Archive for the ‘Articles/Essays/Op-Ed’ category

Gov. Hochul’s Nightmare Dream Book – By George J. Marlin

March 23, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, March 20, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

In conjunction with her State of the State address Jan. 10, Gov. Kathy Hochul released a 276-page book titled “Achieving the New York Dream.”

Calling this work a “book” is a bit of a stretch. It’s more like a term paper. Each page has wide margins, large print, and far fewer words than found in a real book.

But whatever one calls it, the proposals contained therein are a taxpayer’s nightmare.

“Achieving the New York Dream” is a compendium of ideologically driven schemes, that if implemented, would further accelerate the out-migration flight of upper- and middle-class folks.

One of Hochul’s plans, the “New York Housing Compact,” should concern every Long Island homeowner.

The governor makes the dubious claim that more people want to live in New York than there are homes.


Census Bureau statistics tell a different story. From July 2021 to July 2022, the state lost on a net basis 299,557 people. Only California did worse with 343,230 fleeing.

In calendar year 2022, a record-breaking 62,577 New Yorkers packed their bags and moved to Florida. In 2021, the number skipping town was 61,728.

And if taxes, regulations, utility costs, and crime continue to go up, the exodus will continue and there will be municipal deserts throughout the state with plenty of homes for sale or abandoned.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s go with Hochul’s housing assumption despite her faulty reasoning.

To increase construction Hochul would impose on municipalities “targets” (a/k/a quotas) “for new home creation on a three-year cycle.”

While municipalities “will have discretion on how to meet their new home targets,” the state will monitor them. When judging the localities, the number of affordable housing units built “will be assigned extra weight.”

To force the development of multi-family housing in neighborhoods near railroad stations, localities will be compelled to rezone areas around transit stops.

Big Brother in Albany will also establish a statewide database to track the progress of municipalities.

If municipalities fail to meet their targets, the state will override the will of the local elected officials and impose rezoning regulations. Town supervisors and mayors will be dragged before a state housing approval board and ordered to comply with Albany dictates.

Hochul wants to fulfill the longtime progressive dream: destroy suburbia.

The left hates the idea of people owning their own plot of land with a single-family home and a patch of green grass where they are free of the government’s watchful eye.

Progressives prefer large apartment developments where people are contained and can be monitored.

Remember the “Projects” built by that great Progressive social engineer, Robert Moses in the post-World War II period.

In the name of urban renewal, Moses bulldozed viable New York City neighborhoods and constructed high-rise apartment projects that have been mismanaged by the city and have turned into rundown, crime-ridden, dilapidated buildings.

Thanks to Progressive ideology, Urban Renewal became Urban Blight.

Fortunately, local officials have spoken out against the Hochul plan. Oyster Bay supervisor Don Clavin, said at a press conference, “We’re here to express outrage at Gov. Hochul’s attempt to take the suburban dream and turn it into an urban nightmare.”

North Hempstead Town supervisor Jennifer DeSena wisely pointed out that if the governor gets her way, the 300,000 new units that could be built in the next 10 years would “severely impact the quality of life” by straining local services and pushing up property taxes to pay for expanded government and educational services.

If Hochul’s “Housing Compact” becomes law, the winners will be real estate developers who make large political contributions. Assemblyman Jake Blumenkrantz put it this way, “This unprecedented proposal by the governor will now usurp [local] power and hand it to developers and special interest groups and Albany.”

The heat is on. I’m hearing from political wags that suburban Democratic legislators fear the governor’s idea may be the catalyst for a 2024 Red Wave that will sweep them out of office.

A comprise plan unveiled last week does not include the state board but maintains targets while offering more financial incentives.

Such incentives for localities, no matter how tempting, are always dangerous.  Once addicted to them, Albany will add more and more conditions that will lead to state control of zoning.

No, Long Island’s state legislators must reject these ludicrous proposals to preserve municipal governments’ most treasured right-home rule.

Establishment Media No Longer Tells Truth, It Entertains – By George J. Marlin

March 10, 2023

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on March 10, 2023.

Gov. Hochul’s Unsustainable Budget – By George J. Marlin

March 9, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, March 6, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

In Albany, budget theatrics between the governor and the state Legislature commence every February.

There is always plenty of public weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth by both sides in the mad rush to negotiate an acceptable spending plan that both the executive and legislative branches agree on by April 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

Here’s a brief description of how the process generally works: The governor in both the State of the State address and in the budgetary message paints a dire picture of the state’s finances.

The statements contain dreary economic projections, particularly during a recession.

Fearing rising unemployment and declining economic activity (particularly on Wall Street), the governor lowballs the revenue expected from taxes and fees.

To eliminate a projected deficit the governor calls for reducing bloated bureaucracies and cutting programs, including aid to education and Medicaid.

To share the pain, the governor announces cuts in the executive budget.

Then there are all the fiscal gimmicks employed to lessen the fiscal blow. These include raids on surplus funds, one-shot revenues, and putting off payments of various invoices until the following fiscal year.

No sooner is the ink dry on the governor’s proposal, Progressives bellyache that the cuts and layoffs are excessive, and the revenue estimates are too conservative.

As the deadline approaches both sides buckle down and do serious negotiating behind closed doors.

While the governor has the upper hand in the negotiations to get in an on-time budget – that means compromise.

“When you compromise and both sides are unhappy,” Gov. Mario Cuomo once quipped. “That’s a budget.”

And then, after numerous late-night meetings and plenty of public posturing, old-fashioned horse trading, and outright buy-offs of individual legislators with pork barrel projects for their district, the Legislature passes a budget.

But that is not the way it’s working this year. It’s not the Hochul approach.

Instead of warning legislators that fiscal restraint is necessary because there is a looming recession, that federal one-shot COVID relief money has been exhausted, that record high taxes are driving top earners to Florida, that it will take at least three more years to reach pre-COVID employment levels, and then calling for spending cuts and tax relief—Hochul did the opposite.

The governor called for more spending to be paid by raiding reserve funds and increasing various taxes.

The budget the governor proposed is a record-breaking $227 billion, up $7 billion.

Apparently, the governor is not concerned that her reckless spending is not sustainable.

This despite the fact that Hochul’s own financial plan projects $20 billion in cumulative deficits between 2025 and 2027.

Another misnomer—the governor’s budget assumes top earners will stay in New York.

In recent years the state has lost over 10% of people earning over $750,000 a year. That’s $21 billion of lost taxable income.

Experts are projecting that this trend will continue. Thus, considering 2% of top earners pay 51% of state income taxes, if 100,000 more move out, New York’s tax base will be wrecked.

To pay off teacher and healthcare unions that supported Hochul last year, school aid will go up at least 9.8%—despite declining enrollment—and Medicaid will increase 9.3%.

Here’s a few other ludicrous items buried in the budget: a 70% increase ($700 million) in tax credits for the movie and television industry.

A $455 million “loan” to the moribund New York Racing Association. Additional pension benefits for state employees and additional health care benefits for undocumented migrants.

There’s also Hochul’s budgetary line item to ban the selling of gas stoves by 2030.

And let’s not forget that Hochul’s proposal is only the first step in the annual Albany kabuki dance. Gov. Hochul has proven to be a weak negotiator and I expect legislators will bully her into agreeing to a lot more spending.

The net result, the Empire Center for Public Policy rightly predicts, “it’s sure to be the same as years past: pushing New York further down the road of higher taxes, failing taxpayers and setting back the state’s long-term fiscal health.”

Albany Democrats Fiddle as Crime, Spending Spiral Up – By George J. Marlin

February 26, 2023

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Friday, February 24, 2023.

Gov. Hochul’s Hollow Rhetoric – By George J. Marlin

February 21, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, February 20, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

After he was elected governor in 1982, Mario Cuomo remarked: “You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose.”

Cuomo had extraordinary oratorical skills and his rhetoric was somewhat poetic. Everyone over 55 remembers his stirring, mesmerizing speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

Cuomo’s poetry, however, did not have a lasting effect. The American people preferred President Reagan’s governing prose and he was re-elected carrying 49 of the 50 states.

Similarly, Cuomo’s New York poetry did not convert into successful prose.

Norman Adler, a former Cuomo consultant, put it this way: “He will be remembered more for himself than for what he left behind. Really fine public rhetoric done of aspiration not achievement. Mario Cuomo could never match his words. It wasn’t possible.”

Which brings me to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s poetry and prose.

During the 2022 campaign Hochul’s oratorical poetry did not come close to matching Mario Cuomo’s verse. For that matter she didn’t even match Andrew Cuomo, who defines oratory as shouting at the top of one’s lungs.

Hochul will be remembered for two ridiculous comments she made last fall.

The first was her message to those who disagreed with her extremist pro-abortion position: “Just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK? Get out of town. Because you don’t represent our values.”

The other clunky statement concerned crime. In her debate with Republican opponent Lee Zeldin, Hochul dismissed his tough law-and-order stand saying, “I don’t know why [crime] is so important to you.”

Hochul made that statement to a man who was assaulted and whose family experienced a gang shooting outside their Long Island home.

Hochul’s governing prose is as awful as her campaign poetry.

There was not one memorable line in her January 1, 2023, inaugural address.

Hochul’s State of the State address, delivered to the combined houses of the Legislature on January 10, 2023, was not much better.

She did throw a bone to the 47% of the electorate who voted against her by conceding that the “bail reform law as written now leaves room for improvement.”

Yet the governor’s declaration, that she “will work with the Legislature to make thoughtful changes in bail law … consistent with the spirit behind its original passage in order to restore the confidence in our criminal justice system” is merely hollow rhetoric.

Let’s face it, Hochul is a weak chief executive. She does not have the mettle to take on the “defund the police” Democratic-controlled Legislature, which has made clear it will not roll back any of its failed criminal justice reforms and, for the first time in the state’s history, rejected a governor’s nominee for chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

A significant portion of Hochul’s address was devoted to housing.

The governor made it clear that if suburban counties (i.e., Nassau) fail to liberalize zoning laws—particularly around railroad stations—to permit more multifamily housing, the state will intervene and override local codes and impose on municipalities targets to increase the housing stock.

Fortunately, New York’s congressional Republicans have been blowing the whistle on this plan.

Arguing that the Hochul approach will “eliminate home-rule altogether,” Congressman Nick Langworthy (R-Olean) said, “Our local governments are already drowning under the unfunded mandates and dictates from the state—the absolute last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden with this wrongheaded and unconstitutional plan.”

In conjunction with her speech, Hochul released a 276-page State of the State book, “Achieving the New York Dream.”

As for the book’s prose, it is an ad nauseum compendium of every leftwing proposal imaginable.

Hochul’s belief that her “Dream” formulas on housing, health care, the environment, public safety, education, et cetera, will make “New York safer [and] make New York more affordable” is ludicrous.

If implemented, I predict even more overtaxed New Yorkers will pack their bags and drive down to Florida.

As for the cost of these pie-in-the-sky programs, they are buried in Hochul’s record-breaking $227 billion proposed budget, which calls for higher taxes.

But more on the prose of Hochul’s State budget in my next column.