1999-07-23 / Editorial/Opinion

Predictable

Politicians, don’t you just love them. The City Council just voted themselves a 28 percent pay hike. With most of them facing term limits they won’t have to face voters on this issue. They’re giving themselves the equivalent of a golden parachute. That’s the kicker. With term limits staring council members in the face most members are busy plotting their futures---not attending to council business. So they’ll get paid more for doing less. They and their fatter wallets will be long gone by the time the voters have a chance to respond.

Our esteemed members in Albany did things in similar fashion. Although not subject to term limits, members of the State Legislature voted themselves a raise immediately after the November elections. Very clever. If voter outrage occurs, the pols figure, it’ll seem like ancient history by the time the next election rolls around.

It’s sneaky business on the city and state level. And frankly, we’re not in the least bit surprised. But these actions remind us why politicians are rarely admired or trusted.

Overdue

With the Seaside buildings being cited for numerous safety violations it becomes more urgent than ever to clear up a tax mess dating back more than a decade. At one point, the city said the Zukerman family owed $31 million in real estate taxes. (The number being bandied about now is laughably higher). The Zukermans have maintained that the due taxes are a matter of dispute. Certainly, if the city was so sure of its claim you can bet the Zukermans would have been history some time ago.

The tax situation makes it impossible for the owners to get necessary loans to keep the building in good repair. The tax situation has also muddled the rent rates. It’s a mess.

We’ve watched mayors come and go; we’ve lost track of the number of Commissioners of Finance who’ve looked at this and done nothing. It’s a complicated story which needs considerable study---which is the real reason nothing gets resolved on it. City officials bide their time figuring they’ll be moving to another post before having to investigate or rule on the matter.

Now safety is becoming the issue. If someone gets hurt from falling debris the city and all its indifferent commissioners and city council members (read: Peter Vallone) will have a share of the responsibility.

It’s time HPD, the city, or the courts do something. Maybe, if they’ve truly been wronged, it’s time for the Zukermans to sue.

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