November 13, 2001
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An editorial in today's New York Times calls on the mayor-elect to confer with the governor and "examine the possibility of city and state tax increases, or at least deferral of previously enacted tax cuts."
Raising taxes in an economic downturn is a sure way to worsen it. And given that New York already has one of the highest tax burdens of any American city, it's amazing that the Times would call for increases. If an increase were enacted, no doubt even more businesses and residents would flee to the suburbs. Actually, the Times doesn't even have the kishkes to call for a tax increase -- it calls on the mayor and governor to "examine the possibility." What are the odds that if the mayor and governor "examine the possibility" and then reject it, the Times will be duly satisfied? Not great. This is the same newspaper that just called a few weeks ago for a federal per-employee tax credit for businesses in downtown New York, as proposed by Senator Clinton and Senator Schumer. If the Times, by the logic of that editorial, thinks tax credits attract businesses, then why at the same time would it be arguing for tax increases that would scare jobs away from the city?
Olive Branch: A dispatch from the West Bank in the international section of today's New York Times reports on olive trees. The story concludes, "When asked why the tree was also regarded as a symbol of peace, he was, well, stumped. 'This is an old expression,' he said. 'I don't know why.'"
The Times leaves the matter hanging. In fact the symbol of peace is not so much the olive tree but an olive branch. One source of that is Genesis 8:11, in which a dove sent by Noah to check on the status of the flood returns to the ark: "The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its mouth was a plucked-off olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the waters had decreased on the earth."
Frappuccino: A dispatch from North Platte, Nebraska, in the national section of today's New York Times reports on an independent coffee shop there that serves "a chocolate-covered espresso bean atop every frappuccino." Frappuccino is a registered trademark of Starbucks Coffee Company, and if this Nebraska company is using the term without permission, there may be a follow-up story for the Times. If the Times is just using the term to refer to any non-Frappuccino frozen coffee drink, it's being a bit careless. Not every frozen coffee drink is a Frappuccino.
Note: Smartertimes.com begins this month introducing some original material, mainly about New York City, that is not related to the New York Times. Today's installment focuses on New York's Dominican community.
By Benjamin Smith
Eight daily flights connect New York area airports to the Dominican Republic, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The flights have helped keep members of one of New York's newest and largest immigrant groups in constant touch with family members, business partners, and elections in their Caribbean homeland.
Monday's crash took the lives of 251 passengers and nine crew members, the Associated Press reported.
"Most Dominicans have been on flight 587," said a shaken Oscar Herasme, a lawyer for the non-profit Alianza Dominicana, as mourning families made their way into the Alianza's headquarters.
They came to mourn people like Tito Bautista, a 37-year-old who worked days in a factory and nights in a corner store, according to his older brother Salvador. He was flying home to see his children. "My brother, my brother," the surviving Mr. Bautista repeated, slumped in a chair at the Alianza.
The Dominican community is centered on the Upper Manhattan neighborhood long known as Washington Heights, but informally renamed Quisqueya Heights after the island, also known as Hispaniola, which contains both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Dominicans began making their way to New York after the fall of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1961. The 2000 census recorded 406,806 New York City residents of Dominican origin, although city officials and community leaders say confusing census questions and thousands of illegal immigrants put the figure far higher. A 1996 study by the New York City Department of Planning found that between 1990 and 1996, an average of 21,330 Dominicans a year moved to New York, making the Dominican Republic the most common "sending country" for new New Yorkers.
The controversy over New York's Dominicans isn't just about the numbers. City officials denounced a 1997 City College-Columbia University study that claimed that Dominicans, among the city's poorest groups, lost out in the 1990s. In particular, the study found that more than a quarter of Dominicans -- like the late Mr. Bautista -- worked in the city's manufacturing sector, and had been hurt by its contraction. Forty-five percent of Dominicans lived in poverty in 1996 -- twice the national average -- and the unemployment among Dominicans was more than twice the city average.
"I think that the report somewhat exaggerates the problem," Mayor Giuliani told Newsday in 1997. "For people in the second generation, there's actually a great deal of success."
Dominican New Yorkers have struggled for a profile in New York Hispanic politics, which is still dominated by more numerous Puerto Ricans who include mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer. But they have been more successful in influencing elections at home, where dollars and New York voters played a crucial role in the election of Dominican President Hipolito Mejia in 2000.
Monday's crash injects an element of fear into what had been a routine trip. Juan Vicioso, a Dominican-born US citizen, stopped by the Alianza to offer his help and worry about his daughter. "She has business back home and she's planning to travel," he explained. "I'm going to talk to her about that."
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