Yonkers agency considers taking Ravine Avenue property through eminent domain
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Property Rights
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| Wednesday 10 November 2010 10:00 AM

From LoHud.com

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YONKERS — The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency is considering forcibly buying a Ravine Avenue property from its owner to turn it over to an affordable housing developer.

The YIDA will hold a public hearing on Nov. 18 on 67 Ravine Ave., a property the agency may acquire through the state’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law.

Eminent domain allows a city to force an owner to sell private property for a public use, such as a park.

In this case, the YIDA argues that the public use will be the creation of approximately 64 units of affordable housing.

The $20 million, six-story building is proposed to be built at 47-75 Ravine Ave. by Ravine Rental Associates LLC, a partnership between the Yonkers-based CURE Development and the Larchmont-based L&M Development Partners.

CURE Development is finishing work on a 12-unit, $3 million development at 304 Warburton Ave., while L&M Development Partners is working on a $51 million, 170-unit building at 314-40 Riverdale Ave.

Both projects are affordable-housing developments.

The property at 67 Ravine Ave. is currently owned by the estate of Anthony Fraioli.

Rental apartments in the proposed complex would be restricted to households earning less than 60 percent of Westchester County’s median income, which in 2010 is $73,300 for a one-person household.

The YIDA’s public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall, 40 S.

Missing Bush? Why Republican Revisionism Won’t Sell
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Posted by admin | Columns
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| Wednesday 10 November 2010 8:30 AM

As America loudly repudiates the leftist agenda of President Barack Obama and his Congressional allies, a group of partisan GOP opportunists is busy promoting a theory of “Republican revisionism.”

What does this theory hold?

Namely, that the GOP wasn’t “all that bad” – and certainly not as bad as the socialist hordes who have ostensibly pushed America to the brink of financial ruin over the last year. In advancing this theory, the GOP is looking to recast itself as a party that can be trusted with your tax dollars – while simultaneously attempting to reframe the legacy of the President (and dozens of other GOP politicians) who couldn’t be trusted with your tax dollars.

This effort is most clearly visible in the GOP’s recent attempts to co-opt the Tea Party movement. It can also be seen within the opportunistic machinations of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been pushing a new “Contract with America” in spite of his obvious betrayal – and subsequent scuttling – of the original movement fifteen years ago.

The GOP’s new revisionist message was summed up in a billboard that appeared recently on Interstate 35 in Wyoming.

“Miss me yet?” a smiling picture of former President Bush asks passing motorists.

In a word? “No.”

What this theory of “Republican revisionism” lacks is even a tangential basis in fact. That’s because Republicans – at least prior to the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006 and a Democratic President in 2008 – were engaged in precisely the same policies they now spend all of their time railing against.

Honestly – why do you think they were booted out of power in the first place?

Republicans are no strangers to massive government overreaching.

For example, President Bush responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks by creating a huge new government bureaucracy, implementing an Orwellian domestic wiretapping capability and engaging our military in two costly foreign wars with no defined objectives and no exit strategy.

Meanwhile, he supported the unconstitutional suppression of free speech by signing so-called “campaign finance” reform, dramatically stifling the ability of the public to criticize incumbent politicians. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has since overturned several of McCain-Feingold’s most anti-First Amendment provisions.

Bush and his cronies loved pork barrel spending, too. In 2005 – over the strenuous objections of taxpayer advocates – he signed a massive $286 billion transportation bill that included 6,371 pet projects inserted by Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The bill was a pork-fest that dwarfed previous Democratic transportation boondoggles.

Why did a Republican President sign such a monstrosity?

“The president has to work with the Congress,” a Bush spokesman said at the time.

In case anyone forgot, Republicans controlled both the U.S. House and Senate in 2005.

Bush and his GOP allies also fought to create new entitlement spending – including a prescription drug benefit to Medicaid that has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. They federalized education with No Child Left Behind, although erasing the “soft bigotry of low expectations” has done nothing to bridge America’s achievement and innovation gap with the rest of the world.

Perhaps most revealing, for the vast majority of his administration, the “conservative” Bush kept his veto pen in his pocket – refusing to wield the one potent weapon (other than the bully pulpit) that could have been employed on behalf of American taxpayers.

As a result of Bush’s fiscal recklessness, budget surpluses turned into deficits and a $5.7 trillion national debt soared to $10 trillion. Also, Republicans are quick to forget that Bush is on the hook for a considerable portion of the unsustainable spending that is currently driving our debt even further into the stratosphere.

Indeed, Bush cemented his anti-free market legacy in late 2008 with the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and tens of billions of dollars worth of automotive bailouts – additional examples of his kneejerk tendency to resolve every crisis faced by the nation with an unprecedented expansion of government power and taxpayer debt.

Was Bush a better steward of your tax dollars than Obama?

Yes – but that’s the problem. Getting mugged worse the second time around doesn’t absolve the first thief of his culpability.

The simple, unavoidable truth is that Bush and his GOP allies were fiscal liberals, and no amount of “Republican revisionism” can erase that fact.

Turning a New Page on Education Policy
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, School Choice
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| Tuesday 9 November 2010 10:25 AM

From The Heritage Foundation

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The results of Tuesday’s election sent a clear message about the direction voters want the federal government to take. The recently released 2010 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll What Americans Said about the Public Schools is illustrative.

Whether it’s paying the bills, setting standards, deciding what should be taught, or holding schools accountable, Americans believe state government is the responsible agency for public education in the United States.

With a new batch of conservative leaders heading to Washington, the time is ripe to promote federalism in education, reduce spending, and empower parents with school choice. Incoming Members of Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio (R–FL) and Rand Paul (R–KY)—both of whom have vowed to limit the federal government’s role in education—will likely look toward more conservative solutions to reforming education.

Americans made it clear that they want their problems solved locally, not by a distant and expensive Washington bureaucracy. Education is no exception. If Congress decides to undertake a reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act next year, that will provide an opportunity to significantly reduce bureaucracy and put more power in the hands of local leaders and parents.

Jennifer Marshall, Director of Domestic Policy Studies at Heritage, pointed out on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal last week that Washington’s overreach into local education over the years has created “an accountability chain that is misdirected. So it politicizes the whole education project [and] directs everyone’s attention up to Washington, where it shouldn’t be. Because when that attention is taken off the local level, the student and the primary customers—the parents and taxpayers—it breaks down the whole incentive and accountability chain that once made American education great.” The bottom line is that solutions for local education will not be found in Washington.

As a new Congress comes to Washington:

First, expect efforts to rein in education spending. U.S. Department of Education funding has increased nearly fivefold in the 30 years since its creation, real per-pupil federal education expenditures have more than tripled since the 1960s, and the Obama Administration just inflated the DOE’s coffers by $100 billion through the “stimulus”—on top of the agency’s regular appropriations. As if that weren’t enough, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the entire House of Representatives back to Washington during their August recess to pass a $10 billion public education bailout.

But more spending is not the answer. Massive increases over decades have failed to improve student outcomes. With conservative leaders pledging to cut spending in Washington, watch for new consideration of proposals to grant states flexibility and the freedom to target resources to their most vital education needs.

Second, look for legislative efforts to restore federalism in education. The conservative alternative to No Child Left Behind—called the A-PLUS Act—will likely find more champions in the new Congress. The approach would allow a state to consolidate funding from among dozens of individual federal programs and spend it on state priorities in education. Allowing states freedom from federal red tape would likely produce more examples of policies that are successful in increasing academic achievement, like those seen in innovative states such as Florida.

Florida is narrowing the achievement gap in a way federal education policy has failed to do for decades. Public school choice, private school choice, charter schools, virtual education, performance pay, alternative teacher certification, grading schools on an A–F scale, and putting an end to social promotion are all part of the Florida reform package that has contributed to important gains for students in the Sunshine State.

Third, watch for renewed interest in the school choice solution. Congress can begin by restoring and expanding school choice options for children in the nation’s capital. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers of up to $7,500 for low-income children in the nation’s capital to attend a private school of their choice, has been a lifeline for local families. It has drawn strong support from current and new Members of Congress.

The election results could mean big opportunities for genuine education reform that cuts bureaucracy, better targets and reduces spending, and empowers parents.

D.C. School Choice Coalition Vows Aggressive Fight to Save Voucher Program after Congressional Gains
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, School Choice
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| Wednesday 3 November 2010 3:16 PM

From The Washington Business Wire

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WASHINGTON–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–Efforts to reauthorize the endangered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—the highly effective initiative that allows low-income D.C. schoolchildren to attend the schools of their parents’ choice—will intensify after yesterday’s historic election results, D.C. education activists promised today. The program was slated for elimination by President Obama and his Congressional allies last year.

With the Republican takeover in the House and a narrower margin between the parties in the Senate, the potential for saving the program has increased, according to D.C. Parents for School Choice, the leading advocacy organization promoting the program’s expansion and protection.

The program, which has allowed children from D.C.’s lowest-income families to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice, has benefited more than 3,500 children. According to studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, the OSP has dramatically increased student graduation rates and is one of the most effective federally-funded education efforts in history.

“Our representatives have the opportunity to right one of the most severe wrongs of the past two years—the elimination of the OSP” said Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice. “The time has come for our new Congress to send a clear message to D.C. parents—that their needs will no longer fall on deaf ears in the highest corridors of power.”

In fact, Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio), who will likely be elected by his colleagues as the next Speaker of the House, is the primary House sponsor of the bill to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, which has received support by a significant majority of D.C. residents and by a majority of the D.C. City Council, has been backed by a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate, with supporters including primary sponsor Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida). The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) was also a Democratic supporter.

“All Democrats need to take a new look at this program and see that it should not only be saved, but strengthened,” said former D.C. Councilman Kevin P. Chavous, chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). “If our goal as Democrats is to advance the key social justice arguments of our time, we cannot ignore the plight of low-income children in the District of Columbia. All Democrats should join their courageous colleagues in the Senate and embrace this program.”

D.C. Parents for School Choice said that it would be mailing packets of information about the OSP to newly-elected Members of Congress and Senators this week.

Once Again, City Voters Approve Term Limits
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Wednesday 3 November 2010 12:23 PM

From The New York Times

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New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly to limit politicians to two consecutive terms on Tuesday, undoing a highly contentious change to the law pushed through by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
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two years ago.

It was the third time since 1993 that city voters endorsed the notion of two four-year terms and no more for the mayor and other elected city officials.

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, 74 percent of city voters supported a two-term limit, while 26 percent opposed it.

The vote was a repudiation of the tactics used in 2008 by Mr. Bloomberg and his allies in the City Council

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, who supported a bill
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to allow three terms despite criticism that they had usurped the democratic process.

But much of the frustration of two years ago has cooled, and the vote on Tuesday, overshadowed by a contest for governor and make-or-break Congressional races, seemed more an act of quiet rebellion than a scathing rebuke.

Still, voters said they were pleased to have the opportunity to finally weigh in on the matter, though two years later.

“The way it was slammed through was rather distasteful and disingenuous,” said Gianni Sellers, 54, a banker who lives on the Upper West Side. “The voters have spoken on this before. I hope we don’t have to do it again.”

New Yorkers voted in support of a two-term limit in 1993 and in 1996, riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment nationwide epitomized by the slogan “throw the bums out.”

The measure approved on Tuesday was devised to prevent a repeat of the backroom politicking in 2008. Council members will be prohibited from making changes to term-limits laws that affect their own political careers.

But incumbents will be offered some consolation

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: if they were elected before Tuesday, they will still be allowed to run for a third term. The two-term limit will only apply to those elected this year and beyond.

That will delay putting the law fully into effect until 2021, when the newest class of city politicians, those elected in 2009, has the opportunity to finish a third four-year term.

Opponents of the two-term limit said it would make government less effective by disposing with leaders as soon as they had gained the experience to govern efficiently.

“With two terms, they have to split their time between minding the store and running for their next office,” said Ruth E. Acker, president of the Women’s City Club of New York, a civic organization. “They’re inclined to favor things that win them Brownie points in the short term.”

Supporters of term limits seized on the anti-establishment fervor that swept through much of the country. Ronald S. Lauder

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, the billionaire cosmetics heir, financed advertisements comparing politicians to dirty diapers
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in need of a change.

Even Mr. Bloomberg, who believed so zealously in a third term that he was willing to sacrifice some popularity, said he would vote in favor of a two-term limit.

“I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all,” he said Tuesday. “The public clearly wants to go back to two terms.”

Some feared the term-limits question would be ignored

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because it was placed on the back of the ballot and formatted in small print. Poll workers made special efforts to point out the referendum questions, but some voters still found the format confusing.

Gloria Hines, 54, a retired postal worker, smiled as she walked out of a poll site in Harlem with her husband, Denny. Then she realized neither of them had filled out the referendum questions.

“I forgot all about it,” Ms. Hines said, her good mood having faded. “Why would they put it on the back?”

In addition to the term-limits question, voters supported, by a vote of 83 percent to 17 percent, a second referendum item that called for several changes to city law, with 87 percent of precincts reporting.

The changes include reducing the number of signatures required to get on the ballot, requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by independent groups and raising the maximum fine for violating conflicts of interest law.

J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

Other term limits news across the country:


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‘Limited’ uprising
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Posted by admin | Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Tuesday 2 November 2010 3:43 PM

From The New York Post

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Written by Michael Goodwin

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Across the land, the cry is heard: Throw the bums out! The people are prepared to do exactly that on Tuesday, but there’s a catch. There’s little to stop today’s insurgent from becoming tomorrow’s bum.

Or, as a pessimist once said, many reformers take office to do good and stay to do well.

Take heart, optimists, for there is an antidote to the corrupting disease of permanent poweritis. Term limits. They are a blunt instrument and they work.

They do it by forcing the turnover that the power of incumbency too often thwarts. By using gerrymandering, earmarks, favors for contributors and election laws to thwart challengers, too many incumbents get comfortable in office and make keeping it their mission.

Public service then become private service, which helps to explain how so many lifetime pols leave office filthy rich — emphasis on filthy.

Power corrupts, so prevention is the best medicine.

Presidents are limited to two terms by the Constituion’s 22nd Amendment, passed in 1951, to stop another FDR, who shattered the tradition of two terms by winning four.

Legal limits are popular in the states — about 35 have restrictions on governors and 15 have them on lawmakers. But members of Congress are free to serve as long as voters let them. That’s because the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot set limits for federal officers, meaning Congress would have to do it itself.

That’s not going to happen without overwhelming public demand and persistence. The 1994 Republican takeover of Congress included a pledge on term limits, but various bills all failed to get the required two-thirds majority.

But now, with the spirit of revolution sweeping America, the time and mood are right for congressional limits. The idea was popular among many of the founders, and it is returning as part of the public revolt against the growth and cost of government.

A recent Fox News poll found that 78 percent of Americans want term limits for Congress. Support was dramatic across the spectrum, with 84 percent of Republicans, and 74 percent of both Democrats and independents in favor.

New York City voters are in a position to help lead the movement. A ballot question on Tuesday gives voters the chance to limit elected city officials to two consecutive four-year terms.

That was the rule until last year, when Mayor Bloomberg convinced a pliant and greedy City Council to add a third term to the limits. Public anger over the end run around the referendums that established the limits did not stop Bloomberg’s re-election, and most council members also survived the backlash.

But the issue is back again, and Bloomberg promises he will vote for it. The only rub is that the change would allow anyone already in office to run for a third term.

That’s a small price to pay for this important measure, which is on the back of the ballot. It’s worth the effort to find it and vote “yes.”

Who knows? This could be the first shot heard round the nation and start a new push to prevent today’s reformers from becoming tomorrow’s bums.

Dems win the ‘race’ for irony

To appreciate the “holy s#!t” reaction to Bill Clinton’s bid to get a black candidate to quit the Florida Senate campaign, it helps to understand his cold race-and-ethnic calculation. Indeed, Clinton’s effort illustrates the stereotyping behind all group-identity politics, at which the Democratic Party is the master.

With the first black president now in the White House, Clinton has lost that honorary title and been demoted to doing the dirty work of dividing the racial pie. That meant telling black Rep. Kendrick Meek that he should get out of the Senate race so Dems could unite behind former Republican, and now independent, candidate Gov. Charlie Crist.

The aim of the 11th-hour maneuver wasn’t to boost Crist, who is white; it was to stop Marco Rubio, the GOP candidate who was cruising to victory in the three-way race.

Rubio is not just any Republican. He is Cuban-American, a charismatic rising star and, as a US senator, could be a national magnet for Latinos to vote Republican. That was the red flag that sent the White House and Clinton into action.

Their fear is that Rubio could break the Dem hold on Latinos, and might undo their pandering to illegal-immigration groups. After all, Rubio wants to secure the border and reduce government spending.

Can’t have that, so Meek was set up as the sacrificial lamb. Dems thought they could get away with strong-arming him because of Clinton’s standing among blacks, and because Barack Obama is in the White House. Nobody could accuse them of being anti-black.

True. But they are something else that is also reprehensible. They are slavish group-thinkers.

That’s the Dem way. You’re not you. You’re a member of a racial, ethnic or gender group and you are expected to behave in prescribed “authentic” ways, including buying into group-based appeals.

Fortunately, Meek said no deal. Good for him, and good for America. In some quarters, it’s still the land of individual opportunity.

Bold prince among peers

From Arabia, with wisdom. A billionaire Saudi prince who has supported the imam behind the Ground Zero mosque is joining opponents in calling for the mosque to move.

“People behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York,” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal told a Dubai magazine. “The wound is still there. We can’t just say, ‘Go to hell.’ ”

But “Go to hell” is pretty much what imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is saying, even after the prince’s sound advice.

Still, the door to compromise is now open. Alwaleed, who owns large chunks of Citibank and the Post’s parent company, News Corp., is a heavyweight in world Islamic affairs. His words could embolden other Muslims to break ranks with Rauf over the provocative location.

Pray it is so.

It’s ‘go time’ Charlie

With a GOP takeover of the House, Harlem voters have another reason to dump Charlie Rangel. The don of the New York congressional delegation will have far less clout under Republican control.

Voters shouldn’t need an excuse. Rangel’s name is synonymous with scandal, and his sense of entitlement in avoiding tax and ethical rules is a big strike against all incumbent Democrats.

Fortunately, a solid alternative is on the ballot. His name is Michel Faulkner, a Harlem pastor active in education, youth programs and police-community relations for nearly 20 years.

Faulkner is that rare bird — a black New York Republican. His time has come, if only voters will give him a chance.

Spitzing distance

A state official who knows Eliot Spitzer too well offers a scathing review of his CNN show. “Don’t he and Kathleen Parker sit uncomfortably close? I keep waiting for them to wheel him out strapped to a gurney wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask like in ‘Silence of the Lambs.’

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