From The Rockaways To Rochester, Quality Of Life Issues Take Front And Center
While it may seem at times that this blogger -- and other bloggers similarly situated across the Island and around New York State -- have been whistling in the wind on issues such as property taxes, education and the inefficiency of State government, there is good news -- we are not alone!
Out there in the not too distant blogosphere (just a mouse click away, in fact), is NewYorkMatters.org, a non-partisan group focusing on the very issues we've been clamoring about, whose objective is "to promote healthy debate and drive productive changes in Albany— regardless of who wins." [Hey, if we can live to see "productive changes in Albany," we all win!]
Exploring issues such as education, health care, and the economy (sound familiar?) -- with in-depth analysis of significant concerns presented in timely and frank reports [READ, STAR Fails The Test and Shine Light Public Authorities.] -- New York Matters takes the typical "bitch and moan" to the next level. And without all of the partisan rant.
The very issues that we've been bantering about locally here on Long Island are now getting to the table statewide -- and by organizations with a heck of a lot more clout -- and financial backing -- than we've got.
NewYorkMatters.org is a product of the Center for Governmental Research, a non-profit center for objective policy analysis, often referenced (but never imitated) in these blogposts.
How in tune is New York Matters with what's going on here on "the Island?" Well, we think they've hit the proverbial clown on the nose, as evidenced by their recent findings on exactly what it is that worries us Long Islanders (aside from the fear that Peter Schmitt might one day get off his leash and bite Judy Jacobs in the rump). [READ, Long Island: Taxes Top Of Mind.]
In a recent poll, conducted for New York Matters by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, taxes headed up the list of the greatest issues facing the next Governor (issues which were largely ignored over the past 12 years by the present Governor), with education taking a strong, but still distant second. [Click HERE to see the Long Island Results.]
Together with other nonpartisan organizations, New York Matters will present a series of town meeting-style public forums. [One such forum will take place at Hofstra University on September 16th. (More on this in upcoming blogposts).] These events, to be held at various locations throughout New York State, will give voters, elected officials and topic experts the chance to explore critical issues and policy options throughout the 2006 elections, and hopefully, well beyond.
Yes, we know, more forums, conferences, and town meetings. Been there, done that. The old preaching to the choir (off key as we are).
Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County Exec and would-be Governor, held a forum with members of Long Island school boards to consider ways to lower the school property tax. The conclave met, and then what happened? Nothing.
There was a conference -- attended by experts and lay citizens alike -- at Hofstra on the farce and fate of the special districts. The result? Nada.
Now, now. There's reason to hope -- and to lend both a voice and an ear to the New York Matters forums. The idea behind New York Matters is to reach beyond the provincial interests locally, building a broad-based consensus, a strategic objective, and more than just loose change in Albany.
Here, at The Community Alliance blog, there may well be method to the madness. At New York Matters, we sense that the method not only has legs, but credibility, and that the powers-that-be in Albany are watching very closely.
Can actually listening to us Long Islanders, and taking action on our behalf, be far behind?