July 31, 2009
July 29, 2009
It’s 2 A.M. on Tuesday…and I’ve been trying to fax a certain legislator…
Her faxes apparently are on vacation just like all of Albany (a perpetual vacation?)…even her district faxes.
It rings and rings but no connection ( again,
just like Albany)
Oh right, NYS legislator is a part time job.
So I check Email.
There-from Gene who keeps an eye (a cynical but funny eye I might add) on news from Albany- (like who has been indicted recently) - is a Peanuts cartoon.
Peanuts and Linus are in a baseball field suited up for a game.
Peanuts says: Rats! Another game lost! I really thought we were going to win this one…for one brief moment victory was within our grasp!
Linus (walking off the field) says: And then the game started!
Could my buddy Gene P. be referencing my repeated assertion that we were VERY close to getting our tax reform bills passed last session??…SO CLOSE we could taste it???!!!!…..
Okay Gene…just you wait…
July 22, 2009
WELL ISN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD!!!
Apparently Albany feels the people in NYC couldn’t take a mandatory 6.9% raise in real estate taxes….which they shouldn’t have to because many pay a lot more than you may think in relation to income … and renters are especially hard pressed.
So Albany passed a bill and the Gov. signed it- to cap-not reduce or tie to income- their taxes (NYC homeowners) at the present rate for a year only …..BIG WHOOP ALBANY!!
Homeowners will save -on average- less than $170. Does it guarantee renters get a break?? Will it cost Albany anything? Of course not.
Albany’s big piggy bank remains for Albany ONLY to loot.
Taxes paid by the people -for Albany to dispense at their whim and for their selfish purposes, first and foremost- are ridiculous…
…..and Albany is equally ridiculous for dancing all around the property tax catastrophe like “Brownie” in the bayou…hoping something will materialize to make it all go away while they sniff around the edges of the mess.
You did it Albany now clean it the hell up!
Ms. Heyer-Spencer (D. assembly S.I.) who authored the bill said she wanted to “ensure” they got help to “weather the fiscal storm”.
That $170 will do it kid!!???…….and the “Brownie Life Saver (the candy not a real one) award” goes to ….ALBANY!
Of course she could have pushed for Englebright’s prop. tax relief and reform bill for her constituents-for ALL of US-…A8702…. the real deal. But no, do a little 170 buck time step and wait for thunderous applause…as if !!!!
The people in Albany never learn…and very soon it will be too late.
The Omnibus Consortium represents renters and owners all over the state, unions and good government groups, families and children’s interest organizations, voter education groups, and political activist groups……what part of “Pass the property tax reforms we handed to you on a silver platter… or rewrite your resumes.” does Albany NOT understand!!!???
I thought there would be a lull and I could give you some facts on how renters-(almost half the people in the state are renters)- are suffering from the property taxes passed on to them also..but it looks like the boneheads in Albany keep giving me material so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the very informative pamphlet “Where Is the Property Tax Relief for Struggling Renters?” from our Consortium Partners,the Community Service Society….or any other document I’ve mentioned…..or if you need info on something…
We are all-property taxpayers- upstate and down-in this together. We are stronger because of our Omnibus Consortium. No one group takes away from any other beleaguered property taxpayer group…our extraordinary Omnibus bills guarantee that.
We just want to force Albany to stop throwing away our income tax money on their own perks, and mandates, and tax exemptions, -and re-election ploys - while they pass along their responsibilities to property owners and renters via property taxes…..talk about doubling up on taxes!
July 20, 2009
HOW DOES A TAX REFORM ADVOCATE SPEND THE WEEKEND??? Monday, July 20, 2009
Nope, that’s not a joke involving priests, ministers, and rabbis sitting in a bar.
Have I reminded you that they’re all tax exempt and sometimes can be found at Woodbury Common buying Gucci bags with their religious tax exempt cards??
Oh right, I remind you of that daily, don’t I. My bad!
I spent part of the weekend trailing behind Zee aka Susan Zimet who never alights for very long in one place.
The woman is on the go for good government …much of the time for our Omnibus Solution.
Chas and I joined Susan at a meeting of Take 19, an eclectic , reform minded, good sized group of delightful people who spend their time keeping government honest and useful-a herculean task only for the strong-minded and hardy.
Did you ever notice that reformers tend to be more fun than the dour, difficult folks in power who can’t seem to do anything but pay themselves handsome salaries “…because there is no money for anything else”?
Sure you have….
We learned a lot of inside the state scuttlebutt (It’s worse than even you thought.) from these well connected folks and talked to them at length about the Omnibus Solution. That was easy because they already knew about the iniquitous state of property taxes, the bogus political cover of the cap lovers, and why renters are included in our bills*…they really just needed the bill numbers… and wanted help in distinguishing among the circuit breaker bills out and about…in other words which ones we favored and which we didn’t…
That was easy. We favor Krueger S4239A and Englebright A8702….
Among other reasons, these two bills contain :
…. the immediate relief of a circuit breaker which limits how much families can pay of their income in ALL property taxes-and a very important reform component which takes on the whole property tax structure and demands a review to make changes.
Among those changes, that the state comply with the CFE lawsuit that mandates the state should pay for most of the costs of a sound basic education.
Now in this final battle between us (good)and property taxes (%^&*$#%) the reform portion is dear to my heart.
So make note of the bill numbers and bother every senator and assembly person until they understand that redemption for them-no small thing- lies in passing these bills ASAP…..need I add “or else”?
Back to Take 19….Connie Hogarth and Art Kamel -who have worked all their lives to make government responsive to the people- and also put out a really nice spread- were our hosts in their home cum activist center.
Margaret Yonco-Haines chaired the meeting very well considering the individualistic nature of us all.
I know these super people will join us in getting Omnibus passed. They were especially interested in who WAS a sponsor of the bills and who WASN’T.
I wouldn’t like to be a non –sponsor at this point.
You might be interested in the fact that a member of this group John McBride (really well-intentioned, smart and in the loop) has started planning an event in Albany in Sept. called
“ MORE BETTER DEMS’’ which is geared towards making our now defunct state government function –and function for the citizens who pay for it…that’s all I can say for now…
*Why renters are included in prop. tax reform will be saved for its own blog space. The facts will surprise you…even though since the June meltdown of state government I expect nothing really surprises you anymore.
July 19, 2009
LIES…DAMN LIES..AND CAPS….. AND OTHER misc. items like throwing the rascals out…..
Now that there’s a lull in Albany and nothing is happening that requires our presence there…….I am going to answer some questions you have asked Taxnightmare.org ….
Q. Why are you guys at Taxnightmare.org NOT screaming for a radical overthrow of all our current state legislators…in other words “Throw out all the incumbents.”…
A. If you read the blog carefully ( no, you didn’t!!) you’d have seen that we will be calling for throwing out the incumbents IF our property tax relief and reform legislation doesn’t get passed…..we have only one mission and it’s a critical one-no less than protecting people from homelessness because of crazy, iniquitous, probably unconstitutional property taxes that are robbing middle class homeowners and renters of financial stability and a permanent home in their communities.
Q. But they didn’t pass anything LIKE the bills you wanted on prop. tax reform in this session…wasn’t that the signal to join forces with other citizen groups to get rid of the incumbents?
A. Absolutely-except for the fact that the session was never completed because-as the whole world knows- the Senate had a meltdown….we’ve waited a long time; and have made many inroads into Albany’s “curious” culture during that time…..we have many sponsors on our bills in both the Assembly and the Senate; and the Governor has said he’ll sign a circuit breaker bill if it crosses his desk (passes both houses)…we expect passage when the legislature is called back into session…hopefully in Sept.
We owe it to homeowners and renters to push the bill to passage when we are so close.
If promises to pass the bill aren’t kept, our course of action will be simple, to punish those who stood in the way of prop. tax relief and reform or those who only paid lip service to relief and reform.
‘Paying lip service’ is a highly developed art form in Albany.
There is no opposition to our Omnibus tax solution to speak of……just a few guys currently getting rabies shots daily…and they don’t vote for obvious reasons.
Q. How would you do it? Throw out the rascals, I mean.
A. People do not want to vote against their party even if they want to throw out the incumbents.
You could call for throwing out the incumbents but people will hesitate if it means their party loses seats or if the power (in the legislature or the governorship) passes to the other party.
In other words people are ready to throw out the incumbents but NOT happy about voting for the other party in order to do so.
It would be best to target many incumbents by encouraging competitors from the same party to take them out in the primary. ..first.
With the threat to party leadership of losing a seat to the opposing party, an open primary challenge would be easier to mount. There should be no safe seats.
In other words: party leaders should clean out useless incumbents in the primary…and join the “clean out Albany” movement without harming their party….or they risk losing the seat to the opposing party.
…in addition there are other punitive, political, and legal actions we can take in the event that the prop. tax stand-off continues in Albany.
Q. You have written on the Taxnightmare.org blog that Budgetary Tax Caps are NOT tax relief and neither are they tax reform. Why do you oppose them?
A. Because they don’t bring any relief to individual taxpayers; they don’t reduce your individual tax bill by a single penny. They encourage budgets to go up to the Cap even if the money isn’t needed; e.g. if the Cap is 4% or 5% each year you can bet that budgets will rise every year by that amount.
Did you ever wonder why the Cap crowd wants to cap state but not county budgets???
Doesn’t that seem odd when state budgets are funded mostly by income taxes which are already individually capped at a certain percent of a person’s income.
But county taxes which are NOT based on income can consume a huge part of a person’s income without any mechanism at all to limit them…
…..unless of course a person is willing to lose the family home and go live in a cardboard box.
Well, if you look at the state’s record of funding public services like education and Medicaid you will notice that more and more of their share comes off their budget -funded by income taxes and fees that have set limits-and gets shifted to county and other property taxes that can -and do -go up without any restraints or limits
The prop. tax is the most regressive tax left.
So when the state says…”Sorry my budget is capped. We’ll just have to shift another few billion in Medicaid or school funding down to the county or district” BINGO …you’ll be paying the state’s share in YOUR property tax bill. So much for caps.
Never mind that the state is already defying a court order to fund the largest part of every child’s education…. you are currently paying for that defiance in your property taxes.
People are really not as stupid as the Cap Kings think they are. The agit prop for Caps had better be more believable than what these guys are currently spinning.
MORE INCONVENIENT FACTS THE Cap PROPONENTS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW (It will do squat to reduce YOUR OWN individual PROPERTY TAXES for starters).
Caps punish local or county or school districts that kept their budgets low and are then capped at that low amount.
They do nothing to prevent the powers-that-be from continuing to hand out religious tax exemptions like candy…and I’m not talking the little neighborhood church…we’re talking acres and acres of land and buildings off the tax rolls..and you picking up that extra share of the budget …capped or not.
Caps leave in place a crazy, untenable, unfair, assessment process and a LUDICROUS reval system with no power to enforce revals!
Caps leave the power to decide what to CUT in any capped budget -like school budgets for instance - to the very same lavishly paid administrators whose numbers and perks are already a big part of the problem!!
Can you imagine these guys cutting their own positions and perks??!!…not a chance.
The kids’ services or classroom personnel will be cut..BET ON IT!
A lot of very smart people have worked hard and for a long time to deliver prop. tax relief and reform. WE don’t buy snake oil……Caps are just snake oil and/or an empty slogan by politicians who are running for office on a phoney tax reform platform…one that doesn’t force the state to make intelligent decisions and doesn’t solve the individual’s prop. tax crisis and makes everything worse.
Caps are an insult to our intelligence.
The only cap that has meaning is the individual break point in our circuit breaker legislation that puts a limit on what percent of your income YOU can be expected to pay for all your combined property taxes (county, local, school… all of it)…..and it may reduce what you already pay ….and your neighbor doesn’t pick up the slack.
Q. Does that mean you don’t support reining in spending?
A. Of course I support intelligent budgeting and smartly reined in spending!! There are lots of carefully thought out ways to cut waste or pork barrel spending or money lost from corruption.
There are -for example -a lot of religious tax exempt loop-holes to plug. ..as you may note a pet peeve of mine that’s eating up a lot of prop. tax $$$.
There are too many highly paid supernumeraries in almost every property tax funded entity (usually above the local level) and in every school district.
There are redundancies.
There are state legislators who need to tighten their big fat belts.
….and some counties should just be replaced by a council of supervisors from all the local governments in the county. That worked well a while back ….and would save tons of cash.
There are hair raising stories about schools awash in maintenance money that gets spent whether it’s necessary or not….and schools that have none.
There are kick-backs in ordering and nepotism in jobs.
…not to mention the stupidity of paying MANY millions for testing children who gain nothing from the practice.
This is a very short list and the ideas are strictly my own which goes to show just how controversial cutting public spending is .
Only a nutter thinks we can wait to save people’s homes while we spend a couple of years getting agreement on what spending to cut.
That’s like waiting to save hurricane victims from drowning while we sort out some fine print in the regs.
BUT It’s not my job to decide on spending cuts …though we are all willing to advise Albany!!
It IS the job of your elected officials and they don’t seem to want to do it.
Anyone who is suggesting a simpleton solution like Caps just doesn’t want to do the hard work of making intelligent spending choices and smart cuts…and doesn’t care about REAL tax relief and help for overburdened homeowners.
Taxnightmare.org has tried everything in its power to get real reform.
We even showed up at an early tax cap meeting and got photographed with tax cap T shirts just so we could talk to the governor…. whom we like personally by the way…. We wanted to wean him away from Caps…and on to real reform.
We didn’t succeed at that meeting……we may still convince him to do real relief and ditch the cap campaign…..….we need relief and reform for the beleaguered families trying to remain in their homes….and in NYS. We need the Omnibus Solution and the bills now pending which embody that solution.
……. no more snake oil, Albany. PULEESE!
July 16, 2009
It’s Wednesday night July 15th and we made it back safely from Dystopia…I mean Albany of course…
I know everyone is taking a shot at Albany these days but it is –by any measure-a dystopia.
For you lazybones who are too tired to look up ‘dystopia’ -after working three jobs to pay your property taxes- I’ll tell you it’s the opposite of ‘utopia’…you knew ‘dystopia’ wasn’t a good place to be, didn’t you… because it’s Albany.
Nobody says anything good about our state government –not even the people who work there… like legislators.
They –especially- seek to distance themselves from the legislative bodies of which they are members.
It’s as if there were a very bad and dysfunctional virtual entity called a “Senate” and none of the Senators had anything to do with it!
A spectral, ghost of a Senate…Quick! Call the Senate busters! There it is around the corner! Get it!
At least BC (before the coup) the senators just blamed the opposing party for everything that went wrong…but now AC -Oh you know…after the coup- the senators (whom we cornered in the crowded, furtive corridor outside the senate chamber) shake their heads and grimace at this odd thing called the “NYS Senate”…as if it had nothing to do with them, the senators.
I suggest the taxpayers foreclose on the Senate…the capitol building must be worth a lot.
The Senators? Not so much.
From my disapproving tone you know we didn’t get our property tax relief bill on the Senate agenda for a vote today or tomorrow…no circuit breaker this session…..no leaders’promises kept….no relief for homeowners and renters…..more foreclosures….more despair…..
BC we had a lock on it…AC there wasn’t the time or even a functioning Senate to get our circuit breaker and a reform component passed.
But when September comes-and if the legislature is called back into session which we think it will be- we call in our chits.
There wasn’t anyone to whom we’ve spoken who didn’t promise property tax reform action in September (and yes, I know what promises in Albany are worth.)…
Taxnightmare.org will be working on prop. tax reform all summer and the Omnibus Consortium - of which taxnightmare.org is a (rowdy)member- is planning a summit in August….
But now I want to convey the flavor of that corridor outside the grandiose senate chamber today… and everyday.
For those of you who have never had to hang out waiting to talk to passing legislators….here it is.
Gilt (or yes, guilt) is the big thing overall…muted and opulent was no doubt the intent of the original architects and designers… BUT the general overall impression is of a corridor in an over-the -top WPA built courthouse filled with clumps of lawyers and their patently guilty embezzler clients….all wearing good suits and silk ties and talking softly as if deals are being consummated or plea bargains are being considered…..
One sees legislators, office seekers, media folks, lobbyists, guards, aides, synchophants ….(a lot of T&A…I’m allowed to say that because I’m old and smart-alecky and covered by the first amendment and because it happens to be true.)..and -of course -your faithful and hard working Taxnightmare.org and the other good guy groups in the Omnibus Consortium..
Earlier-before hanging out in the corridor-we met with Senator Sampson’s Chief of Staff Michelle Trotman . Senator Sampson is the new head of the Dem Conference….part of the AC deal.
…..good meeting, good Chief of Staff….but under the circumstances we were just keeping up the pressure for September…not expecting any action in the one or two days left after the historic melt -down of NYS government.
As for the Assembly -while the Senate was turning into a glutinous mass -the Assembly was debating adding calorie counts to restaurant menus on the last day of their disastrously unproductive session vis-à-vis property tax reform. (I know I told you that already but even I can hardly believe it.)
Is there any doubt that our legislators -in their delusional state-think they are in Albany to audition to be extras in “TITANIC, THE MUSICAL!”?
We DID manage a nice corridor conversation with Senator Breslin (D)-straight shooter- Omnibus supporter from the get go…
…..and got the brush-off from Sen.Johnson (D) Nassau ( film noir heavy whose girl is Joan Blondell… and THEN she meets Bogart…hey, give me a break…. I need to amuse myself. We’re in a crowded hall and I observe -PC or not- that nobody of any sexual orientation - is even playfully attempting to pinch anybody else’s fanny…as if I needed further proof they are cold-blooded, concretized animals).
Sen. Johnson has the bill we like bottled up in his committee and swears it will be a cold day in hell (or words to that effect) before he lets it out for a vote because he favors another Circuit Breaker…hey it’s nice everyone has a favorite circuit breaker…NOW MOVE SOMETHING OUT THERE for a vote, guys and gals.. and we’ll talk.
To top it all off the Dems don’t have a quorum to call the meeting anyway because one of their Senators took this exact moment to go on his honeymoon??? –(to Dubai we heard, where they have no property taxes and lots of money and the combination makes everyone happy-)
Please send me your thoughts on this romantic timing and don’t bother to censor yourselves.
Nothing you’re thinking is as censorable as what I’m thinking.
So there we were in THE corridor in the Capitol Bldg. in Albany when someone who knows me from the start (six years ago) of Taxnightmare’s property tax reform campaign says cheerily , “Still working on it, huh?”
July 14, 2009
OUR OMNIBUS CONFERENCE CALL TODAY ( Tues. 7/14) PRODUCED THE FOLLOWING INFO:
We (Omnibus) will be traveling (yet again) to Albany to meet with the Senate leaders to urge them to put our circuit breaker bill on the agenda…they will probably meet Wed. and Thursday to do some legislating ….property tax relief has needed to be addressed for years…now the bills are great (modeled on fiscal guru, Frank Mauro’s groundbreaking Omnibus Prop. Tax Solution) and the situation is dire…..no excuse not to put the bill-we like S4239A – on the agenda…..I personally won’t scream bloody murder if they decide to pass the Klein/Krueger CB bill although it lacks the crucial reform provisions (a study of the state’s responsibility to fund a sound basic education for each child..and a review of the state’s responsibility to pay for Medicaid… and revenue sharing)…
BUT THEY MUST PASS A CIRCUIT BREAKER. ..and they will if it is put on the agenda.
Every pol in Albany will be falling all over themselves to claim credit for the bill’s passage when it does pass .
GOOD! Just do it, guys…….look at the handwriting on the wall….it says election time is coming and you want a good record on tax reform…
If it passes this session we will be inclined to be generous with the praise…if not…..VERY stingy with kudos will be an understatement. We know who has been there for us…and who hasn’t.
…and here’s work for all of us to do….below is our homework….please make the calls…these are the guys who will decide what’s on the agenda….the letter is from our Omnibus Coordinator Ron Deutsch …..a helluva guy and an ace lobbyist for property tax reform…make the calls, please!
July 13, 2009
Speculation is rife
About what will happen Wednesday when the senate –newly put back together- gets to work again….
Several assumptions may be challenged in that sentence:….
· Is the Senate actually put back together? Was Humpty Dumpty??
· Will they do anything resembling work? Did they work prior to the “coup”?
I am not so cynical so I have hope they will deal with the hydra headed prop. tax monster…..and I have some random data…about our prospects for tax reform SOON….
I leave speculation on the rest of the Senate agenda to people who focus on something other than property taxes…
….in my next life I’ll be obsessed about obesity; it seems to interest the Albany gang more than people losing their homes….
Maybe because they really can’t do a damned thing about people who want or need to get fat even with a lot of foolishness about putting calorie counts on menus….but if they approach the property tax disaster they might be expected to accomplish something since the mess is of Albany’s doing…. and not just an “act of God”.
They might be judged on the results of their action on our relief and reform bills…something they are loathe to have happen….they’d rather blame the other guy.
For at least twenty years Albany has known that using property taxes to provide public services like education and Medicaid was an out and out disaster waiting to happen…let alone unconstitutional (see CFE lawsuit).
So now it’s late… but inevitable that our legislature and our governor will have to act.
..and let’s not forget that a lot of good Senators have signed on to the Omnibus property tax reform solution ….I have published their names repeatedly…and they’re pushing hard , not just going through the motions. I’ll add the newest soon.
That’s one reason the Omnibus Consortium is up- beat on our chances.
Wed., July 15th, the Senate will take up only “non controversial bills”. Whatever the hell that means. Have you ever seen a real bill that didn’t have opposing sides?
OH RIGHT! The Omnibus solution. Who doesn’t want to save families from homelessness???
We’ll find out soon enough . There are always a few perves in government who get a kick out of ignoring somebody else’s pain.
On Tuesday, the Omnibus consortium will ‘consort’ to plan our Wednesday strategy.
Word has it (on dit ) that a Hudson Valley Senator is really lobbying his colleagues to pass the Circuit Breaker Bill….Klein/ Krueger is the compromise bill…S5809…it’s missing the reform portion but we’ll deal with that later.
“On dit” that the Assembly and Senate will be back after the summer to work on the Gov.’s budget.
I say the Senate should squeeze prop. tax reform onto its Wed. agenda…..it’s easy, critically important, lots of sponsors and good bills ready to go….
If ever a group needed redemption the Senate is that group. With one bold stroke they can make history and wipe out a lot of past sins.
The Omnibus Consortium will so argue if we make it to Albany meetings on Wed.
Then the ball is in the Assembly’s court. Does the Assembly want the blame for NOT passing historic prop. tax reform legislation? Does anyone?
I doubt it.
A coda for you to ponder… (From Bill in Cayuga) 14 million Americans pay half or more of their incomes for housing….bet a lot are in NYS and confiscatory Prop. taxes are a big part of the problem.
If I weren’t a lady that fact alone would make me cuss. Oh right, I’m not..so $%^&**#@@^^##^^
July 11, 2009
SENATE FINDS TIME TO VOTE DOWN….
A MEASURE BACKED BY COMPTROLLER Di NAPOLI that would have allowed local governments to borrow state money to pay their pension bills…..the NYTimes reported there was laughter in the chamber after the bill was defeated 35-27….they assume this was payback because DI Napoli had withheld their pay.
I fail to see the humor in the situation considering this was meant to soften the blow of pension shortfalls due to the stock market crash….maybe the Senators don’t know that these pensions shortfalls will have to be made whole by property taxes…or maybe they don’t care.
I will find out who voted the bill down and report to you.
…OR maybe they intend to vote for our bill –a circuit breaker and a tax reform Bill – that is meant to cushion the devastation caused by these same property tax increases that are going to bury us in the near future-if they haven’t already buried us……
You’d think so wouldn’t you? They couldn’t be THAT reprehensible…could they??