Assessment mess needs bold action


As a real property appraiser with a specialty in full-value reassessments, I can confirm that yearly revaluation of assessment rolls can and does work just fine . Assessing is a fairly simple but labor-intensive task made easier with modern computing. However, the assessor must produce immaculate sales and inventory data to feed into the computer to get accurate analysis; garbage in, garbage out. For example, the photos of tiny homes in Nassau County that the county assessor's records claim contain 70 bathrooms is embarrassing, sloppy assessing.

Nassau County's number one assessment problem is that it has over 400,000 parcels to maintain. The management of this colossal volume of assessments has grown impractical. Nassau's new county executive might well consider terminating Nassau's assessing unit totally and requesting of New York State that the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay establish their own individual assessing units. Suffolk County has employed this system successfully for quite some time. It's time for Nassau officials to be bold and actually solve this!

Suzanne Murphy




Levy responds on fundraising story


"Inside his effort to build war chest" attempted to cast in a negative light practices for contracting with outside professionals that are perfectly appropriate, legal and ethical. The article also had some notable omissions:

While there are fewer title companies selected by the county today than in past administrations, the piece failed to detail that the housing market bust has resulted in less title work than in the past.

Not a single case was cited in which it was alleged the county received shoddy work, or was overcharged.

My administration has reduced use of outside counsel to just a few specialized areas - such as workers' compensation, bus accidents (where our costs are covered by federal aid) or medical malpractice - by handling more cases in-house.

The article failed to compare Suffolk's fees for outside counsel and title companies to any other past Suffolk administration, to present or past Nassau County administrations, or to any municipality.

I have advocated for a system that would ban contributions from companies doing business with the county and from municipal unions, only to be rebuffed by the legislature. As long as the present, flawed system is in place, one can only expect that all candidates will play by the same rules. Is Newsday suggesting that challengers should be able to raise funds from any private source, while I and other incumbents, who are not wealthy billionaires, are restricted from doing so?

Steve Levy


Editor's note: The writer is Suffolk County executive.



Economic segregation adds to tax burden


As budgets are being finalized, the fates of jobs and resources for schools are hanging in the balance . Americans have a long tradition of resenting taxes, and property taxes may be the most despised of all. School budget votes are one of the few direct outlets voters have to control their taxes, which means these budgets often bear the brunt of Long Islanders' frustrations.

Many residents rightly take pride in their school districts. However, those loyalties to small districts also produce profound inequalities in education. Long Island has the dubious distinction of being one of the most racially segregated suburbs in the nation. We are also divided by economic class. The result is a few school districts with high-quality facilities, retention of experienced teachers and better student test scores - but many more with understaffed schools, unsupported faculty and low student achievement.

Such segregation puts an unfair financial burden on middle- and low-income residents, who find it difficult to pay the increasing costs of maintaining their districts. Viable solutions may come in the form of a progressive income tax structure in place of property taxes, and in the consolidation of racially and economically diverse districts.

Jason Millard

Islip Terrace



Huckabee's remarks insensitive, offensive


Just a few questions for Mike Huckabee : What similarity is there between incest, which is not a consensual act, and two adults who choose to love each other and want to share a lifetime together?

Drugs and homosexuality? Drug addiction causes dysfunctional individuals. Two adults who love each other and want to share their lives is not dysfunctional; it promotes the ideals of a stable society.

My last question: Does Huckabee think that the choice two consenting adults make to love each other is ungodly? Is love ever ungodly? Christians ask, when faced with a dilemma, "What would Jesus do?" Would Jesus promote love?

Barbara Cartabuke-Mule



If Mike Huckabee ever expects to enter the 2012 presidential arena, he needs to take a detour to Oz, where he can ask the wizard for a heart. Does he not realize the slap in the face he inflicted on all gay parents who have offered loving homes to adopted children? He says gay couples should not be permitted to adopt. "Children are not puppies," he says. So, does that mean gay people should or should not be allowed to adopt puppies?

He concludes by saying that the burden of proving that gay marriage can be successful rests with activists in favor of changing the law. Wow, I sure wish those magic activists could have predicted the outcome of my heterosexual marriage that ended after 13 years.

Jane Blaustein

Lido Beach



Human 'cost of doing business' is too high


I read with interest E.J. Dionne Jr.'s column "They dig coal so the world can run" Opinion, April 11]. I believe that "the cost of doing business" is one of the most reprehensible, callous concepts in play in our business and government communities. It has been the excuse for not adding improved safety features in coal production and airplane and automobile manufacturing, as well as in not improving protections against damages from floods and other natural disasters. Big business' attitude is, "We'll flout the regulations and pay the fee. It's just the cost of doing business."

Another point is our willingness to tolerate our fellow citizens putting themselves in harm's way every day, extracting coal from the earth, just to provide energy to satisfy our "needs" and wants. I can't believe that this is the only alternative to importing oil from the OPEC countries!

Virginia Kushnick




Bag fees: bad. Law against them: worse.


Although I think Spirit Airlines' new policy of charging passengers for carry-on luggage is a terrible idea, I believe that the proposed legislation by Sen. Charles E. Schumer is ridiculous. The government has no business legislating what fees airlines may charge. Competition in the marketplace will see to it that Spirit's silly new policy will not work.

Stephen L. Padwa

Stony Brook

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