- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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

The Plattsburgh Press-Republican on the effect of a state audit of the New York Racing Association.

July 10

The State Comptroller’s Office criticized several practices of the New York Racing Association, which runs the state’s thoroughbred racetracks, in an audit made public in June. In turn, NYRA has answered the criticisms.

Now, the question is: What will come of the issues raised in the audit?

NYRA has been under fire for some time. In fact, it filed for bankruptcy four years ago, provoking a state takeover of the operation. That, presumably, is the reason for the audit.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says NYRA claims solvency only by including in its racing operations revenue portfolio millions of dollars from video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In addition, the audit says, NYRA failed to include in the report substantial expenses, among them pension contributions and payments for health insurance for retired employees.

With accurate reporting, the audit says, net losses would have totaled $109 million over the past five years.

In response, NYRA says the video-lottery-terminal income is allowed by contract to be counted as revenue.

And auditors knew full well that the specifically mentioned payments are typically part of an organization’s expected and allowed expenses, it says.

Thus, NYRA concludes, revenues are not inflated to make it look as if the operation made a $1.7 million surplus from racing in 2015, a $3.6 million surplus last year and a budgeted $2.3 million surplus this year.

The audit is also critical of the payment of a $250,000 bonus to NYRA Chief Executive Officer Christopher Kay in 2014. It says he was to receive an incentive only if NYRA achieved a revenue surplus from racing, without the video terminal money.

NYRA argues the bonus was contractual and was well earned. Claiming there was indeed a racing-revenue surplus, it was not only allowed but deserved.

Obviously, there is a difference of opinion over what was allowed and what qualifies as “earned.”

The audit also finds fault with lesser expenses, including payments to consultants and a small amount ($7,500 total) paid to five assistant starters at the Saratoga training track through November, after the regular racing season.

The Comptroller’s Office says expenses such as these are not permitted; NYRA says they are and, besides, some are insignificant anyway.

The audit and its results provide no comfort to any New York racing fans who wonder about the state of the sport in our state.

To many in the North Country, particularly, Saratoga Race Course is one of the hallowed giants of racing - and history - revered nationally and even internationally. To see it become a figure in such infighting is disconcerting.

Will there be a sequel to this round of inquiries and rebuttals?

We must hope so. Good publicity for the comptroller and bad for the association are not the goals of such stewardship. A clean operation is.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/29HAZqP

The Middletown Times Herald-Record on state reimbursements to counties for Department of Motor Vehicles services.

July 13

County clerks have a point when they complain about the costs we are absorbing to provide services for the state Department of Motor Vehicles. What they need now is an ally, somebody in Albany who will look at the figures and stop asking local taxpayers to subsidize this state mandate.

For decades anybody who wanted to renew or get a license or register a car would go to Goshen or another county seat or to a satellite office.

That’s where the DMV did business.

In recent years, the state has encouraged people to transact that business online and the change has improved both costs and efficiency. It is much easier to fill out forms online, pay with a credit card and receive the resulting documents in the mail in a few days.

The website is open all day, all year long. Those who cannot take time out from work to travel to a local office welcome the convenience and the state welcomes the revenue.

But counties are not sharing in this progress. Because the website is designed for the most routine transactions, local DMV offices must take care of the more complicated ones. That means that counties cannot cut back on hours or staffing. If anything, their job has become harder, the demands more complex, yet the money coming from the state for providing this service has remained the same.

The state is very aware of this.

“Ultimately, we want our website to be the first stop for anyone looking to conduct business with us,” said Joe Morrissey, a DMV spokesman. “But we also understand that there are certain transactions that are required to be done in an office.”

Starting in 2000, the state put its address and not the local county on the return envelope for those who renew by mail. Counties got nothing for those transactions. Instead of getting 12.7 percent of the fees for in-office transactions, the state Association of County Clerks wants counties to get 25 percent and they want the reimbursement for online transactions to be 8 percent instead of the roughly 2.7 percent they receive now.

Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack explained what this would mean.

“Last year, one-third of our DMV transactions were done online, and we got $21,000 back on them. If they had been done in the office, we would have gotten $375,000 back instead.”

That sounds reasonable for a service that the counties provide to the state and legislation to change the reimbursement formula has passed in the state Senate for the past two years, only to die in the Assembly.

There is a simple reason for this. The state provides DMV services in most urban areas and those are the areas that elect those who control the Assembly.

The solution is simple as well. We elect many Democrats to serve in the Assembly. They can use some of their clout, the kind they brag about when they take credit for state grants and when they campaign for re-election, to change this reimbursement formula to one that is fair to all New Yorkers, rural and suburban as well as urban.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/29DoWMI

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on the need for police and black communities to both do their parts to strengthen their relationship.

July 8

There is a badge over the heart of every police officer. This small piece of metal represents different things, to different people.

It can mean honor, sacrifice and a promise to protect. It can also induce fear and, for some, anger or hate.

Because of its diverse interpretations, the badge is far from a perfect symbol. But, every day, men and women leave their homes wearing them. Some do not go back.

At a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on Thursday in Dallas, five hearts stopped beating underneath these badges. There was no return trip for Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol and two other officers.

Yet, on Friday morning, thousands of other men and women still got up and left their homes, wearing their badges. In the afternoon, some were in police cars, leading a Black Lives Matter march down Main Street in Rochester.

Imagine how much more chaotic and dangerous our country would be if they were not there. The thought should strike a cold fear inside all of our hearts.

As in any job, the people wearing the badge do so with varying degrees of skill and professionalism. Sadly, a small fraction of them lack respect for human dignity and life. But, the badge deserves our utmost respect and, in the vast majority of cases, so do the brave people who put it on.

There is no doubt that police and black communities have to build a stronger relationship, across the country and here in Rochester. But this work cannot be left to the police and black communities alone. As wearers of the badge, police must cross bridges that most of us - on both sides - have avoided for far too long. The more we all work to increase understanding, address racism, fight intolerance, and unite our neighborhoods, the greater support we will be giving to the badge.

It will not be easy. It will not be quick.

But if we do not take this path, we will, as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. once said, “… learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.”

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Online:

https://on.rocne.ws/29PQ8Yj

The Rome Daily Sentinel questioning the motives behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

July 12

The Black Lives Matter movement is based on a fiction. Fabricating a narrative to gain votes, leftist Democrats cite a handful of blacks killed by law enforcement without saying how infinitesimally small a percentage they were. National media outlets will magnify that small percentage and protester outrage manufactured for TV cameras.

They want to become the political issue. They want voters to ignore eight long years of oppressive, intrusive, bigoted, crony government. They want to motivate a tiny percentage of the population to achieve 51 percent of the vote to get 100 percent control.

One source using FBI, BJS, and Census statistics claims you are seven times more likely to be murdered by someone else, or 15 times more likely to be killed in a car wreck than a victim of excessive force from police. Of more than 50 million contacts with police each year, only 2,080 of 26,000 complaints were sustained on investigation.

Astroturf is to be expected around election time. Blame-shifting is a leftist tradition - a coordinated political operation, not about black lives at all. The cases would have been local police issues if not pushed by the left in front of national media outlet lenses. It was NBC who doctored the tapes in the Orlando, FL, George Zimmerman trial. They promoted the bogus “hands up don’t shoot” Ferguson, Missouri, meme, that the full investigation debunked.

If BLM activists were honestly concerned about the black lives that they say matter, they would not drop concrete blocks on police in St. Paul, Minnesota. They would be outraged at the 2,015 victims shot in “gun-free” Chicago so far this year with 77 percent of the victims black and the vast majority of assailants, when caught, also black. They would have thanked the Ferguson, Missouri, police for attempting to arrest Michael Brown, a thug who likely had robbed a neighborhood convenience store and tried to wrest a policeman’s gun away.

In Baton Rouge, most recently, where protesters obstructed traffic and were asked by police to move, they refused to follow the lawful order. They were protesting not for “justice”, but to provoke police to respond to protester illegal activity. Then BLM could accuse police of “racism” that would serve as a pretext for Obama’s Department of Justice to punish Baton Rouge with an “investigation”. Facts be damned - their narrative demands punishment for those who disagree with anti-social social justice.

Too bad that the photograph of one of BLM’s well-paid prominent activists in Baton Rouge shows his arrest being made by a courteous black police officer.

Black Lives Matter doesn’t want the rule of law; they want the bigotry that comes from demonstrations ruled by feelings. They believe in using representative democracy to achieve enough power to relieve us of representative democracy.

There are more serious issues than BLM to consider before casting your vote in November.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/29PUoE9

The Wall Street Journal on the National Labor Relations Board decision favoring unions in organizing efforts.

July 12

The hits keep coming from the National Labor Relations Board, which on Monday released a new job-killer app that builds on its destructive joint-employer standard. The 3-1 majority’s decision in Miller & Anderson, Inc. overturns the board’s 2004 precedent that required a union seeking to represent workers at a supplier and contracting firm to obtain the consent of both employers. Unions will now be able to easily combine workers solely employed by one business with those joint-employed by another, thereby increasing their negotiating leverage.

A union could seek to represent regular workers at, say, Microsoft alongside temporary tech workers supplied by another firm. The temp agency could be dragged into collective-bargaining disputes involving the corporation’s workers and slapped with unfair labor practice charges if it refuses to negotiate.

Likewise, firms that use temp agencies or subcontractors (e.g., cleaning, security, hospitality) could be required to collectively bargain with workers that they use only for short durations. Even after the temp workers leave, the company is stuck with the union and its labor contract.

Miller & Anderson compounds the confusion created by the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris ruling that has redefined employer relationships across the economy. Businesses that utilize temp agencies, contract out services or maintain franchise relationships may now be branded joint employers if they exercise “indirect” control over workers.

As member Philip Miscimarra explained in his dissent, “Given that Browning-Ferris has already created an ‘analytical grab bag from which any scrap of evidence regarding indirect control or incidental collaboration’ may result in joint employer status,” the majority’s decision “will only make it more difficult for parties to anticipate whether, when or where this new type of multi-employer/non-employer bargaining will be required.”

Several firms that use the same supplier might be required to negotiate benefits and wages for their competitors’ employees, which ought to qualify as an antitrust violation. The union goal is to discourage businesses from using temp agencies and subcontractors. However, the result will be a less flexible workforce. Unions also want to be able to play businesses against one another in bargaining.

Miller & Anderson can’t be appealed in the courts because no workers have been employed in the original multi-employer bargaining unit for three years. The NLRB usually dismisses moot cases, but it wanted to use Miller & Anderson to rewrite labor law. Mission accomplished.

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Online:

https://on.wsj.com/29S5gB4


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