Good afternoon. Here’s a look at opinion content published Saturday, July 31, Sunday, Aug. 1, and today, Aug. 2.
Autism legislation: Community View
Thomas Abinati, a member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, offers a Community View that’s critical of recenlty-passed legislation designed to help families of children with autism. Abinati writes:
… As parents of children with autism, we daily experience similar frustrations. We agree that state corrective action is long overdue.
However, the bill recently passed by the state Legislature (S.7000/A.10372), supported by the above writers, is not the solution. We believe it may actually do more harm than good.
The bill is another example of “Albany Speak” — that is, to say you are solving a problem, then make it worse.
The publicized intent of S.7000 is to help people with autism access health insurance. The first line of S.7000 mandates that health insurers cover treatments for people with autism. Unfortunately, the remainder of the bill wipes out the mandate and protects health insurers. That is why we and others from around the state recently met with Gov. David Paterson’s staff and urged a veto. …
Tax cuts: Perspective
Steve Wamhoff, writer is legislative director for Citizens for Tax Justice, offers a Perspective piece in which he argues that making the Bush-era tax cuts for America’s wealthiest citizens would be detrimental to the federal deficit. He writes:
More than 40 U.S. senators have voted several times this year to block extensions of programs that — according to mainstream economists — are the most effective ways to boost consumer demand and create jobs. This minority of senators filibustered a package of extended unemployment benefits, Medicaid funding for states and other vital measures because it would have increased the budget deficit by more than $100 billion, which these senators claimed was unacceptable. They later stopped action on several smaller jobs bills until the Senate (just barely) approved a pared-down $34 billion extension of unemployment benefits.
Yet almost all of these senators also want to add about a trillion dollars to the deficit in the next decade by making permanent the Bush tax cuts that benefit the very richest taxpayers. While the relatively small job measures that these senators blocked would have little or no impact on the long-term budget deficit, making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the rich would drastically increase the deficit and reduce our ability to invest in America’s future. …
Margaret Carlson, a Bloomberg News columnist, offers an assesment of the case of Rep. Charles Rangel, who is charged with multiple ethics violations.
State tests: Editorial
We comment on the results of recent state math and English exams, which raise standards and indicate that a huge number of students in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties need remediation. The new standards, we conclude, will challenge cash-strapped school districts. We write:
In addition to all the other responsibilities parents have, add a new one to the list. The new, higher passing grade on the state math and reading tests means that parents will have to be more vigilant about ensuring that their students are receiving the services they need to progress in school.
Under the new testing standards, an estimated 29,000 students in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties have not met the proficiency standard in math, and an estimated 34,000 students have not met proficiency in English, The Journal News reported Friday.
In prior years, that would have meant that schools were required to give all of those students specific remediation, known as academic intervention services, to bring them up to speed. This year, however, to offer a hand to cash-strapped school districts faced with far greater numbers of failing students, the state relaxed its remediation mandates. Only those students who would have failed under the 2009 standard — an estimated 9,000 in math and 14,000 in English based on last year’s results — will be mandated to receive remediation. …
Indian Point: Community View
Keith Safian, president and CEO of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow and John C. Federspiel, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt, offer a Community View in which they argue that cooling towers at Indian Point would be a threat to public health.
Housing assistance: Community View
Geoffrey Anderson, executive director, and Andrea Klausner, deputy director of Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes equal, affordable and accessible housing opportunities throughout the region, offer a Community View on the need for sustained public funding for housing assistance.
Clarkstown sports: Community View
Michael Gansell of New City, the retired director of physical education, health and athletics for the Harrison Central School District, offers a Community View in which he argues against plans to consolidate athletic offerings in the Clarkstown School District.
Municipal salaries: Reisman
Phil Reisman comments on news from Bell, Calif., where a city manager earned nearly $800,000 in salary and benefits. It’s a cautionary tale for New Yorkers, he writes.
Clarkstown sports: Baird
Bob Baird, our Rockland columnist, comments on athletic cuts in the Clarkstown School District.
Source-of-income legislation: Editorial
We encourage Gov. David Paterson to sign legislation that’s made it to his desk that would make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their sources of income. We write:
New York’s elderly, the poor, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations could soon get more housing choices — and another tool for fighting back when their opportunities have been restricted for no good reason.
With hardly any fanfare, state lawmakers have given final legislative approval to a bill barring housing discrimination based on the source of an applicant’s legal income — whether it be from employment, child support, alimony, foster-care subsidies, Social Security or any form of federal, state or local public assistance, including Section 8 housing vouchers. The legislation passed the Assembly 136-4 and the Senate 34-27; last week, it was still being readied for submission to Gov. David Paterson. He should quickly sign the protections into law. …
Rockland pianist: Remembrance
We offer an appreciation of the life of Bill Hargrove, a richly talented pianist who died last week. He was 83.
State tests: Community View
Bernard P. Pierorazio, superintendent of the Yonkers Schools, offers a Community View on new state exam standards.