Time the state made fantasy betting a reality
Aug 24, 2016 | 8 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's crusade against daily fantasy sports was misguided from the start, and it's great news to see Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing ahead allowing it again in the state. Daily fantasy sports have clearly shown a prevailing popularity in our country – ads for DraftKings and FanDuel now blanket stadiums and television airtime during major sporting events – so they're not going away anytime soon. It's a game of both skill and luck, as a lot of gambling is, but it's much more skill than playing the lottery or even most casino games. If a New Yorker can spend $200 on scratch-off tickets, Powerball or even a video poker machine at Resorts World Casino, then why not have a little more say and try and up your odds by using superior knowledge of your subject. This is different from betting on individual sporting events because you're choosing the lineup. Yes, you're still subject to the ebb and flow of a sports game and all the randomness that entails, but at least you have somewhat of a say in it all. Gambling on fantasy sports happened long before the existence of these daily sites and continued on even with the ban in place. Now, with the sites and their activity regulated by the New York State Gaming Commission, which collects tax revenue on the betting, daily fantasy sites will be much more above board. Regulation, especially for things like online gambling, is very important. This was another case of government's selective outrage in trying to take away something they deem bad for society without any rhyme or reason. One can still legally eat three Big Macs, wash it down with an energy drink and then top it off with a pack of cigarettes, three things that are much worse for residents than daily fantasy sports. We're a country that has totally subjective feelings towards different vices and this one was going to happen with or without the government's approval. It's about time everyday New Yorkers started to benefit from the daily fantasy sports juggernaut.
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Suzanne Quint, Love Our Pool
by Benjamin Fang
Aug 24, 2016 | 2 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Suzanne Quint moved to Brooklyn three years ago, and she’s already involved in civic and community affairs. Quint, now a DUMBO resident, helped form the community group Love Our Pool: Families United for Keeping a Pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park earlier in June. With fellow Brooklyn parents, she is fighting to keep the pop-up pool in place until the city comes up with a plan for a permanent pool in the park. “This pool is so well used by the community, why are they going to remove this pool?” she said. “I understand there was an agreement, but things change. We all experience that in our personal and professional lives.” Calling her group an “extremely grassroots effort,” Quint said it all began when she started reaching out to other Brooklyn residents about the pool closing. She began meeting parents from Flatlands, Canarsie, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and other parts of the borough. It’s also been an opportunity for her to learn about her new home borough and how diverse it truly is. Quint and her two young children go to the pool about once a week, but she said some members of Love Our Pool go nearly every day. “We come here about once a week, either for ourselves for a quick swim or meeting with friends,” she said. “My daughter did swim lessons here last summer.” The advantage of this pop-up pool is that it’s smaller and much more intimate. “I took my son to Red Hook and he had to go into the ladies locker room with me. It was like the worst thing in his life, he told me,” Quint said. “We don’t have so many pools that we should be closing pools in Brooklyn. Don’t spend money to redo this section of the park without any kind of a firm plan for a permanent pool.”
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Help Small Businesses, Don’t Punish Them
by Ron Kim
Aug 24, 2016 | 10 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced an expansion of his multi-agency task force to combat worker exploitation and unsafe work conditions. He now plans to widen its focus to 15 target industries including retail, restaurants, and dry cleaning. I applaud the governor’s efforts to protect vulnerable workers. However, we should ensure that in seeking to root out exploitation and unsafe working conditions, we don’t simply engage in a blindly punitive application of harsher regulations. To truly protect workers, we should also empower the small businesses that provide thousands of jobs and billions in revenue to our state. Dry cleaners, for instance, represent the kind of family-owned small businesses that would be severely affected by such a blindly punitive approach. Like my parents and many other immigrant families, these store owners are often the only workers in their shop. In the face of declining revenues and a difficult economy, they persevere, working up to 14-hour shifts with no weekends off or vacations just to put food on the table. The vast majority of them are good operators who do their best to comply with the law, though they may not always be up to date on the latest protocols. The governor seeks to eliminate the use of perchlorethylene, or perc, a likely carcinogen, from all dry cleaners. For the sake of both public health and safer working conditions, this is a laudable goal. However, imposing a sudden, blanket ban with heavy penalties for violators would be the wrong way to reach it. On average, non-perc equipment upgrades cost $70,000 to $120,000. That is already a third of the total annual sales revenue for most dry cleaners. Many of these neighborhood mom-and-pop stores are located in New York City, which has strict regulations for the flammable solvents that comprise almost all alternatives to perc. To meet them, all city dry cleaners would need to spend an additional $70,000 to $100,000 on up-to-date sprinkler systems. Forcing these small businesses to abruptly shoulder this staggering financial burden is setting them up to fail. In states like California and Connecticut, programs have been developed that provide financial support to dry cleaners to switch to non-perc systems, or offer institutional assistance to clean up contaminated sites. Our own state already has stringent air pollution requirements for perc, thanks to the passage of Part 232 in Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations. The EPA enacted even tougher federal emissions standards for perc dry-cleaning machines in 2006. All residential dry cleaners are now prohibited from installing new perc dry cleaners, and must eliminate its use completely by 2020. Many of our mom-and-pop stores have already made significant investments to comply with Part 232, demonstrating their dedication to environmental protection and public safety. Simply compelling them to purchase even more expensive equipment several years later would be a rash response to a complicated problem, and a betrayal of the commitment shown by small business owners to being part of the solution. Some may still argue for enforcing regulations through crackdowns and sweeps. However, there is strong evidence that such tactics by the governor's task force have disproportionately and negatively affected immigrant and minority-owned businesses. Enacting policies that would force many mom-and-pop shops to shut down would harm both workers and entrepreneurs. We should look to states like California and Connecticut for solutions that help small businesses' owners and employees alike. After all, without one, the other doesn’t exist. Ron Kim represents the 40th District in Queens in the state Assembly.
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The Landslide Will Bring Him Down
by Tyler Cassell
Aug 24, 2016 | 10 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks said it so right when she sang, “I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills, till the landslide brought it down.” The song “Landslide” is a perfect prediction for this year’s presidential election. Donald Trump is looking at his own reflection in all the crowds he speaks to, and a landslide is going to bring him down. It won’t even be close. Trump made it through the primaries by bullying and verbally beating up all of his other 16 opponents, but those voting in the primaries were the hardcore Republican base who would vote for a cabbage if it was on the Republican ticket. These are the firmly entrenched, those who will never change. More people start to focus on politics as election time grows closer. The more they hear what Trump has to say, the more they are turning away from him. The latest polls, if you can believe the polls, show Hillary Clinton way ahead, even in the battleground states. Trump knows he’s got a problem, but he just doubles down instead of trying to walk back any of his fiery abusive rhetoric. His latest gaffe was when he said that Barack Obama was the founder of ISIS. Then a couple days later, he said he was just being sarcastic and the media didn’t get it. Too late Donald, damage done. Blunders like this make people wonder if he would shoot his mouth off one day about prominent world leaders when they refused to see it his way. Such talk could lead to irreparable damage to our relationships in the world and could bring us to war. We will never see Trump’s tax returns because they hold too many secrets. They would show huge write-offs, numerous overseas Cayman accounts to skirt his tax burdens, and would reveal that he pays little or no tax. His businesses give him a multitude of deductions not available to you and me. Don’t forget, he pays his accountants millions to lessen his tax burden and to hide his wealth. The primaries have shown that Trump is wild and uncontrollable. He’ll turn on anybody at any time and is incapable of taking advice from seasoned politicians that know better. He is already preparing for his loss to Clinton by telling folks that if he loses, it’s because the system is rigged. To counter that, he is asking for volunteer poll watchers to come to the polls and make sure folks don’t vote more than once. Would that mean somebody couldn’t vote for Donald more than once, or just for Hillary? Don’t be surprised to see Second Amendment champion gun-toters at poll centers come November in answer to Trump’s call to action. Some will scream foul, and call for recounts. Voter intimidation like this borders on questionable legality, and he may get in trouble for it. The hardcore Trumpers won’t be happy to lose, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some violence or retribution didn’t occur somewhere. In his concession speech, Trump will say that he lost because the system is rigged, that he became the victim of the media, and a victim to all of those in his own party who turned away from him because they didn’t like the truth. He will say that America is doomed. We had a chance to make America great again, and now we will have to live with crooked Hillary. It is doubtful that he will ever congratulate Hillary for her win because he is incapable of any ingratiating comment to anyone who bests him. It will end with, “goodbye folks, I’m off to my wonderful life.” Sociopaths always blame others and never themselves. He envisioned his face on Mount Rushmore, but the landslide will bring him down. Tyler Cassell is a resident of Flushing.
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