Monthly Archives: March 2010

Where’s the CCC?

This past week, a rally was held in Albany to protest the planned closures of state parks. One Assemblyman was quoted by the Albany TU: “In my 34 years with the Legislature, I have never seen an issue that has resonated so much with the public. I am getting more mail on this issue than anything else.”

Some people concerned about the parks and the economy may be wondering, “There’s tons of people out of work these days — so why can’t the government put them to work repairing the infrastructure of the parks — the roads, bridges, bathhouses, trails and campsites?” They may be remembering the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the New Deal-era program that put 3 million Americans to work during the Great Depression on all kinds of outdoor projects, including many New York State parks which still show off their handiwork today. (This Flickr group has collected photos of all kinds of buildings created by the CCC.)

There’s no CCC any more, and last year’s federal stimulus measure did not create one. In New York, a newly created State Parks Conservation Corps received over $3 million in federal stimulus funds from the NY Department of Labor to put about 200 students – broken up into smaller groups and sent to different regions of the state — on trail maintenance work for several months last year. (This seems a far cry from the large camps of CCC guys who were working on infrastructure during the Depression.)

The State Parks student effort was overseen by the Student Conservation Association, a group which has been doing similar work nationwide for many years and is active in New York. While it’s good to know that groups like the SCA are around, when you look at a list of the places where the SCA is active, you’ll notice they mostly only work in the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley-Catskills, Albany and New York City metro regions. (Whether coincidentally or not, these just happen to be the regions where political power is concentrated in our state — or where the powers most often go to play.)

But it’s hard enough finding money to support even the park system’s dedicated employees, much less an emergency job corps, as blogger Norbrook points out in this must-read post: “Why would park people be grumpy?” Norbrook writes:

The problem with the way we’ve been treating our parks is that it never gets better. Another friend of mine who’s been running parks for a long time told me “I get through by thinking next year will be better. The problem is that next year is always worse.” For a very long time, park personnel have been dealing with failing infrastructure that never gets money to repair it, personnel cuts or hiring freezes, watching as money is shifted from one area to another in mid-year, and do the best they can with what they have. It’s a case of “the beatings will continue until morale improves” for them. It’s hard to remain upbeat over time, when things never seem to get better. Then the recession hits, and the state budget is being drastically cut. You find out it can get worse. Not only is the already inadequate funding cut, but you’re not even sure that your park will be open anymore.

…This year, if you notice the park staffs seem “grumpy” it’s because they are. They’re hitting a breaking point, and it’s becoming impossible to keep a cheery face to the public. They know that things aren’t going to get better for them. The effort to keep parks open is just one small part of what we should be advocating. We should also be advocating to make sure that they have the resources they need, and to prevent this from happening in the future.

The Return of Other People’s Blogs

It’s back…

Solid Shale is a blog that people concerned about hydrofracking might want to check out.

Norbrook’s Blog is for “Opinions from the Central Adirondacks” (with much to say about the state parks)

Occasional commenter here, Mrs. M has been awfully busy with her own blog stable, including New York Renovator (“the challenges of renovating an 1855 home in upstate New York”)

And, wow. From Adirondack Almanack, more than you ever wanted to know about where bees actually go in the winter. Think about this the next time you’re at a festival and there’s a long line for the portajohns.

State Park Minutes

Binghamton’s WSKG-TV created a series of spots to highlight the state parks of the Southern Tier. There are nine “State Park Minutes” in all. You can watch them here.

At least three of these parks face immediate closure or service reductions under the current budget proposal. At least two more of them are in danger if anticipated emergency funding for the state parks system does not materialize.

You have the power

The latest in the Paterson business…

A key figure in the domestic abuse scandal bedeviling Gov. David A. Paterson told investigators that the governor phoned to enlist her help in quieting the accuser, according to a person with knowledge of her account.

“Tell her the governor wants her to make this go away,” Deneane Brown said Mr. Paterson told her, according to the person. Ms. Brown, a state worker, was friends with both the governor and the woman who says that a senior aide to Mr. Paterson roughed her up in a Halloween altercation.

“Women’s equality” and “women’s issues” are great abstract concepts for most politicians, but especially abstract to members of the NYC establishment (of which David Paterson is one – Harlem branch, although we could say the same for other prominent NYC based politicians and their staffs). When it comes to, uh, actual women in front of them, that’s a different ballgame altogether. Somehow, to them, women cause these troubles by their very presence around powerful men and their staffs — and so it is a “reasonable request” probably for these politicians, to ask that they (the women) “make it go away.”

So my question is: if women are really that powerful that they cause all these troubles and have the power to make them go away, what the hell are these women doing wasting their power in Albany, where men seem to have them in a box? (Don’t forget that, across many parts of the world, you even have the power to confound and bewitch whole legions of men simply by uncovering your hair! You don’t even have to be beautiful – you just have to have two X chromosomes, and boom — the hair is deadly!)

We’ve already established that women “have the power” – so why are we using it so ineptly? Why are we wasting it on participating in a dysfunctional game we can never win? Political power is not the same thing as holding political office, especially if the offices and the government are built on shifting sands.

Maybe it’s time to vacate Albany and get back to Seneca Falls, stat. Maybe it is time to make an increased effort to move the capital — literally — over to Seneca Falls: to warp this state’s center of political gravity just as much as our last two governors’ sense of their power has apparently been warped. Liz Krueger, Joan Christensen, leave that city on the Hudson immediately and call a general assembly of your female colleagues and their friends, right inside the roofless Wesleyan Church on Fall Street if necessary. It can’t be any more of a cold, uncomfortable and undignified meeting-place for New York women than the mighty Capitol is right about now.

You have the power to “make it go away.”