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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
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Spring Arrives in Rye

After a spate of bad weather, spring arrived in Rye in full force Saturday with 75 degree sunny weather.

(PHOTO: Kayakers take to the Milton Harbor on the Long Island Sound. The historic Wainwright House is in the background. Photo taken on Saturday, March 20, 2010.)

Spring Kayakers 03-21-2010 057

19 COMMENTS

  1. Not only was it hot outside, but one look at this weekend’s Rye Sound Shore Review and readers can see that the heat is up in City Hall concerning the legal department. It’s about time and the bipartisan constructive tone of the recommendations is refreshing. Imagine what an outside consultant would have billed taxpayers for this kind of heavy lifting.

  2. Not that you would know anything about constructive, Ted. You spend your days tilting at windmills imagining that Steve Otis and Kevin Plunkett are the cause of all your problems.
    They have moved on, Ted.
    Steve has an incredibly demanding full time job as Counsel to the Education Committee in the NY State Senate and Kevin Plunkett is Westchester County’s Deputy County Executive.
    They both have a lot on their plates and I’m sure they are not reading your unrelenting vitriole but you can’t seem to stop.
    In the course of your tirades against, well, everything, you further endear yourself to the thinking women of Rye by accusing me of not writing my own copy or stating my own opinions when I challenge you. Yet you have no problem with the multiple anonymous sock puppets with whom you align yourself. The fact that they can’t express a coherent thought in simple English goes unnoticed by you – provided they join you in bashing whomever you are bashing. They are male and that’s the only qualification necessary to join your tiny little club.
    Again Ted, before you start with your tired refrain of “twist lie distort – truth will come out – black helicopters – grassy knoll – illuminati – outsiders – Steve Otis wrote it – blah blah blah”
    you need to consider the wisdom of making repeated references to the cost to taxpayers for legal battles.
    We taxpayers in Rye had to pay tens of thousands of dollars when you sued us BECAUSE YOU DIDNT WANT TO PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE OF PROPERTY TAXES ON THE LAND YOU INHERITED FROM DADDY.
    You lost in court more than once because the courts found your arguments ridiculous – and now every word you’ve written on this blog since then, every word, is tainted by the fact that you lost.
    Steve Otis has moved on, Kevin Plunkett has moved on. You OWN your problems now. You’d be well served if you stopped wasting bandwidth attacking them on this blog.
    Too many of the remarks on this blog are as disgusting as they are dishonest. I’ve lived elsewhere ( that makes me an “outsider” to you, I know ) and I can state with certainty that we all could do a lot worse than the people who have served in our local government and on the school board since I’ve moved here.
    Dissent is patriotic, true, but mindless ugly bashing benefits none of us. You’ve crossed that line too often and no one calls you on it. It’s wrong, Ted.

  3. “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt… And if we feel their power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the happiest situation in which we can exist. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”

    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, June 4, 1798.

  4. Does the newly elected Rye City School Board have the actual authority to negotiate with our local teachers over a contract? Not if our very own State Senator has anything to say about it.

    New York Post – Monday March 29, 2010

    PROPERTY TAX CRUSH – MADE IN ALBANY

    The good news for taxpayers in most of New York is that you can lower your property taxes this year by voting “no” on your local school budget. The bad news is that your state legislators are trying hard to change the law — to fix it so you can’t.

    By a vote of 56-2, the state Senate recently passed a bill obscenely misnamed the Education Mandate Relief Act, sponsored by SEN. SUZI OPPENHEIMER. The bill would “mandate” a 3 percent rise in spending by school districts whose voters reject the budget at the ballot box.

    The measure was on a fast track through the Assembly until The Post got wind of it. Thank God for the Fourth Estate.

    When voters reject a school district’s proposed budget, state law allows the district to operate under a “contingency” budget of its previous budget plus 120 percent of the prior year’s inflation rate. But last year’s CPI was slightly negative — so voters can actually lower their school-property-tax bills by nixing the budget.

    That is, a “no” vote could actually mean something.

    Of course, districts would feel squeezed — the state is cutting back on its aid to schools, and most districts have locked themselves in to hiking teacher pay by 6 percent or so a year while providing much better health-care and retirement benefits than most taxpayers can dream of.

    So, rather than risk districts’ actually trying to get tough with the teacher unions, state lawmakers tried to sneak through a change in the “contingency budget” law so that the default increase would be 3 percent, rather than zero.

    That is, senators already voted to put teacher-union interests ahead of the taxpayers. The Assembly would have followed — had The Post not exposed the threat.

    School spending in New York is out of control — and so are the property taxes that fund it. More than a decade of efforts to cap these taxes has led nowhere.

    On Long Island, we pay $25,000 on average per student — while taxpaying homeowners and businesses struggle just to survive. One superintendent told me confidentially that funding could be cut by 30 percent in many districts without harming the quality of instruction. Recent scandals confirm that — the Roslyn district, for example, saw $12 million vanish without its being missed.

    The whole “contingency budget” system was the result of the Legislature’s (at the behest of the teacher unions) taking the teeth out of a property-tax cap that then-Gov. George Pataki proposed in 1996 as part of his STAR program, which was intended to provide relief from school-property taxes. Pataki had proposed a cap on school taxes; lawmakers turned that into an ineffective cap on school spending.

    How ineffective? In the years since, voters who rejected a proposed school budget often found that the “austerity” budget that automatically replaced it actually led to an even greater tax increase.

    More recent efforts to cap property taxes have either been bottled up in the state Assembly (the Suozzi Commission recommendations) or watered down to meaninglessness (Gov. Paterson’s 2009 plan, as well as another he released last week).

    Every member of the Legislature is up for re-election this fall. Each of them should be challenged on this issue — and those who refuse to commit to a genuine cap should have opponents. Why not vote in some ordinary citizen willing to step up and take a shot? Don’t worry too much about qualifications — the bar is set pretty low right now.

    Lawmakers won’t stop favoring the public-employee unions over the taxpayers until the voters make them pay a price for it. They need to fear us more than the masters they now obey.

    Andrea Vecchio is a board member of Long Islanders for Educational Reform.

  5. I don’t think Senator Oppenheimer is trying to take away the authority of our school board to negotiate a contract with our teachers.
    I may be mistaken but I follow school board issues fairly closely and this is the first I’ve heard of this.
    It’s important to note that Senator Oppenheimer is the Chairperson of the Senate Education Committee, to which our former Mayor Steve Otis is Counsel, so the source of the criticism of the Senator should be considered carefully.
    That being said, rather than address this issue myself, I will repost, with the writer’s permission, a piece from the Huffington Post. The writer, David A. Singer, is a current school board member in a neighboring district qualifying him to speak to the Post’s editorial.

    Albany Takes NYS Public School Education With a Grain of Salt

    The cacophony over what to do about public school education and when to do it and how to do it… is deafening. The disconnects have run absolutely wild.

    In Washington, President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan propose changes to No Child Left behind, some good some bad; National educational standards are proposed; Diane Ravitch (the former spouse of NY’s Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch), once a major champion of choice and accountability, recants; business and thought leaders such as Bill Gates bemoan the quality of education in the US and the quality of output; and California pink slips 36,000 teachers; school budgets across the country are decimated; the charter school fight rages on and on in New York siphoning scarce tax dollars to create select public school enclaves that are free to ignore the state mandates and labor rules by which the rest of the public school system must abide. Teacher bashing ensues unabated on editorial pages and in Newsweek. In New York if the Governor’s and New York State Senate’s proposed budget is approved, over 15,000 teachers are slated to be laid off statewide — with no plan or regard as to what impact that will have in the classroom. Many school budgets being devised by school boards and administrators throughout New York State appear by and large to be coming in at or below 2% over the previous years’ budgets. Given the cost drivers school districts must deal with, that’s pretty damn good. There is plenty to argue about regarding what ails our educational system — in New York, much of the blame lies in Albany — and the legislature’s symbiotic relationship with those who first and foremost put the blind protection of public employees over students.

    Yet even in our own dysfunctional New York State, a rare bit of thoughtfulness and sanity is peeking through, courtesy of a 25 year veteran of the New York State Senate, Suzi Oppenheimer. It’s taken her the better part of a year, but Sen. Oppenheimer is beginning to grow into her role as Chairperson of the Senate Education Committee. Just last week Sen. Oppenheimer sponsored and the senate actually passed legislation to begin to peel back the rampant growth of unfunded mandates on school districts. To be frank, the legislation barely scratches the surface of the need to eliminate reams of existing mandates on school districts. Mandates are among the primary cost drivers that have caused explosive growth in property taxes. The Mandate Relief bill prohibits the legislature from imposing future unfunded mandates on school districts after the start of a school year. This is woefully inadequate — but like the national health reform legislation – at least it’s a start.

    Yet the Mandate Relief bill will likely die in the State Assembly. The reason? A series of laughably ignorant editorials eviscerating a small portion of the bill — a part of which would have school district contingency budget CPI cap formulations be based on a 5-year rolling average vs. whatever it is year to year: http://bit.ly/ad6Mj8; http://bit.ly/chgLk9. These editorials — blind diatribes without context — have rocked the Assembly sponsor, Amy Paulin to back off. Remember, in New York, the school tax is the only tax New Yorkers actually get to vote on each year (outside of big cities). If the school budget vote fails, then school districts are mandated to adopt a budget that is no higher than the prior year’s budget plus the lesser of 4% or the CPI. This year the CPI was less than zero — so school districts whose budgets that are defeated at the polls will be faced with budgets with zero increases — and in the wonderful world of public school mandates and contractual obligations, heads will roll and students will get screwed.

    The rolling average proposal makes sense. Most federal, state and local government accounting use multi-year averages to manage their budgets. And yes, this year such a computation would mitigate catastrophic school budget cuts. But most districts are aiming at or below 2% anyway — unlike many towns, villages and counties which are hoisting double-digit increases on the taxpayer without the need for a separate vote. In future years when the CPI will skyrocket due to hyper-inflation — this rolling average will serve to tamp down the inflationary increases that are sure to come. This is nothing more or less than a proposal for sound budgetary management — and giving school districts, which always have to operate with one hand (or two plus a foot) tied behind their backs some ability to implement sound budget planning.

    But in Albany it looks like nothing will change, mandates will run amok, employee entitlements will be untouched, legislators will run for cover in what is likely to be an anti-incumbent election year, and…oh yeah, kids still need to be educated so they can race to the top. You would think a crisis would finally knock some sense and responsibility into our legislators. But no. Exhibit A: While Rome burns, Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduces legislation to ban the use of salt in restaurants — no joke.

  6. I will probably continue to be naive about many things throughout my life, but one of those topics will not be Suzi Oppenheimer. She positions herself as a friend of education and yet, despite all the rhetoric about the Suozzi commission and the property tax cap including Suzi opposing it, she recently voted ALONG WITH 58 other NYS SENATORS to change the law so that default is a property tax cap and to increase the budget approval vote percentage to 55% to exceed the cap.

    http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20100319/news/3190319/N.Y.-Senate-passes-property-tax-relief-plan

    Thanks, Suzi. You’ve shown your real colors on this one.

  7. Well Bob, apparently there are more than a few NY voters who now believe enough is enough…

    New York Post – April 2, 2010

    POLL: NYERS WANT INCUMBENTS OUT

    ALBANY – Could this be the year when New Yorkers finally throw the bums out?

    Seven-in-10 voters think the Empire State would be better off if most incumbent legislators were booted from Albany in November’s statewide elections, according to a survey released today by Rasmussen Reports.

    The anti-incumbency fervor was stronger among men and independents, who favored an old-fashioned house cleaning in the Democratic-controlled government by 80 percent and 89 percent, respectively.

    Some 82 percent of Republicans favored a shake up compared to 52 percent of Democrats, the survey found. About 61 percent of Women agreed.

    The poll also showed the public puts blame for the state’s fiscal meltdown – culminating this week in another late budget – squarely on the shoulders of state lawmakers. Some 56 percent blame the Legislature for the budget calamity while nine percent say it’s the governor’s fault.
    Another 28 percent trace the state’s budget woes to nation’s broader economic problems.

    The picture was less bleak – but hardly comforting for incumbents – when Rasmussen asked voters to cast judgment on the own local legislators. Some 49 percent said their own representative didn’t deserve to win in November, compared to 22 percent who supported their incumbents.

    That number jumps up among independents. Some 64-percent of unaffiliated voters want to toss their current legislator.

    The survey of 500 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

  8. Ok Guys, we all got the part about “throw the bums out”. Julie Killian and I are working toward that goal – most recently with a party she and Gary gave at their home here in Rye for New Yorkers for Growth – a PAC dedicated toward lower taxes and fiscal conservatism.
    Although Rye’s County Executive attended and a number of other candidates who will be on the ballot here in Rye – Jay didn’t think the story was “Rye” enough — unlike , say, the color of the siding on his house — so the event was not reported on here on My Rye.
    We have very little interest in local politics here in Rye, I guess, but shingles…Now that’s a STORY!
    Next time I’ll skip the details about the 60 or so Rye residents from across the political spectrum who came out to hear John Faso ( former candidate for governor and comptroller), Harry Wilson ( candidate for NYS comptroller 2010 ), Rob Astorino and others – and instead I’ll focus on Julie and Gary’s addition.

    Anyway, back to throwing those bums out…Bob, that bill to which you refer was voted on by 58 of 60 senators from both parties – as I pointed out at the school board meeting the other night.
    I believe it was part of a larger bill which was mostly a good thing – like tax relief for seniors or something like that.
    Let me check on that and I’ll get back to you.
    You know, Bob, that I’m first in line to criticize Albany when the opportunity presents itself, but I believe there’s more to this story.
    The schools are SO MUCH better off under Oppenheimer than they were under Saland that I’m pre- disposed to giving her a grace period and “schooling” her when necessary till she gets it right.
    As for you, Ted, I find it hard to believe that you are on Bob’s side on this one. Are you saying you are NOT IN FAVOR of a property tax cap? Your beloved New York Post certainly is.
    Bob is saying it’s a bad thing and pointing the finger at Oppenheimer. So did Oppenheimer do the right thing here or not?
    HMMMM?
    We’re celebrating the miracle of Jesus’ rising from the dead – so maybe Ted will agree with me here – nothing’s impossible, right?

  9. Bob- is it true the BOE just voted the other night to add crew and squash to the budget to the tune of $80,000 + by a 6-1 vote? Please tell me you were the one sane member of our insane BOE that voted no! The BOE is looking to cut library aides who service hundreds of students each day to add these ELITEST teams!!! What’s next fencing. The last time I checked, we are a public school, not some prep school in New England. Please Bob say it isn’t so. Was this part of the original budget proposal? Please Bob say it isn’t so. How can the BOE ask the tax payers to support this when we cant even get our school employees, except the administrators, a new contract. We are becoming a laughing stock. Bob say it isn’t so.

  10. WHAT? No covert STATE MANDATED 3 percent school tax increase this year? What happened Senator Oppenheimer? You apparently know best what’s good for Rye City – what happened to your support of your very own Albany mandated school property tax cram down?

    NY Post – Friday April 9, 2010

    TAX HIKERS, BEWARE.

    Some people are just slow on the up take — like the trio of suburban and upstate legislators who this week endorsed steep new tax hikes to plug Albany’s budget hole.

    Are they deaf? Or nuts?

    Surely, Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Albany) and Assemblywomen Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca) and Aileen Gunther (D-Sullivan) realize that New Yorkers’ anger over their staggering tax burden has reached critical mass.

    This was obvious last November, when Westchester and Nassau voters tossed out entrenched county executives.

    Even some Albany pols — not typically the quickest of wits — are waking up.

    Case in point: Long Island Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson, who yesterday endorsed with gusto Gov. Paterson’s suspension of pay raises for unionized public employees.

    When last heard from, of course, Johnson was pushing a covert scheme to squeeze sharp property-tax hikes out of his suburban constituents.

    The bill, which passed the Senate by a 56-2 vote last month, was camouflaged as “mandate relief” — but its point was to allow local school districts to impose budgets with big spending hikes by fiat, even after voters reject them.

    Johnson did a swift turnabout after this page blew the whistle on his scheme, introducing another bill specifically proscribing the tax hike.

    His co-conspirators?

    The bill’s Assembly sponsor, Westchester’s Amy Paulin, hopped off the bill when we focused the spotlight on her. As did Johnson’s Senate co-sponsor, SUZI OPPENHEIMER (also of Westchester).

    How quickly they learn — when their political skins are on the line.

    So what’s up with ne’er-do-wells Breslin, Lifton and Gunter?

  11. Jimmy,
    Tuesday night, the 13th (not a Friday), the BoE will do its final edits to the ’10-’11 budget for submission to the electorate for approval / rejection in mid-May. If you have a strong feeling about some aspect of the budget, I encourage you to come to the meeting and speak up. At the last meeting, some spoke in favor of funding for Crew and Squash. Others spoke in favor of increased facilities and technology spending. There was limited representation of a reduce spending point of view.

  12. Governor Cuomo, Rye Elected Officials – here’s a look ahead…

    “Reaganism, New Jersey Style – WSJ April 13, 2010”

    If you think that Snooki getting socked in the kisser during an episode of “Jersey Shore” epitomizes life in the Garden State, you haven’t been paying attention. The best reality show on television today isn’t running on MTV. It’s in Trenton, where Gov. Chris Christie is offering the voters a dose of Reagan Republicanism—with a Jersey twist.

    When he was elected back in November, Mr. Christie’s victory was thought to augur growing disenchantment with Barack Obama. For the former federal prosecutor, however, his victory was primarily about local disenchantment with New Jersey’s overtaxed economy and spendthrift government. Now he is in the thick of what will probably be the defining moment of his governorship: the attempt to enshrine his vision for the future in the state budget.

    Budgets are serious business, but it’s been a long time since anyone in New Jersey has been serious about the budget. This year, gross mismanagement and accumulated fictions have left state taxpayers a $10.7 billion gap on a total state budget of $29.3 billion. Mr. Christie’s answer is simple: “a smaller government that lives within its means.”

    However quaint that may sound, when you have to cut nearly $11 billion in state spending to get there, you are going to get a lot of yelling and screaming. Most comes from the New Jersey Education Association, hollering that “the children” will be hurt by Mr. Christie’s proposals for teachers to accept a one-year wage freeze and begin contributing something toward their health plans. What makes the battle interesting is the way Mr. Christie is throwing the old chestnuts back at his critics.

    Here are a few examples, culled from his budget address, public meetings and radio appearances:

    The children will be the ones to suffer from your education cuts.

    “The real question is, who’s for the kids, and who’s for their raises? This isn’t about the kids. Let’s dispense with that portion of the argument. Don’t let them tell you that ever again while they are reaching into your pockets.”

    Your policies favor the rich.

    “We have the worst unemployment in the region and the highest taxes in America, and that’s no coincidence.”

    Why not renew the ‘millionaire’s tax’?

    “The top 1% of taxpayers in New Jersey pay 40% of the income tax. In addition, we’ve got a situation where that tax applies to small businesses. I’m simply not going to put my foot on the back of the neck of small business while I want them to try to grow jobs by giving more revenue to New Jersey.”

    Budget cuts are unfair.

    “The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word—which, coincidentally, is my 9-year-old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—’unfair.’ . . . One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life, and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits—a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?”

    State budget cuts only shift the pain to our towns.

    “[L]et’s remember this, in 2009 the private sector in New Jersey lost 121,000 jobs. In 2009, municipalities and school boards added 11,300 jobs. Now that’s just outrageous. And they’re going to have to start to lay some people off, not continue to hire at the pace they hired in 2009 in the middle of a recession.”

    Isn’t your talk of ‘stopping the tax madness’ just another ‘Read My Lips’ promise?

    “[Mine is] much better than ‘Read my lips.’ I’m sorry, it’s just much better. Much stronger. . . . It’s gonna be how my governorship will rise or fall. I’m not signing a tax increase.”

    In some ways, Mr. Christie can speak bluntly precisely because the state is such a mess. Indeed, that’s one reason he won election in a blue state. The challenge remains daunting: No governor has yet succeeded in turning around a state as overtaxed and overspent as New Jersey.

    Indiana under Gov. Mitch Daniels probably comes closest, but Indiana was not nearly as bad as New Jersey.

    If he is to survive the headlines about budget cuts and pull New Jersey back to prosperity, Mr. Christie knows he needs to put the hard choices before the state’s citizens, and to speak to them as adults. He’s doing just that. One reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger summed up Mr. Christie’s rhetoric this way: “[F]inally we have a governor who is as teed off as the rest of us at how government spending and taxes have skyrocketed over the past decade.”

    It’s far too early to declare Mr. Christie’s Jersey-style Reaganism a success. But it’s the one reality show truly worth watching.

  13. Bobby-cut, cut, cut, but add a crew and squash team? Brag about having the lowest tax rates in westchester then the boe sneaks in this? Where is the funding going to come from for these new teams? Can it be coming from the surplus in the general fund? How large is it now? Who pushed this through, we have a right to know? I know it couldn’t have been you.

  14. JimInRye – Have you seen the Board meeting or are you posting your snarky remarks based on hearsay and the press? Your “right to know” is easily addressed by either attending board meetings or watching them online / on cable TV.

    The “Who” are 6 of 7 Board members who voted for the budget and expressed little interest in reducing spending in obvious areas other than converting a .4FTE for athletics to $7k extra pay-extra work poition.

    The “From Where” is, for the new budget – should it be approved by the community – from your and my NYS senator, Suzi Oppenheimer who provided the district with a $100k one-time grant that has been used to do two things
    1. Partially fund the Crew / Squash “clubs
    2. Increase tech funding by about $30k to support the purchase of additional smart boards.

    The “surplus” in the general fund is presently forecast to be negative because of the payment of tax cert claims.

  15. Mr. Z- I am still in shock! “…if a building blows up we will find the money!” The Osborn Mum was asking a question about a potential budget shortfall in the unlikely event that the contract is settled with the teachers. this sarcastic example was in poor taste, very poor taste, especially in our community.

    Mr Me, I did watch the boe meeting and the above exchanged sickened me. it appears roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes in.

  16. Will they listen – in Washington – or Albany? My bet is no.

    HOW THE DEMOCRATS CAN AVOID A NOVEMBER BLOODBATH

    By Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell

    Friday, April 16, 2010 – The Washington Post

    Media reports suggest that President Obama is turning his attention toward the midterm congressional elections. There are a few things it is imperative he understand if he is to, at the least, minimize Democratic losses in November.

    We are Democratic pollsters who argued against the health-care legislation [“Democrats’ blind ambition,” Washington Forum, March 12] that the Obama administration chose to pursue. Instead, we advocated incremental health-care reform. With the passage of health reform, some harsh political realities have emerged.

    Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill — up from 54 percent two weeks earlier.

    Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means. Already we are seeing the implications play out with the retirement of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — who had effectively become the face of the last-minute, closed-door negotiations that resulted in passage.

    Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care.
    In fact, Monday’s Gallup report showed the president’s weekly job approval rating at a low of 47 percent. And as the Democratic Party’s favorability has dropped to 41 percent — the lowest in Gallup’s 18-year history of measuring it — this week’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows the Republican Party with a nine-point lead in the generic congressional vote.

    Moreover, independents, who are more energized than Democrats, are leaning Republican by a 2-to-1 margin.

    What all this means is that Republicans are ripe to pick up major gains in both chambers this November.

    To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate.

    To be sure, great efforts have been made recently to demonize the Tea Party movement. But polling suggests that the Tea Party movement has not been diminished but, in fact, has grown stronger. The Winston Group found, in three national surveys conducted from December through February and published April 1, that the Tea Party movement is composed of a broad cross-section of the American people — 40 to 50 percent of its supporters are non-Republicans. Indeed, one-third of self-identified Democrats say they support the Tea Party movement.

    The electorate’s dissatisfaction with the established political order has led the Tea Party movement to become as potent a force as any U.S. political party.

    Last week, a Rasmussen Reports survey showed that overall more Americans say that they agree with the Tea Party movement on major issues than with the president of the United States — 48 percent with the Tea Party and 44 percent with Obama. Among independents, 50 percent said that they’re closer to the Tea Party, while only 38 percent are with Obama.

    Moreover, the most recent Gallup poll shows that the Tea Party movement is at least as popular as the Democratic Party. And the Tea Party movement stands for fiscal discipline, limited government and balancing the budget — an agenda that has broad public support extending well beyond the movement. Polling conducted by one of us (Schoen) found that 55 percent of respondents endorse that agenda. More important, a solid majority of swing voters endorse it.

    The swing voters, who are key to the fate of the Democratic Party, care most about three things: reigniting the economy, reducing the deficit and creating jobs.

    These voters are outraged by the seeming indifference of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, who they believe wasted a year on health-care reform. These voters will not tolerate more diversion from their pressing economic concerns. They view the Obama administration as working systematically to protect the interests of public-sector employees and organized labor — by offering specific benefits such as pension protection and tax reductions at the expense of all taxpayers.

    Democrats must understand that voters will not accept seeing their tax dollars used to pay for higher wages and better benefits for public-sector employees when they themselves are getting higher taxes and lower wages.
    Winning over swing voters will require a bold, new focus from the president and his party. They must adopt an agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts, while implementing carefully crafted initiatives to stimulate and encourage job creation. This is the agenda that largely motivated the Clinton administration from 1995 through 2000 and that led to a balanced budget and welfare reform. It promoted a modest degree of social welfare spending. This agenda is enormously popular with the electorate and could eventually turn around Democratic fortunes.

    Democrats can avoid the electoral bloodbath we predicted before passage of the health-care bill, but in one way: through a bold commitment to fiscal discipline and targeted fiscal stimulus of the private sector and entrepreneurship.

    Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster, is the author of “The Political Fix.” Patrick H. Caddell is a political commentator and a pollster.

  17. Fans of Suzi Oppenheimer and absurdly even higher state taxes take heart!

    Yesterday our senator joined the tiny minority in senate opposition to modestly expand charter schools!

    This was essentially a recovery move to try and recapture the $700M of Federal funding that New York just whiffed on because of its “flawed” educational policies.

    Here’s a story on it with a quote from Ms. Oppenheimer –

    http://gothamschools.org/2010/05/03/charter-cap-lift-passes-senate-union-says-its-a-one-house-bill/

    And here is some apparently enlightened commentary from below the article –

    “Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck): call your office. 90 percent of the provisions in your own bill (S.6925) are contained in this bill, including a uniform charter application, new conflict of interest provisions, public notice and open meetings for all charter school student admission lotteries, and authorizing BOCES to contract with charter schools to serve more special needs students. You voted against it anyway.”

    Some claim Oppenheimer is ‘pocket change’ for the teachers union and has been for many years. Given the above, and her previously sponsored back door tax increase bill that literally blew up in her face a month ago, is it fair to ask whether she represents “the children” as she always always says?

  18. Overnight survey of New Yorkers out this morning –

    How best to reduce the state budget deficit –

    15 percent say raising state taxes is the better way.

    74 percent say cutting state spending is the better choice.

    http://bit.ly/90rNKY

  19. A real political bombshell story broke today in The Daily Caller about the journalistic “elite” and their no longer “imaginary efforts” to shape 2008 national election coverage. While much was written about how independence and impartiality in has media died, here at last are specific names beginning to be named.

    And I’m posting this for local consideration because starting next month, Rye voters are going to be bombarded with every manner of political advertising distraction designed to keep ineffective, addled and disingenuous NY State politicians in their Albany chairs.

    Here’s an excerpt on how this 2008 game was played nationally – from the words of national publication journalists on their (formerly) private chat site called “Journolist.”

    “If the right forces us all to either defend (Reverend) Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”

    Read more: http://bit.ly/9BOBcj

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After a spate of bad weather, spring arrived in Rye in full force Saturday with 75 degree sunny weather.

(PHOTO: Kayakers take to the Milton Harbor on the Long Island Sound. The historic Wainwright House is in the background. Photo taken on Saturday, March 20, 2010.)

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