Does Bill O'Reilly make "Common Sense"?
Given Rudy Giuliani’s legal troubles, there has been some renewed scrutiny of the former NYC mayor’s election fraud rhetoric — including on radio station WABC-AM (770), where he said recently that former President Donald Trump "won that election," according to The New York Times.
Giuliani has a show on the NYC-based station owned by conservative billionaire and sometime-mayoral-hopeful John Catsimatidis. So does Levittown-raised Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly, who was forced out from Fox News in 2017 after sexual harassment allegations, found another home at WABC with the September debut of his show "Common Sense with Bill O’Reilly."
The Point took a look at what the former Fox star has been saying about the 2020 election and beyond in the episodes archived on the station’s website.
Immediately following the election, O’Reilly said the vote was "botched" by mail-in ballots. He declared that there was a "possibility" of fraud, especially in Pennsylvania, but he also sometimes downplayed Trump’s path to victory and added that Giuliani should not be running around "just saying stuff" without evidence.
In recent episodes, O’Reilly has been clear about President Joe Biden’s win.
"I congratulate Mr. Biden," O’Reilly said in an episode last week.
"He won by 7 million votes," O’Reilly explained. "Now you can say there was shenanigans and some fraud. And I believe there was, but not at that level. Not at 7 million."
He also denounced the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and said Trump would be linked to it "perhaps unfairly, but he did address that crowd."
Largely, though, it has been on to other business and more local politics for "Common Sense." O’Reilly has spent recent episodes bashing "communist" Mayor Bill de Blasio, complaining about cancel culture and the vaccine rollout in New York, and issuing dire warnings about the "chaos" en route from immigrants looking to come to the United States. He has called U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a "vengeful man" who is in fact worse than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Pelosi is one mean lady." O’Reilly, who notes in one episode that he currently lives in Nassau County, sometimes expounds on the suburban experience, including a colorful rant on the commuting annoyances Long Islanders face these days heading into the dirty, chaotic city.
And, of course, there’s the always-fruitful world of media bias.
"The media is now openly rooting for Joe Biden," O’Reilly proclaimed in a recent episode. He asserted that the media worked with Democrats to get Biden elected, "which is why our broadcast becomes more important."
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Nassau clergy saving heavenly sums on property taxes
When New York lawmakers passed a law sometime before 1886 creating a $1,500 property-tax exemption for all the state’s clergy members, they weren’t trying to eradicate nearly all property taxes on their homes. But that’s the case today in Nassau County, where a man or woman of the cloth doesn’t have to pay taxes on homes with a value of up to $1.5 million.
Earlier this week, Newsday reported that a computer problem has caused owners of 5,500 homes to be overcharged on their property taxes. About 4,700 of the overcharged owners have veterans’ exemptions, while about 800 have clergy exemptions, and the mistake was in how the five-year phase-in and reassessment was applied to special taxing districts like Nassau County’s police district and sewer districts that cover only parts of towns.
The mistake was caught in time for most owners to pay the correct amount.
But the error also exposed yet another twist in the saga of Nassau’s crazed assessment system. The clergy exemption applies statewide, but has very different effects in different places, because of different assessment practices. For municipalities that use the full value of homes to assess, the exemption is for just $1,500 in value: the owner of a home assessed at $1,001,500 would get a $1,500 exemption and owe taxes on the $1 million value.
But Nassau County uses fractional assessment, a practice in place since a court challenge in the early 2000’s forced it to reassess properties for the first time since 1938.
In 2004, when the county went to a 1% (or 10-1) ratio, a $1 million home had an assessment of $10,000, and that old $1,500 exemption actually excluded $150,000 in value.
By 2006, when the county went to a .25% (or 400-to-1) ratio, the $1,500 exemption covered $600,000 in real value.
And now, since County Executive Laura Curran went to a .10% (or 1,000-to-1) ratio, the $1,500 exemption cancels most property taxes on a clergy member’s first $1.5 million in home value.
In 2018, the clergy law exempted about $463 million in value in Nassau from the tax rolls. Nassau’s ratio was still just 400-1, but the county accounted for 78% of all clergy exemption dollars in the state.
Now, since Curran changed the local assessment, the clergy exemption is excluding at least $1 billion in property from school, town, library, fire and county taxes. Nassau now accounts for 90% of the state’s total clergy exemptions, even though assessment officials say it applies to only 800 Nassau properties. The surviving spouse of a clergy member is entitled to keep the tax break.
So what’s the fix, for those who think one is needed?
Either a state law change to end the $1,500 exemption for everyone or a Nassau move to chop it back down to size by going to full-value assessment, which creates its own headaches.
—Lane Filler @lanefiller
Stuck in traffic
"I spent much of Tuesday trying to find a creative way to show the absurdity of PSEG-LI operations being run from New Jersey, a situation exacerbating the failed emergency response to power outages wrought by tropical storm Isaias. I drew a few versions and thought you’d enjoy this one that didn’t make the cut in Wednesday’s Newsday."
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons
—Matt Davies @MatttDavies