Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Rainy Noreaster - What are the results?

The answer - Flooding and power outages. It's the same old set of results - different weather system. Check out this article here, which shows the effect on 3 states.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A powerful statement by Elizabeth Warren for Infrastructure

It's been a month. Congress has dropped the ball - again. The ball always lands on the foot of those who pave the roads, who work the schools, who put out the fires, who dash into danger, and who renovate the dams, the bridges, and the electrical grid.

Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the senate seat in Massachusetts, makes a compelling argument as to the importance for Congress to be responsible, for the 1`% of our nation to understand the contribution made by those underneath for them to reap their just deserved wealth.

Click here to check Ms. Warren speak truth to power.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

For $7,000 per million, per millionaire - we could put more Americans back to work

Everyone remembers the snowfall of October 29, 2011. It's one week and a few days later and there are communities in New Jersey and Connecticut without power, which means they are without electricity and heat - still. It's 2011. The electrical companies in their respective geographical areas are grappling with electrical grids that are still not fully functioning. It's not even deep winter yet.

So let's see, if Congress were to think about the welfare of the United States citizenry, they might realize that being cold in a house or apartment is a chilly, miserable experience. If Congress were connected to the citizenry they might realize that losing all of the food in the refrigerator because it has spoiled because the electricity is off is a nasty experience. If Congress were connected to the citizenry they might realize that sitting in the dark around candles without phone, television or radio is a wearying experience.

For an extra $7,000 per million, per millionaire, we could put Americans back to work solving infrastructure issues. For an extra $7,000 per million, per millionaire, we could put our minds, our great minds to work to build the electrical grid so that it does not blow out every time there is a major winter storm.

Friday, November 4, 2011

For the 3rd time - Congress says NO to Jobs

0.7% to those who earn $1,000,000 or more to fund a jobs bill. The answer from Congress - "No." No to jobs. If there is no vote on a jobs bill, those who receive unemployment will NOT receive their unemployment during the holidays.

We have veterans who will be returning home by the holidays, 2011. Their primary experience has been in the armed services. Another bill is coming before Congress dealing with funding a jobs bill to help returning veterans get employment. What will Congress's answer be?

At the fundamental core of funding any of the jobs bills, it requires dealing with giving. If one wanted to have a harder point of view, one could say it is an inconvenience. Those who earn 1,000,000 or more would have $7,000 less to spend. The $7,000 would contribute to roadwork, bridge repair, bridge building, electronic grid repair, electronic grid creation. The $7,000 would contribute to schools being able to hire more teachers and reduce class size; cities being able to train and hire more police officers and reducing crime; cities being able to train and hire more firefighters and significantly decrease response time to fires.

One could look at an additional $7,000 as an inconvenience that causes one pure rage to the point of wanting to leave the country. OR - one could look upon $7,000 as a gift of gratitude to the country that nurtured one's ability to become a millionaire.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Waiting with Baited Breath for Congress To Do The Right Thing

Each morning during the week, early in the morning, there is a parade of yellow school buses that zoom to their respective destinations to pick up their charges. If they do not go to their locations, children will have an extremely difficult time of getting to school on time. It is a financial and social contract one witnesses each morning as bus drivers attend to the duty and obligation of their job realizing that their efforts contribute to the future of others. Their charges are not easy. They can be extremely challenging and yet and still the school bus drivers know that their job is a link to making a facet of the educational system work.

Maintaining infrastructure is a link to the country being able to continue to function.

Twice the American Jobs Act comes up for a vote. Twice the Congress votes it down. It causes one to wonder are these elected officials breaking their financial and social contract with the American people?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A skilled workforce. What do they contribute?

A CTE school is a career and technical education school. A CTE school produces students who become proficient and gain mastery in academic skills, technical skills, and life skills. By life skills, I mean communication, technical skills, and interpersonal skills. Supporting the work of updating the infrastructure throughout each state in the glorious United States needs a skilled workforce in order to fix the electrical grid, or to fix the creaky bridges, or to fix the roads, or to fix the sewers and pipes.

A CTE school is the pipeline to a skilled workforce. Having students see a connection to additional post-secondary training in order to be eligible for a respectable job that leads to a middle class lifestyle is of immeasurable value. By passing the America Needs Jobs Bill, students will see the possible in action. Students would feel that their country is providing the support for them to be the key to a bright future in which manpower is used to turn the key to the U. S. economy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Investing in the Future

Many years ago, America created programs that invested in the possibility that people, poor people, working class people, people of every race, color and creed, could pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
A great many social factors played into President Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act in 1965. From this particular act, neighborhoods in economically depressed areas experienced anti-poverty programs. There were spin-offs such as Operation Bootstrap, which generated programs in which people learned to gain the skills, in order to help themselves From such an act, the nation made an investment into funding the college dreams of students no matter their socio-economic, religious, or ethnic status. From the nation's investment in the future through education, yours truly was able to benefit, grow, learn and dedicate her life to educating others. From an initial investment, there was growth.

Schools, like infrastructure needs constant investment. For schools to be houses of learning, the people inside the school, in this republic, need constant investment. Why? Because in the United States of America, part of who we are, what distinguishes us, is our ability to invest in public works. We may fight, bicker, and moan about the expense but at the end of the day, and in some cases that"day" may last years, the investment flowers into people helping people to grow, explore, and contribute to society.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

106th Street and 8th Avenue

How old was the pipe underneath 106 and Central Park West in New York?

Try 100 years old.

That leads to pictures like this:

Now the question is how many other pipes under New York City are in the same condition?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are your bridges secure?

I just went on Google and typed in 'America's worst bridges'. I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that there are 15,900,000 results (a great chunk of which are not relevant but a disturbingly large amount that are relevant). When you click on several links there is a common pattern:

a. overly congested roadways that lead onto the bridges. Click here.

b. report card grades on roads, and bridges that are rated with mediocre to failing grades.
In fact, click here to see a related article that deals with a report card on dams, bridges, highways, and roadways.

Now here's the kicker - already there are rumblings in the play-yard that certain members of Congress DO NOT want to approve ANY part of President Obama's job's bill. They do not want to play with others. There are certain members of Congress who are a NO because they are more intent upon making President Obama being a one term president than in providing levers that will help their own constituents with getting jobs.

Infrastructure Now!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wading in the Water - Part 4

Today was a great opening day for most schools in NYC. Unfortunately, there are some areas alo0ng the East Coast, like in Pennsylvania, where students are being evacuated from their school.

We are now in a pattern of heavy precipitation. Now the East Coast is dealing with Tropical Storm Lee. Click here to see a short video. Ground that has already soaked up the water, has no more room. The result is that families who thought they had successfully survived Irene, now look as their basements, and homes flood. On top of that, if they happened to put their water logged belongings out on the street, the new, large puddles, or flash floods, push their items into other property.

President Obama will be speaking tonight, trying to convince a certain section of the Congress to put Country First. Let's make the thinking process even simpler than that - let's put neighbor first. Let's stop mistaking kindness and caring for the welfare of people for weakness and realize that fixing, editing and contributing to a jobs plan that will address America's wobbly infrastructure is more important than party politics.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Different Between Can and Won't

This is a section of Paterson, New Jersey. The Pasaic River crested, overflowing the woefully inadequate spill basin, or dam system, or what ever system was in place.
There should bed streets and instead there is an image of two people moving from one place to another by boat. The property damage throughout Paterson and in sections of the state of New Jersey is in the billions. We as as a nation can help the states who have suffered such devastation. We as the nation have the capacity to help citizens in distress. We have a structure called Congress, that votes on bills that provide money to enhance, support, and maintain the infrastucture through many different avenues. One of the avenues is FEMA.

The problem - FEMA, the agency that was created in 1979, that in the past has routinely had money allocated by Congress in order to provide catastrophic emergency aid. FEMA is down to 1 billion dollars. 1 billion dollars. Can FEMA help the state of New Jersey. Not quite. New Jersey has about $7-8 billion dollars worth of damage. New York has 1 billion dollars worth of damage. This means FEMA does NOT have enough money. FEMA, whose purpose is to provide assistance to states to help their residents. When properly funded, FEMA can do it's job. FEMA can fulfill it's purpose.

Congressman Eric Cantor indicated FEMA may be able to do what it is supposed to do but Congress WON'T be allowed to provide any aid, or to replenish the money FEMA needs because - because - because - hmmm - let's see, because Congress feels there is plenty of time to look in other areas of the budget to cut spending in wasteful areas BEFORE it provides aid to the citizens who are need emergency services across the East coast due to Hurricane Irene.

So the person or persons who lived in this house are supposed to wait until Congress figures out the cuts before they receive aid.

There are millions of pictures of people who have lost everything; whose jobs have been swept away by flood waters, who Congress could help but WON'T help because according to Speaker Boehner and Congressman Cantor, it's more important to go for more budget cuts, and make sure that those who are are financially in the upper 5% of the country do not have to pay taxes than it is to help the citizens of the United States.

Right now one can look at different pictures of third world countries after a natural disaster has struck and look at pictures of the aftermath of the floods that devastated Connecticut and Vermont and feel there isn't a difference. Here are two pictures from the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
Natural disasters realize how quickly one becomes severed from civilization.

Here are two areas in Vermont.
The people, who ever they are, hopefully will have the family members, fortitude, and resources as Congress puts power, influence, and politics over the citizens of the United States.

The destruction is the same. The ruined property is the same. The discarded furniture, the broken, shredded remnants of where people resided, the violently overturned earth; and ominously dark water convey a feeling of death. Congress can help.

Congress has the ability to help. Congress can quickly vote to okay the bill for extensive interstate highway building, repair, and maintenance. Congress can vote to approve more money for FEMA so that the agency can provide aid to all of the states who have suffered devastation.

Will Congress "do the right thing?"
Can Congress "do the right thing?"
Will the response the citizens of the United States get from Congress is that when there is a catrstrophe, Congress WON'T respond?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Came and Went. What's the big picture?

The Good:
1. Three snaps up for the comprehensive emergency response plan that was put into place to alert the citizens along the East Coast.

2. Mayor Bloomberg did an excellent job of protecting NYC.

3. Cheers to the FDNY for evacuating 63 people in Bulls Head, Staten Island in the midst of the storm.

4. Cheers to the rescue teams in the city and neighboring counties.

5. Governor Cuomo did an excellent job in allocating emergency support services for the state of New York.

6. Governor Christie did an excellent job of warning the residents of the coastal areas of New Jersey and the state of New Jersey.

7. So far, as of Sunday, August 29th, there have been a limited number of fatalities.

The Bad:
1. There are significant power outages after Hurricane Irene. Here are the estimations:
a. New York City - 61,000
b. Long Island - 469,000
c. New Jersey - 708,000
d. Connecticut - 620,000
e. Westchester - 40,000

2. There are many fallen trees.
The downed trees are next to power lines.

3. There is and will be significant flooding next to the rivers and tributaries that feed into New York State.

4. There is a significant amount of debris that has to be cleaned up. Road crews will have to deal with the sinkholes throughout the city.

We are still missing the overall picture.
The emergency management system worked.
Hurricane Irene, by the time it reached the tri-state area, was a 70 to 100 mile wide category 1 system.
There were high winds, flooding, and debris damage.
Disgusting stuff floats in the water as all manner of things come up from the sewers.
The transportation system was shut down and there will be significant damage to subway stations and cars in areas that are prone to flooding.
We as a nation need to be forward thinking about what infrastructure can be put into place to make sure there is a major reduction of flooding that continually happens whenever any weather event occurs that involves water.

We as a nation need a system of retaining walls throughout all of the rivers and tributaries.
Do we really think we can afford to have water crashing up and over the retaining walls that eventually affect highways, which are the main thoroughfares needed if we had to do mayor evacuations?

As neighborhoods grow we need the infrastructure to support the development of more residences, malls, and offices. How do we deal with an electrical power supply that is above ground and therefore subject to fallen trees and floods from weather systems like Hurricane Irene?

It requires more than emergency response plans on a city or state level. It requires engaging in conversations and plans on a national level that generates methods for improving the infrastructure - Now!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

100,000 Drains in NYC

Hurricane Irene is coming. There was a news clip on NY1 today that New York City has 100,000 storm drains. $200 million dollars has been spent by NYC since 2002 to deal with maintaining the storm drains.

Sometimes the storm drains work well and sometimes they don't. When they don't, there is flooding. The MTA right now is gearing up for the possibility of flooding . Click here to see their preparations.

The type of expenditure needed to maintain storm drains requires the sure steady hand of the federal government.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Only 3 drains on 159th Street = Wade in the Water Part 4

I listened to a story today on New York 1 in which homeowners in Queens who live in a neighborhood that has "low lying topography" fight a losing battle every time that it rains. The three drains on the street quickly become clogged with debris. The water contains "run off from a neighboring plant" and the back flow from sewers.

The result - the possessions of the homeowners who are working class, trying to stretch a dollar to help their family, now must deal with throwing away items they probably held dear as it is now ruined. They must also cope with the thought of the long term damage that is happening to their basements, and in reality, their homes.

The solution - we need more drains. More drains requires civil engineers, which eventually means construction, which means jobs, which leads to addressing one component of infrastructure. A patchwork solution will not address the issue. We need the helping hand of Uncle Sam to address not only this type of situation in areas around the city but around the country. That can only happen if the emphasis is on - - - infrastructure now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wading in the Water Part 3

There are home owners in Dongan Hills in Staten Island who must be the best savers in the world. Whenever there is a big thunderstorm or downpour of rain, or weather in which precipitation falls from the sky for 24 hours and the ground becomes saturated, the basements flood. The residents on Channel 11, this morning recounted that some have renovated their basement 3 times in the past 3 years. The question to think about - how many of those same residents now have the resources in these hard economic times to renovate their basement again? How many of these residents have the medical resources in case a family member becomes ill from being exposed to water in the basement for a prolonged period of time? How is productivity affected if the attention of people is focused on saving the structural integrity of their homes?

I'll stop with the questions and make a suggestion. When Congress comes back from their "va-ca" (vacation), the first thing on their minds should be to look at all of the bills and ideas dealing with infrastructure.

Do you know that water mains are large pipes underground that carry -- water -- underground? Who knows the age of water main pipes? Could some of those water main pipes be several decades old? When pipes break they pose a huge problem because now the water affects other elements needed such as gas and electricity. Check out Con Ed once again trying to deal with a water main break by clicking here.

So did you know President Obama proposed an Infrasture bill back in October 2010 - $500 billion dollars, dealing with - of all things - rebuilding such things as drainage, spillways, pipes, bridges, roads - all that type of stuff- in America. Don't believe me? Check it out here.

Hmm - it seems when the government starts investing in maintaining or rebuilding or truly repairing infrastructure, one creates jobs. Dare I say it - focusing on infrastructure is a link to rebuilding jobs in America, for Americans, by Americans, to rebuild, repair, and revitalize - - - America.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wading in the Water - Part 2

Woke up this morning to what was a relatively minor kerfluffle dealing with an air conditioning unit that seemed to be a conduit for the rain outside to find that there are major sections of roads and areas of the city that frequently flood that we now accept as natural.

We have Amboy Road in Staten Island. There are avenues and boulevards that frequently overflow with water.
This is not new information. If there is a heavy downpour of rain, then these sections always experience flooding.

As reported on various media outlets, there are beautiful homes in Staten Island, whose basements are now flooded with water and sewage because of the overburdened sewer systems.

There are roads that are so concave from overworked, out off date sewers, that they turn into swimming pools in which motorists unfortunately feel they need to cross.

Last year in August, when there was a downpour of rain, a section of the Belt Parkway flooded. This year, in August, major downpour of rain, and surprise, a section of the Belt Parkway by Exit 13, is experiencing small lake like conditions. In fact, the FDR Expressway, is notorious, particularly under sections close to Sutton Place, for becoming mini swimming pools.

In Hoboken, the news cameras show pictures of the solution, we as a country in the 21st century use, sandbags. This same situation occurred last year and required engineers to come out to try to address the problem of erosion.

If there is new development but the sewer system is not upgraded - that's a problem.
If the solution to rising tide of a nearby lake is sandbags, which break and have proven ineffective time and again - that's a problem.
If the drainage system and sewer system can not handle heavy rain flow and the result is that basements are flooded, then the chance of becoming a breeding ground for all types of bacteria increases for families, particularly the most vulnerable - that's a problem.

A city trying to patch work a street, boulevard, avenue, highway or road is not enough. A state trying to eek out money so that again a patch work solution is presented is not enough. This requires federal intervention - lawmakers thinking about the good of the nation, of the states, cities and towns, and employing consistent level of laws about the quality of urban development. Sandbags can not substitute for a systematic method to protect coastal areas.

Time to have a flood control system for coastal areas. Time for Congress to do their job. One doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. The Netherlands are famous for the numerous strategies they have put into place to deal with all types of flooding.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wading in the Water

It's Sunday and there's been a huge thunderstorm that has pelted the Northeast. Living in a solid neighborhood that is considered a naturally occurring retirement community, one would think a weather condition such as a thunderstorm would not be a major event.

It turns into a major event when one descends from the elevator to find water flooding into the back hallway of a complex. Problem. It is a problem when one little thing that has not been cleared up due to lack of money causes a domino effect of the drains backing up, and hence there is a back flow into hallways, whether in the front or the back in which there is 1-2 inches of water.

One ordinary weather event becomes a major investment of time, in this case 10 maintenance men reacting to a situation while there is a downpour of rain. I know - sounds minor. But here's the thing - if you don't constantly clean your house - it becomes filthy. If you don't constantly organize - your environment becomes sloppy and unmanageable.

I think it is indicative of the type of lack of planning that is occurring in which we as a nation need to come together to remind Congress that the United States of America needs to be maintained. Let's start with the drains, to the roads, to the bridges, to the planes; to the electrical grid. Everything needs maintenance. And the type of comprehensive level of maintenance is beyond the scope of cities and states, it requires a consistent national vision that can be implemented.