Queens Buzz .com  Log-In

 
Queens Sub Sectionals

Multi-National Tax Avoidance & Its Implications | multi national tax avoidance UN
Multi-National Tax Avoidance & Its Implications

Multi National Tax Avoidance

Implications For Nations Around The World

September 2014 / International Affairs / News & Analysis / Queens Buzz. By Michael Wood.  Tax avoidance by the large multi-national corporations has been growing worldwide. Government officials say it threatens to deprive governments and communities of much needed resources to provide their citizenry with adequate community infrastructure like transportation, housing, healthcare and education.

Multi-national tax avoidance has long been a problem for developing nations, such as in South Africa. President Thabo Mbeki says his country loses significant sums of tax revenue through corruption, criminal activities and multi-national tax avoidance schemes. Mbeki estimated that the continent of Africa loses $50 billion per year. Thus he joined a UN sponsored group entitled High Level Panel On Illicit Financial Flows which hopes to identify solutions / approaches to the growing worldwide problem.

Multi-national tax avoidance has also become a growing problem in the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama identified multi-national tax avoidance as a possible campaign issue for the 2014 interim elections. Several years ago, it was publicized that multi-national General Electric's effective U.S. tax rate was under 2% throughout most of the first decade of the 21st century, while the company earning in the neighborhood of a couple hundred billion dollars in profits. In the United Kingdom, Starbucks was identified as one of the skillful corporate tax dodgers since they first began operating in the U.K. in 1999.

Click here to read our report about Multi-national Tax Avoidance & its implications.



BRICS Summit & Development Bank

BRICS Summit 2014

BRICS Development Bank & Implications For The Western World

August 2014 / International Affairs / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz. By Michael Wood. The sixth annual BRICS Summit was held in Fortaleza, Brazil beginning July 14 and ending July 16. BRICS is an international group comprised of five of the largest developing countries in the world. The name of the group includes the first letter of each nation's name and includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

This year South Africa was added as an offical member. South Africa had attended prior sessions as a special guest. This year Argentina was invited as a special guest.

BRICS Development Bank Created With $100 Billion

The biggest achievement of the summit was the creation of the BRICS Development Bank which was to be headquartered in Shanghai, China. This is a significant step for China becoming the banker to the developing world. Financing developing nation's growth is an effort that the Chinese have been working on for over a decade and hence this is another step in that direction. The BRICS Development Bank will start with $100 billion, with an additional $100 billion in a reserve currency pool.

The BRICS Development Bank is considered a rival to the United Nations administered World Bank which is based in Washington, D.C. as well as to the International Monetary Fund [IMF] which is also based in Washington, D.C. The BRICS nations have been frustrated in their calls for reforms of what appear to be a half century old world view.

Click here to view our report on the BRICS Summit & BRICS Development Bank.



Milton G Bassin York College Performing Arts Center Sctn | york college performing arts center jamaica queens milton g bassin performing arts center at york college jamaica queens
Milton G Bassin York College Performing Arts Center Sctn

York College Performing Arts Center

Milton G Bassin Performing Arts Center in Jamaice

September 2017 / Jamaica Neighborhood / Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz NYC.

The Milton G Bassin Performing Arts is a cultural center for southeastern Queens and beyond.  Associated with York College, the performing arts center hosts a number of local productions, visiting professional productions as well as theatrical works developed and performed by the students of York College.

Click here to view our photos and reports on the Milton G Bassin York College Performing Arts Center in Queens.



NYS Government & Politics - New York State Governors Office, Attorney General, Comptroller | queens borough president melinda katz state of the boro address queens boro president melinda katz state of the borough address
NYS Government & Politics - New York State Governors Office, Attorney General, Comptroller

Albany Legislative Session To End Friday

Pending Bills: Public School Funding & Rent Stabilization Law

June 15, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz.

There are two important bills expected to be finalized by the New York State Legislature this week: 1) one having to do with taxation and funding for the public schools and 2) the second having to do with NYC rent stabilization law.

I've been paying some modest measure of attention to both of these bills, and the following is a brief snapshot of a critical talking point in each bill.

Use Public Money To Fund Private Education?

From what I can gather, perhaps the most contentious item in the public education funding bill is the provision for sizeable tax deductions for those who choose to send their children to private, not public schools.

As I understand it, these tax deductions would be included as part of the funding for the public schools budget and therefore will reduce what's left for the NYS / NYC public school systems.

It's worth noting that private school tuition in NYC can cost in the range of about $5,000 to $30,000 per year per student. And that there are about 900 private schools in NYC alone, so depending on how these proposed deductions are ultimately structured, the funds reallocated from the public schools to private individuals would be in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly more.

You might want to contact Governor Cuomo's office at 1.518.474.8390 to let him know you support or oppose the measure, since we understand that he's been the major force pushing for this public school funding change. You can also send him an email via the Governor's contact form.

Albany & Expiring Rent Stabilization Laws

rent stabilzation laws queensThe Rent Stabilization Laws are due to expire tonight, June 15, 2015.

There was talk earlier this year that there would be a push to expand or strengthen the Rent Stabilization Laws given the rapid growth in homelessness in New York City. The NYC homeless population is currently estimated at over 60,000 or nearly 1% of the entire NYC population. About 70% of New York City residents are renters, of which about two million of less than eight and a half million residents, live in rent stabilized apartments.

Over the past decade or so, the Rent Stabilization Laws have been curtailed in the favor of the free market and landlords. The curtailment of rent price control legislation is believed to have spurred additional real estate development investment, as the profits of most new buildings are no longer affected by rent stabilization laws.

Much of the rapid growth in homelessness over the past decade is believed to be the result of tenants losing their rent stabilized apartments, as new owners of buildings have found ways to circumvent the laws. A recent NYU Furman Center Study has shown the loss of over 330,000 unsubsidized affordable apartments since 2002, due in part to the rent stabilization legislative changes referenced above.

NYS legislative insiders told me that tenants rights supporters were hoping to make legislative gains this year, but that the NYS Assemblypeople and NYS Senators opposing the changes, were going to allow the rent stabilization laws to expire as a negotiating tactic.

Vicki Been, Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, informed us that the current rent stabilization laws remain in effect through the term of existing leases and leases up for renewal that are already in the hands of the tenants. She also said that tenants should call 311 with any questions or problems.

Cuomo & NYS Officials - Quinnipiac Poll

nys polls june 2015On June 3, 2015 Quinnipiac released a poll showing voters are feeling negatively about the NYS Legislature as a whole, while continuing to favor their local representatives. In the poll Governor Cuomo has only a 2% margin of those favoring him.

Governor Cuomo had a 44% approval rating versus 42% disapproval rating, as voters are not satisfied with his handling of the corruption scandals that have plagued Albany this year. In February 2015 Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [Democrat Manhattan] was indicted on federal corruption charges. And in May 2015 NYS Senate Leader Dean Skelos [Republican Long Island] was indicted by a federal Grand Jury.

Less than a year ago, NYS gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University surprised polls by garnering nearly 2 votes for every 3 won by the governor in the NYS Democratic primary. Ms. Teachout did not have much in the way of significant private backing or union support, but won nearly 40% of the vote waging an online campaign.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, voters by a margin of 52% - 32% said that with respect to Albany's corruption problem:

"... the Governor is part of the problem, not part of the solution."

As for the NYS Assemblymembers and NYS Senators the Quinnipiac Poll reported the following:

"Voters disapprove 60 - 26 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing, but approve 44 - 37 percent of their own Assembly member and approve 54 - 31 percent of their own state senator."

"At the same time, 45 percent of voters say their state senator should be thrown out in a general house-cleaning, while 40 percent say their senator deserves reelection."

"Voters are divided 41 - 41 percent on whether their Assembly member should be reelected or thrown out."

As you can see, the sentiments collected in the Quinnipiac poll seem a bit contradictory, as the answers received depend on how the questions are stated. Nonetheless, this looks to be an interesting legislative week as things wind down in Albany, and as the 2016 election cycle begins to ramp up.

Click to view our section on - New York State Politics & Government NYS.



Queens Borough President NYC | queens borough president melinda katz state of the boro address queens boro president melinda katz state of the borough address
Queens Borough President NYC

Queens State of the Borough Address

Katz Delivers Her Third State of the Borough Address

January 27, 2017 / Jamaica Neighborhood / Queens Politics & Government / Queens Buzz.

Last Friday I headed down to Jamaicatown to watch Queens Borough President Melinda Katz deliver her third State of the Borough Address at the Milton Bassin Performing Arts Center at York College.

I entered the auditorium shortly after she began her address where she was talking about her role in the good progress that the de Blasio Administration Education Department, headed by Carmen Farina, is having in moving the needle in enhancing both infrastructure and performance in the NYC Public School System.

As an example about of third of the trailers have been removed, with plans for another third to be removed this year. This means kids are back in regular classrooms - after possibly decades long neglect by prior Administrations [need to confirm this statment].

I'll have more on the Queens Borough President's State of the Borough Address sometime soon.



Queens Borough President State of the Borough Address 2018 | queens borough president melinda katz state of the boro address queens boro president melinda katz state of the borough address
Queens Borough President State of the Borough Address 2018

Queens State of the Borough Address 2018

Katz Delivers Her Fourth State of the Borough Address

January 29, 2018 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Politics & Government / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz NYC.

I headed over to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School on a rather balmy January morning last Friday. The temperatures were unseasonably high in the 50’s and it was dry.

I arrived a bit late for the speech, so I watched it on Youtube over the weekend. The first eleven minutes included introductory performances and speeches, including the Pledge of Allegiance, a singing of the National Anthem, a brief thanks by Gideon Frankel the Principal of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, and a call out to the local pols in attendance by Deputy Borough President Melva Miller.

What U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer Didn't Say was Notable

u.s. senator chuck schumer ny photoAs far as I know, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was not given any advance billing as being one of the speakers today, but he came onto the stage and spoke to us. For a moment I thought we might hear why he had decided to take the Democrats into a showdown about a federal government shutdown with President Trump less than a week ago [Friday, January 19th], and why he then backed off that negotiating stance less than three days later, agreeing to reopen the government by midday Monday, January 22nd.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Schumer Mentions Support for Dreamers & Immigrants, but Not a Word About the Government Shutdown Showdown

But U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer didn’t say a word to us about the shutdown per se, less than a week after it had all gone down. I couldn’t help but wonder why?

Was the shutdown: 1) a part of the growing theatrics of the federal government - as a bid to demonstrate Democratic solidarity with immigrants and Dreamers, or 2) a real effort to win concessions from the Republicans for immigrants, or 3) an ill-planned showdown that only took into account the bi-coastal Democratic leadership [Democratic Senate Minority Leader Schumer - NY & Democratic House Minority Leader Pelosi - CA] that represents densely populated urban areas with large immigrant populations, while ignoring the constituencies represented by Democrats who come from states that are more rural and suburban, and have small immigrant populations?

Schumer was on stage for a bit less than 15 minutes and in that time he told us about how he had cared for his elderly father who now lives in Queens. He referenced Melinda’s second term in office as the ‘peaceful passing of the torch’ which didn’t make a whole lot of sense because Katz is moving from her first to second term so there's no real torch passing going on. And he credited Katz with bringing ferry service to the borough, which I am sure she helped lobby, but which at its core was a Mayoral action. Schumer's visit was not hailed in advance, and he seemed a bit unprepared, so I wondered why he'd decided to speak, and whether he’d been rattled by the events of the prior week?

U.S. Senator Schumer concluded by telling us a story about how Ben Franklin and the framers of the Constitution were concerned about whether the people would actively participate in their own democracy, and whether a self governance system would attract honest candidates / office holders to serve. He then told us that he thought that the politicians on the stage, and the people in the audience today, were proof that both were working.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz State of the Borough Address 2018

Queens Borough President Katz followed U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. She talked about having recently completed ACL reconstructive surgery.

She said that during her first term the Community Board membership in Queens has undergone a huge transformation with 30% of the members being new.

There are three ways to view the significant change in the composition of the community boards: 1) it’s a fresh influx of new blood that represents some of the demographic changes going on in the borough, or 2) a huge loss of experienced community board members, possibly replaced by political appointees, thus creating an easier path for real estate developers to obtain variance approvals, or 3) both.

I don't yet know which it is, but I reckon over time, it should become more clear to us all.