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Archive for September, 2005

My Community Board

I went to my first community board meeting recently.  I’ve gone to civic assocation meetings, town hall meetings, interviewed local politicians but this was something I never had the chance to do.

I found the whole process so distasteful, that it took me a few days just to find the words to exapl int.  I felt the CB had a fair amount of disrespect and contempt for the community they are supposed to represent, and almost felt like crying — they were that out of touch, sarcastic, and cruel.

Letters by community members were read aloud as members of the board mocked ‘they should get a job and stop writing letters’, and when one board member asked that other members visit sites that request special permits for additional building (there were only FOUR on the agenda), they sneered that they were too busy and wouldn’t even look at the photos he took of the sites.

They applauded themselves, after martyring themselves — pity them, they volunteer for this oh so difficult position.  Many of them did not want everyone from the civic association to speak, they requested that one woman speak for all but when the room cried out they let them all speak. And then they wanted to limit them to a minute and a half each, but it was pointed out (by the chairman) that they were allowed three.  They haughtily slapped down the timer and stood watch to make sure not one resident dare speak too long.

It’s enough to make one turn to nihilism — seriously, if the process is so rotten at this simple, basic level, what hope is there for the rest of the borough, the city, the state, the country?

The sad thing is when I wrote about this on another board, someone IMMEDIATELY knew which community board I was talking about.  What does that tell you?

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Link: New York Daily News – Home – A call for rescuing our kids & schools.

The case, and the attention it gathered, brought out of the woodwork a long list of parents and students who had quietly complained to school officials over the years of the teacher’s actions. It also shed light on one of the dirtiest little secrets in public education today: Parents who assert themselves in order to protect the interests of their children often are treated like the ones who are doing something wrong.

This is sadly very true.  And it is somewhat comforting to know that it happens all over.  But only a little.

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So, it’s not news that NYC public school children (and probably school children everywhere) have to buy more than their own basic supplies. I am used to buying soap, paper towels, baby wipes, tissues, other basic needs for my children to take to school.  This year we even had to buy a ream of paper per child in the first grade!

But when we have to pay for things like dry erase markers, that’s just crazy.  They’re expensive, and they’re for some sort of ‘thing’ they do now.  They give each child a little whiteboard slate to do lessons on.  Is there some sort of amazing educational advantage my child gets from using this?  Does spending an extra $6 benefit my child?  Are the leftover markers from last year enough? (Apparently not.)

And then there is the pointless spending for no reason at all — Senior year, where you have to spend on all the extras or your child is left out.  And I’m not talking about Senior year in high school, no, I’m talking the fifth grade, where I am counting stupid expense number one:

a white shirt and dark pants/skirt, to be worn once, for a class group photo.

The shirt at least had to be new, because a photo can’t have your kid wearing a dingy less than sparkling shirt.  But why? After a whole school experience of not wearing uniforms and looking different and wearing what they wanted they have to dress the same for one photo?  One photo that will be in the yearbook, and who knows how much that will cost, last year the LEAST amount you could spend on photos was sixty PER CHILD.  Twenty per child for fall photos and FORTY for the spring ones.  At least for that expense we didn’t have to buy them extra clothes!

It’s almost fundraiser time too — maybe the time has come to hold a fundraiser of my own, to meet the expenses of sending my children to a free public school.

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Link: New York Daily News – Home – ‘Parachute’ drop to spur Coney fixup.

"Coney Island is no longer Coney Island if it looks like any other seaside resort," said a source. "It needs to retain that freak show, retro atmosphere."

Yarr

I think New Yorkers will be able to do just that, don’t you think?  🙂

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Link: International response to Hurricane Katrina – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Many countries and international organizations have offered the United States relief aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Initially, the United States had been reluctant during several days to accept donations and aid from foreign countries other than Canada and the United Kingdom. However, this policy was reversed, and as the reports of damage grew more grim, the United States has slowly started to accept the foreign aid. Currently, countries and organizations offering to send aid mentioned by the State Department are Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, the European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, International Energy Agency, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, South Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, NATO, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Organization of American States, Oman, OPEC, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (Republic of China), Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Venezuela and the World Health Organization. Other countries not on this list have also offered aid, but the State Department mentioned that they (the State Department) had not been asked. Later, the US State Department said all offers were being examined. [1] [2]

According to the European Commission, one week after the disaster, on September 4th, 2005, the United States offically asked the European Union for emergency help, asking for couvertures, emergency medical kits, water and 500.000 food rations for victims. Help proposed by EU member states will be coordinated through their crisis center. A technical coordinator for the "European package" will be named. The British presidency of the EU will function as contact with the USA.

Just because I know some people were wondering if other people would help us.

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What AFSC is doing

Link: SFFM Peace & Social Concerns � Blog Archive � AFSC’s response to Katrina.

AFSC will use current Crisis Fund donations for Hurricane Katrina that have come in and that will be coming in for the near- and long-term efforts with communities and groups perhaps overlooked by bigger organizations: AFSC will be hiring a full-time coordinator for overall efforts and a full-time person out of the Atlanta Office, so Friends who know of good disaster-experienced folk, especially with the ability to work with rural, African American, immigrant or very low-income survivors, send in inquiries/resumes to . And AFSC, perhaps through the Joint Service Project with InterMountain Yearly Meeting may offer volunteer opportunities or workcamps when and where those are appropriate. I am pushing for such service opportunities.

I didn’t see much on their site when I was looking up places doing relief work.  I was pointed to this post about the work they are doing, and who they are working with.

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Brooklyn Collections

From his press release:  (I got this last night at a civic association meeting — they may extend it past Friday it depends on the people they are collecting FOR, their office will keep in touch with me, they said.)

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES URGENTLY NEEDED FOR GULF COAST RESIDENTS; SENATOR MARTY GOLDEN’S OFFICE TO SERVE AS COLLECTION POINT

Brooklyn, NY – Aug 30

New Yorkers wishing to donate critically needed supplies to Gulf Coast state residents can drop them off at either of State Senator Marty Golden’s (R-C-I Brooklyn) two district offices from 9:00am until 5:00 pm Monday-Friday, the Senator announced today.

Supplies will bedelivered by the Senator’s staff and volunteers to the Salvation Army, which will immediately ship them to the disaster area.

The following items are <u>urgently</u> needed for the relief effort:

1.  Bottled water
2.  Baby formula
3.  Boxed juice
4.  Clothing, any size, any age
5.  Towels
6.  Flashlights with batteries
7.  Batteries of any size
8.  First aid supplies, and
9.  Canned or packaged food.

The Senator’s offices are at: 
(Bay Ridge) 7403 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718)238-6044 and
(Marine Park) 3610 Quentin Road, Brooklyn, NY 11234 (718) 627-3659

<u>Financial contributions will not be accepted.</U>  People wishing to donate money may contact chritable organizations, including the American Red Cross (1-800-HELP-NOW), the Salvation Army (212-337-7200); Catholic Charities USA (1-800-919-9338).

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