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Opinion

Water under the bridge

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Daily Point

What’s in a name?

We’re fascinated with how the words “Tappan Zee” seem to fade further into the background when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo talks about his bridge-replacement project over the Hudson River.

Cuomo and the state have long referred to the new span as simply the New New York Bridge. That sounds an awful lot like a bridge in search of a name.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was named for the wide expanse of river it crosses. “Tappan” is from a local Indian tribe, and “zee” is Dutch for sea.

Will the New New York Bridge eventually bear the name of the late Mario Cuomo, the governor’s father? Doubtful. That honor could be reserved for the East Side Access tunnel connecting Queens and Manhattan.

Mario Cuomo rose from humble beginnings, born to Italian immigrants in Queens. So, the tunnel would serve as a fitting metaphor for the man’s rise to political eminence.

Anne Michaud

Talking Point

Nassau’s off-balance budget

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority approved a $2.9 billion budget for 2017 on Wednesday that at least two board members insist is still way out of balance.

Adam Barsky, who chairs the state authority charged with overseeing county finances, said that the 2018 budget process could be even rockier because all 19 county legislative seats and the county executive job will be up for election next November.

“If there was a lack of appetite to make hard decisions this year, that appetite will be much less next year,” Barsky said.

It’s common among elective bodies to do the dirty work of raising taxes and cutting spending in between election years in the hopes that voters will forget by the time voting rolls around, but the Nassau County Legislature has refused to entertain property tax increases for the past two budgets. Nassau property taxes have increased only once since County Executive Edward Mangano was elected in 2009. They went up 3.4 percent in the 2015 budget. Even that was stripped out of the budget by legislators, but Mangano was able to restore it with a veto. The following year, his attempt to restore a 1.2 percent county tax increase via a veto was overridden by the legislature.

There are expenses, like police overtime and police termination pay, that might be badly underestimated in the 2017 budget NIFA approved, according to county and union officials.

And more important, there is uncertainty about projections of revenue from several sources, including sales taxes, a $55 increase in traffic violation administrative fees and a $130 increase in tax-map verification fees.

And if any of that revenue doesn’t materialize, the county’s financial problems could cascade into the 2018 budget, when, according to Barsky’s fears, the political will to balance spending and revenue could somehow drop below even its current level.

Lane Filler

Pencil Point

Trump the environmentalist

More cartoons about the president-elect

Zombie Point

Apocalypse coming?

The patient displayed “intermittent periods” of groaning, and “slow mechanical movements of the arms and legs.” Concerning his condition, he “offered no further clarifying history other than to confirm a first-time inhalational exposure” to an “agglutinated herbal material.” He had nothing unusual in his system besides 2-(1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)-3-methylbutanoic acid, a marker of the drug commonly known as synthetic marijuana or K2.

That decidedly un-marijuana-like hyperpotent substance led to an outbreak in Brooklyn in July, when 18 people had to be transported to hospitals for their “zombielike” behavior.

The New England Journal of Medicine has released a study that traces the synthetic cannabinoids to a substance patented by Pfizer in 2009, eventually mutated for recreational use in “clandestine laboratories in China and South Asia,” and distributed via the “darknet” to local streets.

In 2015, NYC made it illegal to sell the drug. The NYPD and other agencies have cracked down on some sellers of the drug, but the scientific journal warns that new versions can pop up easily, and cooperation between law enforcement, health professionals and synthetic organic chemists is crucial for “timely resolution of future outbreaks.”

And, of course, the zombie apocalypse.

Mark Chiusano

Columns