Monday, August 27, 2007

Schmitt Demands Ethics Commitee Investigation, Loses and Claims Bias

Once again, Schmitt wants it both ways. He bitched and moaned demanding his complaint against Dave Mejias be heard “I am extremely alarmed,” the Massapequa Republican wrote, contending that a deputy county attorney told his counsel that there are no provisions in the law for the county’s ethics board to determine whether Mejias, who happens to be in a highly competitive election race this fall, violated the county’s ethics rules, nor provides any sanctions if he did.These statements “are incredible,” Schmitt said. “The very duty of the Ethics Board and the reason for its existence is to investigate matters such as the complaint I filed against Legislature Mejias...I demand a statement from you that the Ethics Board can, and in fact, is acting upon my complaint.”

Now that the Ethics Commitee has reported back that Mejias did nothing wrong, Schmitt bitches and moans that the Committee was biased. "Schmitt said he wasn't surprised at the decision of the ethics board, which consists of Suozzi appointees.
"I still think he has a conflict, but I'm not surprised that Suozzi's appointees would bend over backwards to protect" Mejias, Schmitt said."

Then as usual, Schmitt makes an unfounded accusation against a member of the Ethics Committee "Schmitt said the ethics board was political, noting that member Stephen Turman, a Garden City lawyer, recently billed himself as a fund-raiser and strategic adviser to Democratic Legis. David Denenberg and Jeffrey Toback.

And Turman busts Schmitt in the Newsday article "Turman, however, said he recused himself from voting on Mejias case and did not attend any discussions of it.
"David is a friend of mine," Turman said. "I would not sit in on any case with any person that I have had personal involvement. Mr. Mejias was at my wedding. it would be totally inappropriate for me to sit in on a matter involving Mr. Mejais."

Once again we see Schmitt throwing out unfounded accusations trying to smear someone. That is why Schmitt is being sued. And this is a big pattern.

Nassau Republicans and the Assesment Freeze Gimmick

You can always count on Legislator Peter Schmitt to misinform and mislead voters. In the Nassau GOP press release, Schmitt says “The Republican plan will give Nassau’s hard-pressed taxpayers some relief by ensuring that the Nassau County Assessor cannot increase the assessed value of any residence in the county for the next five years.”
How exactly are taxpayers getting "relief?"
Taxes will not be cut or decrease with this assessment freeze.
In fact, taxpayers who do win a grievence to lower their taxes won't be getting as much of a decrease because the freeze will cut into tax revenue and the money has to come from someplace.
If you win a tax grievence on your 1 story Cape and a 2 story mini-mansion is not paying their full assessment for 5 years, your taxes have to make up for that loss of tax revenue. So when you could have saved X, it will be a lower Y because Nassau is back to the uneven and unfair assessment system.

The Press Release continues "
Under the Republican proposal, the county would continue to conduct annual valuations of private residences and homeowners would benefit from a lower assessment if home values decreased. The county would be prohibited from increasing the assessment on homes that the county assessor contends have risen in value during the five-year freeze period."

So if you live in that 1 story cape and a neighbor adds another 1000 square feet to his house, you are paying the same tax he is. Is that fair to you?
Because of a 40+ year broken assessment system, Nassau taxpayers suffered. Now Schmitt and the gang want to bring that back.

Schmitt says
“I am proud to introduce this group of candidates because they hold a key to Nassau County’s future and they will fight for our plan to stop the property tax nightmare and constant reassessments. Seniors and young people are moving away from Nassau County in droves due to the high cost of living.”

Let's see what the New York State Department of Real Property Services says:
"What Makes My Tax Bill Change?

Tax bills increase for one or more of the following reasons: bigger budgets are adopted, revenue from sources other than the property tax shrinks, the taxable assessed value of the assessing unit changes, or the tax levy is apportioned differently.

Taxpayers unhappy with growing property tax bills should not concern themselves just with assessments. They also should examine the scope of budgets and expenditures of the taxing jurisdictions (counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, etc.) and address those issues in the appropriate available forums, such as meetings of the city council, or town, village, and school boards."

What was that again?
Oh yeah, "Taxpayers unhappy with growing property tax bills should not concern themselves just with assessments."

Yup, it's not the assessment that can raise your taxes, it's local taxing entities.
Schmitt and the republicans don't want to tackle the tougher issue of the local and school taxes that comprise 83% of your tax bill.
While the "freeze" is in place, your town, fire district, library district, water district, school district, sanitation district and whatever multiple layers of government you may have will continue to raise taxes if they need money.
Again, keep in mind that the County portion of your taxes is about 17% of your total tax bill. The rest is not controlled by the county. As I said in the Massapequa Post, "
A property tax assessment freeze will do nothing to reduce property taxes.. Schmitt would do better to use his position as a platform to pressure school districts to reduce taxes."
It's time to have someone who will use his position to work on and hi-light important issues that may not be under direct county control. Schmitt won't do that.

In his own press release from March, Schmitt said "This is a win, win, win situation for all homeowners in Nassau County. The result is that homeowners can gain a sense of confidence and predictability in their tax bills by eliminating yearly reassessments and unpredictable increases, and we can make household budgets easier to control and anticipate,”

To that I say "
Mr. Schmitt, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

There will be "unpredictability" simply because all the special districts can raise taxes on thier own. Household budgets will not be "easier to control" because of the uneven assessments that will result from this.The tax revenue from houses with higher values that would have an increase that would off-set smaller houses lower values and lower taxes will be gone. The money to run the county/town/village/school etc has to come from somewhere. And taxes are not going to go down because of Schmitts plan.
The reason that assessed values increased so much was because the market which is not controlled by government was out of control. Homeowners were getting $500,000 for a house that a couple of years before would sell for $250,000. That means that the same house in the same area will be assessed higher. The sellers market we had was a boon for the people leaving but it did leave its mark on those who stayed. More from
New York State Department of Real Property Services :"Remember that the real property tax is an ad valorem tax, or a tax based on the value of property. Two owners of real property of equal value should pay the same amount in property taxes. Also, the owner of more valuable property should pay more in taxes than the owner of less valuable property."
With the "freeze" that Schmitt wants, this will not happen.

More to come....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Joe Belesi Caught Lying.. No Suprise There

Well, I was right.
The other day I posted about a Massapequa Post article on the republican election-year gimmick of the moment, a reassessment freeze. In the article, Legislator Dave Mejias' opponent Joseph Belesi claimed that "
There are 751 houses for sale in my district."
I suggested he was pulling that number out of his ass.
Just like Schmitt does. (and there are more incidents of Schmitt lying)
The number "751" is very specific so it sounds like it's true. Lo and behold, on the Nassau GOP website there is a press release that quotes Belesi saying "There are over 800 houses for sale in my district alone because so many people have just given up trying to afford Nassau’s outrageously high taxes."
Now let's use Belesi's numbers against him.... in the July Nassau GOP Lie Release.... er.. Press Release, Belesi says "over 800." Now in a mid-august Massapequa Post article he says "751." Looks like the number of sales is decreasing according to Belesi.
And of course a whole other lie is that those "800" houses are for sale because of reassessment. That is a completely false premise and Belesi should be ashamed of himself.
Give it some time and as we get closer to election day, that number will be swinging wildly into the 900's or 1000's.

Pick up a bumper sticker and let other voters know
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, August 24, 2007

It's Quiet.....Too Quiet.

Summers almost over, time to post more consistantly.
For now.... A Movie...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Belesi Swinging Wildly in the 14th LD Race

Is Schmitt running the Belesi campaign like he ran the Sabellico campaign 2 years ago? The inept comments from Belesi certainly make it seem like he's the parrot on Schmitt's shoulder.
In the Massapequa Post story about Schmitt ill-advised assessement freeze, Belesi says he supports the freeze 100% and "It's the only logical step at this time... There are 751 houses for sale in my district. People are leaving and we have to stop it. There's no affordable housing here and Schmitt's proposal is step (sic) in the right direction"
Saying the freeze is "the only logical step" means Belesi really doesn't know the issue very well. Belesi tries to make his point by saying that there are "751 houses for sale" in his district. Now I'm not sure where he got this number from. He could have researched Multiple Listing Service or just pulled the number out of his ass like Schmitt does.
But lets say that the "751" number is in the ballpark. Fine. In the 14th Legislative district, there are about 15000 homes. The "751" houses for sale would only be 5% of the homes in the district. What sounds like a big number - "751"- ends up a smaller "5%" when you look at the bigger picture.
And let's look at the bigger picture... what is the historical number for housing sales in the 14th LD at the time Belesi came up with his number?
Is his number higher or lower than the average?
Are those houses for sale remaining empty or are they being sold?
From my own research, houses that aren't priced at ridiculous levels are being sold.
Heck, one of the houses for sale Belesi saw might have been the former house of my new neighbor who bought a bigger house.
Did Belesi canvass the "751" sellers and ask why they were selling?
Belesi makes it sound as if they were all leaving because of reassessment. He doesn't take into account that some people are moving beacause they are looking for a bigger house or are moving because of a change of employment, death of the homeowner, a planned retirement to another state like Florida, taking advantage of a hot market to make alot of money on the house, or just plain wanting a change and moving on.
I'm sure there are some homeowners that are leaving because of taxes but the freeze on assessment WILL NOT LOWER TAXES. So those people will be leaving whether there is a freeze or not.
Don't be fooled by the republican rhetoric. Nothing they are saying about the assessment freeze will lower your taxes.
Belesi says that "people are leaving and we have to stop it." Well, not only are people leaving but new people are buying those houses for sale. The people leaving are not necessarily leaving because of the assessments.
He continues "
There's no affordable housing here and Schmitt's proposal is step (sic) in the right direction"
Here Belesi just gets so much confused. Affordable Housing is a seperate issue from assessments. Lowering or freezing assessments won't make housing affordable because homeowners will still try to get top dollar for their homes. The market is cooling but the days of $250,000 homes in Farmingdale or Massapequa are probably over. Schmitts proposal will not make a house affordable and is a step back to the Gullotta days.

Belesi is really out of his element and listening to Schmitt for campaign issues is a losing proposition.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chairman Mondello Loses Another One

So much for "turning the corner," Westchester DA Janet DeFiore has switched parties. She's now a Democrat.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Can I Get an AMEN!, Brother

Newsdays blog Spin Cycle is reporting that Mondello is going to seek a a full term as New York State GOP Chairman when this term expires...
"State Republican chairman Joseph Mondello will seek a full two-year term in the post at the party’s statewide committee meeting next month, his spokesman says. His pitch to fellow GOP-ers will be that the corner has turned, the party is rebuilding, and fundraising is putting the state organization in the black.
He currently serves in the unexpired term begun under former chair Stephen Minarik. Mondello remains simultaneously the Nassau chairman."

This news is making me tingly.
According to his spokesman, Mondello thinks that "the corner has been turned." Well, that corner leads to a Dead End.
Other than hyping a nothing "scandal," the state GOP is as dead as the Nassau GOP.
The election this november in Nassau will be nothing more than status-quo with a chance that TOBAY Councilwoman Walker might get sent packing and a pick-up for the Dems in the Legislature. The prospects are dim for Mondello's hometown party and it really doesn't look that great state-wide.
Next year, state senator Serf Maltese from Queens will probably lose and Padavan from Queens might follow. It doesn't help that the Queens GOP is in disarray and their only up and comer City Councilman Dennis Gallagher jut got indicted on 10 counts of rape and sexual assault.
At this point, the state GOP will lose the senate in 2008 and most likely a couple of congressional seats like Kuhl and Reynolds.

Bless Joe Mondello and his leadership skills and I hope he stays on as Chairman.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The New Story for State Elections in 2008

It won't be Spitzer aides and Joe Bruno's use of state aircraft for political purposes.
Ask the republicans who were in charge exactly what they did when they found out back in 1994 that most of the NYS Bridges were structurally deficient.
Here is an archived Atlantic article from 1994 via The Albany Project and Andrew Sullivan.
The percentage of structurally deficient bridges should increase in the next ten years, in large part because tens of thousands of bridges built on the interstate highways during the boom years following the Second World War will soon be in need of major repairs. The Secretary of Transportation estimates that federal, state, and local governments will need to increase their yearly funding by almost 40 percent to meet the surging need for bridge rehabilitation."

Not So Fast Newsday

Back in April, I made fun of Mondello's brilliant strategy to wait for Governor Spitzer to "self-destruct." Since then, Mondello as state GOP chairman has done as much for the state party as he did for the county organization. Today in Newsday, Dan Janison brings up Mondello's quote in the context of the "scandal" around tracking State Sen. Bruno's use of state aircraft to go to political functions. "Four months ago, before the Eliot Mess, state and Nassau GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello made a prediction. "We have a governor now that's a bully," Mondello told a GOP dinner March 30. "He will self-destruct. You give it a little time and you'll see that he'll be making mistake after mistake. And we'll be there to catch him on it, and we'll be there to make hay." Get that man a Lotto ticket."

I'm not so sure that Mondello will win the Lottery any time soon. The pseudo-scandal is a classic smoke-screen and of course Mondello is making as much "hay" out of this as possible.
Spitzer is very far from self-destructing and even with all the news reports, there is no there there. Of course Mondello wants to try to make as much trouble for Spitzer as possible because not only is Bruno under investigation by the FBI for shady deals, but it turns out Bruno has been breaking campaign finance laws while dragging his heals on reform legislation.
Liz Benjamin in the NY Daily News shifted the subject back to Bruno and his use of state aircraft.
In another Newsday story , next years election and control of the state senate is brought up
"The Democratic senators, who were really looking forward to next year's election with glee, are now starting to say ... [taking the majority] is not so sure," said Stanley B. Klein, a political scientist at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.
"Bruno and the Senate Republicans look like the phoenix that has risen from the flames," said Klein, who also is a GOP committeeman in Dix Hills."
Yes Stanley Klein, this whole lotta nothing issue will make an impact amidst the growing concern over the mortgage meltdown, school funding issues and now rebuilding our aging infrastructure. Plus, when Bruno resigns after being indicted the republicans will have their own headaches. November 2008 is a long ways away.

If Mondello and the republicans think they can ride this so-called scandal to electoral victory in 2008, he is really dreaming.
Mondello's prognostication has never been very good and it's turning out that it still isn't very good.
Mondello has to put out local political fires now with more and more corruption by his lackeys being exposed in the Town of Hempstead.

Who is the Responsible Adult in the Town of Hempstead?

From the Community Alliance....

Just Where Does The Buck Stop In Hempstead Town?

Not At The Desk Of Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Apparently?

I’m the ultimately responsible person in this organization. Other people can pass the buck to me, but I can’t pass the buck to anyone else.
- - President Harry S. Truman

If "hear no evil, see no evil" were ever personified ("do no evil" being an entirely different animal), Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray would be their living embodiment.

First it was the Building's Chief, who turned his Levittown Cape -- in Kate Murray's hometown, on her very street -- into a McMansion, complete with an illegal apartment, all without permits. Kate Murray saw nothing, heard nothing, knew nothing, and did nothing -- at least not until Newsday broke the story.

Then it was full-time benefits for part-time town employees-- and even health premium payments for the deceased. Kate Murray didn't seem to mind, until the press coverage opened the floodgates, and the public expressed outrage.

Now, the Town of Hempstead Building Department is under siege once agiain, with complaints of shoddy inspections -- or the issuance of official paperwork without any inspection whatsoever -- and the Supervisor, who turned the other cheek to the shortcomings of her underlings, now calling for resignations and reviews.

Could it be that Kate Murray didn't know what was going on right under her smiling face -- literally?

How could that be? We all knew -- or certainly suspected -- that things were amiss at the Town of Hempstead Building Department, if not elsewhere at Town Hall.

The signs -- especially those unlawful ones that line "Main Street" -- were dead giveaways.

Why are there so many illegal accessory apartments, particularly those troublesome, illegal basement apartments, in Hempstead Town?
Why has code enforcement, in everything from housing to commercial to sanitation, been so lax as to be rendered nonexistent?
Why do the favored and the faithful have their day, month, and year, while everyone else gets squat?
And why does Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray act so surprised at the corruption, incompetence, and impropriety that pervade Town government?
It would be sad, if not incredulous, to say Kate Murray didn't know what she claims flew below her radar; that which is rampant and wrong in Hempstead Town only coming to light by dint of the diligence of ace investigative reporters at Newsday.
Supervisor Murray, by latest press reports, is now looking to shake things up at Hempstead Town Hall. Too late for that, Kate. A sprinkler system or fire alarm in place after the barn has burned to the ground will do little good.

Read the rest at The Community Alliance blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A New President for the Nassau Young Republicans

Head on over to the Nassau County Young Republicans site and read that "We are currently in the process of updating our site. Please check back in a week or two when we are back up and running once again.!"
Then click on the
"A Message from President Micheal R. Kaplan." It's the same message that has been up there since Chris Bastardi was president but at the end it says "Sincerely, Andrew Stream, President."
Click on "Officers" on the main page and Stream is now President and Stephen Canzoneri is Executive VP.
Former President (2006-2007) Alex P. Vassallo is now Recording Secretary.

Congrats to Andrew Stream for being the 4th President in 2 years.

My money is on
Kathleen Hunker as President by January.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Town of Hempstead Hit with Racketeering Lawsuit

From today's Newsday:

" Claiming that the town of Hempstead and its building department officials created a scheme that used a pattern of conspiracy and collusion, an attorney for a Hempstead resident filed a civil racketeering suit against the town and two of its employees.

The suit filed under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – usually employed in organized crime cases -- says that the town, along with code enforcement officer Carmine Salute and Plumbers Examination Board member Anthony Disabato, participated in a "pattern of various and several acts of bribery, extortion, coercion, mail and wire fraud in exploitation of a conflict of interest."

The allegations stem from complaints by Baldwin resident Janice Crippen that Hempstead building inspectors ignored repeated requests to examine botched plumbing work at her home. She said they then advised her to bring her complaint to Disabato, who in addition to being a member of the complaint board, held the plumbing permit for renovations being done at her home.

She claims that Salute covered up for Disabato by falsely claiming he inspected the plumbing and approved it.

Salute "was never in my house," Crippen said."

Click here to read more.....