Friday, July 17, 2009

Who's Looking Out For You, Revisited

Back To Basics At The Community Alliance

When The Community Alliance was first launched, what seems like light years ago, on the collective community plate were issues ranging from the proliferation of illegal accessory apartments to the lack of affordable housing, escalating property taxes to local government run amuck.

Well, well. It would seem that our plate remains full, many, if not most of our primal concerns here in suburbia unresolved.

Illegal rental apartments in the basements of single family homes continue to plague us, posing a threat to the life of the renter and to the stability of our tax base.

Affordable housing (the lack of which, in great measure, feeds the illegal accessory apartment crisis), is virtually nonexistent on Long Island, forcing college grads and our young workforce to seek more hospitable -- or at least less costly -- habitats elsewhere.

Property taxes, fueled by the many special taxing districts masquerading as local governments, are strangling homeowners, breaking the bank, forcing folks out of their homes, unchecked, uncapped, and going nowhere but up.

As for the dysfunction of local government, from Albany to Town Hall, well, need we say more than has already been posted on this blog.

So, if the many and varied negatives that impact upon our quality of life here in suburbia have yet to improve or abate, why bother?

Does the dialogue, that constant banter on what's wrong and what could be better, really matter?

Does keeping the issues, grand and small, front and center, serve a fruitful purpose?

Can change, evolutionary if not revolutionary, come by means of an ongoing wave of words, wearing away established mindsets and entrenched mores, as cascading waters wear away huge boulders?

Are we, in this seemingly endless quest to improve the quality of life in this suburban community we call home, making a difference, simply by advancing ideas and ideals, coaxing you, along the way, to get involved, make a stand, and take action?

The answers to all these queries, we believe, quite verily, is a resounding YES!

It would be easy to throw up our hands, toss in the towel, and simply walk away, resigning ourselves to accept a community of lowered expectations and passionless mediocrity. To accept what is, and what has been for far too long, rather than to strive for what could be.

Then again, no one said life would be easy.

Quality of life, whether here in suburbia or in the context of urbanity next door, requires of us a certain vigilance, a defiant voice that will neither be stifled nor silenced, a commitment to the future of community which we hold so dearly in trust, and the courage and fortitude to persevere, despite what appears to be the glacial movement from where were stand to where we want to go.

Perhaps, every once in a while, we need to remind ourselves of the basics.

Cover those garbage cans before placing them at the curb. Remove your cars from the street for street cleaning and snow removal. Keep sidewalks and common areas clean and clear. Be kind to thy neighbor (even if you don't necessarily love him ;-).

And then, having taken those small steps, we can begin to tackle the bigger issues -- illegal accessory apartments, affordable housing, property taxes, dysfunctional government, to name but a few (next week, global warming, nuclear proliferation, health care, and the economy, stupid) -- together, as a united community in solidarity for the betterment of Long Island.

Along the way, on this wonderful journey, the seeds we've planted -- in the blogosphere and elsewhere -- will sprout.

Whether those seeds produce beautiful flowers and green, life-sustaining foliage, or stink weed and strangling vines, is entirely up to you. Of course, we will be here to help tend those gardens, reminding you, as if you thought we wouldn't, that, as communities, we reap what we sow.
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From The Community Alliance website (circa 2004):

Who's Looking Out For You?

Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News spinmeister of “No Spin Zone” fame, recently penned a bestseller entitled, Who’s Looking Out for You? [Surely, O’Reilly is looking out for us, all the way to the bank!]

Elected officials would have us think that they’re looking out for us. Most, in fact, are watching, rather than looking. Watching to see if we can differentiate the promise from the deed. Watching to see if we are watching them. Watching to see if, the next time around, we even bother to vote.
Big Brother is watching, of course. Query as to whether, in so observing our actions and trying to control our every move, he is looking out for us?

Who, then, is looking out for us? Who out there is concerned about our well-being, our quality of life, our very tomorrows. Yes, there is Mom, always looking out for us, comforting us and, within her best measured abilities, guiding, providing and living up to the promise. But who else truly cares about the future of your schools, the vitality of your “downtown,” the value of your stakehold in your community? We hope, most sincerely, that those we elect - from the White House to the State House, from the Town Board to the School Board - do care, do share our values and our concerns, do want, ever so desperately, to look out for each and every one of us.

Hope notwithstanding, we are sometimes left to wonder.

The Community Alliance, an umbrella group representing nearly forty civic and community organizations from Elmont to Wantagh, is taking up the many causes of community that squarely come within the ambit of “quality of life.” From tackling tough issues that impact on every aspect of our quality of life, such as the proliferation of illegal accessory apartments, to keeping an eye on the mundane, like whether that mechanical sweeper ever visited your street to gather up last winter’s sand, The Community Alliance is looking out for you.

No, we’re not Mom. We can’t comfort you when you fall and skin your knee. We won’t whip up a meal to satiate the palate or tuck you in at night. [We could, however, just help you sleep a little better!] We can’t hold your hand as you cross the street (although we will go the extra mile to make that street safer), and while we will offer an attentive ear, we will not, as Mom so often does, clean up your room for you.

And let us reassure those who see The Community Alliance as the posse (white cowboy hats or black - you decide) riding into town under the hot noon sun. We are not Big Brother. Yes, we are concerned about the safety and security of residents – both in and outside of their homes. Yes, we believe that the laws designed to protect us must be enforced – by the authorities empowered to enforce them. Yes, we will continue the fight to eradicate the illegal rental apartment, with all of its negative implications for our collective quality of life. We will advise. We will suggest. We will educate and inform. The rest, as they say, is up to you!

For you are The Community Alliance! Republicans and Democrats. Liberals and Conservatives. Independents and “Blanks.” The non-partisan (or better put, the multi-partisan) approach to rebuilding and re-energizing our villages and hamlets. Whether you hail from Franklin Square or Bellmore; call “home” Merrick or East Meadow; you share that common hometown fervor. The problems and disquietudes of Levittown and Uniondale are, quite literally, those of Floral Park, Westbury, Oceanside and Valley Stream. Our passions are the same, and you, dear neighbors, are community’s best hope.

Attempts to divide us as they will (and they will) by school districts, by water districts, by sanitary districts (among countless others), our shared interests eclipse our provincial differences, and our cause majure – collectively as civic associations and individually as residents – is identical: community!

At The Community Alliance, it is our intent to lay aside the petty; to downplay the divisive; to instill that hope of suburbia that brought most of us out to Long Island in the first place. Yes, at The Community Alliance, we want you to know that we are looking out for you – realizing, as we do, that, as a community, we must all look out for one another!
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What quality of life issues are important to you and concern you most? E-mail us at

The Community Alliance
Common Sense Solutions To Common Community Concerns

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