Playing ball in Brooklyn
What happens in Coney Island
Some big political personalities were on hand at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Coney Island stadium Wednesday night, including former Rep. Pete King, donor and grocery magnate John Catsimatidis, GOP mayoral hopeful Curtis Sliwa, former mayor and formerly-fully-licensed-New-York-lawyer Rudy Giuliani — and Democratic City Councilman Robert Cornegy.
Catsimatidis’ WABC radio was the presenting sponsor for Wednesday’s game, a 3-2 nail-biter loss for the Mets’ High-A affiliate. He rented luxury boxes and had some of the politicos as guests, according to Cyclones spokesman Billy Harner. The occasion appeared to be Catsimatidis promoting a theme song for Coney Island to help aid the area’s return to normalcy. Catsimatidis is also a real estate player in the area, which ranges from deep blue to deep red.
Cornegy, a former college basketball player who just came off an unsuccessful run for Brooklyn Borough president, was "NOT there to see Giuliani, Sliwa or King," says spokesman Raul Rothblatt, adding that the event was to support Brooklyn’s economic recovery through sports. "He was surprised to see them there, and someone took a photo before he could get away from the camera."
One of the quick snappers was Jessica Parks of Brooklyn Paper, who posted images of the mostly-GOP movers and shakers on Twitter. Some in the Twitterati expressed surprise at King of Seaford making the trek to Brooklyn.
He, Sliwa and Giuliani are WABC regulars, but King elaborated on his visit in a Wednesday night email to The Point: "As a guy who went to high school and college in Brooklyn and was a fanatical Brooklyn Dodgers fan, I have been going to Cyclones games for 20 years (and thrown out the 1st pitch 6-7 times.)"
The shindig was not the only Long Island political visitation to a Cyclones game this week. Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi was at the field Tuesday — to see his son, Cyclone outfielder Joe Suozzi, who was just called up from the St. Lucie Mets.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Tax cap, meet rising inflation
Since New York’s property tax cap went into effect in 2012 behind Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s urgent prodding, it has largely matched inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
But that won’t always be the case.
The cap is 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, which means that except for some arcane adjustments to each local limit, the number can’t be above 2%.
But inflation can go a lot higher than that. It just has not done so for quite a while.
With the pandemic ending, consumer pockets are full of cash. And with goods, services and affordable employees in short supply, inflation is now on the rise and expected to stay elevated.
Next year’s cap, which state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Wednesday will be at the max 2%, is the first one since the cap was instituted to vary significantly from the year’s inflation number. That number, measured as the 12 months prior to June 30 in each year for most government bodies (ones whose fiscal year starts on Jan. 1), is 5.4% this year, creating a huge gap between the rate at which costs are rising and the cap.
Just how big could that gap grow? Oldtimers know.
In the decade from January 1973 to January 1983, prices increased 129.58%. By year, the totals were:
Had the cap been in place for those 10 years, the maximum total increase in taxes over that period without piercing it would have been 21.9%.
Which raises this point: While the tax cap has proven fantastically popular with the public, the public has never faced a serious campaign to eliminate it from teachers whose pay isn’t rising as fast as prices. Or from elected officials warning that a 2% cap in a year when inflation quadruples or quintuples can’t bring in enough to provide the services residents demand.
That’s not to say the supporters of a tax cap can’t win such a battle.
But it does show that controversy over the cap may soon grow as quickly as prices, and much faster than municipal budgets.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Cuban unrest 2021
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Legalizing it, the New York way
When Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden unveiled their plan Wednesday to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, New Yorkers might have noticed some similarities.
The draft federal decriminalization proposal, like the state package that legalized adult recreational use of marijuana earlier this year, included new funds to reinvest in communities impacted by the war on drugs.
Both efforts included sections on driving and expungement of records, and each proposed regulating and taxing the substance, with the new funding stream being an important argument for legalization.
On the legislative side, it’s not so surprising that the federal marijuana proposal looks familiar.
"Schumer’s office had reached out to me quite a while ago to get the drafts of my bill and an understanding of how we came to where we came," legalization sponsor and Manhattan State Sen. Liz Krueger told The Point on Thursday. She said Schumer’s staff also told her "how much they were on board with what we were doing and hoped to get there on the federal level."
Of course, there are real differences between the two marijuana efforts, not least of which is that "they’re starting from a place that is so much more extreme than where states have been," Krueger said, noting that NY law even pre-legalization didn’t treat marijuana as severely as federal law does.
But overarching public opinion has been moving toward weed legalization, a pressure that seems to have guided both efforts. Consider that the chief executive who signed the new law in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and the one who would do so in D.C., President Joe Biden, have both been relatively lukewarm on weed, which Cuomo not too long ago called a "gateway drug." Biden’s White House this spring pushed out some staff members over their marijuana use.
These days, opinion polls suggest most Americans support legalization.
Schumer on Wednesday described his marijuana plan as "not just an idea whose time has come."
"It’s long overdue," he added.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano