Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! At this time we’re supposed to recognize the things we’re thankful for. My son is in 2nd Grade, but I remember a great art project he had three years ago in pre-K at this time of year. He had to do a collage of the things he was thankful for. He chose seven things: his family, his friends, his church, animals, flowers, clothing, and food. That’s a pretty good list and I’m adopting that once again for this Thanksgiving.

I’m also thankful for memories. As a kid my family used to always go to my grandparents apartment on 105th and 1st Avenue in El Barrio. The apartment was always jam packed with my extended family and the food was amazingly good. I never wanted to go, however, because I wanted to see the King Kong marathon on Channel 9 and the adults wouldn’t let me. Now that that time is long gone and my grandparents are in heaven I wish I had enjoyed those times more.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Honor of Veterans Day

Today is the 59th Annual Veterans Day, having replaced Armistice Day which had been first proclaimed by then President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. My father and I served in the U.S. Army, and uncles, cousins, and dear friends of mine also served in the U.S. armed forces. To them and all past and present veterans—especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice—I honor you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Every great political figure has an opposition which history has not looked kindly upon. President Barack Obama is an historic president, not simply because of who he is but what he has done. Healthcare, abolishing don't ask don't tell, getting bin Laden, saving the auto industry, etc. These are watershed events in our nation's history and they all happened on his watch. No president has ever done anything like that in a single term. With his re-election, the country is on the right side of history.

That's why I was so proud to wait on line and vote for him Tuesday morning. I would've done that even if I hadn't gotten power back. President Obama's detractors talk about "taking the country back," but this country is always moving forward. We don't look like George Washington and our Founding Fathers, we don't talk like them, or dress like them, or eat the same food as them, but we all are Americans. This country was flawed from the begining because of the original sin of slavery and the disenfranchisement of everyone but white males. Yet the Founders were forward thinking enough to recognize that society changes. The Bill of Rights is not a ceiling, but a floor which we build upon. 

A black man was re-elected president with the most racially, ethnically, religiously diverse voting block in American election history.  For the first time, the people of a state voted for marriage equality while previously it had only been through legislatures where it has passed. Yes, there are always steps backwards, but there are also always two steps forward. That is the beauty of America.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Shame of ConEd Indifference

As all of the country and probably the world knows, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were hit with the worst storm in memory, Hurricane Sandy that is now dubbed a "superstorm" because of it's merger with a nor'ester.  It has claimed lives, destroyed property, and shaken all of us here.  Millions were without power, including me and family until yesterday.  We had no electricity, no heat, and no hot water for over 7 days.  We don't live in a costal area and it wasn't because of Sandy why we remained without power.  It was because of our utility company, Consoldiated Edison, aka, ConEd.  Here's my quick story on them.

I live in Saint Albans, Queens. At 2 pm on Monday, October 29, a tree hit an electrical pole two houses down from ours, cut the wires, and knocked out the power for the whole block. From that time until yesterday, November 5, there had not been one ConEd rep come to my neighborhood. The ConEd rep finally did come yesterday, along with the Parks Dep't rep (they handle tree removal), and they were pointing fingers at each other.

ConEd: "We can't fix the electricity until the tree is gone."

Parks: "We can't cut the tree because there're wires on it."

This goes back & forth and an argument ensues with them and my neighbors. There's an argument with them and my neighbors. A neighbor calls ConEd again and then the rep on the phone puts in an emergency order. Soon after, contractors from Pacific Gas & Electric ("PG&E") come, yes, the utility company from California.  These were outside contractors called in to "assist" ConEd's recovery efforts, but it has turned out that they are doing the bulk of the work.

The ConEd rep says, "You'll get power in 48 hrs." My neighbors go ballistic, saying, "There're children and elderly in these houses. There's no power, heat or hot water. It's freezing at night and a nor'easter is coming."

The PG&E foreman comes up to the ConEd rep, points at the electrical pole with the tree on it and says, "Yeah, we can fix that now."

TWO HOURS. That's how quickly the PG&E crew took to rewire the whole block and put the power back on. From their experience in this crisis, they’ve learned that ConEd is lazy and all they do is try to find excuses as to why a job can't be done. That’s what the PG&E workers told us. The PG&E crew is also used to working 30 hr shifts in emergencies and thought they would do the same here, but no, ConEd said they only work 16 hrs.

Many places in the Tri-state area are absolutely devastated.  They've lost homes or their homes still stand but are uninhabitable.  In many areas power can't be restored because the electrical equipment was damaged by storm surges are they are still under water.  However, that is not the case for the majority of those without power.  People like me who are helpless until ConEd decides to get off their asses and do a two hour job.  We are or were without power because of of the indifference, neglect or incompetence of  ConEd.