2 Minutes of Truth


This is a review of an Op-Ed by David Brooks which appeared in The New York Times print edition on March 6, 2018.

Brooks asks, “What Happens to American Politics after Donald Trump?” For the answer he turns to Italy, under the rule of its current Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

When Berlusconi entered a polling place on March 4, 2018, a female topless protester from Femen shouted at him, “Time’s Up, ” and “You’re Expired, Mr. Berlusconi.”

Brooks dissects the impact of a Trump/Berlusconi presidency into three big trends:

1/ The erasure of the informal norms of behavior
2/ The loss of faith in the democratic system, and
3/ The deterioration of debate, caused by social media

He goes on to explain that as the center hollows out, both the left and the right become more radical, particularly for younger generations of people.


Video of the Femen protester with Berlusconi, from ODN (former ITN)

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RAPPERS on Gun Violence: #NeverAgain

RAPPERS on Gun Violence: #NeverAgain

Mount Vernon, NY March 3, 2018, City Hall, Gun Reform Rally

Here are the Mount Vernon S.T.R.O.N.G. rappers with a protest song about gun reform. This rally featured speeches by Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) (D), Mayor Richard Thomas (D) and City Council Member Delia Farquharson (D). The rappers are young men attending Mount Vernon High School.

Gun Reform Rally

The premise of the gathering was to bring attention to the national crisis around school shooting and gun related deaths in general. The mother of Shamoya McKenzie, a 13 year-old who was murdered in 2017 in Mount Vernon, NY, an accidental victim of a gang shooting. Shamoya did nothing wrong except she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Politicians spoke, people applauded, but it’s unclear what the next steps are. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY17) spoke in favor of legislation to restrict guns sales for people who are prohibited from flying as a result of prior records.

Mayor Richard Thomas organized this rally to build public support for municipal and community activities that could reduce gun violence. He proclaimed, “We’re ready to get on the bus…,” invoking the narrative of the civil rights marchers of the 1960’s.

Stray Bullets

Too many stray bullets end lives. Mount Vernon has had dozens of homicides in recent years, and most of them are gang related. The federal government could do much more to reduce the volume of guns in circulation, but they’re not. Engel alluded to working with Representative John Lewis (D-GA-5) in recent years, but they’re efforts are blocked by Republicans and Democrats who are beholden to the powerful NRA lobby.

If a song can push back on this lethal leadership quagmire, then play on.

When Real Property Taxes are a Little too “Real”…

This week I attended an event where my local property tax assessor explain how she does her job.  She is responsible for distributing an $86 million dollar tax levy across 3,600 properties.  The task involves a fair amount of investigation and subjective decisions.  I’ve compiled a video to capture 10 points that you can use to get your own assessed valuation under control.  We all need to pay taxes to support municipal services and the schools, but where I live the assessor aggressively pursues physical improvements as a means to elevate the assessed valuation of the town.  This means if you do work on your house, and file a permit, you are very likely to pay more taxes.  The only recourse is to grieve the assessment or go to small claims court and make a case that your assessment is too high based on a new appraisal, comparable sales or other info.   I hope these tips are valuable to you.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtg1QR6CGGI[/embedyt]

1/ 1:00 You Control Interior Inspections
2/ 1:39 Take Down MLS Pictures
3/ 2:00 The Town Needs You to Hack the Tax Cap
4/ 2:24 Mass Appraisal, with adjustments
5/ 2:40 Inferior Site Desirability
6/ 3:06 Grievance Day
7/ 3:37 Small Claims Court
8/ 4:14 For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
9/ 4:45 Rat On Neighbors
10/ 5:09 Solar, AC and Generators
11 (BONUS)/ What counts as a bedroom?