Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Why GOP doesn't want CD3 election on Election Day
- Businesses give school district a bad grade
- Taking heat for summer getaways
Time off comes with a price
Mayor Bill de Blasio drew some criticism this week as he embarks on his second vacation of the summer.
When asked about the mayor’s New England trip, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, for example, expressed his own preference for staying in New York State.
President Barack Obama’s vacation on golf course-friendly Martha’s Vineyard was criticized by some, including a Baton Rouge newspaper editorial board, after serious flooding in Louisiana.
Such are the woes of the politician with summer wanderlust, open to pillorying when he or she makes an escape that plenty of regular citizens would enjoy.
Then there’s Norman Seabrook, the former NYC correction union head now out on bail on federal corruption charges. He asked a Manhattan judge to let him leave the state to visit Disney World. For that trip, flip-flops would probably be more appropriate than the Ferragamo shoes seized by investigators after Seabrook’s arrest.
The politics of picking a date
The New York State Republican Party weighed in Tuesday on the controversy over when the general election for the 3rd Congressional District should be held, and not surprisingly, it sides with the establishment GOP candidate, State Sen. Jack Martins.
“Holding the general election in New York’s 3rd congressional district on November 8th will deprive men and women serving in our Military abroad the right to vote in this important election,” state chairman Ed Cox said in a statement. “I join in the call to move the election to December 6th so that our Military members who will be forced to vote by absentee ballot can exercise their fundamental right to participate in the democracy they are overseas fighting to protect.”
At the moment, a GOP primary is to be held on Oct. 6 and the general election is Nov. 8. The two GOP candidates, Philip Pidot and Martins, did not meet in the June primary because Martins’ challenge of Pidot’s ballot petitions, which eventually failed, was not cleared up in time to print ballots.
Now, Martins wants the general election moved to December, arguing that 33 days between the primary and the Nov. 8 election isn’t enough to satisfy the federal 45-day requirement for military-ballot access.
The other candidates in the race -- Pidot, Libertarian Michael McDermott and Democrat Thomas Suozzi -- want to stick to the Nov. 8 date, and they say it affords plenty of time. Cox, as party chairman, wants badly to pick up the congressional seat being vacated by Democrat Steve Israel.
Cox and Martins probably see that an election date not shared with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gives likely GOP nominee Martins a better shot at the win.
Commercial building owners vs. the schools
High Long Island property taxes are making it hard to fill some commercial buildings with customers. So the Island’s real estate industry is suing to keep school districts from padding their budgets with reserve cash.
Uniondale lawyer Laureen Harris, president of the industry’s Association for a Better Long Island, has sued the East Meadow school district. As of June 2015, the district had eight reserve funds with a total balance of $17.6 million, according to ABLI’s complaint filed in state Supreme Court.
The suit seeks class-action status and to prevent school districts from overestimating budget needs, Harris told The Point. Property taxes alone are responsible for costs of $20 per square foot in East Meadow’s commercial spaces. ABLI members can’t attract or retain businesses at those prices, Harris said.
The suit says, the workers’ compensation reserve fund is $2.8 million and the unemployment insurance reserve totals $1.3 million. Over the last three years, the average annual payouts from these funds were $425,660 and $50,226, respectively.
New York State tax law limits the amount of unexpended surplus funds a school district can retain to no more than 4 percent of the next year’s budget appropriations. ABLI’s suit claims East Meadow’s unrestricted fund balance has been running about 5 or 6 percent for several years.
It would have to be a very rainy day to soak up all that extra money.