2012-12-14 / Columnists

The Progressive

Past Year
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

As we enter the festive holidays of the winter solstice, this past year will be remembered by most of us of the disastrous hurricane that put our local communities to its knees. Many of our normal routines are still effected.

Some of the city’s infrastructure is still in need of repair. Lives have been changed forever. For many of us this storm has been as dramatic an event as Pearl Harbor, the death of Kennedy, and the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Our city for the most part has recovered and yet parts of Queens and our immediate community, Brooklyn, and Staten Island appear to be damaged to such an extent that daily living has been altered and will be altered for the foreseeable future. This storm has been a wake-up call for the city fathers to make preparations to safeguard Lower Manhattan which is the financial capital of the nation and world. Wall Street, despite its flaws, is necessary for our economic development and security.

At the same time, the needs of the citizenry whose lives were altered need deliberation by our civic, national, state, and economic leaders as to how to achieve closure and a stable civilized life. We need a comprehensive rebuilding plan for the region that ensures a minimum amount of dislocation and disruption if another storm of this magnitude and strength strikes again.

Stricter building regulations are needed in our future. Electric companies need to consider putting electric wires underground where feasible. Our city needs to consider how the Netherlands, London, and Venice plan to keep the sea from destroying their cities and land. Some flood zones should not be rebuilt. In Rapid City, South Dakota in 1970’s a flood took the lives of more than 100 people. A decision was made not to rebuild in the flood zone.

On another note, our nation’s recent election was not just a victory and a renewal of the lease of the White House for our president; it was also a victory for organized labor. In many states, propositions and referenda regarding labor rights, civil service pensions, financing through taxation for essential services, and the union dues check off were held and for the most part, citizens followed the desires of the labor movement.

This should be a lesson for the Republican party to refrain from anti-union animus or face defeat at the polls, especially in states with large electoral votes, for example Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and California.

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