Cup of Joe With George, Judy, and Steve

There was something new on the breakfast menu at Ruby’s Oyster Bar on Saturday morning — a chance to catch up with Assemblyman Steve Otis, as well as State Senator George Latimer and County Legislator Judy Myers, over a cup of coffee.

Published April 7, 2013 5:00 AM
3 min read

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There was something new on the breakfast menu at Ruby’s Oyster Bar on Saturday morning — a chance to catch up with Assemblyman Steve Otis, as well as State Senator George Latimer and County Legislator Judy Myers, over a cup of coffee.

 

By Tom McDermott

 

There was something new on the breakfast menu at Ruby’s Oyster Bar on Saturday morning — a chance to catch up with Assemblyman Steve Otis, as well as State Senator George Latimer and County Legislator Judy Myers, over a cup of coffee.

 

To begin, each of the three officials gave a brief overview of recent events and ongoing issues.

 

Mr. Otis, Rye’s former three-term mayor, said he feels he’s off to a good start in his new position. He pointed to the fact that the Rye City School District, unlike others in the state, received funding to close gaps in the school budget. He also noted there would be a small but important increase in flood mitigation funds in Governor Cuomo’s upcoming budget.

 

Ms. Myers was pleased to note that the Bowman Avenue sluice gate project is nearing completion. She also reported that the County Executive’s asset management agreement with Sustainable Playland Inc. was sent to the legislators, “who will now get into the numbers.”

 

Mr. Latimer wasted no time before mentioning the most recent political graft scandals in Albany. “We’re possibly more embarrassed than you are,” he said, promising to call for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s resignation when he returns to the state capital.

 

What did the dozen or so residents that showed up want to talk about?

 

One resident brought up the question of teacher evaluations, causing Latimer, who will be the ranking Democrat on the Sate Education Committee, to say he thinks a one-size-fits-all teacher evaluation system does not work, and is an attempt to impose a simplistic answer to a complex problem. He also believes the focus should be on underperforming schools and districts only. Otis, whose mother was a teacher, agreed.

 

Senator Latimer was taken to task by another resident who claimed Latimer had walked out of the Senate chamber before voting on a gun control bill, and then went on to vocalize his views on gun control (basically, there should be none).

 

Each representative took turns explaining that their reading of the Second Amendment allows for certain kinds of controls. Latimer, for the record, stated that he was present for voting on the properly presented legislation.

 

Aside from gun control, the other main topic for discussion was federally mandated affordable housing in Westchester municipalities, especially regarding Section Eight housing. This discussion seemed to touch a nerve, with Councilmember Julie Killian, who was at the morning coffee, saying that, “Taking a Section Eight voucher is another form of tax on small business.” She also seemed to feel that the federal government was overstepping by mandating these local requirements. Ms. Myers’ answer was that the courts have spoken, HUD and the DOJ are not pleased with the way the County Executive has handled the settlement, and now it’s time for him to come up with a workable plan.

 

Rounding out the meeting was a question regarding lack of state oversight of taxpayers who take improper school tax exemptions on second homes. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimates this could cost the state $73 million by the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Latimer, Myers, and Otis believe it’s the state’s responsibility to track abusers and collect funds owed.

 

Worth noting is that throughout the meeting, all of those present spoke in a respectful, civil manner, even when disagreeing over issues.

 

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