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The Weekender - March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011

Tags: The Weekender

Tenure with extreme prejudice: federal judicial jobs for life

The Weekender’s last column (March 17) discussed some aspects of government employee tenure policies and the rigidity of the “Last In First Out” rule that handcuffs public school administrators as they try to retain talented new teachers while trimming their payrolls. These policies are being hotly debated in New York and most states, but there is little recognition and virtually no debate about the most extreme and inflexible form of tenure granted to a class of government employees. Every federal judge on the U.S. Supreme Court, the 13 federal Courts of Appeal and the 94 U.S. District Courts is tenured for life and can continue to sit or snooze into their 90s and beyond, if they so choose. (more…)

The Weekender - March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011

Tags: The Weekender

‘Last In First Out, Tenure And Jobs For Life’

The state’s annual budget ritual is playing out like the Kabuki it is. Lobbyists and ad agencies race around with a message of dire consequences, including shattered and lost lives, if the services of their clients are not spared from budgetary cuts. Occasionally their message includes some truth. This year, I predict, without being willing to wager a plug nickel, that the budget will be enacted on time — that is by April 1. As the process winds down, we constantly hear that the remuneration of government employees is a major, if not the primary, cause of the budgetary distress faced by New York and virtually every American state. This fallacy is frequently packaged with a discussion of tenure policies and the rigidity of rules for laying off government employees when that becomes necessary, as it has this year. (more…)

The Weekender - March 3, 2011

March 3, 2011

Tags: The Weekender

A better way to fund schools while lowering property taxes

The Weekender column of Feb. 3 explained why the property tax cap proposed by Governor Cuomo in his State of State speech, and roundly applauded by the legislature, would be a grievous mistake for Chatham and all of New York state. It would set New York on the same disastrous path traveled by California after the passage of the infamous Proposition 13 tax cap. Soon after Prop 13 was enacted, California’s public schools, then widely considered the finest in our nation, rapidly deteriorated. That Governor Cuomo, and indeed Governor Spitzer when he had the baton, would make proposals similar to California’s with the resulting educational carnage so fresh and clear is disappointing but not surprising. Both parties have all but eliminated the former ability of elected officials to resort to progressive income taxation as the major source of funding for most of the things we expect government to provide. (more…)

Regular contributor to the Sunday "Perspectives" (Editorial) section of Hearst's Albany Times Union with op-eds on government, law and public policy. Read and comment at timesunion.com and on this website. "The Weekender" social commentary column appears on ccSCOOP.com, Columbia County's Home on the Web, and past columns are archived on this website under the Op-Ed button.
A book about the ground-breaking case that shook the business and legal worlds to their very cores, New York-based law firm Constantine & Partners sought to end a devastating credit monopoly that personally touched millions of consumers. Its efforts culminated in the largest federal antitrust settlement in U.S. history.
Journal of the Plague Year
The March 10, 2008 disclosure that Governor Eliot Spitzer patronized prostitutes shocked admirers around the world who had celebrated him as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" and a likely future president.  Ironically, the author's disillusionment with Spitzer had begun to disappear 15 hours earlier, when Spitzer confessed to him what others would soon learn in a media storm of unprecedented intensity.  Journal of the Plague Year is Constantine's intimate account of the 17 calamitous months preceding the March 2008 revelation and the futile 61 hour battle waged by the author and the governor's wife to persuade Spitzer not to resign, but to instead fulfill promises made to the voters who had elected him in a record landslide.

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