A writer must “know and have an ever-present consciousness that this world is a world of fools and rogues… tormented with envy, consumed with vanity; selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions… He should free himself of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, politics…” —Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?). “The nobility of the writer's occupation lies in resisting oppression, thus in accepting isolation” —Albert Camus (1913-1960). “What are you gonna do” —Bertha Brown (1895-1987).
A Letter from a teacher reporting from Lower Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy
family and I are doing fine. We live on the lower east side in Manhattan, below
34th St. where power, out since Monday evening, started to come back on Friday
around 5p.m. Power outages remain in some lower Manhattan areas, particularly
large buildings where the basements flooded. In the other burrows and towns in
NJ, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties, some folks will remain
without power until trees are removed and power lines can be repaired. The 8-foot
tidal surge wiped out some sea level communities. Subways are still not running
in lower Manhattan as of last night… Julie Cavanagh, MORE's candidate in the
upcoming UFT elections, emailed reports on the Red Hook projects in a low-lying
Brooklyn area by the harbor where her school PS 15 is located. The area was
badly flooded and residents were still without power and water as of last
teacher, Marjorie Stamberg, wrote that the city was saying that power at the
Red Hook projects may remain out until 11/11, and she warned that folks should
be on the look out for efforts by the city housing authority to use this
disaster to push out public housing residents as was done in New Orleans.
read similar reports from the projects in Coney Island. The scenes from the
gated community, Breezy Point, which lies at the tip of the Rockaway peninsula,
have been widely publicized by the media. NYC Teachers were instructed to
return to work on Friday even while the subway service was only partially
restored and buses were jammed. It took me three hours to get to work and the
same to return. For many teachers it was just impossible to get in. It remains
to be seen whether the city will require teachers to use personal leave time if
they were unable to return on Friday. Schools are slated to be reopened on
think it is obvious that the Feds responded better in NYC than they did in New
Orleans. This is partially due to the difference between the administrations
but also due to the housing pattern in NYC where, for example, you can find a
million-dollar condo located across the street from a public housing project.
This grates on the real estate interests to no end, and they will be looking to
revamp infrastructure while, at the same time, speed up efforts to turn
Manhattan into the ultimate gentrified gated community for the wealthy
surrounded as it is by water.
heroes of this disaster are the working-class people who supported one another
and worked tirelessly to restore essential services. Thank the working class
for the public sector. No private charters or privatized transportation
companies would respond to human need as a fully-funded public sector can.
were very few reports of looting or violence, even though people were without
food and water and had no access to cash machines or open supermarkets. The
Daily News today carried a report of 11 arrests outside a Coney Island
supermarket across from a housing project. One of the men arrested holding
toilet paper, water and candy pleaded with officers saying, “I'm no criminal. What
am I supposed to do? Let my grandmother go hungry?” Similar to Katrina, if you
are white, you are "foraging" for essential supplies; if you are a
Black or Latino, you are "looting." Bail was set for $20,000 and the
Brooklyn DA says that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
climate change disasters have opened up new arenas of class warfare as the rich
seek to guard their wealth and power even as the ship is sinking. It seems
clear to me that public sector workers and our unions will increasingly emerge
as the true leaders of society to the extent that we identify our working
conditions with the living and working conditions of the working class and
society as a whole. We in NYC enter into another season of struggle against
school closings and privatization with this heightened awareness. Thanks again
to the CTU which has pointed the way.
final observation, Richard Grasso, former head of the stock exchange was on
Bloomberg radio all day Thursday patting himself on the back for waiting to
reopen Wall Street out of consideration for the people operating the exchange.
“Sure we can trade electronically, but what about the people,” he repeated. The
financial sector doesn't need the real estate, but the NYC real estate industry
does. I think the latter group in particular has the jitters about climate change.
Romney and his financial-sector clowns can dismiss climate change, but it will
prove to be a political dead end. This is an interesting and potentially
significant fissure in the ruling elite that may pressure the so-called
"radical" and liberal think tanks and non-profits to reassess their
slavish non-political subservience to their funding sources.
historic opportunity presents itself. If the "white" led unions,
affordable housing groups, and parent groups can break through their historic
indifference to racial equality and demand justice for all and not just the so-called "middle class"
(which I think is often used as a code word for all those "white"
Reagan democrat males now wondering what went wrong), a real mass-based
alternative to the oligarchy will continue to grow.
teacher and parent
This letter was sent to
me and to all other Substance News
writers.I write about "Retiree and
Pension News" on occasion for Substance News.