offers second-rate salaries, it will get second-rate analysts to advise our country's senior officials.

Premature Evacuation Avoided

The House of Representatives rejected the resolution to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by 403-3. The majority consists of those who support our troops, plus many of the jackass whiners. The three wrong-headed congressmen at least had the cojones to stand up and be counted. I want to know why some 30 members were not present for this vote. Going back to the district for weekend fundraisers and ribbon-snipping just doesn't cut it.

18 November, 2005

Why doesn't this happen here?

The head of the NAACP of Orange County, FL has decided to join the Republican Party. The state and national party officials were recruiting Derrick Wallace for some time. He is head of one of the largest minority-owned construction companies in Florida. Wallace will now be fast-tracked for county-wide and state-wide office.

Why doesn't this happen here in NY? I cannot understand why the GOP outreach effort is dropping the ball in NY. There is a qualified black Republican gubernatorial candidate, Randy Daniels, who is no less conservative than any of the others presently in the Republican field. Yet the state and national party appear to be treating him as if he has bird flu. Even if he runs against Eliot Spitzer and loses, the chance to peel away 25%-plus of the black vote to the Republicans in the future makes it worthwhile to pay his candidacy some attention.

Put up or shut up time

Congress will vote tonight on whether the US pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq. I have not read if representatives and senators will be allowed to bloviate from the floor. Howevere, I expect obfuscatory verbiage from politicians on both sides of the vote, especially from those who will actually try to be on both sides of the vote.

The Clinton Double Game

Both Senator and ex-President Clinton had speaking dates in the Middle East this past week. The senator spoke in Israel, praised its war on terror, and said that Israel's barrier on the West Bank is a necessary deterrent to terrorists. The ex-President spoke in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE. He has declared the Iraq War a mistake. He even called many in Saddam's domestic terror apparatus "good, decent people." He was given standing ovations by the Sunni aristocracy. They apparently think that a Hillary Clinton presidency will mean that the US will again abandon the human rights and democracy initiative which was part of the Ford, Carter, Reagan and George HW Bush administrations. The Clinton years were actually a retreat from this policy. The GWB terms have seen a return of this policy, but applied as an adjunct to the war on terror, in part of the world where it was never previously applied. The sheiks are nervous that their people may want democracy.

There is something unseemly, even disgusting, with the Clintons double game. Hillary speaks in support of the war on terror. Bill says it was a mistake. According to Dick Morris and others, this has been their pattern for more than two years. I think that everything Hillary says from now on should be checked against what Bill says on the same or similar subjects. The Clintons are a package deal.

Israelis got two more terrorists

May their 144 virgins all look like Yasser Arafat.

17 November, 2005

The elections are over. Andrew Spano repeats as Westchester County Executive. He has lost no time in presenting a budget that calls for an increase in taxes that is 50% higher than the rate of inflation. Spano says the increase results from higher healthcare costs. However, the budget also calls for funding several nonprofit groups. Some of these groups exist to lobby for additional benefits for their members. Perhaps the tax increase can be reduced by not funding these groups from our taxes, but having them ask for contributions as other philanthropies do.
Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer told the Rockland Business Association that the state is in an "economic crisis" because of high healthcare and energy costs. Hey Eliot - don't you think that NY squanders its advantages in water and infrastructure through its gluttony of taxes and regulations? We have the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. We have one of the highest income tax structures. We have the most expensive Medicaid/Medicare structure. We will not allow for development of the largest natural gas fields east of the Mississippi. Spitzer's response to most problems he has seen has been to sue. However, he has not yet proposed anything to deal with these problems which keep businesses from relocating to New York.

Source: http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051117/NEWS02/511170370/1017

Parked today in New Rochelle’s Prospect-Division Streets lot. I can’t wait until Simone Development puts up the new parking garage here. Perhaps they’ll change the stupid system here. You park. You get out of the car. You go to the permit machine. You get the permit (assuming you have quarters). You walk back to your car (if it hasn’t been ticketed). You re-open your car. You put the permit on your dashboard, telling thieves how long they have to steal your car or its contents. You close and lock your car. You go on your way. This is a tedious process. Moreover, if you are disabled, it is almost impossible to reach the permit machine’s coin slot from a wheelchair. This system was definitely designed by committee.

ummmm, er, what to write???

This blog will be an ongoing series of ruminations about life in Westchester County, NY, with detours to state and national issues. I'll spend the next few weeks monkeying around with the look and feel of this site. A more formal roll-out might happen in January, but what I would really like is just a steady increase in readership.