Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Made In America

12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. Many came before. Many arrived since. Immigrants came to America through portals other than Ellis Island too. Now, their stories will be told at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. There’ll be a special wing at the museum called “The Peopling of America Center.” Visitors will learn about the arrival of groups including native Americans who migrated here, blacks imported as slaves, Mexicans who became “annexed” Americans, Asians who came in a wave across the Pacific and a multitude of other groups in more recent times. This is a wonderful idea for all of us to learn about America’s diverse heritage. Near to the Statue of Liberty and the multi-cultural city, New York, there’s no more fitting place to have this remembrance than right here in our harbor.

Doesn’t NYS Love NYC?

Over the years, the “I Love New York” campaigns bringing visitors to New York State have been extremely productive. New York City is by far the most popular tourist destination in New York. Despite this vital fact to the state’s economy, Sean Cunningham, 23, didn’t think it necessary to include a single shot of NYC in a 60-second movie in New York State’s commercial contest. Stunningly, his movie was chosen as the contest winner! Judges chose among 15 finalists to select this Big Apple-absent film. Maybe it’s time NYC reminds the judges who the real star is here. Maybe it’s time to revive the 51st state campaign.

Sharpen The Budget Scissors

Tough economic times demand hard economic decisions. Mayor Bloomberg is sharpening the blades now. He’s ordered $1.5 billion in city-agency cuts. That breaks down to 2.5% this year and 5% next year. He spoke of reducing expenses and raising revenues. Advocates for the city’s largest departments will undoubtedly be heard from very soon. Each will complain that slashed budgets were unfairly decided and will unfairly hurt New York. We know better. All city agencies waste millions of our tax dollars. All city agencies must undergo severe budget cutting ... just like the rest of us. New Yorkers will suffer to an extent, but we’ll survive. We’ve been through worse before. Besides, smaller government doing the same amount of work, or ideally more work, seems like a pretty good idea … except to those who squander our money and must work for it.

A Tree-House Grows In Manhattan

New York residents love public art. Just measure the popularity of “The Gates” or “Waterfalls.” “Tree Huts,” conceived by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamara may be the next tree-mendous art sensation here in NYC. This project will be on display through New Year’s Eve in the Flatiron District’s Madison Square Park. It features 12 pinewood tree houses in overhead branches. It’s surprising that local tree-huggers, bird watchers and animal activists haven’t "chopped down" the idea yet.

The Taxman Means Business

Either overdue sales taxes will be collected or business owners theselves may be collected … for prison. Local pizzeria owners, used-car dealers and other city business owners dealing primarily in cash, "be on the alert." You’ll soon feel the heat of the taxman and a new force of 125 investigators, auditors and lawyers. It's all part of the state’s new Special Investigation Unit. 10,000 warning letters have been sent requesting money owed. Many small business owners believe these are merely “scare tactics.” They shouldn’t be so sure. Delinquent business taxpayers will no longer be tolerated by New York State. The letters offer a second chance to meet their responsibilities. Penalties will be waived for those who come clean now. All New Yorker's must pay taxes. Business owners hiding currency in their books or at home "under the mattress" risk seeing an “Under New Management” sign in their windows.

FREE Ferry A Fine Ferry-Tale

$5.69 per commuter ride is what New York City taxpayers pay to keep the Staten Island Ferry, “free.” That’s a 23.2% increase from the previous year, primarily attributed to rising fuel costs. On average for NYC’s nine ferries, the fuel consumption rate is 175-275 gallons an hour. The total operating cost was put at $112 million for fiscal year 2007. There’s little desire among politicians or ferry riders to reinstitute the 50 cent fare that was eliminated in 1997. Since there’s no reasonably priced alternative to accommodate our Staten Island residents and no more enjoyable ride in town ... c’mon and take a free ride.

Mayor Makes Menu

“Eat what’s on your plate!” Our mother’s used to tell us that. Now it’s our mayor. Bloomberg is imposing new nutritional standards on the 225 million meals and snacks the city cooks up every year. This policy will improve food in public schools, shelters, hospitals and senior citizen centers. The mayor believes this is within his jurisdiction. Like mom said, “If you don’t want to eat, go to your room!,” the mayor says, “You don’t have to take city food.” We can’t really argue with mom or the mayor looking to serve healthy food.

Tap Water Sales May Tap Out

A local entrepreneur is trying to tap into a fortune. Craig Zucker, an Ohioan transplant since 2003, is bottling NYC’s tap water (eliminating chlorine and impurities through reverse osmosis) under the name Tap’d NY. Reports from around the city indicate his water bottles aren’t exactly flooding the market. New York City's water is considered to be one of the best waters in the world. It’s what makes our local pizza taste so good too! Zucker’s intentions to provide New Yorker’s with the best water possible is honorable. He believes import water is an insult to New Yorkers. Perhaps his sales are at a "slow drip" because selling water New Yorkers get for free is an insult to our intelligence.