Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 23rd, 2014

The news items of the day are not that great, or maybe they are?

1)     Mayor De Blasio is planning to abolish wood-burning fireplaces in New York. While I love a crackling fire in a living room, quite frankly they do make some horrific pollution both internally and externally. Gas fireplaces are much cleaner although not quite the same. With the evolution of the incandescent bulb to LED’s, designers are finally getting the quality of light right so it does not look like fluorescent lighting: maybe they too can improve the quality of the appearance of gas fireplaces, although I have already seen some really good-looking versions already.

2)    The front page of the New York Times reports how the middle class in the USA are no longer the wealthiest middle class in the world…..thats bad news and something I think we have all seen coming. The erosion of the middle class is bad. Worse, what is middle class in New York requires re-defining: Too many middle class New Yorkers are being treated by the government as if they were rich. In New York rich is significantly richer than 98% of the USA!

3)     New York City Council announced yesterday that they would be forming a commission to overhaul the real estate tax mess…..MIRACLE, and a huge THANK YOU Mayor De Blasio!  Now please lets get it right. A good first step would be to raise the real estate taxes for all those that have been underpaying for years(decades?) at the expense of those who are over-paying (some significantly)…..these people’s taxes should be lowered.  Preliminary figures released in January show the tax-assessment rolls are due to rise by 8% in July, far more than the city’s budget office had been projecting. And significantly more than the rate of inflation. One would think that with the dramatically increased tax base with all this new construction taxes should come down? If this commission turns into a political circus, we will make it known to all!