Thursday, September 15, 2005

Keep Those Cards And Letters Coming - NOT!

Mass Mailings By Governmental Entities More Political Than Informative;
The Community Alliance Calls For Review And Restraint

We almost dread opening the mailbox these days. Sure, the bills - particularly the property tax bills - are enough to make your head spin, and the amount of junk mail is unbelievable, but the real stinger is the deluge of letters, flyers, brochures and newsletters from elected officials, especially as election time draws near.

Yes, we know about the Murray Mailgrams. They keep coming, giving new meaning to the words "bulk mail." Old news. Enter Howard Weitzman, the Nassau County Comptroller, with a couple of mailings of his own - including a 4-page newsletter, replete with no less than 4 photos of Howard dutifully auditing, and whatever else it may be that a Comptroller does. [As an aside, Kate takes much better photos than Howard, and uses a higher quality of both ink and paper. That Town surplus does come in handy, doesn't it!]

Leaving aside the fact that, in one of the photos, an underling who bears a striking resemblance to Don Clavin (Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes and Weitzman's opponent in the upcoming election) appears to be looking over Howard's shoulder, and that the majority of the content of said newsletter passes muster as informational rather than political, the real question here is are these costly and prolific mailings - all at the taxpayers' expense - necessary, or, for that matter, effective? The answer, on both counts, is a resounding "NO!"

First, most recipients of these mailings, now desensitized after years of receiving cart loads of literature, which themselves have consumed enough paper to destroy an entire rain forest - don't even bother to read them. Straight from mail box to trash bin, without so much as a passing glance. Talk about throwing money into the garbage!

Second, for those who do look beyond the name and photos of the sender (which, as we all understand, is the underlying intent of these mailings), there is little, if any, content that cannot be (or has not already been) disseminated through other media. Even before the ink has dried on, say, the Weitzman Weekly, the press has received a stack of releases for publication, media "alerts" up the whazoo, and more calls for press conferences than Carter has liver pills (huh?).

Aside from the print media, in the age of electronic medium - notably the Internet and e-mail groups - there remain but relatively few holdouts (like those Japanese soldiers found on occasion in the jungle of Pacific atolls who did not know that WWII was over) who do not have access (or claim not to have access, seemingly everyone from 9 to 90 being "logged on" at any given moment) to the worldwide web, and to the websites through which government, at all levels, could give us our daily fix of news, info, and "look what we've done for you now."

Why, an hour doesn't pass at The Community Alliance that one elected official or another isn't touting this program or that through an e-mail, with reference to "learn more" by clicking on a link to an appropriate website. And all of this at virtually (pun intended) no cost to the taxpayer. Whether Tom Suozzi's Miracle In Mineola broadcast to every e-mail address collected over the years (including the duplicate addresses), or State Senator Dean Skelos urging residents to Petition the MTA to abandon plans for rate hikes (over which the Senator himself, as an Ex Officio member of the MTA Board, exerts considerable control), the e-mails flow and the information is out there, for everyone to read, consume and digest, should they choose to be so informed and engaged. Ah, there's the rub. Ignorance may be bliss, but it sure as heck doesn't come without a hefty price tag!

The Weitzman mailings are singled out here not so much as a glaring abuse (clearly, they do not rise to the level of the Murray Mailgrams - as chronicled through the Murray-Mail-Meter - in terms of either frequency or cost, and we are not at the point of establishing a Weitzman Wheel of Waste on The Community Alliance website - www.thecommunityalliance.org), but rather, as the latest instance in what can only be categorized as a constant frittering away of hard-earned tax dollars that could certainly be better spent elsewhere (as in hiring COUNTY RESIDENTS, Tom, or NON-PARTISAN, UNRELATED employees, Kate).

Certainly, these mailings should be curtailed as we go through the politically-charged campaign season, and subject, perhaps, to the pre-mailing scrutiny of an impartial body that will separate the purely political from that which serves a public benefit.

Or maybe government can, in consideration of such mundane matters, take a cue here from corporate America. Instead of monthly - or weekly - mailings, how about an Annual Report to us "shareholders." The "Board of Directors" can still have their names and pictures in the hands and before the eyes of every resident, and we get all the news and information we need. Okay, we'll even allow for Quarterly Reports on a seasonal basis, for those "must knows" like the summer concerts in the parks and the Street Sweeping Schedule (which, by the way, is prima facie evidence that no one reads these mailings - ever. When was the last time anyone moved his/her car off the street on a Street Sweeping day? We rest our case).

As for the "breaking news," such as the infamy of the Sanitary Districts (more to come on this, to be sure), well, that's what Newsday, News12 and the local papers are for. Heck, they'll even go with the fluff of the "filler" story on a slow day. And if what you have to say - whether your name is Tom Suozzi, Howard Weitzman or Kate Murray - is so darn important that it must go out under seperate cover in today's mail, then send it out sans fanfare or photo. Of course, just to keep it real, and so there's no more fast and loose with our tax dollars, you can always blog!
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In Other Words . . .

Newsday calls Town Sanitary District Abuses "An Invitation To Steal"
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Not Necessarily The News. . .

Here are some headlines you WON'T see under Town News (although they would if they could :-):

Kate Murray of Levittown Wins 2005 Town of Hempstead Triathalon

Hempstead Town To Celebrate Kate Murray Month

The Birth of the Suburbs Happened In Levittown: Kate Murray, Surrogate Mother

Town Announces Calendar Photo Contest - Guess Who?

Town Launches New Hotline Number - MURRAY Hill 7- 0700

And let's see, what's on tap for this weekend? Ah, Kate Murray's Festival by the Sea. . .

Thank goodness Kate Murray has a great sense of humor. Imagine if Peter King was Town Supervisor?
- - -
Is This A "Tax Freeze" or A "Tax Freeze (wink, wink)?"

We beat up on Town Supervisor, Kate Murray, for pledging a freeze on ALL Town taxes when what she meant to say was "I'll freeze all taxes 'under my control,'" so its only right that we put the fire to County Executive, Tom Suozzi, when he promises to hold the line.

Will Suozzi's pledge for no Tax increase in 2006 be across the board - meaning not only a freeze on the County's General Purposes Tax, but also, those other taxes that eat the greenery in our wallets, such as County Police, County Police Headquarters, County Fire Prevention, County Parks, Recreation & Museums, County Sewage Disposal District, and so on down the line?

Are we going to see 0% on each line of that Tax Statement or, as we suspect (no, guarantee) will happen with the Town of Hempstead, see that zero gain limited to General Purposes?

We tried to find the answers to these questions online. If they are there, they certainly don't make them easy to find! [Please, though, no mailings to further explain...]

11 comments:

  1. Great idea about Annual and Quarterly Reports from the County, Town, etc. If such reporting to, as you say, the "shareholders" is good enough for Disney, then surely it is good enough for these Mickey Mouse operations.

    Spread the news, of course, but hold the mail!

    ReplyDelete
  2. People make me laugh, how can you comment on anyone else if we have only been ruled by 1 party for so many years? What information have I put out that has been wrong? Are we not the highest taxed county in America? If the GOP platform is LOWER TAXES LESS Government why haven't they delievered? Absolute power corrupts absolutly that is why there has never been real enforcement. too many friends too many jobs so here you have the mess we live in today. I'll move when I am GOOD AND READY AND BY THE WAY THERE IS NOBEATING THE SYSTEM IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. NO ONE I KNOW HAS 4 OR 5 JOBS PLUS AND CAR

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just 1 more question I thought there are 50 states and are we the only area that has the great sevice people want to protect? How many areas do you know where people can have a full time job and be home by 10. it is funny but since so many have moved to other ares of the country they get the same or better service for alot less in taxes. How can people defend this? Give something back to the people who aren't a part of this system. at least end the school taxes but even that you fight about. what do you want? keep everything as is or look to help the middle class.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is a great idea and there are many great ideas. But just like everything else the people who can't see out of the box want to maintain the same taxing system. Instead of racing around they should slow down and take a good look at our neighborhoods. I am just surprised that the pot holes and poor street conditions haven't slowed them up. Does the town get a discount at the motel in west hempstead?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow this is amazing what a new concept look around?

    School taxes are through the roof, tax assesments are at record highs, but your worried about Pot holes??

    When you see a pot hole did you ever think to report it?

    Let's face it if you want things fixed then you have to be willing and able to at least make a phone call that way people will hear your VOICE!

    As far as the GOP controlling things for 100 years show me that anyone else can ACTUALLY do something!

    Instead all we hear and see is the same old promises of reduced taxes and the elimination of corruption.

    Corruption only exists when the PEOPLE allow it to exist; forced audits should be part of every division of government; just pick up the paper EVERYONE is being caught with their hands in the cookie jar!!!

    Thinking outside of the box, no thank you, not when that thinking is going to increase the taxes rather than lowering them or creating more problems rather than fixing them.

    Souzzi wants to turn the surrounding areas of Old Country Rd to Low & Middle Income Housing, wants to add a Transity HUB for transportation, & wants to sell off NC properties like the coliseum to the highest bidder.

    Harvey Levinson claims to have a PLAN- eliminate the problem of illegal rentals- Hire 20 additional building inspectors, Eliminate School Taxes by combining the School & Commercial Tax Districts into what the NC School System, and He wants to eliminate property taxes but add an Income Tax for all NC residents to pay for everything?

    Let me ask you a few questions maybe you can come up with answers to these:

    1) Will the Taxes REALLY decrease or will they increase across the board?

    2) Will any of these plans SOLVE the TOH & NC problems?

    3) How long will some of these ideas take to implement, How many new employees will it take, and rather than making less government will additional government branches be increased in NC?

    4) And who will control all of these Divisions in NC???

    ReplyDelete
  6. So in other words you are happy with the people who are robbing from us now? That is a great way to help out. How about this, keep changing party power until they work for the people. No one party should run Town or County for many years. I do call but why should I have to call. For all the taxes I pay and all the town county and state workers we have there should be no need for any of us to call for any problems. Unless the people who work for the town are blind they should have a list to deal with everyday. or maybe they can't get to any of it because they need to be home by 10 to start their next job. I hope you like living in the city because that is where we are heading thanks to the GOP not enforcing the laws and codes. Have you seen our area thanks to the GOP leadership in the town? Take a good look at Franklin sq. West Hempstead, Elmont. Valley Stream and compare it to Queens. Do you know what the difference is? The answer there is no difference only we pay 3 to 5 times more in property taxes. You are worried about additional Government, isn't over 400 taxing district worth talking about and ending it or consolidating them?

    ReplyDelete
  7. So I guess what you are saying is there are problems out there and you don't want to get involved in order to solve them?

    Here is a very honest answer to that - You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem?

    Which is it?

    And as far as the GOP and the power BLAH BLAH BLAH look at who is in power now in NC - the Democrats - Are they doing any better????

    I will say this again Tom Souzzi & Harvey Levinson are NOT part of the solution they ARE part of the problem!!!!

    Instead of finding blame in the TOH they should BOTH fix what is broken in the NC government system!!!

    Instead they are both looking to move on to the next level???

    ReplyDelete
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