Archive for June, 2014

OC Legislators Act Like Elders of Chelm

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

Isaac Bashevis Singer might as well have been describing Orange County when he wrote, “The village of Chelm (Orange County) was ruled by the head of the community council (county executive) and the elders (county legislators), all fools. The name of the head was Gronam Ox (Steve Neuhaus). The elders were Dopey Lekisch, Zeinvel Ninny, Treitel Fool, Sender Donkey, Shmendrick Numskull, and Feivel Thickwit.” Take your pick if you live in any of the legislative districts represented by a Republican other than Mike Anagnostakis.

Lest we forget Orange County’s own little Chelm, the village of Kiryas Joel, populated by members of the Satmar Hasidic sect, is represented by “Shlemiel the beadle” (Michael Amo) of the Independence Party. “I could be the Elephant Party and they’d elect me,” Amo proudly told the weekly Chronicle in an interview last year.  “Many of my colleagues know that if they do not belong to a mainstream party, they are not going to get elected. For me, I don’t have to worry about that.” He said he switched from being a Republican to the Independence Party because of the latter’s commitment to fiscal conservatism. “We want to make sure that if we spend a dollar, we get a dollar’s worth of work,” he explained in true Shlemiel-like fashion: His votes on key issues such as privatization of Valley View and rebuilding the government center in Goshen would ensure quite the opposite, however.

It is also no secret that Independence Party endorsements in the Hudson Valley are guided by influential Republican State Senator John Bonacic and fellow Republican wheeler-dealer Langdon Chapman. The idea is to attract voters who like to think of themselves as independent rather than affiliate with either of the two major parties. The strategy is working. As reported by the Chronicle, the number of Independence Party voters in Orange County rose from roughly 500 voters in 2008 to more than 10,000 in 2012, making it the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the county. Most are aged 18 to 34. And, as it turns out, quite a few reside in Kiryas Joel, where bloc voting is observed almost as strictly as kosher dietary laws.

And so it was that a select group of villagers of Kiryas Joel came to the aid of Orange’s own Gronam Ox (Neuhaus) by registering as members of the Working Families Party in order to  vote in that party’s primary election to determine its designated candidate for county executive last year.  As reported by the Times Herald-Record, “Democratic candidate Roxanne Donnery had gotten the customary blessing of the Working Families Party to run on its ballot line, but found herself challenged by her adversaries in the Village of Kiryas Joel, who petitioned for a primary and signed up dozens of new voters in the labor-backed party.”

The newly registered Working Families voters were provided with a hand stamp to use to print the name “Niki Lee Rowe” on the ballot. Ms. Rowe wasn’t really running for county executive. But she received enough “stamp-in” votes to deny Donnery the Working Families line on the ballot in November. And lo and behold,  Ms. Rowe is also none other than “Mrs. Shlemiel,” aka the wife of county legislator Amo.  An election inspector confiscated the stamp and turned it over to Gimpel the Fool (David Green, Orange County’s Republican election commissioner). One can imagine Green pulling at his beard and rubbing his forehead to show that his brain was hard at work, before ruling that stamping Rowe’s name on ballots was legal, although circulating the stamp inside the polling station was not.

This brings us to the present, as the fools now in charge of governing Orange County ponder the latest developments regarding their ill-fated, ill-advised $74 million renovation plan for the Orange County Government Center. More on this subject next week.

VALLEY VIEW UPDATE—Upwards of 200 people attended Sunday’s rally in Goshen to save the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation from privatization. The event, organized by the Citizens for Valley View (CVV), was not covered by the Times Herald-Record, but you can learn more and keep up with future events by checking out the group’s Facebook page.

EVENT OF INTEREST—An all-star group of musicians and poets will present “A tribute to Harry Smith Anthology to benefit Hungry for Music” at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 14, at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. Hungry for Music provides musical instruments to underserved children with a “hunger to play.” The concert culminates a month-long Hudson Valley music instrument drive sponsored by RadioWoodstock. Click here for more information and a list of performing artists.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Use for Untaxed Corporate Profits

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

 By Jeffrey PageGE logo

Through loopholes and possible sleight of hand, 15 gigantic American corporations reported that they’d made a combined $792 billion in offshore earnings in 2012, money that was not, and will not, be taxed.

Leading the pack, according to an eye-opening chart in The New York Times, was General Electric with $110 billion derived outside the United States and which the IRS can’t get its hands on. Microsoft was second with $76 billion and Pfizer was next with $69 billion.

I’m not here to argue that this money ought to be taxed; that’s a legal and political fight for another day.

Rather, my proposal, at its core, is a morality tithe. Read on and tell me what you think of its chances.

It starts with the famous quote usually attributed to the late Everett Dirksen, a Republican from Illinois. Dirksen is said to have declared: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

Such a tithe is not complicated. Here’s how it would work. GE’s $110 billion represented 14 percent of the total $792 billion in untaxed profits. So in this case, GE would cough up 14 percent of its $15.4 billion windfall – chump change – for charitable good works.

Think about it. Poor people get some help. Taxpayers get to believe, at least for a while, that corporations actually participate in the great social compact of America. And if GE were a man, he would be proud to look at himself in the bathroom mirror while shaving.

A corporation that shaves is not really a stretch. Recall Citizens United, in which our benighted Supreme Court held that corporations are fairly close to humans and even have freedom of speech.

So GE and IBM and XYZ Inc. tithe themselves. Next thing is for them to assign someone with CFO status to hand out cash to people – individuals or groups – in need here in the U.S. or overseas without crushing their dignity and spirit in the great steel gears of bureaucracy.

As Dirksen taught us, $1 billion isn’t much, but it has the potential to do great good for people who need a hand. Or who need surgery, or a place to live, or medicine for their kids. Or any of a thousand other needs that a lot of people take for granted.

Here’s what $1 billion can buy: 6.7 million front doors for Habitat for Humanity; 2.2 million fistulas repair surgeries through the Fistula Foundation. Based on retail pricing, $1 billion can buy 125 million bottles of the anti-diarrhea medicine Imodium; 67 million bottles of the antibiotic amoxicillin, 153 million bottles of children’s ibuprofen.

And a mere $10 will get a sandwich, coffee and maybe dessert for someone who doesn’t eat regularly.

All this plus your own examples for the use of some money that Big Biz won’t miss.

 

Hogan

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Stand your groundBill Hogan

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 6/13/14

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Long, Long Longhorn, oil on canvas, 15x60

Long, Long Longhorn, oil on canvas, 15×60

By Carrie Jacobson

Usually, I have an idea of what I want to paint when I address the canvas. But sometimes, the canvas itself determines the subject.

This has happened most with me with what I call cowscapes, or paintings of cows. My very first cowscape came about this way. I walked into an art supply store and saw, right in the front of the shop, a big canvas for sale. I think it was 48×60. Big. And it was CHEAP!

So I bought it. I’d never made a painting that big, never even thought about it. But I had the feeling that I was going to like painting large.

I got the canvas home and began thinking. If I was going to paint on a big canvas, I needed to paint something big. I’ve never been a wizard at painting houses, or cars, or cities. Trains, no. Lighthouses, I hope never. I had no desire to paint a bus, or a tractor or an 18-wheeler.

Then I lit on the notion of cows, and it all sort of fell into place.

On my big canvas, I made a big painting of big cows. I put it into a small show in a small gallery – and it sold right away. Whee!

Since then, I’ve enjoyed making cowscapes, and I always try to have one in my booth at shows.

This one came about in sort of the same way as that very first one. I bought the canvas because the shape intrigued me. I had no idea what I’d do with it, or even if I’d use it horizontally or vertically. Eventually, I got the idea of doing a longhorn – and this is what I ended up with.

Want to see it in person? I’ll be at the New Milford, CT, Fine Arts and Crafts show this weekend.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 6/6/2014

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Summertime! Oil on canvas, 30x30By Carrie Jacobson

In just about two weeks, sunset will begin to get earlier.

And yet, it seems a moment ago that we all were feeling, even here in Virginia, that winter would never, ever, ever end.

Summer has ambled into town like a sun-blonded surfer, who suddenly seems to have lived here forever, though no one can remember him moving in. The days stretch out, long and yellow and topped with towering thunderheads, that surfer lolling on the beach and promising to work, but never quite getting at it.

These past few mornings have been sweet with the heavy scent of honeysuckle, and rich with birdsongs and the surprisingly loud flutter of wings. I’ve watered the gardens before the sun can get at them, and filled the birdbath, and enjoyed  watching the robins and their friends take ridiculously long baths, getting so wet they can hardly fly.

Before we know it, summer will amble out of town as silently as it came in. But I am going to notice. I’m going to take advantage of the sun and warmth of these long, tawny afternoons. I’m going to delight in the cool early mornings. I’m going to watch the flowers bloom and pass, the birds come and go, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of this sunny warmth.

I hope you will, too.

Hogan

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

E SnowdenBill Hogan

 

The Kids Pay the Price

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

I came up with a great idea this week. I’m going to write a letter to certain members of the House of Representatives to ask that I be permitted to opt out of my obligation to pay income tax.

My reasoning is uncomplicated: Paying my tax has simply become a little too burdensome and I need a break.

Ridiculous you say? Well, if a House subcommittee can allow schools to get a waiver on their responsibility to serve more nutritious meals in their breakfast and lunch programs because healthier dishes and menus are too expensive, surely it can get me a waiver on my tax responsibility.

At issue here is the agriculture subcommittee’s vote to allow school districts to opt out of complying with the new nutrition rules the Obama Administration put into effect two years ago. In 2012, school cafeteria officials were told they had to ease up on salt, sugar and fats in the meals they prepare for the kids, and at the same time increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. The use of potatoes is limited. In pasta dishes, schools are required to use whole-grain pasta. Similarly only low-fat milk can be used. See anything wrong with this?

These Obama rules – the first revision in a generation – would provide up-close nutrition education for the kids and cut into the growing epidemic of obesity in young children. 

This doesn’t sound revolutionary. In fact, it sounds like what most responsible parents would serve their children.

But woe is us, some schools cried. In fact we can’t afford it. And they found a friend in Robert Aderholt, the chairman of the agriculture subcommittee, who suggested that making an apple available to a kid in first grade somehow is a complicated matter.

“Everyone supports healthy meals for children,” Aderholt told The Times. “But the bottom line is that schools are finding it’s too much, too quick.” Which is so much twaddle. I’d really like to see Aderholt address his shameless everyone-supports-healthy-meals line to a hungry student with a growling stomach and in poor health.

Can’t afford quality food for the children is about as legitimate an argument as a school district’s announcing that it can’t afford seat belts for its buses. I think the statement “Everyone supports seat belts on school buses but the bottom line is that schools are finding it’s too much, too quick” would be greeted with scorn.

But wait. Might Aderholt suggest that the federal government ought to pick up part of the cost of better food for breakfast and lunch?

He most certainly is not. Instead he says that the bill that goes to the full House of Representatives in a few weeks would contain measures to give up-against-it districts one year to get their cafeterias on track with the new rules.

Doubtless, Democrats will try and kill the changes, but they’re in the minority and however they choose to fight the new farm bill they’ll likely lose.

So the fights go on in Congress and once again, the constituency most at risk is the one with the softest voice. The children don’t win this fight.

I’ll let you when I get my income tax waiver.