Sunday, November 19, 2017

NYC COMPTROLLER | Chief Economists

Frank Braconi (L) and John Tepper Marlin, Chief Economists to Five NYC
Comptrollers, 1992-2017. Note piñata at upper left.  It did not survive
unscathed. Photo by Alice Tepper Marlin.
In 1989, New York City elected David Dinkins Mayor and Liz Holtzman Comptroller. 

It also approved a thoroughly revised New York City Charter, eliminating the historic Board of Estimate.

The NYC Comptroller lost some powers but gained a new responsibility – it must report on the NYC economy every December and must submit to the NYC Council annually its independent tax-revenue estimate based on the Comptroller's economic outlook.

To carry out this and other tasks, the Comptroller created the position of Chief Economist. It has been filled by five economists, all male. Over the 28 years of the title, three economists have held the job for four years. One has just started working in the title under Comptroller Stringer, one is Commissioner of Finance for Mayor de Blasio and the third became economic adviser to former Governor Pataki.

I was the second Chief Economist, under Comptrollers Holtzman, Alan Hevesi and Bill Thompson. Frank Braconi was the fourth, under Comptrollers Thompson, John Liu and Scott Stringer.

We met up yesterday evening at a post-election celebration hosted by a Suffolk County gadfly group (Resist & Replace) and the local Democratic party. We are united in getting behind a Democratic candidate in 2018 to defeat Lee Zeldin, a Tea Party incumbent Congressman from New York's District 1.

An early order of business at the event was to tackle the Trump piñata, which may be seen to the upper left in the photo.

Between us, my years and Frank Braconi's at the Comptroller's Office add up to a quarter century and take us through two attacks on the World Trade Center and four Mayors – Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg and deBlasio.

106th Mayor
David Dinkins (b. 1927)
Comptroller Holtzman
January 1990
December 1993
4 years
Rudy Giuliani (b. 1944)
Comptroller Hevesi
January 1994
December 2001
8 years
Michael Bloomberg (b. 1942)
Comptrollers Thompson, Liu
January 2002
December 2013
12 years
Bill de Blasio (b. 1961)
Comptroller Stringer
January 2014
4 years
& Counting    

Sunday, November 5, 2017

ARMS, CREST | 2017 Fees

The 2017 College of Arms fee schedule for a coat of arms and crest is shown below. "Impersonal" arms would be for a city or town or church. The arms without crest would be the shield. 

The crest is above the shield and typically adorns a helmet. In the North Warwickshire Borough Council coat of arms the crest is a lion rampant holding a cross fleury.

A "badge" is an armiger's equivalent to a logo. It could appear on clothing worn by staff, for example. The badge is priced only for commercial companies. 

Any graduate of a good college with no identifiable character blemishes and a connection to England or Wales (as would be the case for a graduate of an English University) can petition to the Queen for a coat of arms.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

WIND FARMS | Alternative Energy, Offshore Turbines, Montauk

The largest U.S. array of new windmills in the ocean is being planned for the end of Long Island.

Called Deepwater One, the site is 30 miles from Montauk on the end of Long Island. It covers 256 square miles and can generate 1,000 Megawatts of electricity.

This "Guestwords" article appeared in the East Hampton Star on Thursday, November 2:

Let the Turbines Spin by Alice Tepper Marlin | The East Hampton Star

Thursday, October 26, 2017

NEW YORK | GOP Passes "Decimating" Budget

October 26, 2017 – This morning, the House of Representatives passed a budget that the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget describes as using "gimmicks", increasing debt and exercising "Zero Fiscal Restraint".
For New York State residents, the bill is especially threatening because it eliminates the deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT) from taxable incomes.
When this idea was introduced under President Reagan, it was described as "double taxation". The CEO of American Express predicted that the value of the company's new building would drop by 25 percent, from $1 billion to $750 million. The proposal was defeated.

Under President Trump, the idea was resurrected and has passed both the Senate and the House.
On Long Island, two Republican Congressman opted to vote against the bill:

  • One of them, Rep. Peter King, said: "Why should I vote for something that would end up decimating my district?" 
  • The other, Lee Zeldin, represents most of Suffolk County. 
The bill has passed by a few votes and now goes back to a House-Senate conference for reconciliation.

New York voters are watching carefully. If King and Zeldin think that they will be forgiven for this "decimating" GOP budget because they voted against it, they may be in for a surprise. 

BUDGET 2017 | House Chooses "Zero Fiscal Restraint"

The House today just passed the Senate-approved Budget for FY 2018, which the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget describes as a choice of "Gimmicks and Debt" and "Zero Fiscal Restraint".

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

For Immediate Release
The House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved budget today. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:
Republicans in Congress laid out two visions in two budgets for our fiscal future, and today, they choose the path of gimmicks, debt, and absolutely zero fiscal restraint over the one of responsibility and balance.

While the original House budget balanced on paper and offered some real savings, the Senate’s version accepted today by the House fails to reach balance, enacts a pathetic $1 billion in spending cuts out of a possible $47 trillion, and allows for $1.5 trillion to be added to the national debt.

Make no mistake  this is a defining moment for the Republican party. After years of passing balanced budgets and calling for fiscal responsibility, the GOP is now on-the-record as supporting trillions in new debt for the sake of tax cuts over tax reform and failing to act on the pressing need to reform our largest entitlement programs.

Although Congress just took a radical detour, there is still time to reverse course. As the legislative process unfolds, we urge members of Congress to produce legislation that does not add to our already near-record high national debt, and to reject the use of gimmicks, including rosy economic growth assumptions, that hide its true cost.

Tax cuts do not pay for themselves; they can create growth, but in the amount of tenths of percentage points, not whole percentage points. And they certainly cannot fill in trillions in lost revenue. Relying on growth projections that no independent forecaster says will happen isn’t the way to do tax reform. Lawmakers should instead return to the principle of fiscal responsibility by enacting pro-growth tax reform that doesn’t add to the debt.
For more information contact Patrick Newton, Press Secretary, at

Thursday, October 19, 2017

EXPERT WITNESS | Daubert Factors, Billing

I have served as an expert witness in equal opportunity, election district, utility rate, utility merger, environmental and real estate cases. My testimony was crucial in several cases. 

Most of the time I was working with lawyers for a nonprofit groups or a government agency, and I was paid for my work. In a few cases I donated my expertise to a cause. 

In two cases, for which I put in a substantial amount of time, I was promised payment and was not paid. In one of these cases, the payment was contingent on the nonprofit getting payment from a judge. In the other, the attorney lied to me. Imagine.😱

I am posting this to make sure that I have done my best to prevent someone else making the same mistake that I did. If you are told you will be paid, there are steps you need to take to make sure you are.

The Five Daubert Factors 

The Daubert factors are familiar to lawyers but not always to expert witnesses. Understand that your expertise may be matched against that of someone else on the other side. 

These factors are a recapitulation of Federal rules of evidence. A case went up to the Supreme Court, which decided that these rules should govern how expert evidence is used in a Federal case (I am paraphrasing from a summary posted by Expert Witness):

1. The expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge must be helpful to the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue, 
2. The testimony must be based on sufficient facts or data, 
3. The testimony must be the product of reliable principles and methods, 
4. The expert must have reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case, and 
5. In some federal courts, a Daubert challenge must occur regarding any expert review.

If it looks as though you won't be able to get through all these steps, don't take on the job. The lawyer may sound desperate – but that's his problem, not yours. 


Don't start work until you have a retainer agreement, especially if a lawyer has called you out of the blue. You don't want to have to contemplate suing a lawyer; it costs you money and is free for him or her. Don't be a victim.😒