Archive for the tag 'legislature'

Photo by Erica Sherman

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced the New York City Hurricane Sandy Assessment Relief Act, legislation intended to provide tax relief to New York City homeowners and businesses severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

The legislation would allow property owners who suffered damages from Sandy to apply for property tax assessment reductions on a sliding scale. The sliding scale is based on the percentage of value lost, so the more damage you suffered, the less you would pay in taxes. Here is a breakdown of the figures.

  • 50 but less than 60 percent loss in value, taxable assessed value would be reduced by 55 percent;
  • 60 but less than 70 percent loss in value, taxable assessed value would be reduced by 65 percent;
  • 70 but less than 80 percent loss in value, taxable assessed value would be reduced by 75 percent;
  • 80 but less than 90 percent loss in value, taxable assessed value would be reduced by 85 percent;
  • 90 but less than 100 percent loss in value, taxable assessed value would be reduced by 95 percent;
  • 100 percent loss, taxable assessed value would be reduced to zero.

According to the legislation, the home or business owner would be required to submit a written request to the New York City Department of Finance, which in turn would determine the percentage of lost value. The New York City Tax Commission would review any assessment changes if requested by the property owner.

Local co-sponsors of the bill include Alec Brook-Krasny, Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alan Maisel.

Members of the New York State Legislature doing what they do best. Get it? Source: Wikipedia

BETWEEN THE LINES: A show of hands, how many of you think our state legislators deserve a pay raise?

Not too many hands.

Now, if they were to get a raise, how many think that a 26 percent hike, the amount that has been reported, is too much, even though they haven’t had an increase since 1999?

That’s more like it. Almost all of you agree that’s too much. It’s like they’d be making up for lost time with an average of two percent a year for the last 13 years, which is when they got their last pay boost.

The current salary would jump from $79,500 to $100,000. But, in return, those noble lawmakers would sacrifice the $165 per diem they now receive when they’re in session. When you tally the numbers, legislators would give up just over $11,000 for a 67-day session — the standard annual legislative session — for a sizeable $20,500 raise.

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"Tanorexic" New Jersey mom, Patricia Krentcil. Source: Julio Cortez / AP Photo

BETWEEN THE LINES: Some rules are made to be broken, particularly when they lack common sense.

Such is the argument with rules that don’t allow students to use sunscreen when participating in outdoor school activities. All things considered, this one’s a no-brainer.

In the just ended Albany session, lawmakers enacted legislation to protect children from bullies. Now, they need to protect children from sunburn. One state senator from Queens has proposed changing New York’s guidelines for students’ sunscreen use — without a doctor’s note — when engaged in outdoor school activities.

Several weeks ago, two elementary school students in Washington came home with serious sunburns after a five hour outing because their school didn’t allow them to use sunscreen.

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Former State Senator Carl Kruger. Image source: Illustration composite by Erica Sherman

With seemingly little fanfare, a seven-sentence story by Agence France Presse, with the headline “Death toll among pedestrians wearing headphones triples,” popped up on Yahoo News a while back. It is all but forgotten about now, having first appeared mid-January, but the subject merits revisiting. The Yahoo link is borked, but you can read it on any number of websites by going here.

The story reported the results of a study, which revealed that “[T]he annual tally [of US pedestrians killed or badly injured while wearing headphones] rose from 16 in 2004 to 47 in 2011, bringing the total of cases to 116 over this period.” Researchers of the study, headed by Richard Lichenstein of the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, in Baltimore, further warned of an “inattentional blindness,” or “a distraction that lowers the resources the brain devotes to external stimuli.”

The results of the study — conclusive data parsed from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google News, and the legal database, Westlaw — were published in the British journal, Injury Prevention.

At the time the story appeared, a cursory search of the word “headphones” into Google News generated upward of 330 results, all citing the same Lichenstein study. It surfaced in The Daily NewsFox News Radio…  the L Magazine picked it up from The Daily News, adding that the NYPD’s 34th Precinct “created its own texting-while-walking awareness campaign last year.” The results of the research were also published in The Washington ExaminerABC NewsMetro New YorkNBC Washington, and hundreds of other media sources all over the web.

The one conspicuously absent item missing from those 330+ stories was any mention of the 27th Senate District’s now former legislator, Carl Kruger.

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The current political boundaries of Kruger's and Golden's districts. Kruger was key in implementing them. Now he supports legislation to make sure pols like him can't do this anymore.

It seems that State Senator Carl Kruger, who faces a long, hard legal slog as he battles corruption charges, has found his conscience – and is beginning to vote it.

The local pol most recently made political observers balk last week, when he called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission in a new newsletter to his constituents, according to the Daily News.

“He’ll make a strong case for an independent redistricting commission to correct population shifts that shortchange New York City in favor of upstate communities,” the newsletter says.

But Kruger is one of the state’s worst offenders when it comes to dubious redistricting. Why the turnaround?

The district boundaries for the State Senate seats occupied by Carl Kruger and Marty Golden. Doesn't it look a little unnatural to you?

Redistricting of political boundaries occurs every 10 years – following the results of the U.S. Census – but it’s usually off the radar of most members of the community. This year, redistricting got a bit of a higher profile when Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned, leading to the now oft-spoken narrative that the winner of his seat is of minimal importance, as the most junior New York representative in federal politics will likely lose his job to redrawn lines and the elimination of a seat.

Well, that’s our seat they’re talking about, and redistricting stands to have profound implications on the way residents of Sheepshead Bay are represented.

Keep reading and find out how to make your voice heard.