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Friday, November 2, 2012

Bloomberg Cancels Marathon; Food, Fuel Jeopardy; UFT Goes Facebook


WNYC radio* just announced:
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg caved in to popular pressure to cancel the ING New York City Marathon scheduled for this Sunday. Critics said that assigning police officers and power generators (temperature lows are due to drop below 40 degrees this weekend) at the marathon would be an irresponsible diversion from duties related to Hurricane Sandy. Some pointed out that many people are now homeless, and they would be competing with visiting runners to rent out hotel rooms.

To be commended are Staten Island city councilor James Oddo (Republican, at that), council speaker Christine Quinn, public advocate Bill BeBlasio (switching from his earlier the marathon must go on position), Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer and Staten Island assemblyman Lou Tobacco for calling for the cancellation of the marathon. (Ken Belson in the New York Times, "Growing Outcry Over Proceeding With Marathon")

Otherwise, we would have noted that this would make us paraphrase president Dwight D. Eisenhower and his statement on the shifted priorities with pandering to the military industrial complex. While there are people without food, without their homes, without power, unsure of where their school assignment will be Monday, without car fuel, every resource put into the trickle down folly of the Marathon, is a diversion away from the truly needy thousands who need the resources.

This storm was turning out to be another tin-ear episode of someone that cannot see beyond the exclusive districts in Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The New York State Nurses Association performed a stand-out role in assessing the situation of how a marathon fits within the larger picture of New York City's health status at this point. Their public letter in part read:
On Staten Island, hospitals have suffered severe structural damage, and are struggling to care for their patients.

In every NYC hospital, nurses are pushed to the limit - covering severe cases, taking care of formerly at-home patients who lost power, working incredibly long hours, and sleeping in shifts.

Every year the Marathon leads to injuries and Emergency Room visits. Our ERs do not need that influx of patients right now.

With thousands of beds closed and nurses and other caregivers working nonstop for days, our healthcare delivery system is severely strained.

At a time like this, we need to re-direct our city’s resources to the recovery - to restore power and get Bellevue and the other closed hospitals up and running again, to fix the damage on Staten Island, and to help all those injured by this storm.

There will be plenty of time later in the year to hold the Marathon. Now is not the time.
The complete NYSNA letter can be read here

Another matter, as long as car fuel access has not been restored to the region, the city should encourage carpooling to the LIRR or directly to schools and other government offices.

The above cited other issues are getting inadequate media and politician attention: food and power. An aide to city councilor James Sanders (Far Rockaway) says that Far Rockaway is the "9th Ward" of New York City (Capital New York story by Azi Paybarah).

Sarah Seltzer's latest at "'Please Don't Leave Us!' NYers Desperate for Help -- Latest Sandy Updates, What You Can Do: Staten Island, Breezy Point, Red Hook and Long Beach are in danger of a real a disaster."

Saturday afternoon Leonie Haimson posted at NYC Public School Parents links to lists of schools to be closed next week, due to Hurricane Sandy.
Immeasurable damage has occurred to people’s homes and even more tragically, lives have been lost, but I wanted to update you on new developments as regards the NYC public schools:

* On Monday, most NYC public schools will resume classes. However, there are 57 schools that have suffered “severe damage” according to the DOE, and have to be re-located to other buildings. The list of schools that will be closed until further notice and their re-location sites are posted as an spreadsheet on the DOE website here. For those who cannot access spreadsheets, I have also posted this list on my website as a word doc and as a pdf.
*However, students in the closed schools will NOT be attending classes until Wednesday, to make sure that their new buildings are ready for them. DOE says they will provide updates early in the week about transportation; teachers are expected at these new sites on Monday and Tuesday.

All public schools are closed for classes on Tuesday for Election Day, as previously planned.

*There is another, even longer list of schools that as of last night (Friday) lacked power; many of them have had their power restored already but many have not.
The list of schools that were undamaged but lacked power as of Friday (as a spreadsheet) is posted here. As a pdf on my website, it is here. Check back on the DOE website over the weekend for updates as to which of these schools may NOT be reopening on Monday.
Emily Frost and Julie Shapiro at DNA info reported Friday evening ("65 Schools Damaged by Hurricane Sandy Won't Reopen Monday") NYC schools chancellor Dennis Walcott's statement that 65 schools damaged by the storm will remain closed after the storm, affecting 40,000 students. He has yet to indicate which schools these will be. Another 184 schools were not damaged but lacked power. (Thursday the UFT said that the DOE would release the list of which schools would remain closed. Yet, the union noted the city's delay in reporting the list of schools.)
From Frost and Shapiro's article:
"We need time," Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said. "Oil tanks are under water.... We have flooded basements and first floors, badly damaged roofs.... We've had oil spills."
This writer supports intensive services for the needy, including the mentally ill.
But what are people with psychiatric issues doing being housed in the same buildings as school children? ("When city schools reopen Monday, kids may be sharing buildings with hundreds of evacuees" by Greg B. Smith and Rachel Monahan in the Daily News) Couldn't they be shifted to the city's CUNY colleges? (DNA Info: Schools safety agents and Department of Homeless Services will provide added security to these schools.)
The schools that will continue to host evacuees are: Brooklyn Tech High School, FDR High School and John Jay High School in Brooklyn; Graphic Arts High School and George Washington High School in Manhattan; Hillcrest High School in Queens; and Susan Wagner High School and Tottenville High School in Staten Island.

United Federation of Teachers members can now go to Facebook. The teachers union's fallen website redirects to their Facebook page.

We've created two hotlines for UFT members with urgent concerns to call:
718-852-4900 in Brooklyn
718-275-4400 in Queens

If you live in the other three boroughs, call either number for assistance. The hotlines are staffed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Comments at the UFT's Facebook page included:
I was expecting to come to be provided with a lot more information that would have helped us plan for Monday, but as of yet we still don't even know where to go or where the kids will be. If the DOE is not prepared for the teachers, how do you expect teachers to be prepared for kids?
About half the staff at my school are living with no electricity, heat, or hit water. We were glad to be at the school which had all of the above. But for me, pd overwhelmed me as i have housing issues at the moment.
What kind of PD did DOE supply?
Another teacher posted:
The DOE has us working on some nonsensical professional development packet straight from Tweed treating us like children.
*Why is WNYC playing the Radio Bloomberg role? All of the coverage says over and over mayor Bloomberg. No quotes of Stringer, Oddo, Quinn, DeBlasio or Tobacco. No, the only elected public servant cited is Bloomberg. Reporters spoke at length about how the marathon cancellation would inconvenience the runners. Shouldn't they be letting the runners and the suffering outer borough residents speak for themselves?

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