Good morning. Here’s a look at opinion content published Saturday, Oct. 23, Sunday, Oct. 24 and today, Monday, Oct. 25:
Saturday, Oct. 23
Thomas Abinanti: Endorsement
Longtime Westchester County Legislator Thomas Abinanti gets our endorsement in the race for the 92nd state Assembly district. Abinanti and Republican Thomas Bock are running to fill the seat vacated by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. We write:
… Our endorsement goes to Abinanti, who understands that despite widespread calls for cutting waste in Albany, there are obligations the state government must meet. Ill thought-out cuts at one level of government end up just being pushed along to another. “The line that says ‘waste’ in the state budget was long ago repealed,” Abinanti, who is also running on the Independence line, told the Editorial Board. “Now, we have to look at how are programs being operated, how do you streamline the programs, how do you make them the most efficient as possible?”
Abinanti, who has served on the county Board of Legislators for 20 years, said that he supports the circuit breaker proposal for property tax relief, which would limit property taxes to a percentage of income. He said he would gradually replace property taxes with “fairer broad-based progressive taxes.” Ethics reform, tougher campaign finance laws and a more transparent budgeting process would be his top priorities in addressing Albany’s dysfunction, Abinanti said.
No Westchester legislator, Abinanti included, has exactly been the paradigm of thrift. But there is something to be said for knowing how the actions of one branch of government affect the others. …
Nancy Calhoun: Endorsement
We recommend that voters in the 96th state Assembly district return Nancy Calhoun, the incumbent Republican, to Albany. Calhoun, who has served for nearly two decades, is challenged by Orange County Legislator Roxanne Donnery, a Democrat. We write:
… We endorse Calhoun for her attention to local details. Her expertise is especially evident in the Stony Point portion of the district that includes several Orange County towns as well. Calhoun was there for Stony Point during the Mirant years, when tax assessment challenges and the shuttering of the Lovett power generating station decimated the town’s property tax base. Now, she’s offered counsel to the town as Haverstraw’s property revaluation has played havoc with the North Rockland school district tax ratio between the towns.
When the state budget standoff last spring stopped payments to the contractor refurbishing Stony Point’s Lowland Park, Calhoun was among the state lawmakers who worked with the developer and government officials to get the site, recently renamed Charles Eccher Park, back in shape for a town-run summer camp. …
Sunday, Oct. 24
Harry Wilson: Comptroller
We endorse Republican Harry Wilson in the race for state comptroller. Wilson, a veteran finance executive, plaid a key role in the Obama administration’s restructuring of General Motors and would, we believe, bring his expertise and an activist drive to the comptroller’s office. Wilson is challenging incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli, a former Assemblyman from Long Island. We write:
… Wilson wants to transform the comptroller’s office into the leading instrument of reform in New York state. That activist approach is bolstered by his well-polished resume — Wilson has lengthy experience in the world of corporate reorganization, having worked at some of the nation’s leading financial houses. If elected, he would be one of the few Republican leaders in a capital dominated by Democrats. …
… With regard to the state pension fund, which provides benefits to more than 1 million retired and current state employees, Wilson asserts that thorough accounting is essential to avoid a massive shortfall he says could lead to a “tax catastrophe” for New Yorkers. Despite a report from the Pew Center earlier this year that New York is one of only four states nationwide that can fully fund its current pension obligations, Wilson worries that the fund underperforms other states’ and that poor accounting practices may be to blame. That assertion was bolstered by a recent report from Wilshire Associates, a consulting firm that assessed public-employee pensions. Wilshire found that New York’s fund lags its peers in terms of rate of annual return and other measures.
Wilson said he would embark on a long-term restructuring of the fund based on a more conservative investment philosophy and the creation of a new pension plan for new hires — Tier VI — that would lessen the burden of state-employee benefits on taxpayers. Many state lawmakers have been touting a Tier VI model that would look more like 401(k), or a defined-contribution plan, rather than the prevailing defined-benefit model. A growing number of private employers have abandoned traditional pension plans. …
Danroy Henry case: Commentary
Bennett Gershman, a regular contributor to the Opinion pages who is a a former state prosecutor and is one of the original faculty members at Pace Law School, assess some of the lingering questions related to the shooting death of Danroy Henry, a Pace University student. Gershman writes:
… Why did the police believe that the use of deadly force was necessary? New York law allows the police to use deadly force against another person in two situations: first, when the officer reasonably believes that the person is committing one of several highly dangerous felonies such as murder, kidnapping, arson and rape; and second, when the officer reasonably believes that he or another person faces imminent death. Did the two officers who fired shots through the windshield into the car driven by Mr. Henry and containing two other passengers reasonably believe that the occupants were engaged in the commission of a dangerous felony? Or, did the police reasonably fear that Mr. Henry or his passengers posed an imminent and life-threatening risk to the police?
Did the police fear that Mr. Henry or his companions were armed with a gun, which may have contributed to the belief that the use of deadly force was necessary? For example, in the Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Christopher Ridley killings, the police claimed that they believed that the person they shot was armed with a gun, and this was a significant factor in their justification for the shooting. Indeed, in the Bell shooting, which bore some striking parallels to the shooting of Mr. Henry, when the police approached Bell and identified themselves, Bell accelerated his car and hit one of the officers, and then hit an unmarked police van. However, it was not until one of the officers thought he saw one of the passengers reach for a gun and yelled “gun” that the police then opened fire on the car. …
Elections 2010: Reisman
Phil Reisman assesses the dreary tenor of the fall campaigns, in which incumbents and challengers have been on the attack and quick to distance themselves from Albany. He writes:
… I propose a solution to change the system. On Nov. 2, every voter in the state should show up at the polls and sign in. But they shouldn’t vote for anybody.
Why be an enabler?
Only incumbents and pre-election favorites would likely win — that’s true. But the only votes they’d receive would come from their families and perhaps members of special interest groups.
The legislators would return to Albany with about 200 votes apiece. They would also have a constitutional crisis on their hands because they would have no legitimacy .
In other words, throw the bums in, but without the slightest hint of a mandate.
The culture of sloth, waste and corruption would change pretty fast.
Sure, this is unrealistic in the extreme. But it’s worth a try. Nothing else has worked — and just getting mad as hell isn’t going to be good enough.
Monday, Oct. 25
Michael Kaplowitz: Endorsement
In the race for the 40th state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Vincent Leibell, we recommend voters chose Michael Kaplowitz, a Westchester County Legislator who is the Democrat in the race. Greg Ball, a Republican Assemblyman, is also running. We write:
… Our recommendation goes to Kaplowitz, who has a track record of accomplishment and the temperament necessary to build consensus and work with others to achieve his goals. A Democrat who is also running on the Independence line, Kaplowitz is a financial planner and lawyer who knows his way around a budget. He served on the Westchester Board of Legislators for 12 years, many of them as the heady chairman of the budget committee. His power — but perhaps not his influence — was diminished after a very public break with since-deposed board Chairman Bill Ryan two years ago, mainly over board leadership.
These days, everyone running for public office is talking about cutting taxes and government spending. Kaplowitz’s plan calls for a new, less-generous plan for new enrollees in the state pension system; a hiring freeze on state employees; and a property tax cap and circuit breaker that ties property taxes to income. Kaplowitz also looks beyond the current fiscal environment. “Good times will come,” he told the Editorial Board. “And we need to put in growth measures for infrastructure, like the Tappan Zee Bridge.” …
Robert Romanowski: Endorsement
To fill an unexpired seat on their town board, we recommend Ramapo voters elect Robert Romanowski of Monsey. We write:
… We endorse Romanowski, whose education in government — and politics — is truly grass-roots. He is plain-spoken about how the town should work, and why it sometimes doesn’t. Romanowski’s biggest campaign promise? That he won’t rubber-stamp [Town Supervisor] Christopher St. Lawrence. …