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Dare to compare

   It's a bureaucratic sounding organization with a high-fallutin' mission:

   The Empire Center For New York State Policy, a project of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, says it is "dedicated to promoting freedom, opportunity and enterprise in the Empire State. Through research papers, policy briefings, commentaries and conferences, the Empire Center seeks to educate and inform New York State policymakers, news media and the general public."

   What that doesn't say is that it provides an essential public service: Public information that is supposed to be available to you and me but sometimes takes ages to get, is available to you and me on the center's web site.

   You can look up stuff like how your taxes compare to your brother-in-law's in a different town, or what your son's teacher's contract looks like.

   --- Barbara O'Brien

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