The beginning of December also marks that the holiday season is in full swing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Thank God.” No, not because I’m all that into the holidays, which I will explain a little bit later, but because December 1 also means that hurricane season is officially over. I think all of us on Long Island are relieved at that. So if bringing in the holidays means doing away with hurricanes, then I say string up the holly!
It shows you just how bad the hurricane was if I’m saying to bring on the holidays. The season and I have never really been friends. As a child, I would often come down with strep throat at this time of the year. One year, as a young child, our beloved Christmas display was vandalized. I can still remember getting in my mom’s car and seeing Rudolph smashed and turned upside down. The decorations were repaired, but one week later the whole display was stolen. My beloved first dog, Charlie, died a week before Christmas when I was young. Years later, another beloved pet, Ricky, died the day after New Year’s. Another year, during the season, I was hit in the rear as I was stopped at a stop sign. The weather gets too cold for golf and Bethpage is closed on Christmas so I can’t console myself with even the thought that I could possibly play on Christmas, if I really, really wanted to. And in a note that we can all relate to, could there be any more traffic in the malls at this time of year? So, as you can see, as December rolls around, I usually cringe and hope that the damage won’t be too bad.
It took the wrath of Hurricane Sandy to reveal the deep-seated wealth of communal altruism that binds Long Islanders. In New Hyde Park, it didn’t take a natural disaster, just the actions of Diana Biehayn to get a taste of this particular brand of human kindness. Over a number of decades, this longtime NHP resident has selflessly given of her time and efforts as a means of helping out family, friends and neighbors. A tireless New Hyde Park Memorial High School booster, heavily involved in numerous civic organizations including AARP, FISH and the Lions Club, Biehayn has been giving her all in as low key a manner as you’d expect from someone as modest as this proud grandmother. It turns out that these actions haven’t gone entirely unnoticed as Biehayn was the recent recipient of the Town of North Hempstead’s Hometown Heroes award. The Illustrated News offers its congratulations to Diana Biehayn for this well-deserved honor that went to the kind of community champion that helps bind a village like New Hyde Park together.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
I had written something on the conflict in Gaza only to find out, within minutes of finishing, that a cease-fire had been announced. I considered scrapping the whole thing, but you know what? Sadly, this will probably still be relevant going forward, because chances of this ceasefire setting the foundation for a lasting peace are slim to none.
And if I’m wrong, and the end of this particular conflict marks the beginning of a new, more peaceful era in the region, my having published one dated column will be a very small price to pay, I think.
With Hurricane Sandy recovery slated to take years, it’s hard to find much to be thankful for, especially if you were unfortunate enough to lose your home, or more tragically, a loved one. That said, there are a number of things to be thankful for. Aside from LIPA’s glaring ineptitude, we should be thankful that there was enough early warning from various weather outlets that the loss of life wasn’t far greater given the population density of the tri-state area. We should be thankful that the FEMA of Hurricane Katrina isn’t the same agency that’s currently trying to help citizens get through Sandy. We should be thankful that gas shortages and excessive lines are becoming less common. We should be thankful that not only more people are getting their power back, but that our crack emergency responders, firemen, police and utility workers did such an outstanding job in getting everyone through this devastation. Finally we should be thankful that despite scattered anecdotes of greed and cruelty, munificence and human kindness were more the rule than the exception as everyone tried to get through this natural disaster in one piece. We at Anton Community Newspapers wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
This is one of my favorite quotes that I often repeat. During my experiences, I have met individuals who have gained power and used it to make a positive difference, help others, and make themselves true leaders. I have also encountered those who let the power go to their heads and used it in a bad manner. Therefore, I consider this statement from Lincoln to be truly sage advice that I often refer to, and with a movie about the 16th President now showing in movie theaters, it is also timely.
For as bad as the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy was, LIPA’s response to the Island-wide power outages has been equal parts disgraceful and embarrassing. Governor Cuomo has already labeled the power authority’s efforts a failure, outraged citizens have picketed outside a Hicksville utility office and according to Bloomberg Businessweek, as of Monday, Nov. 12, “The state-owned authority’s customers accounted for about 58 percent of an estimated 136,936 still without power today, including homes and businesses with property damage unable to reconnect.” Stories of customers still without power receiving LIPA bills only rubs more salt in the wounds of those who’ve had to endure darkness, cold showers and plummeting temperatures at night. Although the likelihood is slim of this monopolistic entity prorating its billing so customers aren’t asked to pay for services they’re not receiving, we can only hope LIPA is sent packing sooner than later and a far more responsive power authority is brought in to serve some of the nation’s most highly taxed citizens.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
Something has to be done about the Long Island Power Authority! We are paying some of the highest power rates in the U.S. while LIPA risks our lives, limbs and homes with poor management and antiquated equipment!
Information has recently come to my attention that the catastrophic power outage we have suffered this week is due in a great part to disorganized executives and management at LIPA, and a poorly maintained infrastructure. It is a fact that many of the poles and much of the power equipment on Long Island hasn’t been replaced since the 1920s. The 1920s!
The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) suffers from a significant handicap relative to other large municipal utilities in the nation, and this handicap is a major contributing factor in its inadequate preparedness and response to Hurricane Sandy. Unlike the vast majority of municipal electric systems in the nation, since its creation in 1985, LIPA’s CEOs have been political appointees, not seasoned utility veterans who understand the fundamental complexities, dynamics and nuances of the industry that are needed to turn LIPA into a well-run provider of electric service.
Although LIPA has a first rate staff and was fortunate that several of its former leaders were exceptional managers, none of them head the industry expertise and long-term vision needed (utilities’ strategic plans typically have a 10 – 20 year horizon) to turn the system into a first-class electric provider. Instead, LIPA has been lead by a revolving door of CEO’s who, despite their impressive skill sets, dedication and access to Albany, had little or no utility experience (intervening against or for specific power projects does not qualify someone to operate a utility). Consequently, their first allegiance was to the governors office rather than LIPA’s customers.
By the time you read this, hopefully any power you may have lost will have been restored and any damages caused by Hurricane Sandy will have either been fixed or on the way to arriving at that state. While those who had the misfortune of being in the path of destruction wrought on Staten Island, the Jersey shore and the south shore of Long Island running from Brooklyn all the way out east have oftentimes been only left with the clothes on their backs, the response of donated time, money and supplies has been a reaffirmation of people’s inherent good in times of strife and struggle. Closer to home it’s been those who toil for law enforcement, the fire department, emergency services and public works who have been instrumental in helping residents get through this catastrophe in as safe and expedient a manner as possible. This kind of selflessness and determination is what is going to get everyone through this particularly difficult time in the end.
– Dave Gil de Rubio
As Hurricane Sandy headed toward the now-devastated Tri-State area, North Shore Animal League America - the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization – reached out to local residents already suffering tremendous losses, providing preemptive emergency rescue services to several Long Island shelters, ensuring the safety of pets who had to be separated from their displaced families. Shelter and rescue groups in the Long Island area who were forced to evacuate also took advantage of Animal League’s facilities. As more animals filled the shelter, dedicated staff members have worked around the clock to ensure all were being evaluated and ready for adoption. Every bit of space is now being utilized for animals in need of care, including the more than 650 animals at the adoption in need of new, loving homes.
Every adoption makes room in the shelter for other animals needing care. Adoption fees for all adult cats and dogs one year and older will be waived the rest of the week (through Sunday, November 11).
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