On Politics
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 17, 2009 | 6902 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Not long ago, I walked along a street lined with brownstones and black painted stoops. A few potholes on the ground were illuminated by drooping streetlights. Some garbage pails were covered, some not. There were a few “For Rent” signs in the windows. A genuine New York street…in Los Angeles.

I was visiting a few friends from a past life that work at Paramount Pictures. “New York Street” is the street they contract out for commercials or use for New York-style television shows and movies. It felt real enough for me to think I couldn't afford anything on this plastic set.

This great backdrop aside, our city draws a lot of business from filmmakers and producers that want to shoot here in the real city. Governor David Paterson is now weighing whether the New York Film and Tax Credit is worth holding on to, when there are so many other areas (police, teachers, and emergency services to name a few) that might need the funding a little more. Those areas do need whatever funding we have the most; no questions asked. But the TV and Film Tax Credit allows New York to keep its identity to some degree.

The industries that made New York what it is have either left or are on life support (namely, manufacturing and Wall Street). Film, television, and theatre are part of what make New York special. Even though other cities have entertainment, nothing can compare to that of New York City.

The Tax Credit was increased by 30 percent not long ago. Times changed fast, and maybe we need to lower the rate of increase from 30 percent to perhaps 20 percent. This would keep the profitable government effort alive.

What many of us are too young to remember is when New York was home to major beer breweries, before losing them to New Jersey over production costs. Those were good union jobs. We don’t remember the garment district as it once was, with factories pumping.

Now, what is left is our mystique. We have to show good faith with the entertainment industry, or we might lose them to a plastic replica of our city. This is why we need to hold on to the Film and Television Tax Credit.

DC Vouchers Plan Goes Down in the Senate

Score one for typical Washington politics. The Washington, D.C. vouchers program was defeated in the Senate last week by a 58-39 vote. Last week, I wrote about how important this program was to kids on the lower economic scale. I know that I benefited from a school where education was a priority and discipline and values were always a part of the curriculum. Private schooling does not work for every child, but the kids in the Washington, D.C. area had a chance to try something new. What's more, if the public school system complains of overcrowding, wouldn't they benefit with some kids going to a different school? Well the votes are in. Here are the senators that sent these kids back to a failed school system:

NAYs - 58

Akaka (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burris (D-IL), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Crapo (R-ID), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hagan (D-NC), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Kaufman (D-DE), Kerry (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murkowski (R-AK), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (R-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-CO), Udall (D-NM), Webb (D-VA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR)

There are good arguments on both sides. I know the unions spent a lot of money trying to shut this down. But the most compelling argument for the D.C. Voucher program was that it was working. We're one country - and this week we defunded a program that was working, and sent kids into another program that was not working so well. Change we can believe in?

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