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When politicians write to you, check what they say

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My post office box today contained the “2006 Legislative Session Highlights & Constituent Survey” from my New York state assemblyman, Joseph M. Giglio (he prefers “Joe”). In it Mr. Giglio does what politicians are genetically predisposed to do: prevaricate, inflate, misrepresent and selectively inform.

“Dear Neighbor,” writes Mr. Giglio, ” … From passing a real property tax relief program to easing pain at the pump, great strides have been made toward ending the economic burden many of us feel as New Yorkers.”

His “highlights” contain no details about the “real property tax relief program.” Mr. Giglio (R-Gowanda) also overlooks that New York state property taxes tripled between 2000 and 2005. Nor does he point out that, according to a June 1 AP story, “New York state tops the country in taxes collected by the state and local governments, siphoning off $5,260 per person a year …” My property taxes rose this fiscal year; I await relief from this “program.”

The 149th Assembly District representative writes of “easing pain at the pump.” I passed $3.09 a gallon at my local Sunoco station on my way to my office earlier today.

In an earlier snail-mailed missive titled “Tax Relief Today, Alternative Fuels Tomorrow,” Mr. Giglio offered several proposals to cut fuel costs. The sources of his research for those proposed steps (see earlier post) were lacking then and they’re lacking now. (I wrote to Mr. Giglio about the flaws in his “easing the pain” plan July 8; he has yet to reply.)

He claims “great strides” in ending New Yorkers’ “economic burden.” But would Mr. Giglio please tell me who is going to pay for (and how) these “achievements” he claims:

• passed the $330 per-child Empire State Child Tax Credit.
• increased aid for public libraries and public library construction projects.
• increased aid for nurse education programs to reverse trend of a declining nurse population.

These are laudable, but they cost money out of taxpayers’ pockets. And Mr. Giglio fails to explain who (that would be us, the taxpayers) will be paying for the $189 million in “pension sweeteners” for public employees he and his colleagues stashed into their latest state budget. (See also NY Fiscal Watch memo.) And how is the “economic burden” for taxpayers eased when he and his colleagues enact “the biggest state spending increase in 33 years—without even including legislative additions blocked on constitutional grounds by Governor George Pataki”? (See NY Fiscal Watch memo.)

And about that $330 per-child tax credit? Is that all we get? Says the New York Sun:

Leaders are trumpeting sales tax reductions, property tax rebates, and child tax credits. But there are no reductions in corporate or personal income tax rates, and that $330 child tax credit is but a shadow of the $500 education tax credit the governor had proposed, which itself was a mere shade of the $1,500 tax credits some lawmakers had suggested.

So — did we get relief from our “economic burden,” as Assemblyman Giglio claims, or the pork-laden shaft?

Some of his linguistic self-touts are annoying and misleading:

• “During the 2006 legislative session, Assemblyman Giglio accomplished many things.” The “highlights” brochure presents a list, partly reprinted above. But he’s not a solo act, as his language implies. He is but one of 150 assemblymen and women. He cannot pass legislation by himself.
• “Despite the success during this legislative session, Assemblyman Giglio knows there is more to be done.” Well, good for him. But the list that follows deals solely with matters of crime — as if he’s done all he needs to do to ease New Yorkers’ “economic burden.”

Mr. Giglio ends with this:

“The strength of our democracy depends on your participation in the legislative process. I promise to carefully examine each of your responses (to his survey) and take your voice directly to Albany. By working together with you, I am confident that we can make the 149th Assembly District an economically vibrant and an even better place to live.”

I don’t need a civics lecture from Mr. Giglio. If he doesn’t answer his mail, then I’d find it hard to work “together” with him. The rest is pablum designed to placate us mere masses of voting mortals.

I’m tired of that. Hold these people accountable for what they say and do.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 4, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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