John: I am talking with Sal Ferro so that we can get his thoughts on the breaking news that we’re getting out of the White House, President Trump and his wife First Lady, Melania Trump, have both contracted the Coronavirus. Sal, what do you think about this news and how do you think it’s going to affect the upcoming election?
Sal: Well first and foremost, I would certainly like to say that I hope the two of them recover fully. We don’t wish any harm on anybody. I think our country should be hoping that are President and his family are safe and get through this.
As far as the election, I think you can look at it in two ways; some people will sympathize with Trump and then you’re going to have a lot of people who will just wish him ill. Unfortunately, you already are seeing this online. It’s just going to further put a divide between the far-left and far-right and the conspiracy theorists and all that other stuff. It’s simply that somebody got COVID. Many people that I know have contracted COVID and they didn’t mean to get it.
John: I’m pretty sure I had it myself earlier this year.
Sal: Right, you didn’t get it on purpose. COVID is a reality and how severe it is up to interpretation. According to scientists, it is a serious issue. Right now our President needs to quarantine and the people who do support Trump will support him even more now and people who hate Trump will continue to hate him.
John: I understand. If he becomes incapacitated then Vice President Pence would take over his responsibilities, right?
Sal: Yes, the Vice President is there in the event that our President cannot perform his duties.
John: What if they both were incapcitated or both died?
Sal: The next in line would be the Speaker of the House, right now that would be Nancy Pelosi.
John: There are a lot of people who are Democrats who are not for Nancy Pelosi. They feel she is not qualified to lead the country. What do you think of Nancy Pelosi taking over In a worst-case scenario?
Sal: I don’t think we’re going to get to that point. I think number one, the country can still be run with somebody that has COVID. I don’t think there’s a possibility that both he and Pence will become incapacitated. I think it’s just a very remote chance, it’s not even worth discussing.
John: The other day we had a little chat about the Presidential Debate. I know you wanted to weigh in on that. What did you think of the debate?
Sal: I think that the country lost. I think it was a display of two immature school kids. I don’t think that we in this country should allow our leaders to get to that point, and we should hold them accountable.
John: Isn’t that what the moderator Chris Wallace was supposed to do?
Sal: I think we lost out because we didn’t have a moderator who was fairly moderating. He was there with an agenda, and his agenda was, it’s well-known he’s not a Trump fan, and reacted that way in the debate. As a moderator, he should have controlled it and kept his hand on the confrontational approach and focused more on debating the facts and debating opinions. I want to know what Biden will do with A, B, or C, and I want to know what Trump will do with A, B, or C. The interrupting and name-calling and all that stuff took away from what could have been a very good debate, giving us the ability to understand their ideology and their positions. I don’t think the United States got that or the public got that, and I think Chris Wallace Is a big part of that.
John: What do we do about politicians who stray from the honorable and ethical process of debating like gentlemen? Do you think the voting process will stop this because it seems to be going on in a lot of political races these days?
Sal: We’re going to find this out on election day. What we should do is hold our leaders accountable. I think we’ve got to get the media out of politics. Chris Wallace is part of the media, and all we keep seeing the media taking positions and pushing their agenda. Whether it’s right or left, whatever it may be, and they just need to get the hell out. We need to have neutrality. It’s all about facts and all about opinions and positions. I think that will help considerably. As far as the politicians who act like bullies and conduct themselves like this, we should throw them out. I think they both acted so much that way although I do feel that Chris Wallace had an agenda and he seemed to lean towards Biden, and it took a lot away from that debate.
John: On another note, we are weeks away from the actual election, and we’ve had elections in the past, some in New York, that were conducted with a lot of mail-in voting and they were a mess. Do you think President Trump has a legitimate concern about mail-in ballots?
Sal: I think mail-in voting is far easier to manipulate and for years it was a small part of the process, but the Democratic party is pushing mail-in voting as a way to increase their base. I know that if people are able to get out and go to restaurants and be out doing things, I don’t really see any reason for them to be voting by mail. I’ve had people say that they are just going to mail it in, and I ask if they go to a store or work every day, then they can and should get up and go vote in person. Whether it’s Republican or Democrat or Independent you should vote in person. I think you should have to sign off and show identification. In the case of people that can’t go because they feel intimidated to vote, well then they shouldn’t vote. I’m not sure how you feel about it, but…
John: I think it’s a joke that our administration believes it would be able to handle the volume of mail-in votes if we can’t even handle that in small elections. The results could take months. If we can’t handle the small ones, how are we going to have a national election with so much potential for fraud? People’s subjective opinions when it comes to trashing votes will be a huge factor. I think it’s going to be a catastrophe. I agree with President Trump on this issue.
Sal: I agree with the ideology. I try not to take a Trump position or a Biden position when it comes to looking at politics. For me and looking at the issues, from almost a journalistic standpoint, even though I’m not a journalist.
John: An independent journalistic stand point.
Sal: I’ve always stood for the fact that voting is a privilege, and it’s something you should take seriously in this country. It is our opportunity to be counted and your vote is you making a statement with your opinion. This is what we were founded on, and we can’t abuse voting or abuse that privilege or manipulate it, either way, Republican or Democrat. I wonder what is it that is going to help change things, and I think it will change if we get to a point one day when we elect an independent to the White House.
John: I know our founding fathers were terrified of a two-party system, where each time one party is in power it would be like a dictatorship, passing through anything they want which would stymie anything from the other party. It almost seems like we are starting to approach that point with a two-party system. If you’re Republican in power, you get everything done while you’re in power and you do it any way you have to do it, by executive order or otherwise, and it is the same for the Democratic party. It’s a very scary prospect right now.
Sal: I think the founding fathers were right, and the two-party system is just too much control. Look at New York State, we have either one party or the other. Now it’s all one, just the Democrats in the State Assembly and the Governor’s Office. The last time that happened we ended up with the MTA tax then we went back to Republicans in the Senate. I think most people would say having a Republican Senate and a Democratic Assembly, and then a more independent Governor would be the best way to serve the people of New York State. Instead, right now, we have all the Democrats controlling everything.
John Now, a lot of Republicans are saying, in regard to any additional stimulus, “look at New York” and say that the state was a mess financially before the pandemic, and we’re not going to bail you out because your policies and taxes and other programs put you in this predicament. What are your feelings on these statements?
Sal: I think they’re 100% correct. It’s something I’m very passionate about. New York has been a financial mess for a long time. Long Island gives far more to New York than anywhere else and we never get it back. Now COVID comes around and puts us in a worse position. We won’t even enact laws that would put us in a better position, to do things to improve our financial positions. We do not even change laws that will save us money all because of politics. For instance, we have a law scaffolding law in New York that makes the insurance rates in New York state for my company and for those similar to mine, cost ten times as much as other states. We are the only state that has an absolute liability to the contractor, builder, or developer for any fall-related accident. Absolute liability! This puts the financial burden on the builder, not who is negligent for the fall accident. We’ve been trying to get them to put in comparative negligence which would allow builders, contractors or developers to have a defense, to be able to say in an incident that they had the right safety equipment and did the right thing.
Now I am just giving you one example because of the amount of money it would save builders if reasonable legislation and laws were passed. In New Jersey, industry pros pay significantly less than we do for insurance. This doesn’t just affect the building contractor and developers, it affects all infrastructure projects. For the school authority, roads, building authority, even the Mario Cuomo Bridge. All major infrastructure projects are saddled with huge insurance rates. There was just a study I read about recently that showed that New York State would save a ton of money if they would take on this issue, but it won’t because of special interests.
I look at New York State and I think we are so over-regulated. We are so tough on businesses. You could say we are anti-business. The one thing that will help New York State is business. Allowing businesses to expand and create jobs will increase tax revenues. You cannot keep raising taxes. You cannot keep raising real estate taxes which are the highest in the nation. Our utility rates are the highest. People who live in the city pay a city tax on top of state and federal taxes. There has to be a point where something gives. I know there’s a thought that we just keep taxing the wealthy, but you know what? The wealthy are leaving New York.
John: And the young people. The young people don’t want to stay here and get taxed to death for the rest of their lives.
Sal: In New York, I read about a survey recently which showed almost 300 people a day leaving, even more in the metropolitan areas. MORE THAN 300 people a day leave New York than who come to New York. Politicians need to wake up and realize they are taxing us out of business, and out of New York. On top of that, with the new crime bill, not a single politician ever spoke with district attorneys or law enforcement when they enacted this. This is basically a get out of jail free card for anyone incarcerated! How is that serving the public good?
John: It truly is a get out-of-jail-free crime bill.
Sal: Then as people leave and the debt ads up what do the New York politicians do? They want to blame the federal government for everything. How do you do that? I think we need to look within ourselves and see what really needs to change and what needs to be done. We need elected officials who are independent-minded, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, I don’t care what you are, I care what you can bring to the process. We have some really good elected officials on Long Island. Senator Kaminsky, who leads our Long Island delegation is an independent thinker. He’s a strong guy, he’s open-minded, he gets it.
John: Everybody’s worried about so many people leaving New York and the cost of living here versus the potential for income. Statistics are showing that even with two parents working full time, the cost of living far exceeds what most can earn on Long Island. Now, what about your election predictions. You answered this the last time we spoke, is there anything that changes regarding who you think is going to win?
Sal: It’s a tough one. I think it’s one of the toughest races to call in a long time at this point. I’m just not sure, I’m really not. You’ve got so many people who want the demise of Trump and they want a change. Then there are so many people that are incredibly happy with Trump and what he brings to the table. The far-right and the far-left. It’s the independent voters this time who are really making the decision, and I think it’s just too early to tell.
John: Sal, as always thank you for your opinions. I look forward to seeing what happens in November and hearing from you again.
Sal: John thanks. You doing a great job and I appreciate it.