All Steamed Up

When a nuclear reactor goes bad, they shut it down. The U.S. Capitol Building is rather like a nuclear reactor – the closer a politician gets to it, the great the contamination. As taxation and other economic matters falls under the auspices of Congress, the Capitol serves as form of a nuclear reactor for our economy, and it’s in meltdown.

The Democrats are threatening a shutdown of the government unless the Republicans agree to cut spending. As many conservative pundits have observed, though, shut it down, by all means. That’s exactly what we should be doing. Shut it down and pour concrete over it, the solution the Japanese are considering for the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

When the Tea Parties began organizing, the organizers presciently speculated that as government programs were cut, the Democrats would go on the attack, blaming the Tea Parties for a government shutdown. Their threats of a shutdown amount to a labor strike.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blames the Tea Party for derailing the budget negotiations and will be responsible for the possible government shutdown on April 8. What’s more, he cited a CNN survey stating that Americans don’t care about the Tea Parties.

N.Y. Daily News reporter Aliya Shaid wrote, “Harry Reid has a message for mainstream GOPers: ‘Ditch the Tea Party or face a government shutdown.’”

Michael Barone, in his column in the Online National Review, frets:

“In Washington, Democrats such as former party chairman Howard Dean gleefully anticipates a government shutdown, and Sen. Charles Schumer thinks he can drive a wedge between Speaker John Boehner and ‘extremist’ tea partiers.

“Off-year elections tend to have low turnout, and the public-employee unions are working hard to get their voters out. It’s unclear whether tea partiers and others whose enthusiasm and energy transformed Wisconsin from a 56–42 percent Obama state in 2008 to a 52–46 percent Walker state in 2010 will be similarly energized.

“They have seen that vast spending increases haven’t generated jobs, and they understand that tax increases can choke a sputtering economic recovery. Given the facts, they understand that public-employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability, and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.

“The press won’t make that case. Republicans and tea partiers need to do it themselves.

Mr. Barone needn’t worry; the Tea Parties are on top of it. They’re in Washington today (I believe) in fact, to pour concrete on the nuclear reactor we call the Capitol, figuratively if not literally. Local parites put the notice out weeks ago.

Tea Parties are very similar to the soldiers in the Revolutionary War; in the northern colonies, the regular army as well as the militia had to go into winter quarters until the weather broke. We may be in winter quarters here in states like New Jersey but we haven’t gone into hibernation.

At North Jersey Regional Tea Party co-founder Pat Blair’s funeral on Tuesday, the tea partiers mourned the loss of an energetic leader, but they were also abuzz with the latest news about Obama’s kinetic military leadership in Libya and excitement over the upcoming rallies in Washington (this week) and Trenton on April 16th. They’re busy calling, faxing, and strategizing.

In any action, courageous leaders and energized followers do the work for all those too timid to step forward themselves. Morristown Tea Party, in particular, knew that from the beginning. Yet in an indoor meeting just before the rally, over 1,000 people were in attendance, ready to volunteer.

We’ve tried to stress repeatedly that while the Tea Parties are politically involved, the Tea Party is not a political party, as it were, though some politicians have aligned themselves with local Tea Party groups. We must be having more effect than even we dreamed possible if Harry Reid must threaten the House Majority Leader John Boehner to shun us if Boehner expects Senate cooperation in cutting the budget and CNN has to manufacture polls showing that the Tea Parties are losing favor with the American public.

We who are employed do rely on those who are more at liberty to attend weekday rallies, making phone calls, and visit legislators to discuss pressing political issues. These are generally the retirees and housewives, or workers who have understanding employers (small businesses understand all too well what’s at stake). The Tea Parties have many subsidiary groups that hold nightly meetings for those who don’t have the time or inclination to get involved on a larger scale.

We appreciate Mr. Barone’s concern, but the Tea Parties have known since the beginning that solving our economic meltdown is a do-it-yourselfer.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Turning a Blind Eye

Obama was at his Mighty Mouse best during his Libyan speech the other night, giving his reasons for the delayed response to the Libyan crisis. With what courage and aplomb did he herald himself as the leader of the free world and democracy, leading 30 other nations to do – not very much in this situation.

Simply by creating a no-fly zone, he single-handedly prevented a massacre, by his account. With a wave of his hand, he sent Secretary of State Clinton to London to deliberate peacefully what to do about the heavily-armored Gaddafi. What protects Gaddafi is not his military, though; it’s the oil fields.

Just like in Vietnam in the Sixties, in the end, it’s all about the oil. Only one percent of Libya is arable. For them, it’s pretty oil or nothing. Italy, France, Germany and Spain had been Libya’s best customers. Since China has grown an appetite for oil, the demographics have changed somewhat, and they’re now at the head of the list.

Libya has a population of about 7 million people, about the same as New York City, with 76,000 active troops, mostly on the Mediterranean. The city of Banghazi has a population of about 1.2 million, well-educated and mainly employed in service industries.

Gaddafi has certainly been a bad boy and probably deserves to be ousted. He and his agents were responsible for a number of terrorist bombings, including a disco in West Berlin in 1986, Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, and another airliner bombing, UTA Flight 772 over Niger. The U.N. imposed sanctions until Gaddafi was made to heel and promised never, ever again to commit a terrorist act. But then the Scots had to go release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who’d been sentenced to life in prison for the Lockerbie bombing, on supposedly humanitarian grounds. At the same, the United Kingdom and Libya had struck an oil deal. Al-Megrahi was personally welcomed home by Gaddafi as a hero.

“Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power,” said our president. “I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

Turning a “blind eye”, Obama dismissed the struggles of the democracy-loving masses in Iran. He and the Liberal media turned a blind eye towards Saddam Hussein’s massacre of the Kurds in Iraq. That just wasn’t a good enough reason for a military intervention in that country. Certainly, if massacres weren’t, the Kirkuk oil fields, the largest outside of Saudi Arabia were an even worse reason. “Blood for oil!” they cried. “The fuel of the evil Capitalist West!”

Gaddafi, like Mubarak, is sitting on a pile of money, some of which is said to be American foreign aid. That would be the surest way to dethrone these dictators, by depriving them of their despot welfare. However, we don’t really know who his opponents are. Rumors are that they’re either Al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood. Gaddafi knows he has a problem with them. Like Obama, he straddles the middle of the fence trying to appease both sides.

By the accounts of such experts as Andrew McCarthy, Obama is not only turning a blind eye to the dangers of a rising Islamism, but would blind Americans to that danger. We are in a bind – Europe is in a bind – because we’re dependent upon Middle Eastern oil and we’re in competition with oil-hungry China and India.

No foundation for free, fair trade is sound in the shifting sands of the Middle East, where an ally can be a treacherous as our worst enemy. Communist leftists, meanwhile, are busy with their sand shovels undermining whatever foundation exists. The choices we have in dealing with them are all bad – bribery, military intervention, economic sanctions, capitulation, and slavery.

Not only is the West blind, but mute, and shackled in its attempts to bridge an impassable cultural chasm.

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Be Prepared

Well, it’s official; according to the Iranians the Muslim Messiah, the “Mahdi” is on his way. He’s prepared to make his move. All the portents point to his accession, or the world’s nadir, depending on your point of view.

“I can tell you with utmost confidence: The promise of Allan for The Coming and the establishment of a new Islamic civilization is on its way.” So says the narrator of a new, Islamic propaganda video called, “The Coming is Near.” According to CBN, the video has the approval of the highest-ranking officials in the Iranian government.

These augurs see the signs of unrest and change in the Middle East as a welcome omen that they’ll soon dominate the world. Middle Easterners are extremely superstitious. We have them to thank for our modern version of astrology, which also points to more or less the same event as the Iranian government.

They hope that their certainty will leave the rest of us in doubt and fear. Evil doesn’t have to present itself in the guise of mystic revelations, sinister figures cloaking themselves in darkness, fireballs thundering down from the heavens, or seas upheaving themselves and washing away countless innocent lives (though we’ve seen that last calamity happen in Japan). Evil can be as simple as one human being saying to another: “You don’t have the right to speak.” Or “You don’t have the right to live.”

I had lunch yesterday with a woman from Ohio. She’s here on assignment in our office to deal with the recent, not-quite-the-end-of-the-world flooding we experienced earlier in March. After I took her photo, she discovered I took no offense, and in fact, some pleasure, in discussing God, so we agreed to have lunch.

“I just want to help people,” she said. “That’s why I like my job. But I also see so many people suffering. It’s just so sad. But it’s God’s will and I’m prepared to help them. I even know CPR and first aid techniques.”

She had taken courses with the American Red Cross. While other people are stocking up on food and other essentials for the coming End Times, she was preparing herself to help those who would likely to be suffering when all these calamities come down upon our heads.

I’m accustomed to taking lunch alone, and I was frankly wondering what God’s purpose was in our having lunch together (I believe in the Big Boss, too – I told her I don’t generally go to church because I don’t like going alone, but I do daily EPR – Evangelical Prayer Review – to see what I’m doing right and where I need a little more work). Until we got to this part of the conversation, I wasn’t quite sure what God had in mind.

Looking at yesterday’s headlines and listening to this part of her talk, I would gather that God wants us to do more than simply prepare ourselves for our own survival should the worst (God forbid) happen. He wants us to be prepared to help one another, too, like this lady.

Every town has an EMS squad, a volunteer fire department. There are good citizens who know how to do the basics – carpentry, gardening, sewing, metalwork, repair work, plumbing and so forth. Electricity won’t be of much use for awhile. But some of us still have our manual typewriters, if communications happens to be our thing. We used to be the country that knew how to do things, how to get things done.

Start volunteering for EMS, for the fire department, for civil response. Learn CPR and first-aid. Brush up on your handyman skills. Get your mechanical instruments in good operating order. Prepare whatever property you have to serve you in a time of need. If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them and have a plan for cooperation. Mind you, I’m not saying communal living. To each his own property and respect for it. But where real help is needed, laziness notwithstanding, give it. The Amish do it. Be prepared to live off the grid, as they do.

Those who can’t do anything for themselves or others, such as the elderly and disabled, can make it with our help. Those who won’t do anything for themselves or others, won’t make it and won’t deserve to make it. Those who can do for themselves but won’t do for others who truly can’t help themselves should be driven off by those who can do both. Those who can do for themselves and for others deserve to inherit the earth.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 7:19 am  Leave a Comment  

My Kind of Tea Partier

We members of the North Jersey Regional Tea Party received some sad, and sort of shocking news, this weekend. NJRTP co-founder Pat Blair passed away on Saturday.

I didn’t know Pat very long, but I knew I liked her immediately the first time I met her; she was my kind of tea partier. There are two kinds – the college-educated refined suburbanite and the working class, nobody’s fool type. Pat worked tirelelessly for the NJRTP and for various community organizations in her city of Clifton.

When an outside influence sought to disrupt the newly-found North Jersey Tea Party, Pat fought like a tiger and showed that influence the door in no uncertain terms. She didn’t dilly-dally about whether she was being politically correct or politically polite; her invitation was clear and to the point: “Get out!”

I helped her with some information on that score and we became great e-mail pals. She was busy and didn’t always have the time. But I was always glad to see her. I was so disappointed at the last meeting I was able to attend when I found she wasn’t there. She’d been sick on and off for awhile. I never got to see her again.

My last e-mail from her was just a few days ago regarding the fluorescent light bulbs. She was on e-mail list for my blog.

“I’m glad you sent this to me,” she wrote. “Again – great minds…”

Think alike. I liked the way Pat thought and cared about what was going on. She was a fun person, down to earth, tirelessly active, a great Tea Partier, and a great American.

Godspeed, Pat. We’ll all miss you.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 7:14 am  Comments (2)  

What’s it All About, Gadaffi?

Without the facts, it’s been hard to know what to write about the on-going conflict in Libya. What did Obama call it? “The kinetic operation?”

As Andrew McCarthy points on in his National Review Online column of March 26, “Decoding Libya – Sharia Can Tell Us How this Story Ends”, it is not a democratic war as the West understands it. As with all the Arab nations broiling in what McCarthy calls the “Arab Spring” blossoming with youthful revolts, newfound “militias”, and deposed despots struggling to hold onto their dictatorships, it’s not about democracy but about sharia law.

America has nothing to gain by entering this conflict. We’re already involved in two Islamic wars – in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Not to mention our on-going presence in Bosnia. On how many fronts can the American military fight before it is fragmented, or is forced to reintroduce the draft?

Bill Ayers was yelling at the choir the other night at Montclair University when he denounced missiles being deployed over the Libyan deserts. Conservative Americans no more want this war than they really wanted a war in Iraq, but found themselves defending along party lines.

McCarthy denounces this new “kinetic operation” on four principles:

1. It’s unconstitutional. The presidents, unlike his predecessor, never even asked for Congressional approval in order to become involved.
2. The president has overstepped his authority by declaring a war without consent of the people.
3. With a budget deficit in the trillions of dollars, we can’t afford a third front.
4. McCarthy writes, “We understand neither whom we are fighting for nor the consequences of invading a Muslim country. To apprehend these things requires a rudimentary grasp of sharia. You don’t need a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence. As I contend in The Grand Jihad, the basics will more than suffice. The problem is that, since the World Trade Center was first bombed in 1993, the government has been telling us that Islam has nothing to do with the jihadist campaign against us, so we have studiously avoided informing ourselves about Islam and its law.”

McCarthy concludes with the wisdom that we should have nothing to do with any Muslim country if we can help it, especially in regard to military conflicts. Their motives are too dubious, their leaders are too treacherous, and their followers too evanescent.

Our best policy is to stay out of it altogether.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm  Comments (2)  

Bill Ayers – A Bundle of Contradictions

I didn’t go to Montclair State University (in N.J.) last night to hear Bill Ayers speak. I went there to protest this cop-hating radical’s presence on the campus, designed to inculcate future educators to urge their young students on to disobedience, civil and uncivil. My understanding of his lecture was that it was by invitation only and that we “protesters” would have to stand outside.

The university police had the barricades sent up for all those violent tea partiers. Our organizers encouraged us to bring home-made signs. I had piece of signboard handy and magic markers. I designed a sign with an American flag that read: “Americans for a Federated Republic.”

But when I arrived in front of Montclair’s University Hall, where the lecture was to take place, I found myself asking that age-old question: “What if they held a protest and nobody came?” Finally, I asked one of the officers where everyone was?

“They’re all inside,” he said. “You can go in, too.”

So in I went. The Tea Partiers were all waiting in line to go into the lecture. I spoke with a few of my fellow Tea Partiers whom I hadn’t seen in awhile as they meet the same night the band rehearses. Some of them took a picture of me in my hat with my sign. Even the school newspaper, the Mont Clarion, took my name and photo. No one else had brought a sign. I was very disappointed. We were told we wouldn’t be allowed to say anything even in the hallway and if you can’t hold up a sign or say anything than what’s the point? I preferred to go back outside in the cold with my sign, than sit warm and safe – and silent.

Back out I went. I was the lone protester; I had the barricaded area all to myself. Everyone who went by (and it was quite the busy spot) could clearly read my sign; I had no competition. For awhile I stood in place and spoke with the cops who were on duty, four or five of them. I also took to marching around the enclosure like a real protester, although I didn’t chant anything. I have a soft voice that doesn’t project well so no one would have heard me anyway.

As I stood there and spoke with the cops, I noticed one walking around with a bomb-sniffing German shepherd.

“It’s kind of funny, isn’t it,” I remarked, “taking a bomb-sniffing dog around a building to guard a guy who used to blow up police stations?”

“Oh, we’re not happy that he’s here at all,” they said. “Our chief protested his appearance right up to the last minute.”

“The dog isn’t sniffing to protect him, ma’am,” another said. “It’s to keep the other people safe.”

The poor cops were freezing out there, and all just to protect me. I decided I’d give them a break and leave around 8:30. One officer asked me if I wasn’t cold?

“No,” I said, “I’m used to it. I’m a marching band musician. But if you’re cold, I’ll lend you my hat (the tricorn hat).”

Well, they just got the biggest kick out of that. They were laughing about it all night and telling the story to the new cops who came on duty. But it was getting too cold and I just getting ready to leave when the campus police chief approached me.

He said he thought everyone would be better served if I went inside to the lecture, especially wearing my hat. He assured me that the Tea Partiers were being allowed in and that I could go inside, too, although I would have to leave my sign with them.

Never one to argue with the law, I consented. “Well, I’ll go in, although I was just going to go home. But I’m not sure I really want to be in the same room with this guy.”

They laughed and said, “Neither do we!” The chief thanked me and escorted me inside. Once in the lecture room, I discovered they hadn’t even started yet. The officers had said there weren’t any students there, that the school paper had done a survey and found that the majority of the students didn’t even know who Ayers was. They said that there were faculty members in attendance.

However, there was a small group of education students seated on one side of the room. I expected as much since Ayers billed this as discussion about education reform. On the other side were the “adults”, my friends. I took a seat up at the top.

Ayers finally got around to talking. He told the audience that he was ready to go at 8 p.m. and that he didn’t know what the hold-up was or why a police presence was necessary. The cops told me they were there at the request of the college and the campus SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). It was now 8:45. I had an uneasy feeling that I was the unintentional hold-up. Yikes.

Ayers appeared in his best red star tee shirt. Conservatives immediately criticized it and Ayers went on a harangue about judging whether he was a big or little “c” communist simply by the shirt he was wearing. If it wasn’t a symbol of communism then what was he advertising? Macy’s? The Red Star Line (a now-defunct shipping company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of their ships was featured in The Godfather 2)?

He dismissed his objectors as know-nothings who had drunk too much Kool-Aid and certainly were not educational experts, he added with a sniff. The considerable number of experienced teachers in the room soon put him wise to that error. Strike one for Ayers.

Informing the audience that the lecture was primarily to pontificate on educational reformed, he announced he would address himself mainly to the education majors in the room, and he promptly turned to face them. He spoke about poverty being a major factor in causing the current educational decline. Then he enumerated the talking points from America’s Promise Alliance, without actually mentioning that umbrella organization’s name: caring adults, safe places, and effective education. He didn’t bother much with the other two promises: a healthy start and opportunities to help others.

The adult portion of the audience asked him what role he felt parents should play in their children’s education. None, judging by his answer. Parents, apparently in his view, are simply bad luck cards kids get stuck with; it’s up to the teachers to “save” the children.

If he was hoping that his adult audience was ignorant about America’s Promise, he had judged at least one adult member wrong. My company is a featured partner of America’s Promise and I’ve been to, photographed, and written about many of the organization’s affiliate events, the latest of which are 26 seconds and Grad Nation (I just did a story about it last week).

Teach for America was another America’s Promise volunteer group, I believe. College students volunteer to mentor kids in reading and corporations donate books so I’m sure these university students were aware of it. I personally donated eight books to the drive at the New York Public Library’s Mid-Town branch. Though Ayers wasn’t aware of it, it was Strike Two for him. At that point, I wanted to ask him if we could discuss the importance of white matter and myelin in early cognitive development. But I couldn’t get his attention and I didn’t know how I would explain such a concept to someone who’s admitted he doesn’t believe in homework. I wondered if he even subscribed to Scientific American. You’d think educators would want to keep up with the latest scientific advances and discoveries regarding the human brain.

He bashed standardized testing, criticizing the constant drilling necessary to get information into kids’ heads. In fact, he didn’t believe in filling students’ heads with facts at all. Creativity and self-expression are the Ayers’ key to opening young minds, all the while deploring the fact that children can’t draw a map Bahrain or Tunisia. Notice the distinction. But if you gave them a map of the world, without the names, they probably could. I could. Then, too, I had the advantage of having worked for an oil company. We used coffee drippings to make a coffee map of the Gulf States.

Discipline was another quality he found wanting in classrooms. Then he went on to cite the example of a colleague named “Joe” who advocated allowing students to chew gum and wear caps in class, so long as they “respected” the teacher. Sounded like buying the kids off to me. I immediately thought of Charles the band director and what he would say to a thing like that. He told us once that the cacophony of simply chattering drove him crazy. I mused on how Charles, who teaches in a middle school, would react to 30 gum chomping children all chewing gum in concert.

So I decided to ask Ayers how he would deliver a lecture to such a classroom. He couldn’t hear me because I have a useless voice, so one of my Tea Party friends relayed the question to him. The Tea Partiers laughed and I heard titters from the teachers of America.

“Oh it wouldn’t be a problem,” he said dismissively, shaking his head. “No problem at all.” But I had a mental picture in my head of Charles, a real teacher, chomping on his baton and grasping his hair, as we adult musicians have known him to do when we all start talking at once. As I eyed Ayers skeptically, I must have telegraphed that message because he took a hesitant step back. I’m sure no one noticed it but me. Strike Three for Ayers.

There was a lot of back and forth arguing between the experienced teachers and the student teachers, who were, let’s face it, still students. The kids didn’t like being told they didn’t know it all yet. The adults didn’t like being laughed at for some gaffe on their part that I didn’t catch.

Ayers asked them the classic question, “How many of you entered teaching for the money?” On cue, they laughed and giggled at the notion. Had I been in control of the microphone, I would not have asked them if they’d entered the teaching field for money, but rather, for job security. I think I would have gotten embarrassed silence rather than laughter.

Our guest speaker deplored the poor pay and benefits that teachers get. Pity I don’t pay the violin. I hadn’t even brought my bells. This, more than anything, riled up the Tea Partiers, including those who are teachers. This is where the exchange was at its hottest. Ayers did his best to rile them up with other controversial topics like paying teachers instead of shooting missiles at Iraq. Nothing. His ploy about the inequality between the suburbs and the cities fell flat. Our Tea Party spokesteacher told him nobody wanted to see urban school standards raised more than we did.

Charter schools hit the mark though, which he also discounted as failures. He said it wasn’t fair that only some kids would get into those urban schools; that the standards of all the schools needed to be raised. Boy, I hated to agree with the building-bombing, cop-bashing son of a gun, but I thought he was right about that. However, that’s up to those school districts.

That argument gets into a whole societal, capitalism versus socialism issue. Had businesses not been driven out of the state, had unions not priced the workers out of their jobs, and if somebody had just taught the first set of urban students, later to become parents, how to read, and encourage them to do so, the neighborhoods and the schools would be a lot better off. Ayers was certainly careful not to mention a particular scourge central to this educational evil across all social spectrums – drugs.

At any rate, one young female student with a head full of steam and a sheaf of papers was prepared with her data damning the failure of charter schools. I wish I could have told him about New Heights Academy in New York City’s Washington Heights. Those kids looked to me like they were on their way to success. The hallways are painted with the names and school shields of top colleges.

New Heights has the rules Ayers so petulantly eschewed – lots of them. No running, no shouting. No gun-chewing. No hats. No bling. The kids had school uniforms. We spoke with some of the kids and the teachers. The kids were grateful and relieved to be there, free from the chaos of the New York City public schools. If you want to know what those schools are really like, maybe you should ask some of the kids. Apparently, the biggest problem is – the other kids, the troublemakers, the kids who don’t care about learning.

Ayers said he didn’t believe in rules. But apparently he believed in raising hands. He may advocate chaos – but he doesn’t condone while he’s speaking. When the entire flank of Tea Partiers objected to some statement he made, he complained about all the noise they were making, trying to speak at once. He became annoyed with our Tea Party Teacher when she spoke beyond what he considered her allotted time. When I cocked my eye at him in amusement, he backed off and let her speak. Authority defiance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you’re the one in the position of authority.

After the gun-chewing comment, the Tea Partiers realized what a true hypocrite he was. Tea Party Teacher was taking him on at that moment when he wanted her to stop speaking. She called him a hypocrite to his face.

“You’re a hypocrite,” she charged. “You’re telling these students that they should maintain discipline in the classroom, that they should control their students, but then you tell them you believe children shouldn’t follow the rules, that they shouldn’t respect authority figures like their teachers. What do you think you’re doing to these students? The amazing thing is they’re listening to you.”

They were indeed, soaking it all up. Hopefully, TPT’s remarks gave them pause. Ayers knew and so he diverted the conversation to unionization, a sure-fire divider between novices and experts. The young students, finding the adults were not bowing obsequiously to the students’ obviously superior arguments, stormed out in a mass, leaving the adults to resume the discussion more evenly.

I looked at my watch; it was 10 o’clock and I had an early morning photo appointment. If I expected to get up anywhere near on time, I would have to leave the party. I’d heard enough, anyway. I put on my coat and walked down, thanking TPT teacher for her help in relaying my question to the speaker. I got the feeling he was staring at me, but I couldn’t tell because I just shrugged it off and left. I had no voice for asking any further questions. I’d heard enough.

Outside the building, I encountered the party of students blowing off steam with some particularly uneducated language. Oh to be 19 again. One of them was vowing to storm back in there and tell those Tea Partiers, especially the Tea Party Teacher, off. Out of the corner of her eye, one of the students noticed me coming up casually from behind to pass them, and they all fell into a hush. Still, one girl was determined barge back into the building and her classmates had to physically stop her.

Finally, they must have decided the better part of valor was to return to their dorms. They stalked off sullenly ahead of me, though they never said anything. Class was definitely over. Meanwhile, I had retrieved my sign from the police officers, who were now sitting warmed up in their police SUV. I kept the sign to the inside as the student group passed by. There was no need to provoke them any further.

Judging by their silent seething, they’d learned some lesson that night that they didn’t like. Which meant we’d done some good in there. As for Bill Ayers, we’ll see in the future how inclined he’ll be to underestimate his adversaries as know-nothings.

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm  Comments (5)  

Not Just Another Pretty Face

Yesterday, actress and silver screen legend Elizabeth Taylor passed away at the age of 79.

According to Wikipedia, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in 1932 in Hampstead, a wealthy district of North West London, the second child of Francis Lenn Taylor and Sara Viola Warmbrodt, who were Americans residing in England. Taylor’s older brother, Howard, was born in 1929.

Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas. Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress whose stage name was “Sara Sothern.” Sothern retired from the stage when she and Francis Taylor married in 1926 in New York City. Taylor’s two first names are in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor.

A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents. She reportedly sought, in 1965, to renounce her United States citizenship in an attempt to shield much of her European income from U.S. taxes. According to news reports at the time, officials denied her request when she failed to complete the renunciation oath, refusing to say that she renounced “all allegiance to the United States of America.”

At the age of three, Taylor began taking ballet lessons with Vaccani. Shortly before the beginning of World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States to avoid hostilities. Her mother took the children first, arriving in New York in April 1939, while her father remained in London to wrap up matters in the art business, arriving in November. They settled in Los Angeles, California, where Sara’s family, the Warmbrodts, were then living.

Through Hedda Hopper, the Taylors were introduced to Andrea Berens, a wealthy English socialite and also fiancée of Cheever Cowden, chairman and major stockholder of Universal Pictures in Hollywood. Berens insisted that Sara bring Elizabeth to see Cowden who, she was adamant, would be dazzled by Elizabeth’s breathtaking dark beauty. The girl was born with a mutation that caused double rows of eyelashes, which enhanced her appearance on camera, the famous “Elizabeth Taylor eyes.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer soon took interest in the British youngster as well but she failed to secure a contract with them after an informal audition with producer John Considine had shown that she couldn’t sing. However, on Sept. 18, 1941, Universal Pictures signed Elizabeth to a six-month renewable contract at $100 a week.

Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There’s One Born Every Minute, her only film for Universal Pictures. Less than six months after she signed with Universal, her contract was reviewed by Edward Muhl, the studio’s production chief. Muhl met with Taylor’s agent, Myron Selznick (brother of David), and Cheever Cowden. Muhl challenged Selznick’s and Cowden’s constant support of Taylor:

“She can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t perform,” he thundered. “What’s more, her mother has to be one of the most unbearable women it has been my displeasure to meet.” Universal cancelled Taylor’s contract just short of her tenth birthday in February 1942. Nevertheless, and in spite of her stage mother, on Oct. 15, 1942, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed Taylor to $100 a week for up to three months to appear as “Priscilla” in the film Lassie Come Home.

After “Lassie,” Taylor’s first assignment under her new contract at MGM was a loan-out to 20th Century Fox for the character of Helen Burns in a film version of the Charlotte Bronte novel Jane Eyre (1944). During this period she also returned to England to appear in another Roddy McDowall picture for MGM, The White Cliffs of Dover (1944). But it was Taylor’s persistence in campaigning for the role of Velvet Brown in MGM’s National Velvet that skyrocketed Taylor to stardom at the tender age of 12.

Then Taylor grew up. The incredibly beautiful girl became a stunningly beautiful young woman. When released in 1949, Conspirator bombed at the box office, but Taylor’s portrayal of 21-year-old debutante Melinda Grayton (keeping in mind that Taylor was only 16 at the time of filming) who unknowingly marries a communist spy (played by 38-year-old Robert Taylor), was praised by critics for her first adult lead in a film, even though the public didn’t seem ready to accept her in adult roles.

Taylor’s first picture under her new salary of $2,000 per week was The Big Hangover (1950), a box office flop that also failed to present Taylor with an opportunity to exhibit her newly realized sensuality. Her first box office success in an adult role came as Kay Banks in the romantic comedy Father of the Bride (1950), alongside Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. The film spawned a sequel, Father’s Little Dividend (1951), which Taylor’s costar Spencer Tracy summarized with “boring… boring… boring.” Still, the film was received well at the box office

Taylor’s next picture, A Place in the Sun, set the course for her career as a dramatic actress. The film became the pivotal performance of Taylor’s career as critics acclaimed it as a classic, a reputation it sustained throughout the next 50 years of cinema history. The New York Times’ A.H. Weiler wrote, “Elizabeth’s delineation of the rich and beauteous Angela is the top effort of her career”, and the Boxoffice reviewer unequivocally stated “Miss Taylor deserves an Academy Award”. She later reflected: “If you were considered pretty, you might as well have been a waitress trying to act – you got no respect at all.”

In 1960, Taylor became the highest paid actress up to that time when she signed a one million dollar contract to play the title role in 20th Century Fox’s lavish production of Cleopatra, which would eventually be released in 1963. During the filming, she began a romance with her future husband Richard Burton, who played Mark Antony in the film. The romance received much attention from the tabloid press, as both were married to other spouses at the time.

Taylor’s eight marriages and affairs with married men burnt up the gossip pages of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. Her many betrothals (twice married to Richard Burton), were the stuff of late-night comedy jokes. Back problems she inherited after being thrown from a horse during the filming of National Velvet when she was young led to subsequent drug abuse, alcoholism, and weight gain. Gone was the slim, pretty young bride of Father of the Bride.

Her extraordinary appearance could not save her from the ravages of Hollywood pressure, the Sexual and Drug revolutions, addiction, and age. Succumbing to the temptations of the Sixties, her sweetness vanished over time, until all that was left was the shrewish wife in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Once her film career ended, she tried to redeem that goodness and kindness that you could see in her eyes as a child actress by championing various, hopeless causes. Fans were appalled that she would shelter someone like Michael Jackson. I don’t think it had to do with Liberalism, in her case; I think it was simply maternal instinct. Say what you will about her morals (and they were certainly loose, to say the least), she never seemed to be a mean person.

We’re cautioned not to be beguiled by loveliness or the standards of Hollywood. Actors are thrown into a moral pool of confusion and contrariety when they take up that profession. It’s more a pity for them than anything else, wealthy as they are in material possessions and misguided in their politics. That’s not to condone their behavior. But we ask for it, apparently, and they give it to us.

The last Jane Eyre film before the current movie came out, showed that Jane and Mr. Rochester making out on a bed. A far cry from Charlotte Bronte’s noble heroine who eschews mortal happiness for a clear conscience. Who asked for such a salacious scene that never happened in the book? A young audience brought up to believe it’s okay, that’s who.

Elizabeth Taylor was a product of her times and also a participant in that wrong-headed revolution. Beauty is only a prop for a happy, fulfilled life. Neither she nor her contemporary, the highly-stylized Marilyn Monroe, found that happiness. Taylor was tougher underneath, though, than the emotionally fragile Monroe, who killed herself at 36.

Those who would thrust the Christian values upon Taylor that she clearly lacked should either remember or know that Taylor converted to Judaism when she married Eddie Fisher. That’s not to say that Judaism condones sin, but they don’t believe in Hell or the Devil, if I recall my Judaic theology correctly.

She couldn’t sing or dance, but despite the husbands and the scandals, the drugs and the booze, the jewels and the wardrobes, she gave us what she had to give: one of the most beautiful faces in the world – and a lesson about how beauty can be corrupted, wasted, or lost (in her later years, she subjected her beautiful porcelain skin to tanning, ruining her looks and bringing on skin cancer).

We should not worship false gods or goddesses. But this was a lovely goddess and at least towards the end, she regained her sweetness.

RIP, Liz.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 7:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Turning Off the Light Bulb

Obama and Gang Green are trying to keep Americans in the dark, literally and figuratively. By Jan. 31st of next year, you will no longer be able to buy incandescent light bulbs on the open market. The last light bulb manufacturer in the United States is closing its doors – and moving to China.

My family has used fluorescent bulbs in our kitchens for decades. They were great energy savers and as we were poor, this was a great thing. My grandfather installed a fluorescent light fixture in the ceiling and above the kitchen sink for my mother.

As they were quite well fixed in place, there was no danger of them breaking. They were easy to remove and easy to dispose of, if my mother had wanted to. There were no environmental regulations as far as I know in 1962. But she knew they had mercury in them and as she was a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t mind driving down the hill to the town dump to get rid of them.

As we got older, my older brother, ever keen on saving electricity and thereby money, loved the new fluorescent compact bulbs. They were expensive, he said, but would save a greater amount of money in the long run.

But, there were problems with the bulbs besides expense. You couldn’t simply throw them in the garbage, and then if they broke, well, chaos would ensue. One night my brother was visiting, the bulb in the lamp somehow broke, and all chaos broke out.

“Open the windows!”

“Turn off the air conditioner!” (It was April; it was my birthday and he had given me the bulbs as a present)

“Put the cats in the bedroom!”

“Get the vacuum cleaner!”

“Get a plastic garbage bag!”

“A bucket of water, no soap, just warm water! Hurry!”

My mother and I watched, appalled, as my brother anxiously cleaned up the hazardous spill. He’s a facilities manager so he knew from fluorescent bulbs and what one had to do. When he was through, everything went into the plastic bag – the broken bulb, the rags and paper towels, the sponge, the contents of the vacuum cleaner.

“That’s the only problem with these bulbs,” he said, finally. “They’re great. But you’ve got to be really careful with them.”

I’ve never put another one of those things in my lamps since. The bulbs are in a box in my basement and will never see the light of day again. They’re hidden away, somewhat like the ark in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

No matter how you look at it, this whole light bulb business is a boondoggle. First, and worst, we’ll be forced into buying an expensive light bulb that doesn’t last as long as they claim. My fluorescent didn’t last any longer than the incandescent bulbs did. Then, whether they break or just burn out, you have to dispose of them. In case of breakage, the clean-up is a major project and you can be sure that the government will institute more regulations to force people into calling a special clean-up company to dispose of the remains. More money.

If you want to save money on electricity, turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. If you’re the forgetful type (I am), there are new switches that turn the lights off automatically when the devices senses there’s no one in the room (it also has a manual switch as an option). This gadget won’t “burn out” and won’t spill mercury all over your carpet, causing a five-alarm hazmet catastrophe. Whatever the price, at least it will last the lifetime of your house, rather than a fluorescent bulb outlasting an incandescent by a few months.

Meanwhile, stock up on your incandescents while you can. I have a secret cache of them hidden away in a remote location waiting for the embargo on incandescent light bulbs.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Patriot Woman

Yesterday, we pondered Weird New Jersey and that strange place, named in more innocent times, “Pleasureland.”  Today we ponder weird questions.  CNN.com posted an article about weird interview questions.  Some of the questions are from the CNN writer; others were questions posted by readers:

  •  If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how weird are you?
  • If you saw someone steal a quarter, would you report it?
  • What would be your theme song?
  • If you were a professional wrestler, what would your stage name be?
  • If we asked you to wear a bumble bee costume, walk around and hand out candy to employees, would you do it?
  • If a movie was made about your life, who would play you and why?
  • If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

We had a lot of fun in our office answering these questions.  Some of my co-workers are too young to even know who McGyver was.  One young lady did have to wear the company mascot costume when she first started in our Public Relations department.  She didn’t have to hand out candy to employees but she did appear in public.  Her paws were too big to manage pieces of candy so she just waved instead.  One of the mascot rules is that someone has to escort the mascot so they don’t trip and fall, and so kids don’t punch them.

If I were a superhero – heroine, actually, I would be Patriot Woman.  My mission in life would be rescuing abandoned American flags.  That’s been my mission for most of my adult life, anyway.  Being a parade musician, I’m in a unique position to rescue flags that people, particularly little kids, drop on the ground.  I’ve volunteered as flag retriever for the Tea Party rallies.  When they asked me what I wanted to do to help, I instantly said, “Pick up American flags.”

I have a collection of rescued flags.  I found one flag lying on the side of the highway, as I was returning from a parade.  Clearly, it had fallen off one of the fire trucks that had been in the parade.  I pulled off onto the shoulder and ran back to get it.  Fortunately, it was already on the side of the road.

Yes, as Patriot Woman, I would instantly transform from my band uniform into my red, white, and blue costume.  I’d simply step out of the line of march to tie my shoe.  Once behind the crowds, I’d transform.  Nothing short or revealing, mind you, because I’m way too old for the mini-skirt nonsense, although my legs are still in pretty good shape.  I rather fancy a tea length skirt with a gold fringe, a modest but frilly white blouse with poofy sleeves, and of course, the obligatory cape, which would be red with a gold fringe, with an embroidered American flag on it and an inscription, “Never Forget.”  Oh, and white boots.  I’d love to have white boots.  Plus, I’d wear my honorary tricorn hat, the one I earned in high school.

If I saw someone drop an American flag, or carry it the wrong way, or do something disrespectful to it, I would spin around in a blur until I was in costume, then with a tap of my magic mallet, crying the words “E Pluribus Unum!”, I would summon my faithful glockenspiel, “Gloria”, to bear me aloft.  I’d stand upon this shield like a magic carpet or a skateboard, and it would wing me to the scene of the “crime.”  Just a wave of my magic mallet marching along would be enough to lift up a child’s drooping flag.  After rescuing the flag, I would lecture the offender firmly but kindly, if they were a child, that the flag is not a toy, and more seriously, if they were an adult – this is the standard of our country.

I would also give lectures at schools and at Tea Party meetings and rallies, leading everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.  In my spare time, in between rescues, I would search out flags that were worn and neglected, and deliver them up to the nearest VFW post for proper burial or disposal.

I would also teach one and all about the importance of American history and why we owe the greatest of debts to our military.  Finally, I would offer my services fighting terrorist guys to Homeland Security which, in good comic book form, they’d spurn.  I’d foil terrorist plots single-handedly and earn the everlasting ire of the law enforcement authorities.  Still, in my heart, I’d know I was doing my duty, though no one would ever learn my secret identity.

Everyone would just think I was kind of a simple-looking, mild-mannered reporter/photographer for a great American insurance company.  Little would they know the truth or believe it!  Alas, that is the lot of all superheroes and heroines.  They must sacrifice fame, fortune, and glory for the greater good of the United States of America.

If the soldiers at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, the Meuse River, Utah Beach, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Da Nang, Tora Bora, and Basra could make the ultimate sacrifice for our country and freedom, how much of a superhero do you have to be, what kind of superpowers do you need to show love and respect for America and liberty?  If the word “freedom” is kryptonite to the enemies of freedom, then let the word always be on your tongue, at the ready.

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pleasureland

When the glaciers receded back up towards the North Pole ages ago, they left the state of New Jersey pockmarked with endless lakes, streams, rivers, beauty – and flooding. Until the George Washington Bridge was finished in 1931, thousands of New Yorkers yearning to breathe free for a summer, started vacationing here. They built little summer cottages with no heat or basements along New Jersey’s endless lakes and especially her rivers. If those rivers were prone to flooding, well, no big deal really.

But after World War II came the Baby Boomers and their parents, looking for less expensive lands and homes, and lower taxes. My own parents found themselves taxed right out of hoity-toity Westchester County. The owners of the rental cottages converted them to permanent home status and sold them to bargain-hungry homeowners who had no idea of the history of the places to which they’d moved. The houses were cheap and the areas were pretty.

In the summertime.

My parents were too smart to buy a home in the plains; they bought a house on a high hill, with a steep driveway. But my grandfather bought one of those converted summer cottages on Bergen Boulevard in West Paterson (now Westwood Park) right on the Passaic River. The 1968 flood was particularly bad. There aren’t enough people who are even old enough to remember it anymore. Here at home, the flood washed away the Bloomingdale Cornet Band’s bandstand. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was spared; the house was built on a high foundation and they only had basement flooding. But they couldn’t get out and we had to get Grandma out in a rowboat. The houses across the street were completely flooded over though.

My grandparents have long since passed away, but I checked on their old house during the 2007 flood. Everything looked just the way I remembered it. Meanwhile, in the 1968 flood the section of Oakland along the Ramapo River known as “Pleasureland” was completely underwater. Route 287 hadn’t been built yet and Route 202 was the only way to get to the New York State Thruway.

Then in 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers built floodgates on the Ramapo River at Pompton Falls, between Wayne and Pompton Lakes, which also suffer from flooding. Now, in Pompton Lakes, flooding regularly occurred at the junction of the three rivers – the Ramapo, Wanaque, and Pequannock, which altogether eventually form the Pompton River. But not in the section below the falls. Whatever flooding occurred there was only minor.

Until they put in the flood gates. There’s a dam at the end of Lower Twin Lake, too. However, there’s also a stone levee leading along the brook until it reaches the Wanaque River. Those living along the levee are fine. Once the Post Brook waters reach the Wanaque, that section of town also winds up under water.

A co-worker and friend lives just past Pompton Falls. She’s a 28 year resident of Pompton Lakes; she grew up there and so did her husband. When they married, they bought her grandmother’s house. Only once in the grandmother’s ownership of the house did she ever experience flooding (in 1984) and then, her granddaughter says, it was only minor. It’s not like “they didn’t know”. The couple did know; that section did not flood. Until 2007.

During last year’s March flooding, with the floodgates operating at full-roar, the couple was completely flooded out. They lost all their appliances, carpeting, flooring, furniture was all ruined. It cost them approximately $40k to repair the house. The force of the water crashed through their backyard fence. Churches and charities donated clothes, toys, and even some appliances. FEMA paid the rest.

Nine months after that flood, around December, the repairs to their house were finally completed. They were just waiting for the snows to melt so they could begin moving the donated items into their house. Before they could do so, another very heavy rainstorm came along, and destroyed the lower portion of their house again. They had enough time this year to move their belongings to the second story of the house and put their appliances in storage.

Once again, though, the carpeting, flooring, the brand new paint job in the kitchen and living room and their new staircase were damaged. The water came at the house so hard that it cracked their front door. Their front window still bears the FEMA permit stickers from the last flood. Now they must wait for FEMA to finish assessing the damage.

Meanwhile, the couple is living in their church’s safe haven home with their two sons until the house can be properly cleaned and sanitized. All the donated items in their detached garage had to be thrown away. Anything that bore signs of rust was condemned.

Meanwhile, the “Pleasureland” section of Oakland has sat high and dry for five years. Some bitter residents noted that five years is FEMA’s term limit to build on flooded land. If the land stays dry for five years, the owner can rebuild. But the mayors of the town have discredited that rumor, and indeed, anyone who would try to build on the “Pleasureland” property would have to be out of their minds.

According to the Weird New Jersey website: In the 1930s, Oakland was a popular vacation destination. People flocked there to swim and fish in the pristine waters of the Ramapo River and stay in one of the dozens of inns that lined its banks. At the height of its tourism age, the number of people in the town would swell to four times that of its regular population during the summer months. The former farmland was developed into recreational facilities. Restaurants, hotels, inns, bars and gas stations sprang up to accommodate the influx of vacationers. Small cottages were built and rented out in the “Pleasureland” section of town, sometimes referred to as “The Colony.”

There were a dozen “beach” resorts lining the banks of the river in all. Historians can’t agree on who opened the first resort, but they generally acknowledge that Muller’s Park (a former horse farm) was one of the very first. Located between Pleasureland to the south and Sandy Beach to the north, William Muller built the first public swimming pool in town in 1935.

Oakland’s tourist industry lasted about 50 years. Then in the early 1960s, with the closing of Sandy Beach, the area started to decline sharply. The clear waters of the Ramapo had become polluted due to the poor septic systems, which were originally built for summer cottages. Those cottages were increasingly being converted into year-round dwellings. As Oakland became more of a permanent residential town, tourism dwindled and one after another the beach resorts shut down.

By 1985 there were only two left, FRG Sports Complex (located on the former site of Muller’s Park) and Pleasureland, which were adjacent to each other. Because FRG no longer attracted area residents as patrons, its owner Frank Gallo began soliciting guests from New York City Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. On Sunday, Aug. 4th 1985, one such group was bussed in to celebrate Jamaican Independence Day.

Ten months earlier, Gallo had gone before the Oakland planning board with a proposal to rezone the tract and construct a huge complex of 1,000 luxury high-rise condominiums. The planning board absolutely rejected his proposal. This high density project – two nine-story buildings, and at least two 7-story buildings would be in the middle of flood plain and the planning board said absolutely not. So if Pompton Lakes residents are a bit suspicious, they have good reason to be.

Right next door, just on the other side of an eight-foot tall chain link fence was the adjacent FRG Sports Complex. Some 3,000 people had gathered at the 50-acre park to picnic and enjoy the resort’s pools, volleyball, badminton, and table tennis facilities. Most of the visitors were brought in by charter buses from the New York City boroughs. All seemed to be going well, until around 4:30 in the afternoon.

A man who had been sitting in a covered pavilion area, where guests were listening to music and dancing, suddenly stood up and began firing an automatic weapon into the crowd. According to a local newspaper reporter who happened to live nearby, a blue van moved slowly through the entrance gate of FRG and parked just a few feet off the driveway near the pool. Without warning, the door burst open and several men leaped out and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. Then the van drove away. Next door in Pleasureland, 500 people panicked trying to climb over the resort’s fence to get away. Before that horrific day was over, two people, one a bus driver who had brought one of the groups in, were dead and nearly twenty others injured.

The police found 65 handguns, machetes, and knives. It looked to the police like the combatants had come prepared for a war. Of the 3,000 people, 1,968 had come out as a part of a charter out of Brooklyn. The name of the group was the West Indies Cricket Club. Police and the reporters believed, although they couldn’t confirm it that the gunmen were members of Florida-based drug and gun group that had links to Brooklyn.” The two gangs were, allegedly, The Showers (Jamaican Shower Posse) and The Spanglers.

Local residents had been complaining about the noise from the big parties Gallo bussed in. The “Oakland Massacre” was the last straw, though. Seven men, many illegal Jamaican aliens, were arrested and held at the Bergen County jail, charged with possession of handguns, aggravated assault and attempted murder, with bail being set at $100,000 to $150,000.

According to the book “A History of Oakland: The Story of Our Village,” by Kevin Heffernan (The History Press 2007): After the gun battle, FRG never reopened after the day of the shootout and the land on Route 202 remains vacant to this day. Frank Gallo reportedly moved to Florida.

Pleasureland, the last remaining vestige of Oakland’s bygone era as a resort town, closed soon after.

In order to save the homes up on Pompton Lake and farther north along the Ramapo River, the Army Corps of Engineers installed the floodgates. However, flooding has worsened along the Ramapo below the dam, flooding areas that had never flooded before, and worsening the flooding farther downstream, all the way to the Passaic River.

Gov. Christie and FEMA must now decide whether it’s worth preserving the remains of the abandoned Pleasureland and the homes along the Ramapo in Oakland at the expense of homes that stretch for nearly ten miles below Pompton Falls. Or buy them out and raise the foundations of the affected homes in the area just below the falls. The floodgates were an expensive project, paid for by both state and federal taxpayers. The choice is either buyout a relatively small number of homes above the dam or forever bail out the homes below it.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)