Amazon Tax Breaks, Julian Assange, Gas Tax and Mortgage Rates

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Fiscal advantages ? Amazon is still profiting from the area

Newsday’s op-ed on big business tax breaks from industrial development authorities ignores some important facts about the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency’s project with Amazon at the former Cerro Wire site [“Tax giveaways hurt residents,” Editorial, June 12].

The Cerro Wire property in Syosset was a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation designated brownfield that had lain vacant for decades. Many projects had been proposed in this location over the years, but none gained ground, leaving the property underutilized and highly visible in the community.

Amazon has committed to a $72 million investment that not only cleaned up the site, but would create more than 200 full-time and part-time jobs and more than 125 construction jobs. The vacant lot generated about $1 million in property taxes.

Even with Nassau IDA benefits, the property will now average more than $1.9 million in taxes each year, an increase in tax revenue of $12.4 million over the 15 years of the pilot. That means more revenue for the county, city, and school district from day one.

How is it possible that this reality is being misinterpreted as being bad for taxpayers?

—Richard Kessel, Merrick

The writer is president of the Nassau County IDA.

Imposing restrictions on new teen drivers

Newly licensed teenage drivers may face some restrictions when driving for the first year [“Girl, 17, killed in car crash,” News, June 17]. They need to gain more experience during this first year. For example, no friends would be allowed in the car.

Lack of experience, distractions from friends and music, and that fun new sense of freedom might give some teens the wrong idea of ​​their ability to drive defensively.

Each of these situations could lead to unimaginable disastrous consequences.

—Carol Ludwig, Wantagh

The author is a retired teacher who also taught driver education.

The disturbing remark of Assange’s lawyer

Barry Pollack, the US defense lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says the UK extradition order that would bring Assange back to the US to face espionage charges was “disappointing news that should concern anyone who cares about the First Amendment and the right to publish” [“WikiLeak’s Assange ordered extradited to U.S.,” News, June 18].

Pollack’s denial of an individual’s responsibility to protect innocent lives is disturbing. Its position does not allow any government to hide from the public facts that would be detrimental to its citizens, especially in the military field. We rely on our military to reduce rather than increase the vulnerabilities of its citizens. Assange, while a Swedish citizen, knowingly committed a crime against the US government and its people. His foreign nationality does not excuse his recklessness.

One can only hope that the extradition process in this case will be expedited to bring Assange back to be punished for his transgressions if found guilty.

—Stan Feinberg, Wantagh

Suspending the federal gas tax is a bad idea

President Joe Biden is considering a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax as a way to reduce the price which is now averaging more than $5 a gallon nationwide and rising weekly [“Biden to visit Saudi Arabia next month,” News, June 15]. It makes no sense in the long run.

It reminds me of the emperor during the decline of ancient Rome. He would offer the masses free bread and circuses to appease them. Biden does not explain how Washington would manage less money for the Highway Trust Fund. It is an essential source of financing for highway and public transport projects.

A federal gasoline tax exemption would prevent Uncle Sam from collecting 18 cents for every gallon of gasoline purchased. The Highway Trust Fund is already facing financial difficulties.

Congress should decide how to make up for lost dollars. It will increase other taxes, transfer income from another source, borrow more (increasing our growing national debt by $30 trillion), or reduce the scope or number of transportation-funded projects.

Ultimately, motorists and transit users will lose if federal gasoline taxes are temporarily suspended.

— Larry Penner, big neck

High mortgage rates are a matter of perspective

As the average US interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgages hits 5.78%, cries of anguish can be heard on the moon [“Mortgage rates rise steeply,” News, June 17].

But about 55 years ago, when I was paying 7.25% interest on the mortgage on my first home, not a cry, not a gasp, not a moan could be heard from the new owners. It is a question of perspective.

—Thomas W. Smith, Riverhead

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