Good Monday morning.
Here’s a glance at opinion content published over the weekend:
Saturday, Nov. 12
Prescription drugs: Editorial
We comment on the cases of David Laffer and Conrad Murray. Laffer was sentenced last week to four consecutive life sentences after he admitted that he killed four people during the robbery of a Medford pharmacy. Murray was convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Michael Jackson. Both cases shine a light on prescription drug abuse.
Sunday, Nov. 13
Crumbling Schools: Editorial
We comment on a Journal News investigation that examined the condition of Lower Hudson Valley School buildings. One in three, reporters Gary Stern and Cathey O’Donnell found, are in need of significant repairs. We write:
… School districts get little help from Albany figuring out what to fix or when. While state law requires school districts to have buildings inspected every five years, and to draw up a plan for addressing unsatisfactory findings, no distinction is made between serious safety issues and inefficient, outdated equipment. The state Education Department only reviews capital plans if building aid is sought.
While the state offers little guidance, it puts roadblocks in the way. For example, the Wicks Law requires school districts to use multiple contractors on large projects, a practice that often drives up costs. Year after year, governors and lawmakers talk about reforming Wicks, but they only get that far. It is among the state mandates that need repair if the state’s new 2 percent property tax cap will ever yield real results. The tax cap is especially tricky for school districts because their budgets face a public vote; 60 percent of the electorate must agree in order to raise taxes above the cap.
With the weak economy still causing havoc in so many households, it doubtless is no small source of frustration that so many school buildings are crumbling — especially where there has been little retreat on school property taxes. But as any homeowner can attest, small repairs usually morph into big and expensive ones. It is past time for taxpayers and school districts to come to terms with the task at hand, and for Washington and Albany to do their part as well. A building is a terrible thing to waste.
Phil Reisman assesses the property-tax cap and sorts out the difference between tax rates and tax levies in his Sunday column.
Tappan Zee Bridge: Community View
Roger Grange of Nyack asks questions about how a replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge will be funded in a Community View.
Penn State: Commentary
John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, suggests that parents won’t ever forget the scandal that continues to shake Penn State.
Monday, Nov. 14
Housing: Community View
Gary Zuckerman of Rye Brook comments on affordable housing under construction in his community.