I was pretty tired and distracted when I posted last night and hope I didn't sound like I was in any way equating my teenage son and his friend having their skateboards taken by a local cop with the devastation and hardship being faced by many of our neighbors and friends and fellow Jersey and New York and the rest of the Eastern seaboard citizens.
It just seemed emblematic to me of how we've gotten our priorities so screwed up. I heard our mayor on NPR this morning, a Manhattan based show that preempted the usual BBC fare that's on at 9AM to bring news of the aftermath of the storm. And it isn't good. Our town was spared the flooding so only suffered wind damage. But even though it's a small town there's over 9,100 of my neighbors still without power and according to the mayor the town hasn't even seen one gas and electric repair crew yet.
That's probably because they're being used to help out in worse hit areas. There are neighborhoods in next door Newark and nearby Hoboken where residents are still in need of evacuation, and fires starting up in communities all around New Jersey due to gas leaks and in some instances power coming back on where electric wires are exposed etc.
One of the reasons I was put off by the cop citing my youngest and his friend for skateboarding in the center of the little village area of our town is that most of his friends, including the ones he was with, have no power, the schools have been closed and still are, so they've been cooped up mostly at my apartment for days. They can't skate where they usually do due to downed wires and fallen trees still not repaired or removed, and our little village business area that I live in has been shut down for days as well.
But last night several of the restaurants and bars opened especially for people without power to get a fresh warm meal, and my son and his friends were able to get something besides pizza. This little main street style area is only four blocks long and the part they skated was less than two blocks and for this, a young new looking local cop with stores with windows gone and merchandise exposed and wires lying in streets and alarm sirens going off for whatever reasons etc. takes time to actually write up tickets on these kids as well ad confiscate their boards.
It's like our politicians, especially the rightwing Republican ones, ignoring global warming and climate change and actual infrastructure needs for our future rather than our past (Romney wanting to cut funding for wind and solar energy innovations and instead spend our tax dollars on the same old greedy oil corporations tax cuts and subsidies etc. as well as the completely outdated and worst polluting coal corporations etc.) to focus on whether a raped woman should be forced to carry any fetus that might result from that!
There have been some statements made by Democratic politicians since Sandy hit inferring a connection to global warming and even talking about the need to change the ways we think about infrastructure in New York and Jersey and the rest of the Northeast and the country, but where are the bold statements about how this is an opportunity to rebuild for the future, to use the models of European and other advanced nations' (and even some so-called underdeveloped countries) in dealing with rising sea levels and stronger weather events etc. to create a city of the future on Manhattan island and rethink the Jersey shore entirely, etc. etc.
But it will take vision and money to make safer and cleaner and fairer cities and communities and there is no doubt which political party is more apt to stay mired in some imaginary past and continue to give breaks to those that contributed most to the predicament we've found ourselves in (i.e. big oil and coal etc.). As lame as the Democrats can be, at least they are forward looking when it comes to scientific research and fact based realities.
Now my new worry is that the worst hit areas that will take the longest to recover from the devastation of Sandy are the poorer communities in my state so least likely to be able to have working polls or be able to get to the polls to vote in the rapidly approaching election. Let's see if anyone has a big vision for correcting that (let alone the scandal that many electronic voting machines are too easily able to be hacked or owned by rightwing Republican families or corporations!).
[PS: Just got back from trying to get the skateboards from the police station where I was told the property officer wasn't there because he was out dealing with the emergency. It took me a half hour to make the five minute drive because every traffic light but one was out and the route I had to take, detouring around streets closed due to fallen trees and wires, was down the main business street (not our little village area) that runs from communities way to the west all the way to downtown Newark which has traffic lights every few blocks, every one of them was out, and the many businesses that line the street were closed or boarded up etc. which is why our little village area was swamped with more traffic than it has ever had because it's the only area with power for miles around.
Yet not one cop in sight. I'm sure they are dealing with more important things than traffic so why did one of them take the time last night to confiscate a couple of teenagers' skateboards?! I left a message to that effect on the property officer's voicemail pointing out that I have stayed off the roads as recommended but just had to spend a half hour making a five minute trip and thus contributing to the traffic in order to.... I know, I know, and I am truly and hugely grateful that this is the main thing I had to deal with this morning compared to so many others. But like I said above, getting their priorities straight would surely make life easier for all of us, while understanding that no one's perfect, not even young healthy seemingly smart enough cops with more important things to do...]