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JERRY KASSAR
JERRY KASSAR

Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training. As far as I am concerned, this is a better indicator of the changing season then any groundhog and its shadow. And in just a few days the full spring training roster will be in camp to begin first intra team play and then the formal spring training playing schedule.

If the Mets can stay healthy – and that is a big question – they most certainly will be in contention to win their division. Their pitching is as spectacular as last year and maybe even more so with the return of Harvey.

The Yankees are also a good team, but you have to wonder, with a $191 million dollar payroll, should they be a better team? Alex Rodriguez alone is making $21 million not to play. The Mets are projecting a $124 million payroll, which is not too shabby although certainly a good bit less than the Yankees.

Personally I think that most professional athletes are overpaid by the time they get to the third renewal of their contracts or free agent status. Usually, by this point in their careers, they have enjoyed their prime playing years with injuries and simple playing fatigue taking their toll. Of course, they tend to be bigger fan favorites, so that does make up for some of the lost value on the field.

In any event, as I write this column it’s 29° outside with ice and snow on the ground. Spring training sounds just like heaven right now.

* * *

A lot happened last week in our state capital. For starters, the State Senate and Assembly voted to place a one-year moratorium on the bag fee. There were ample reasons given for the moratorium, ranging from the city could do better in the form of recycling programs to it being another example of the nanny state.

In my opinion, the simple fact that two thirds of New York City residents opposed the fee (as reflected in numerous polls) should in itself be enough justification for the state legislature to enact a moratorium. The fee was intended to influence personal behavior, not provide some sort of necessary revenue for a program, project or the general operation of government.

The other controversial issue was the Assembly’s passage by a hair-thin vote of two members (77 to 61 with 76 votes needed to pass) of legislation making New York a sanctuary state.

As I noted in a previous column, this would prevent the notification of federal authorities by New York City (and New York State under this bill) of an undocumented alien the city has arrested for committing a technically non-violent crime including sexual abuse in the second and third degrees, bribery and DWI among  150 or so other crimes.

Presently, if you are an undocumented alien arrested by the state police or by local law enforcement for a crime such as sexual abuse outside of New York City in a jurisdiction that has not declared itself a sanctuary location (most of the state outside of New York City), you are held for local prosecution or immediate deportation by transfer to the federal government.

If you are prosecuted here, you can expect to be turned over to the federal government upon completion of your sentence, if guilty, or if you are found innocent, because you are here illegally, the federal government will wish to deport such a person in compliance with the laws of the United States.

Locally Assemblymembers Abbate, Colton, Harris, Hikind and Ortiz voted for it, making up more than enough votes to pass it. Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, an outspoken opponent of sanctuary cities, voted no and led the almost successful charge to defeat it in the Assembly.

The State Senate Republicans who are the majority party in the Senate have indicated that sanctuary state legislation will not be considered in the Senate, so for the moment the issue is dead in the legislature.

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