Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From Snowmageddon to Snowbigdeal

The cruel alarm went off at 5 AM as usual, and it took another 15 minutes or so before 1010 WINS' Lee Harris announced, "drum roll please!" that NYC public schools were opened. An email from a sanit pro that I know who had just come off of a 12 hour shift offered hope that "the streets are clear and you should have no trouble getting to work."  I got ready for the day and headed out to the driveway to dig out the van for My Better Half who is a special education teacher in Far Bushwick and has no other viable options to get to work. In a typically Herculean effort for a 56 year old mandarin of Italian-American peasant stock, I cleaned off the car, dug it out, and shoveled out our 30 foot driveway so that she could get to the street. A thank you kiss and a half a cup of coffee later I was trudging up East 17th street to the Q train at Newkirk Plaza which was happily waiting for me at the station.

Trains were light. Traffic was light. Basically, I guess, because the snow was light. Brooklyn Heights, as usual, is remarkably clear, although none of the coffee cart guys or newspaper hawkers were out there. I don't know what role the Mayor played in all of this. However, indications that he was in Bermuda over Christmas rang as always of the venial sin of cover up. It wasn't so much that he was away, as he didn't want anyone to know about it.  Then, as the NY Observer reported, it appears he flew home in the storm to appear at the press conference the next day. Now DITHOB understands -- esta clara -- the poor Mayor went to all of that effort to get back to NYC and NO ONE APPRECIATED IT. No wonder he was so testy and pissed at the press conference. Whether the last blizzard was a perfect storm of a lot of snow, coming on the heels of a holiday, plus miscues by some folks in the Administration (face it, Mike, you just can't get good help these days), even if combined with budget cuts and labor issues,  it was a mess.

Some folks were stressed over not knowing until the early morning hours today whether school was opened or not. One extremely hard working and underpaid parochial school teacher I know was doing the hoochie coochie from last evening. But just as there are people pointing fingers in this economic climate at public sector employees, pensions, job security, etc., instead of organizing and fighting for similar demands of their private sector masters, I wonder why (or whether) parochial and private school families who pay a substantial amount of money to send their kids to non-public schools,  so easily and readily accept the closings of their kids' schools. I am sure there are many parochial (if not private) school families who will lose a day's pay because they had to stay home with their kid. The idea of public and private sector employment needs to change, and be replaced by a new consensus and different demands to counteract the clearly failed "business-management centric model," which, like Paul Krugman suggested, is like a zombie political economy, that has failed, but continues to rise from the dead.  None of us are Mike Bloomberg. We are all, regardless of our relative salaries, working stiffs of one sort or another. Maybe not today, but some day, there will be a renewed call for workers rights and a new social security in the private sector. It is an issue currently hidden in the collective unconscious, although obscured by the American dream of material happiness, celebrity, sports, music business or lotto success, reality TV, and the belief that criticizing business is un-American. But it is an issue that will resurface as advanced capitalism which is based on finance and complex stock market and corporate legerdemain and not on production/ employment marches on. As people get deeper into the hole, it is a new reality that will surface, as people demand a new model which hasn't been clearly elucidated yet. But I guess that is a discussion for another time.

For today, though, lucky for the Bloomberg administration and the citizens who struggle under the day-to-day reality of the working life, the "Weather Emergency" was a piece of cake.

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Current Reading

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