A New Way Forward for Our Schools

It seems that end-of-year testing in schools is one aspect of pre-COVID life that has survived the pandemic. Late last week, the NYS Education Department (NYSED) received notice that the US Department of Education (USDE) rejected its request for a waiver from the testing requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The state must therefore administer standardized exams to students in English language Read more…

A New Way to Fire a Governor

Recent weeks have seen a relentless avalanche of reports of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment of women, and his administration’s cover-up for political reasons of large numbers of Covid-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes. In response, many of New York’s leading Democrats in national and state government have called for the governor’s immediate resignation. They argue that the seriousness of the charges, and Read more…

Building Back Better?

by Robin Jacobowitz and Fred Smith This week, the United States Department of Education (USDE) sent a letter to chief state school officers directing them to administer state-level standardized testing in 2021.  This annual testing, waived in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and has had bipartisan support. It encompasses English Language Arts (ELA) and Read more…

The Chassidic Bloc Vote in Orange County

As expected, in “Solid Blue” New York State, the 2020 presidential election was no contest. Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by just under 2 million votes. But in Orange County in the Hudson Valley, as in many other counties further upstate, the majority went for Trump.  A total of 173,305 Orange County residents voted in the presidential election, about two in three (67.3%) of those Read more…

Buckle Up Poughkeepsie

By Josh Simons with kt Tobin The past two posts in this series have described the uptick in the trend of people moving to the Hudson Valley en masse from New York City in the wake of the COVID pandemic as well as predictions about the scale of this phenomenon (big!), and including the forecast that the most transformative change in the Hudson Valley will Read more…

Strife over tax breaks and tradeoffs: It doesn’t have to be like this

We shouldn’t have to disadvantage taxpayers and our children to build smartly in the 21st century. Robin Jacobowitz with Kt Tobin and Josh Simons It would be pretty hard to be an Ulster County resident and to not by now have heard about the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) sought by the developers of the Kingstonian, a mixed-use project proposed for uptown Kingston, NY. The Ulster Read more…

New York and the Veto–Proof Legislature

This post originally ran on the Gotham Gazette Early in 1984 I visited Governor Mario Cuomo’s office in Albany at his invitation. He wanted to discuss a talk I’d given at the New School about his first year as governor. I found myself going on about the growing dominance of the governor in New York’s legislative process. Governor Cuomo loved to debate. I knew from Read more…

Form Follows Function, Now the Ulster County Budget

Legendary Chicago School architect Louis Sullivan was famed for his aphorism: “Form ever follows function.” This was true, Sullivan said, in the natural environment, “whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, [or] the winding stream.” It should be true too, he averred, for all things people designed and created, from Read more…

Some Thoughts on Tax Exemptions in the Ulster County Budget

Did you know that New York State law requires county government budgets to include a report every year on the value of all real property within the county that is exempt from property taxation? For example, in Ulster County, New York, this year there are 15,673 properties on the rolls with either full or partial property tax exemptions, organized in 98 categories in accord with Read more…

The Ulster County Budget: What Will Happen When the Other Shoe Drops?

Earlier this month Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan proposed a $333.8 million budget for 2021 that requires neither a property tax levy increase nor employee layoffs, and with a smaller withdrawal from the county’s savings account (the fund balance) than was made in 2020. At first glance, this seems like an extraordinary achievement during a time that the New York State economy has been devastated Read more…

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