Friday, December 22, 2006

The More Things DON'T Change. . .

. . .The More Property Taxes We Pay!

Its not that we have nothing new and exciting to write about, but with so much that we hoped for in 2006 just never coming to pass, we figured a reprint of the 2005 year-end piece was in order.

So, to our State and County Legislators, Town Board members, Village officials (and village idiots, in those villages where the two are not interchangeable), and all those powers-that-be, powers-that-would-be, and powers-that-are-not-but think-they-are (is that a slap in our own face? Nah!), let's take it again from the top in 2007. Maybe this time, you'll actually get it -- even if you don't always get it right. . .

Another Auld Lang Syne

New Year Ushers In Hope, Determination

At this time of the season, it is a media tradition to offer a restrospective of the year passed. Been there. Done that. No Best of list here. [A&S Bagels in Franklin Square is our hands down favorite.] No Person of the Year or even Person of the Century [We were considering ncres4change, the commentator who made us laugh, made us cry, and, above all, made us think -- but how could we do that without giving at least honorable mention to chester arthur, franklin square resident, town hall insider, and, of course, our resident "poster" boy (that's a good thing), Pat Nicolosi?]

We're not even going to offer a 2005 necrology -- you know, that laundry list of names and faces scrolling down the screen to which we summarily gasp, "Oooh. I thought he died years ago!" We will miss you, James Doohan, Eugene McCarthy, Rosa Parks, Richard Pryor, and Michael Vale -- the "time to make the donuts" guy, who left us at 83 years of age (apparently, he made many more donuts than he ate).

We will offer a profound "thank you" to all who contributed, in ways both meaningful and immeasurable, to the good of community -- from the community advocates and civic stalwarts who daily chart tomorrow's course, to the elected (and their challengers) who truly put people before politics, to the members of the free press, who do their darnedest to keep us all "in the know," to the Guest Bloggers and comment posters whose prose (and anti-prose) give us pause to reflect on the true meaning of community spirit.

If we need or want anything in the coming year, that "wish" for 2006 would be for twice as many civic activists on the local scene. Dare we ask for ten-fold? An outpouring of those who understand that the status quo is never good enough, that there is a vast difference between "staying the course" and changing it, and that, while looking forward is good, moving forward is even better!

Yes, we could use a few more community crusaders, especially among the main stream civic organizations. Oh, don't get us wrong or your feathers all ruffled. The civics, as a rule, do a fine job in promoting the public good -- if but only by sponsoring the passing parade down Main Street. Genuine, enduring change, as the future of sustainable community dictates, requires more than the ephemeral, however. It calls for civic leaders who are more adept at putting the finger on the pressure points of government, than in placing that proverbial pat on the back. We, as the voices of community, need to be less concerned about offending either elected official or bureaucratic drone, who, themselves, should be more concerned about offending the people they serve."

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." [Catching trout, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.] We hear that line (about the flies, not the trout), over and over and over. Truer words were never spoken. Then again, what will you do with all those flies once you catch them? They buzz around, land on the food, all but ruin the picnic, and then, before you turn around to swat them, there they are, dead as door nails, short-lived pests that are here today, and caught in the great window screen of tomorrow.

The long-term gains come -- and they do come, when we keep the heat on -- only when we, the people, demand more than they, the elected, expect to give us. It is always "the squeaky wheel that gets the grease." We aim to continue to be that squeaky wheel in 2006 -- to make it to the Enemies List of more than just a single elected Town official -- and urge each and every one of you to be a critical spoke in that wheel.

Community, like democracy, is not a spectator sport. It is not enough to sit on the sidelines bemoaning the numbers racking up in the loss column, or to merely echo the sentiments of those who, against the best interests of community, would call for change while steadfastly maintaining the status quo. [Why, just the other day this blogger received a letter from the local Chamber of Commerce requesting dues for the coming membership year. The letter, penned by the Chamber president, appeared as little more than a regurgitated Around The Town piece. "We're working with the Town to..." To what? To do the very same things we were promised would be done over the last decade or two? Give us a break.] Frankly, we need less patsy from the peanut gallery and more pit bull!

As all politics is local, so is all government -- for all government begins with a single vote. It is up to us to make certain that government does not stop there. In 2006, we are determined to make every eligible voter a registered voter. With your help, we will succeed in this endeavor.

We will, in the year ahead, continue to blog, to broadcast, and, who knows, maybe even to podcast, getting the message of community out to the masses. [If only we were syndicated!] Today, we are 4864 e-mail addresses and countless "forwards" strong. The "hits" number in the thousands, weekly. In 2006, with any luck -- and the persistence of the faithful -- we will triple that number. [Not that anyone is paying attention, but that's okay. When they least expect it, we'll be right there behind them!]

We're going to keep on making noise, bending ears, reddening faces and raising eye brows and blood pressure -- 'cause nobody does it better. We'll keep jumping up and down, screamin' and kickin' (if that's what it takes), until we see some real progress on the community front. We're going to insist that the County put "development" into downtown redevelopment. We're going to demand that the State Legislature and the local school districts undertake necessary measures (well beyond that fallen STAR) to lower -- not "freeze," LOWER -- the school property tax. We're going to exact upon Town Hall the full power of pen and populace until action is taken to rid our neighborhoods of illegal accessory apartments and to provide residents with more than piecemeal platitudes passed off as affordable housing.

In 2006, we will again confound the pundits by punditing them one better. We will not pretend to be all-knowing, not even in the "truths" we self-proclaim to be most evident. We will not boast that we have all the answers, but we've certainly got enough problems to go around so that we can all share in taking credit for the solutions.

On these cyberpages, in the year that harkens just around the corner, you will likely hear from the mighty and the fallen, the hopeful and the hapless, the bold and those who, with a simple hand up, may be emboldened.We will opine, dissect, disgorge and, as necessary, cast stones from this fragile glass house we call community, recognizing, to paraphrase Billy Crystal (formerly of Long Beach), that without Goliath, David would just be some punk throwing rocks.

Agree or disagree, either with method or madness (come on. You've gotta have some opinion), we hope you will take up the cause -- or at least take offense and strike back -- as The Community Alliance marches ever forward into a new year, with a new vision, with boundless determination, and that same old passion for our Long Island community.

Happy New Year, one and all. Now get back at it, will ya? The work of community is never done!
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Epilogue: Well, we've done our job. Readership is way above all projections and expectations -- 80,000 hits per week! And we're still kickin', screamin', and rocking the boat, just about every day.

Now, if we could only get our government, on every level, to do the people's work, and to shake things up a bit on their own, we'd be well on our way to a better community and a brighter tomorrow.

Happiness, health, joy and peace from all of us at The Community Alliance, the folks who daily attempt to answer that age-old question, "Dude, where's my quality of life?"
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And, on a personal note: Thank you, Alan Hevesi, for thirty years of commendable public service. You've done much good for the people of New York, even though much more remains to be done.

Yes, you've made mistakes. Who among us hasn't? Still, you've owned up to them, and, whether we agree or not, you've paid the most terrible price that anyone in public life can pay. Frankly, we believe you deserve better -- much better -- and our only hope, on this, perhaps the darkest day of your life, is that you do not retreat from public life entirely.

May better days be ahead, for you, your wife, Carol, your entire family, and every New Yorker who understands that our shortcomings, frailties, and, yes, even failures, not only humble us, but make us all too human.

God speed, Alan. . .
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