first_imgThe Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission (CRC) paints a rosy financial picture in support of charter change, at least until you look carefully at the details.Its report just mailed to city residents shows a savings of almost $400,000 due entirely to eliminating the positions of five deputies, who currently run day-to-day operations of their respective departments.The Review Commission contends that one city manager and one assistant, with no director-level personnel, can perform the work of five deputies and four commissioners and omits costs for personnel who actually do the work. Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%center_img CRC’s own example of Watertown illustrates the fallacy of their claims. Watertown has nine director-level positions reporting to its city manager, while none are listed for Saratoga Springs in calculating the economic impact of the change.CRC Chairman Turner was evasive when asked recently who would be running the city departments’ day-to-day operations and whether new hires would be needed.Residents should question what else is missing from the disclosure and what hidden costs may be in store for us.Our city has prospered with our current form of government well beyond the cities the CRC would us like to emulate. Vote no on charter change.David KossSaratoga Springslast_img read more

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first_imgTo raise less than $3 billion in a decade —less than 0.005 percent of projected federal spending of $53 trillion — Republicans would blur important distinctions and abandon their defining mission.Private foundations, which are generally run by small coteries, pay a “supervisory tax” on investment income to defray the cost of IRS oversight to guarantee that their resources are used for charitable purposes.In 1984, however, Congress created a new entity, an “operating foundation.” Such organizations — e.g., often museums or libraries — are exempt from the tax on investment earnings because they apply their assets directly to their charitable activities rather than making grants to other organizations, as do foundations that therefore must pay the supervisory tax.Most university endowments are compounds of thousands of individual funds that often are restricted to particular uses, all of which further the institutions’ educational purposes.Hence these endowments are akin to the untaxed “operating foundations.”Yet the Republicans, without public deliberations, and without offering reasons, would arbitrarily make university endowments uniquely subject to a tax not applied to similar entities.Are Republicans aware, for example, that Princeton’s endowment earnings fund more than half its annual budget, and will support expansion of the student body? Government having long ago slipped the leash of restraint, the public sector’s sprawl threatens to enfeeble the private institutions of civil society that mediate between the individual and the state and that leaven society with energy and creativity that government cannot supply.Time was, conservatism’s central argument for limiting government was to defend these institutions from being starved of resources and functions by government.Abandonment of this argument is apparent in the vandalism that Republicans are mounting against universities’ endowments.This raid against little platoons of independent excellence would be unsurprising were it proposed by progressives, who are ever eager to extend government’s reach and to break private institutions to the state’s saddle.Coming from Republicans, it is acutely discouraging.George Will is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post who writes from a conservative perspective. He is a former Princeton trustee. Great universities are great because philanthropic generations have borne the cost of sustaining private institutions that seed the nation with excellence.Donors have done this in the expectation that earnings accruing from their investments will be devoted solely to educational purposes, in perpetuity.This expectation will disappear, and the generosity that it has sustained will diminish, if Republicans siphon away a portion of endowments’ earnings in order to fund the federal government’s general operations.Its appetite whetted by 1.4 percent, the political class will not stop there.Once the understanding that until now has protected endowments is shredded, there will be no limiting principle to constrain governments — those of the states, too —  in their unsleeping search for revenues to expand their power.Public appetites are limitless, as is the political class’s desire to satisfy them.Hence there is a perennial danger that democracy will degenerate into looting — scrounging for resources, such as universities’ endowments, that are part of society’s seed corn for prosperous tomorrows. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWASHINGTON — Such is the federal government’s sprawl, and its power to establish new governing precedents, mere Washington twitches can jeopardize venerable principles and institutions.This is illustrated by a seemingly small but actually momentous provision of the Republicans’ tax bill — a 1.4 percent excise tax on the endowment earnings of approximately 70 colleges and universities with the largest per student endowments.center_img It also enables “need-blind” admissions: More than 60 percent of undergraduates receive financial assistance; those from families with incomes below $65,000 pay no tuition, room or board; those from families with incomes below $160,000 pay no tuition. No loans are required.Ph.D. candidates receive tuition and a stipend for living costs.Furthermore, the endowment has funded a significant increase in students from low-income families: Princeton has recently tripled to 22 percent the portion of freshmen from families with the most substantial financial needs.The idea that Princeton is largely populated by children of alumni is a canard slain by this fact: Such “legacies” are only 13 percent of this year’s freshman class.For eight centuries, surviving thickets of ecclesiastical and political interferences, the world’s great research universities have enabled the liberal arts to flourish, the sciences to advance, and innovation to propel economic betterment.Increasingly, they foster upward mobility that fulfils democratic aspirations and combats the stagnation of elites.It is astonishingly shortsighted to jeopardize all this, and it is unseemly to do so in a scramble for resources to make a tax bill conform to the transitory arithmetic of a budget process that is a labyrinth of trickery. More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more

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first_imgOn the other, most indications are that the energy among Democrats – the turnout and the volunteering –  will sustain itself through 2018, especially since Trump shows no signs of curbing his vileness and depravity.Beyond this, however, if Democrats can win a lot more of these state legislative races, that could matter immensely in coming years.Post tells me that Dems are focused on flipping legislative chambers, and are aiming at the state senates in Florida, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, and state houses in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.This could increase Dems’ influence over the next round of redistricting maps drawn for the House of Represenatives, which will be crucial in determining control of the lower chamber in the next decade whether or not Dems do take back the House this year.So every one of these little races matters.Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog from a liberal perspective.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes That volunteer activity is “a common factor in all of our special election wins,” Post told me. “Some of these people marched in the women’s march. They never volunteered before.Now they’re showing up at campaign offices.”Post adds that in one Minnesota special election, even though the temperature dropped to negative 15 degrees, “there were 25 people out door-knocking.”Second, Trump is not figuring heavily into the campaigns these candidates have run.The Beltway and Twittersphere are consumed with debates over whether Democrats should or should not be speaking directly to anti-Trump anger, or whether their failure to more directly attack Trump’s tax plan is helping it (and Trump himself) edge up in popularity.But Post tells me that these candidates are mostly “campaigning on hyper-local issues.”For instance, Post says, in Virginia, one Dem campaigned on fixing local traffic problems. In Oklahoma one stressed shortened school hours.And in southern Minnesota one campaigned on expanding rural economic opportunities and improved access to hospitals. In rural and exurban districts, the quality of roads and schools is a big issue. Linda Belcher, a former teacher and legislator, won a Kentucky state house seat by 68 percent to 32 percent in a district President Donald Trump carried by 50 points.There were murky circumstances involving the suicide of the husband of her GOP opponent.But there is clearly a trend here: Of the 37 state legislative seats that Democrats have flipped since Trump took office, nearly 20 came in districts carried by Trump, some by very large margins, according to data collected by Daily Kos Elections.I spoke to Jessica Post, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which helps boost Dem candidates in state legislative races.She pointed to several factors driving these wins.First, there really is a huge Trump effect. But it’s a mistake to reduce this simply to the widely-discussed explosion in Democratic turnout we’ve been seeing.In many of these races, Post says, Trump has also produced a willingness of better quality candidates to run who had previously refrained from doing so, as well as a big explosion in volunteer activity. Third, independents are shifting towards Democrats.Post says that the Trump effect is complicated. In many of these races, it is deeply energizing the Dem volunteer and voter base, while leading independents to generally want change, making them more receptive to what Democratic candidates are saying, which these candidates can capitalize on.Democratic voters are “furious and want an outlet. So they’ll knock on the doors of other Democrats who are also furious. And then Democrats are turning out in huge numbers,” Post says.“Meanwhile, the candidate is talking to independents about local issues that really matter to their community, disconnected from Washington.”The result has been a “rebalancing,” in which districts that went heavily for Trump in 2016, washing out Dem local candidates, are now seeing quality Dem candidates reassert the Democratic brand.This probably bodes well for Dems in the midterm elections, but with caveats.On the one hand, the Senate and House races will be more nationalized than these local elections have been, and it’s hard to predict the national political environment. Categories: Editorial, OpinionTuesday night, Democrats flipped a Kentucky state legislative seat from red to blue — deep in Trump country.It’s the 37th such seat that Dems have flipped into their column, and many of these special election victories are happening in places that they aren’t supposed to, which has deeply alarmed some Republicans.Why are Democrats winning these races, and what does this tell us about the 2018 midterm elections?The answer to this question doesn’t fit neatly into the debates inside the Beltway and in the Twittersphere over what Dems should and shouldn’t be doing. Indeed, these victories are in many ways unfolding outside those arguments.last_img read more

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October 20, 2020

Planners tool up

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