Voters sign in at Frank McCourt High School in Manhattan...

Voters sign in at Frank McCourt High School in Manhattan for the primaries June 22, 2021. A judge on Monday struck down a New York City law that would allow permanent legal residents and others permitted to work to vote in municipal elections. Credit: AP/Richard Drew

Daily Point

NY conservatives win a risk-free decree

Precedent-shattering Supreme Court decisions on guns and abortion may threaten electoral backlash against Republicans in heavily Democratic New York and other blue states. But this week, a ruling from a trial-level GOP judge on Staten Island gives the party and its allies a court win they can work with in their general election campaigns.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio struck down, for the time being, a New York City law that would allow more than 800,000 permanent legal residents and others permitted to work in the U.S. to take part in municipal elections in the five boroughs. Even the city’s back-to-back Democratic mayors Bill de Blasio and Eric Adams expressed reservations about aspects of the noncitizen-voting measure.

“The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections,” the judge wrote. “There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting noncitizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution.”

State Conservative Party chairman Gerard Kassar told The Point on Tuesday: “I think this [ruling] is what a majority of voters wanted to see — Republicans, Conservatives, blanks and Democrats. It was a true progressive piece of legislation. The New York City Council is on the extreme left of the Democratic Party.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit included his party organization as well as Staten Island’s municipal GOP elected officials such as Borough President Vito Fossella and Councilmember Joe Borelli. “We get kudos for [the ruling] but I just think a lot of people are relieved,” Kassar said.

Proponents of the city measure, including the New York Immigration Coalition, are expected to appeal. They argue that the Constitution sets a floor, but not a ceiling, on who can vote. Their pitch for the law included the fact that noncitizen voting is not new in America, exists in other states, and could expand participation in local races.

Convincing voters that New York Democrats have become too radical is a staple for Republican and Conservative office-seekers — and this issue fits their playbook just right.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Talking Point

Nassau assessment in a class of its own?

Jeff Gold has stints under his belt as a member of Nassau County’s Board of Assessors and a commissioner on its Assessment Review Commission. He is also an attorney operating his own tax-grievance service, and the administrator of a Facebook group dedicated to helping people grieve their own taxes that has 34,000 members.

Gold thinks the county is vulnerable to not one but two class-action lawsuits over the system, and after putting the idea out to his group Monday, he already has more than 100 potential plaintiffs.

A Newsday story that ran last week on the system pointed out that the number of people grieving residential properties has reached 227,341 for the 2022-2023 tax year, out of 385,000 such properties in the county, and 73.6% won reductions from the Assessment Review Commission. That’s up from 50% the year before, a function of the values again getting out of whack as the rolls have been frozen for the past two years.

But it’s also not uniform. About 80% of the people who paid professional services to grieve for them got the ARC reduction, but just 60% of the people who filed their own appeals did. If you are refused a reduction and want to appeal that, or do not accept the ARC offer, you must go through the small claims assessment review (SCAR) process.

Gold said he doesn’t necessarily think the quality of the self-filers’ appeals is lower.

Gold thinks there is a class-action suit on that basis. But it’s a small thing compared to his other potential suit.

A 2011 court settlement between the county and the grievance firms decreed that when Nassau and the firms agree there was widespread underassessment, as they are pushed to do to avoid arguing each case individually, the assessment ratio for those properties is lowered.

For 2022-2023 it was lowered from .1% to .09%, but not for people who did not appeal.

“So, if you see your assessment and it’s $500,000 and you think that’s fair, maybe you don’t appeal,” Gold said. “You don’t know that the vast majority of people who do appeal are actually paying a lower rate, regardless of the valuation of their home. I think those people have a case.”

Gold said none of it is going to get better without a whole new reassessment, and every reduction in value granted lowers the total assessed value in any taxing district, hiking the rate, which again savages those who do not grieve.

“The assessment that was done under Laura Curran, with COVID and all the real estate inflation and two more years of frozen rolls, is useless,” Gold said. “They are going to have to start all over again. And until they do, the system is going to get more chaotic and more unfair.”

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

It's up to you

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Mike Luckovich

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Reference Point

American man-eaters

From time to time, worries fester in certain segments of society that the American male is losing his — fill in the blank — dominance, rightful place in society, traditional position in the family, respect and status, masculinity, etc.

It’s happening even now, but Newsday’s editorial board tackled the topic in a June 23, 1958 editorial called “Softening of the Arteries?” The occasion for the rumination: the publication of “The Decline of the American Male,” a book whose authors “accuse the American woman of dominating the American male,” as the board put it.

And the board agreed with that premise.

“In these charges, there is a substantial amount of truth,” the board wrote about this suburban malady. “It is the American woman who is most anxious to get ahead, to keep up with the Joneses, to have a new car, a new house, new clothes and new experiences. The result is that the average husband overworks himself to provide these material possessions. Bedeviled by anxiety, bereft of control over his children, he can find refuge from Momism only on the golf course or out in a fishing boat.”

Given the times, you might presume that there might not have been any women on Newsday’s editorial board. There weren’t, but editorial boards answer to publishers and the paper’s founder and active publisher was Alicia Patterson.

In its piece, the board went on to cite “certain statistics” as proof that “women call the tune in these United States.” First was that at the time there were 1.5 million more women than men in America (the board, apparently, preferring a tyranny of the minority).

Second was that the average life span for American women was 73 years, compared with 67 for men. A supposed third factor was that the percentage of American workers who were women had reached nearly one-third, and a fourth was that American women by that time owned $100 billion worth of stock all by themselves (with no mention of how much American men owned, or whether the board thought it improper for women to even own their own stock).

“Worse than all this,” the board scolded, “the American Mom is constantly hounding her man into conformity.”

The trend toward prioritizing the family over the individual had spread into industry, the board said, where corporations seeking talent “even insist upon interviewing the wives, too. For the average corporation executive is required to entertain constantly, to take the little woman along with him to company conventions, and to make her a partner in his business affairs.”

It was an interesting juxtaposition: the “little woman” being a “partner.”

The editorial came on the heels of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” a book and subsequent movie about conformity and discontent in American business. The term “rat race” also was becoming popular.

All of which led the board to one reasonable conclusion:

“Many a husband is killing himself. Unless we slow down a little — learn to have more fun — America is headed straight for a collective nervous breakdown.”

And one unreasonable one:

“And unless the American woman learns to ask less and give more, our compulsive drive for wealth and luxury is going to shunt us onto a sidetrack while the Russians go zooming past on the main line to control of the world.”

Given how the Cold War turned out, it must be true that American women learned their lesson.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie and Amanda Fiscina @adfiscina