We Are The Elephant in the Room

Written By: Warren Gross

Last night I spent a few hours with some exceptional people. The Citizens Reform Club held a meeting at the VFW Hall on North Avenue and the featured guest was George Latimer who is running for NYS Senate. A fine man and fine public servant who was generous with his time and articulate on his views.

But, he left as planned for his next engagement and the couple of dozen people in the room began to discuss other topics. I will not identify them nor will I cover the topics in any depth. I just want to point out how critical it is to our regeneratiion as a community to have such people in our midst.

One young man, known to some of you enthusiastically mentioned the need and his commitment to build this community into a functioning and caring collectivity. He committed himself to this effort and sought support. What resonated to me was both the sheer joie de vivre of what he was saying and his utter distress at the apathy he is personally experiencing. We let it end at that point but ideas were floating and there is something in the wind.

The wind will soon blow Northward; not because there is anything wrong with these good people of our community, but because it has escaped a good deal of the angst, the pain, the decay, and loss of hope and legacy experienced down these parts.

We are coming; not to combat, but to embrace. We are establishing a beachhead, not to occupy but to engage you and your young adults into an effort to restore and rebuild our community. And, as for me, to demonstrate to those who label people down here as whiners, malcontents, or generally, as nuisances, that there are bright, caring, and honest citizens who share your virtues and your vices and want and need your assistance to light a candle and not curse the darkness too much.

Now, I titled this piece as the Elephant in the Room and that folks, is you, I and the person down the block or across the street. The elephant is Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and all points in between on the political spectrum. The elephant is Noam Bramson, and the Council and the City Administrators and staff. But, remember this always, there are stolid and steady elephants and rogue elephants and I need to go into this somewhat more.

The human elephants have a feature not found in our pachyderm cousins. He has, like Janus, different faces. We see and read that daily…. the latest obscentity is Obama’s sheer chutzpah and utter nonsense inditing Romney over outsourcing. Surely the man understands global economics and knows our nation cannot compete with many other nations on costs of labor so off the jobs go.

I am raising this in the context of newspeak, or worse, false premises and choices. We address or ignore real issues. If Obama or Romney want to increase jobs they are going to accept the reality of outsourcing, for example, or create a socialist society that is self contained and regulated vis a vis wages, health benefits, etc. one that does not exist in any other place. This is a distortion of job creation and the critics of big government are equally as ignorant. They do not grasp the essential need of enforced employment created often through enalrging government.

The answer is a new paradigm of making both a modified capitalism and big government work differently than ever before and this gets to where we come in.

Sadly, it requires self examination, a social and economic reflection of a form of Kubler-Ross examination of the cycles of grief and….

If you are in the so-called one percent, or its little brother or sister, the more affluent members of society you have a wish. You wish that those who drain resources, are poor, in need, or have demographic of socio-economic conditions other than yours, would somehow disappear or be at least marginalize in some form of “environmental ghetto” as a fellow poster once said eloquently.

It’s understandable. They are infringements on your comfort zone and irritants to your better angels. If only…. maybe they didn’t live so long, have so many children, would forget about the cottage industry of racial politics; name your poison. You know exactly what I am talking about and no amount of “acceptable” demonstrations of feel-good diversity, helps with this nagging notion. It is there and it is shared by many people, too many people perhaps but we all can look into a mirror and this echoes back with sufficient clarity so we can at least keep this little secret.

Well, too bad for you and me…. as said in the New Testament, the poor will always be among us. Certain Christian and Jewish sectarian beliefs will celebrate large families, eschew birth control, frown on abortion, and never consider euthenasia of the elderly, controlled family numbers. You get the point.

But, don’t feel terrible about yourselves because the 99 percenters are not exactly moral or economic paragons of virtue. They seek to damn those who have achieved success. They lump achievement somewhere between dung and chaff. They consume more than they contribute, they indict, blame, protest, win their protest and, guess what, they become you, a one percenter. They abuse power as well. Power corrupts, politics has always been the megaphone for the corruptors, and checkbook diplomacy together is a cottage industry and strengthened by the moral absurdity that corporations are peoople.

Ok Obama and Romney collect piles of money from folks who want something in return. That something could be to advance the one percenters, the ninety nine percenters, or more likely, the contributor.

Why does this shit matter? Look at New Rochelle. If you do a basic, simple needs analysis to build a revenue base, manage expenses, and put the City on a sounder basis you would, without question, restore and rebuild the business district. That is what attracts investors and residents. By doing this you would also strengthen the buying power of the ninety nine percenters here as well as possibly attract down these parts the one percenters and those close enought to be considered part of that group.

So why is Noam so committed to Echo Bay and Albermarle? Is he an evil man…. NO! Is he a stupid man….. GOD NO! He is a product of his time and he believes that building high end residences will house people like him, like his neighbors….. if there are checkbook diplomacy considerations involved, well that is an issue we can deal with by Ethics Reform and such a little later as we put the City Charter right. We can and must put the management of the School District right as well. If the Administration continues to see this as a foreigh entity based on separate powers and voting provisions, well that is plain stupid so change it or any development plan is essentially useless. At least appoint an Ambassador to the New Rochelle School District to give recognition and status.

I am indeed arrogant and long winded and having trouble ending this as there is so much to say.

Let me close this way…. my neighbors up North, you are too uninvolved, apathetic or enablers of a City Administration that disenfranchises neighbors down these parts. That is Janus like and we are coming for you and to you with respect and compassion and we are going to work to win your favor and make the mirror reflection more pleasant to you. We will begin in a number of ways. One way is to ask you to support Ron Tocci a good and decent man who will, I personally promise you, bring forth an Armory you can call yours and be proud of.

My neighbors down south. You are too damn angry and unwilling to build. Your burden is heavy, but you need to continue to life and link arms with your neighbors up North.

I know young people in the high schools and colleges read Talk of the Sound. If you can defend yourselves as well as many of you have done on the lewd librarian issue, you have the energy, talent, and inheritance of a once great City. We are coming for you as well; to restore, resurrect and, for the first time, speak out with thoughts and ideas.

If you are a poorly paid and overworked council member, the community must recognize how much you produce and how many hours you invest on top of your major occupation. You are the best group we have had in my memory. You only need to ponder the cowardly lion and find your voice and your strength. On balance, do the right thing… not like the B.S. pronouncement by Obama to win votes by doing something he should have done 90 days in office. Here is what a sinner expects from you… work smarter and not harder. Do not fear the entrenchment enablers, most are dinosaurs and were they proponents of the “right thing”, we would have already begun to change the Charter, restore downtown, get the Armory in safe hands, rework, redefine, and pull DPW off to a better haven and swallow the emotional costs. Beats a heavy bond.

Leave the police, fire and sanitation folks alone. Look at the surplus to requirements at 515 North, and for God’s Sake, keep everything on camera, on a vote, and remember you have oversight and policy responsibilities so use them.

Personally, I mind the one percent of the same ol, same ol, appointments to committees, task forces, and the like, we have seen here for too long. Being a former City Manager, Council member, community maven, School Board trustee etc… should not oblige your appointment to on-going, likely oft-redundant assigned roles. Go back home and think about why we are where we are and accept some responsibility for what you contributed. Clean your mirrors; I try to do mine daily.

End of sermon.