- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Glen Falls Post-Star on whether state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos should resign after his indictment

May 6

It is hard to know where to begin when articulating our disgust with state government. It seems like it has all been said before, yet nothing ever changes - except the names on the indictments.

On Monday, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his 32-year-old son Adam were indicted on six federal counts that included extortion and soliciting bribes just four months after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker was also indicted.

The 43-page indictment against Skelos and son includes wiretaps and intercepted emails that allege the 67-year-old politician was using his influence to direct money and business that would benefit his boy. Unfortunately, we don’t believe this latest news drew much more than a yawn from the average person in the street. They have seen it all before.

Pay to play has become the standard in Albany and the only one apparently willing to go to war against it is U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Our state government has become a laughingstock.

We remind our readers that it was just five weeks ago, that the leadership in the Legislature - including Dean Skelos - negotiated away some of the more stringent proposals on ethics reform. That was convenient considering Monday’s events.

The indictment lays out a pattern of the young Skelos using his father’s name to let private companies know that million-dollar bids for water and sewer projects could be steered to them. The feds granted immunity to two executives at private companies who gave a play-by-play on how Albany really works. The indictment included details of the majority leader negotiating payments for his son in return for the father’s influence. This took place repeatedly over several years.

The deals included work for Adam Skelos at an environmental technology company in Arizona that eventually got a $12 million contract from Nassau County on Long Island after Dean Skelos lobbied Nassau County leaders, even though the younger Skelos admitted he knew nothing about the storm-water treatment projects. At one point, Dean and Adam Skelos are said to be laughing on a wiretap about continued flooding on Long Island that will be good for business for the young Skelos.

After Silver was arrested in January, Skelos and his son were more careful in their discussions, using code words and the younger Skelos a throw-away cell phone known as a “burner” phone, but they continued to do business.

The majority leader may just be the tip of the iceberg.

One $20,000 payment to Adam Skelos was allegedly made by a prominent executive with ties to many in the Legislature. One report indicated the management company in question had donated $3.6 million to many different state politicians and the political committees that support them, including the governor.

The implication is that the money goes everywhere in the Legislature with the intent that one hand washes the other.

These details in the indictment make it difficult to take seriously the majority leader’s proclamation that he is “innocent.” It is even more disturbing that he wants to continue in his leadership position and worse yet that the Republican conference is willing to go along with him.

Just like Mr. Silver before him, we believe Mr. Skelos should immediately resign his leadership position. It is obvious to us that the Legislature’s most important work must be regarding ethics reform. That leaves Mr. Skelos and Mr. Silver with significant conflicts of interest.

We find it appalling that our two local state senators - Elizabeth Little and Kathy Marchione who are both Republicans - have not taken a stand in asking for Mr. Skelos’ resignation. Now is the time for their leadership. They must step forward and do what is right.

It is clear that the governor and Legislature should make ethics reform and its enforcement its priority going forward. There can be no faith in our state government until that is accomplished.

We agree with New York Public Interest Research Group that the Legislature and governor needs to address the following issues:

Overhaul ethics enforcement. It currently does not exist.

Limit outside income of politicians.

Rein in the influence of special interests, including closing the LLC loophole to eliminate million-dollar campaign contributions.

The LLC loophole has allowed money to pour in from everywhere and makes a joke out of campaign finance laws. Stopping the flow of money will stop the corruption.

We are disgusted with our state government - again.

You should be too.




The Jamestown Post-Journal on how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s program Start-Up NY misses the mark.

May 6

There are many reasons to be against Start-Up NY, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s much ballyhooed and, at least thus far, not very successful economic development program that eliminates all taxes on businesses on or near the state’s college campuses.

In mid-April, reports of modest initial success and significant marketing costs prompted the state Conservative Party and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses on the right and the left-leaning Working Families Party and Fiscal Policy Institute to ask for the program to be suspended. Reports indicated the first full year of Start-Up NY created just 76 jobs even though the state spent more than $53 million on marketing and promotion of the program.

While nothing has been finalized yet, we note the program has at least generated some much-needed interest in the Jamestown area. John Sayegh, Jamestown Community College vice president of continuing education and point person for JCC’s Start-Up NY program, told The Post-Journal in December that 10 businesses had placed interest in the program in September 2014, a number that increased to 20 by December. Two of those businesses continued the application process while two existing businesses within the county were contemplating expansion. The increased interest among the two local manufacturing entities would create more employment opportunities, Sayegh said.

The Post-Journal’s feelings on Start-Up NY haven’t changed over the past two years. We favor lowering spending and taxes throughout the state and creating a business-friendly environment everywhere in New York state, not just on designated tax-free zones. While we are disappointed in the program’s poor performance in the first year, the program hasn’t had much time to take hold. It took colleges time to develop their plans and have them approved by the state and even more time for the word to get out to developers what was available. Pulling the plug after only a few months of actual time open would be a waste of local college officials’ time and money. That doesn’t mean Start-Up NY should have a long leash. If the picture doesn’t improve in the second full year, it may well be time to pull the plug.

While we have long doubted that Start-Up NY could live up to its advanced billing, the interest shown in JCC as a Start-Up NY participant shows the program’s potential value to an area begging for economic development. We have more chance of success with it than without it.




The Rome Daily Sentinel on the economic policies of new Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

May 2

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a self-declared democratic socialist running for president. We say “self-declared” because other progressive socialists in American politics don’t like to be called socialist, even though they suffer from the same myopia as Mr. Sanders.

They find it politically expedient to see the world as static. It’s simpler that way and they can find examples that support their claims without actually having to consider either the set up to their snapshot or the consequences of their poor policies.

In their static universe, they can fall on their fainting couches over inequality. To socialists, money is invariably stolen from poor workers by greedy business barons. The proposed social studies requirements push the same lesson to make sure that all correct-thinking high school graduates see the world through government-approved goggles. Most mainstream journalists already own that set of goggles.

There is no place in Sanders’ universe for dynamics. Only the snapshot of today’s inequality matters. It doesn’t matter to him that people like Mr. Jones regularly jump from lower to higher income quintiles or that Mr. Smith is equally likely to fall from higher to lower quintiles. In other words, Sander’s static snapshot of the universe doesn’t represent economic reality. It only represents the opportunity to gather votes from Low Information Voters. Sanders does not think enough of voters to tell them the truth.

Neither Sanders nor the proposed social studies frameworks explain that historians and economists have discovered that 1) over time, competition is necessary in any economic system to generate progress, and 2) inequality invariably increases regardless of the economic system. Nor do they explain that economics is not a zero-sum game like a fixed size pizza pie, and that most lower quintile people are better off for allowing inequality that comes from rewarding creativity. They benefit from the development of lower priced goods and services that have brought luxury goods down so far in cost many have become consumer commodities_things like cell phones, inexpensive clothing, and better medicines.

Nor do they explain how wealth is invested to benefit those who are less fortunate, providing resources that can be borrowed to fund business infrastructure, housing development, or education loans. For that matter, they don’t explain that properly implemented, free public education can allow children from the poorest quintile to leapfrog over everyone else to join the highest income quintile.

Nor do they explain what consolidation of economic resources means in terms of the potential for funding research and development.

Differential calculus, the mathematical study of rates of change over time in economics seems completely unknown to socialists like Bernie Sanders. Sanders isn’t stupid. He, like other progressives, is a political opportunist preying on others less fortunate. They want political control.

Their claims of fighting for the common man mask really poor economic policies that across history have failed repeatedly.




The New York Daily News on the difference between Pamela Geller and Charlie Hebdo.

May 4

Americans will defend to the death - and literally had to - Pamela Geller’s right to disseminate images of the Prophet Muhammad. The First Amendment applies even to irresponsible provocateurs.

A Geller-organized event in Texas over the weekend included inviting artists to draw images of Muhammad, an act that has provoked deadly attacks by some Islamists.

In explaining her rationale, Geller pointed to an Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest that drew nearly 1,000 entries, saying “We need to make a similar show of strength of what is right.” Which extended to a drawing of Muhammad anally impaled on a pencil up through his mouth.

Having learned painful lessons from the massacre in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and keeping faith with the U.S. Constitution, Texas authorities protected Geller and her followers by stepping up security and requiring a SWAT team.

Thank goodness. Two Islamists staged an assault and were shot dead.

Charlie Hebdo’s staff offered comment on Islam and other religions. They risked deadly reprisals through often offensive depictions.

She has set out not to just risk violence, but to provoke it. Pamela Geller n’est pas Charlie Hebdo.




The Plattsburgh Press-Republican on why parents should split the costs of their childrens’ weddings.

May 3

It’s the season for planning weddings, and we would like to encourage a divorce - from an outdated tradition.

We’re talking about the bride’s family being expected to pay the bulk of the cost of a wedding.

That’s the way it has always worked, right?

The groom’s family traditionally pays for the rehearsal dinner, a nice get-together for bridal party members and family - but minuscule in cost compared to the rest of the trappings. The bride’s parents handle the rest.

Among the expenses at a typical wedding are the reception venue and catering, alcohol, flowers, photographer, transportation, invitations, deejays and decorations.

TheKnot.com recently reported that the average wedding in the United States now costs around $30,000 - more in large urban areas but likely less in the North Country.

The average of $29,858 in 2013 was up 5 percent from the previous year, according to the wedding website’s survey of 13,000 brides and grooms.

Families are finding themselves stressed by the rising cost of nuptials, and we are baffled as to why anyone would think the gender of the person getting married should dictate who pays how much.

It’s not like the wedding is a dowry, paid to the groom to take the woman off the parents’ hands and budget.

Women are perfectly capable of earning enough money to live independently - have been for many decades. They do not present any more of a drain on finances than men.

If parents intend to contribute to their children’s weddings, they should split the costs with the future in-laws, regardless of whether they happened to give birth to a girl or a boy.

And these days, the couple getting married usually contributes to the costs.

Back on April 1, a woman wrote to the advice column Annie’s Mailbox - somewhat of a national authority on social expectations - wondering if she and her husband, both retired, should get another job to help pay their son’s wedding costs.

“As parents of the groom, we will pay for the rehearsal dinner, but what about the rest?”

Annie’s Mailbox, written by two women who worked for the famous, now deceased Ann Landers, answered:

“As for the expenses, your son should be covering most of those without your assistance. These days, most couples split the costs, perhaps with help from their parents.”

So there’s some backup for our viewpoint from people who have a good grasp on American lifestyles.

If you have children planning a wedding, sit down with them and their parents and talk money.

How much of the cost can the betrothed couple pay? What is each family willing and able to contribute?

Once the numbers are made clear, the couple can figure out what kind of affair fits their needs.

A wedding doesn’t need to be extravagant; it just needs family, friends - and real meaning.




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