Monday, March 13, 2023

TWF 336: Nor'Easter Inbound - Expect Some Snow

 Hello, friends,

Just a quick one to remind you (as if you didn't already know) that there's a Nor'Easter headed to New York.  Well, really to the whole north-east.

Here's a look at the current AccuWeather map:  

Now, there's no guarantee there's going to be a lot of snow.  In fact, it seems like there won't be all that much.  Still, here's a list of our usual winter weather advisory tips, though you might not need to get the car off the road for this one (? that's to-be-determined):

Try to stock up on anything you need before the snow gets heavy.  It goes without saying that if you can't drive safely, if you can't move well, then you are at risk of getting injured while walking around, or crashing your car if you risk driving.  I know it's kind of an old motif, but get your "bread and milk" now.
 - Keep your pets and beloved animals inside!!!  They won't be able to move through two feet of snow any better than you will, and if the temperature is cold out, they can get sick or even freeze to death.  Have some compassion.  If you can, put out a large styrofoam box/cooler/something, stuffed with straw, for local stray cats/animals to take shelter in; in these days, compassion is a must.  If you've got some spare pet food, put that out - staying warm burns calories.
 - Help your neighbors clear the snow from their sidewalks if you can.  If possible - and I mean unless you absolutely cannot - clear out a 3-feet circle around your nearby fire hydrants.  (via TJ Johnson.)  Make sure to dress warmly, wear sturdy and stable boots, and take your time shoveling!
 - If the power goes out, be careful with candles! Nobody needs a fire!
 Keep a cell phone handy; a battery-powered radio is a good idea, too.  If you need to report a non-life-threatening emergency, call the Nassau County line at 1-888-684-4274.  For medical emergencies ONLY, use 911.  Charge it up as much as you can as early as you can.
 - Get your car off the road!  Park your cars in your driveway, if you can. (Via FFD member Robert Volpe).  Village lots are typically available for public parking if you can't.
 - Try to have cash available!  In the event that there is no electricity to run credit cards or operate ATMs, you'll want to have money around if you need to pay for anything.
 - Once the storm is over, call your friends and family and see if they're alright!

Anyway, that's really about it.  Just care for each other and we'll be through this hopefully quick!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

TWF 335: Lots Of Library Events Coming Up!

 Hello, friends,

A short one, today.  I've talked about the Freeport Memorial Library previously.  It's awesome.

I saw a post on one of the Freeport Facebook groups that I wanted to talk about.  There's a Freeport Camera Club meeting on Wednesday, January 25th, from 7:00PM-8:45PM.  That got me looking at the library schedule and, hooo boy is it busy!

I encourage you to look for yourself, but here are some highlights:

 - There are apparently multiple sessions of ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for those looking to learn English.

 - There's a social work intern, Kathleen Willig, who will be available at times to help people with any social services, such as emergency housing.

 - There are Yoga, Zumba, and healthy-living classes available, as well as substance abuse counseling.  It's good to have these things in our community!

 - There's a whole chess-club meeting!  I mean, I used to be big into chess.

 - There's even tween anime viewing sessions!

The bottom line is that there are some really cool programs going on, and they shouldn't be forgotten about!

Jesse Pohlman is a science-fiction/fantasy author born and raised in Freeport.  His novels are available through his website.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

TWF 334: A Casino Complex To Replace The Nassau Coliseum?

 Hello, friends,

This'll be a medium-length dive, since news is still breaking on this issue.  Today, our county executive, Bruce Blakeman, declared proudly that Las Vegas Sands is entering into an agreement to build a mega-entertainment complex at the site of the Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  

I...Have thoughts.

First up:

What Happened To The Hub?!

If there's one thing Nassau County needs, its homes for our children as they grow into adulthood.  With property values orbiting somewhere beyond the moon, it's unlikely that most just-turned-18'ers with full time, low-wage jobs are going to be able to afford to buy a house any time soon.  And it just so happened that the Coliseum site had 70-odd acres of undeveloped land around it.

The Nassau Hub was supposed to be the answer to this problem.

Developed by RXR, the Hub was billed as "a new suburbia," a "vibrant, walkable mixed-use downtown" in Nassau County.  There would have been a mixture of homes and employers, including an emphasis on research and development centers.

Now, I know the website for the Hub was threadbare and devoid of recent information.  It's latest bulletin was from around the 2019-2020 era.  It spelled a nice picture:  500 housing units (which, while not a lot, is still 500 more than we'd have had otherwise), a massive innovation center organized by Northwell Health, entertainment and retail opportunities, and more.

Unfortunately, the site seems derelict at best, with no updates past 2020.  Maybe that's just from CoVID putting the brakes on things?  Well, the latest news I have was that RXR was granted an extension on the project in September 2022RXR's website still lists the Hub as a project

...But the casino idea was suggested in December 2022?

This is weird.  Maybe the idea was floated and RXR decided it didn't want to be involved?  I can't tell, and a deeper dive is hard to accomplish at this time, but I'm open to tips.

So What's The New Plan?  And how can (will) it go wrong?

Well, there's a lot still to be determined.

First off, the casino everyone's using as the headliner is only 10% of the entire scope of this new version of the Hub.  But with Hofstra immediately adjacent to the property, how long will it be until we read a headline that states, "Hofstra student loses tuition at the roulette tables."  Having been a college student once upon my life (though I was at Hofstra's friendly-rival school Adelphi), I can confirm with 100% certainty that that time in one's life is not necessarily bringing the best impulse control.

Blakeman also says there will be "outdoor community spaces," although without the construction of actual housing in that area, it's hard to tell what that would mean.  Would it be a large park like nearby Eisenhower, open to all County residents?  Or, would this imply that the 500-or-so housing units planned for the Hub are going forward and there will in fact be a community?

Bragging about adding hotels is great (Freeport is pretty driven to build one on the Mile), but while that would certainly add some low-entry-point jobs to the area, it would put even more of a tremendous strain on our transportation systems.  Even when the Coliseum (whose fate in this affair is unknown, according to Alex Costello of the East Meadow Patch) was the only major draw to the area, traffic was known to back up on the Meadowbrook badly, and Hempstead Turnpike was often hard to navigate.  Now - picture being a car accident victim trying to get transported to nearby NUMC, or being a Hofstra or Nassau Community College (it's closer than I thought!) student trying to get to class on time.

I'm not going to dive into the conventional crime-based scare tactics against casinos.  I have no idea how much, or if at all, they effect nearby crime statistics.  I can't imagine it'll be a positive change, but it might not be so bad.  Or, it might.  I don't know that research, and that's a lot of statistics to dig into to get a concrete answer.  The concern is therefore acknowledged.  Do with it as you will.

So What Do I Think?

I think I was much happier with the original Hub solution than I am with what I've heard, here.  We need affordable housing in Nassau County.  We need to reduce our dependence on our already-strained transportation infrastructure.  We need high-paying jobs in cutting edge fields to attract and keep people in our area.  Long Island is getting older; a major Northwell Health research facility was a great idea to address the area's medical needs.

These plans are still in their early phases, of course.  Things could change.  Things are uncertain.  For all I know, they're going to build 1,000 housing units with this! No, hotel rooms don't count.  I don't know, because I don't think there's been much shared about specific developmental plans.

But I'd like to see an area of affordable housing mixed with a modest entertainment suite (so, renovate the Coliseum, I like that place), plus a healthcare facility, plus some green space.  I'm a big fan of green space, especially in communities that might not have much.

Therefore, I would say I am tentatively against this plan.  There's too many unknowns and too many changes proposed from the original Hub idea to consider it a spiritual continuation.  It's a total change.  It's not widely publicized.  It's too focused on spectacles like high-end hotels and casinos, and not on things our community actually needs.

Oh, and, oh my. I must take this swing - One more thing:  Why are the "crime is so awful!" Republicans like Blakeman suddenly backing a casino if there's any crime risk, at all...?

I bet there are rea$ons.

Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York, with thirty years of that time spent in Freeport.  His website can be found at this link.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

TWF 333: NYS Attorney General James Sues Numerous LI Care Centers

Hello, friends,

First off, happy holidays for whatever you might celebrate!  Hell - celebrate more than one, if you're so inclined!

Now, then, on to business.  As first reported on her Twitter account, as well as her official website, and talked about by Newsday (which is behind a paywall), New York State's Attorney General Letitia James is out and about with regards to enforcing laws about how the people caught in such a place's 'care' are supposed to be treated.

And, honestly, that's basically all there is to say about it, right?  For example, CBS News reported on the Cold Spring Harbor case, citing the case of one victim whose wounds were deemed too horrible for TV.  There's more reporting out there, as well.

The bottom line is, Long Island is slowly getting older, especially as young people are priced out of the housing/apartment markets.  According to The Rauch Foundation's Long Island Index, between 2000 and 2013 the 55+ age range grew by about 2%/year.  It's legitimately hard to find data outside of the Newsday paywall, but according to this image that trend has only continued:

What that means is that there are more people who need care in a care home than there are people who can provide it, and that number is constantly growing more disparate.  When the need for care increases while the supply of it decreases, corners get cut.  Does that mean the wanton cruelty James has cited is necessary, or excusable?

Absolutely not!

But it does suggest that we need to make certain shifts in our economic system, on all of the levels (Local, state, federal) in order to retain young people, train them in how to take care of those who need it, and provide them a good lifestyle so that they can survive & thrive on Long Island.  I've talked about some things we can change on the federal level, like Medicare For All, and creating a "Care Economy," but those are Federal solutions that seem infinitely far away.  Passing the New York Health Act would help on a State level.

And for those who might say, "Well, my taxes will go up and I don't wanna!" there are two things to mention:

1 - You'll probably save more money off of not needing to pay premiums/copays/out-of-pocket bullshit.

2 - You'll be happier when you're 70 years old, break your hip, and have a care team that's experienced and well-paid so that they'll be extra patient and helpful.

Jesse Pohlman is a sci-fi/fantasy author, political commentator, and occasional journalist born and raised in Freeport, New York.  Got a bookworm in your life you want to buy a holiday gift for?  Check out his website!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

TWF 332 - A Decade After Sandy

Hey Friends,

It's hard to really measure the timing of a decade, let alone the start of the events which happened beforehand.  We have leap-years which means something isn't *quite* 365x10 days after it happened.  Then, you have to ask whether the damage from an event starts accruing when - say - it generates waves that chip away at protective dunes; or, whether you start from the time a storm makes landfall.  It certainly doesn't depend on whether or not it's still called a "Hurricane," or if it's now a "Superstorm" or "Frankenstorm" because technically it doesn't fit the profile it used to.

If you're a Long Islander, you know I'm talking about Hurricane Sandy, a topic that's still hard for many to talk about.  If you're unfamiliar, I urge you to check the Wikipedia article to understand it's national impact.

If you're a reader of The Weekly Freeporter, you know that we (in this case, myself, and my friend/occasional co-conspirator Jason Bass, who controls the Youtube page) chronicled the storm from the first warning calls to being on the ground the day after the storm did its worst, all the way to checking in on the community when a Nor'Easter slammed us and froze us out right after Sandy.

I want to be up front:  I'm sorry for any offenses caused.  We've all grown a lot since then, and some of our approach/commentary may have been wrong and/or disrespectful.

So How Does The Anniversary Make Us Feel?

I can really only speak for myself, and a lot of it I've already said in a different way.

So let's start with the community.

To begin with, no, Freeport has not forgotten the damage that Mother Nature can do to a community if she decides to throw her weight into a punch.  Some people have surely got PTSD; I read one conversation on Facebook recently about how just telling the story is painfully taxing.  I completely understand that feeling.  It's hard to talk about what we went through, especially to those who might not understand the damage it did.

The community seems to have survived the incident relatively well?  But that sentiment comes with a question mark for a reason  Some buildings are now super-tall and it's a little hard to figure out why at first glance.  To be perfectly clear, there are still houses in South Freeport that are waiting to have their re-construction completed.  My dad lived down the block from one.  And, since this cannot be left unsaid, many people were permanently displaced from the community, being forced to move to other towns and even states, either because they couldn't afford to rebuild here, or because others they cared about had to move out. 

As far as prevention and mitigation goes...?  It's hard to say.  Sadly, we lack those (not-quite) futuristic, now-far-off sounding things like flood-prevention systems briefly discussed in this article.  I'm sure that the various dunes and ecological barriers we have to prevent us from having future flooding have been worked on and improved, but at the same time climate change has led to rises in sea level, offsetting their effectiveness.  We now know what to expect when a big storm is coming, and preparedness is important.

How About On A Personal Level?

Well, I...My thoughts immediately run to one thing:

As many of you are aware, my father passed away on December 3rd, 2021.  He fell to the eventualityof a liver disease he was diagnosed with in the immediate aftermath of Sandy.  He began getting sick soon almost exactly at the same time as the storm hit.  At the time, he had been working at the Freeport Schools as a maintainer, and he'd been lining up sandbags at Giblyn elementary (which would prove to be less-than-successful at keeping water out), so we feared maybe he'd contracted some kind of waste-water-bourne pathogen.

It turned out to be far worse; Hepatitis C-induced liver failure.  He danced with death more than once,.  He survived a liver transplant from a benevolent soul (Seriously, consider being an organ donor - I am!  And while we're at it, bring down the cost of drugs like Harvoni that cure Hepatitis C!!!), but it took damn near ten years for that shit to kill him.

Sadly, kill him, it did.

I have an awful lot of thoughts on the eventual outcome of Sandy's aftermath, and my experience post-Sandy.  It was one piece of a much larger mental puzzle that ended...Hmm.  For now, let's just say it ended BADLY.  Some day, maybe soon, I'll write more about that.

But I do still have feelings about it, and always will.  For me, it's heavily-compounded trauma from multiple directions at one critical point in my life.

All Of This To Say

With the ten year anniversary arriving to remind us of things lost - and, perhaps, still broken - it's worth giving you the reminder that it's okay to feel things.  It's okay to reach out to a mental health professional if you find yourself having trouble with the trauma that Sandy smacked us with.  That's all totally fine.

The best part of this entire disaster is that we have, as both individuals and a community, grown.  Freeport is far from perfect, and to my knowledge it still has at least one dystopian law it needs to change, but it's still a great community.  We come together in times of crisis and support one another.  You know, except for the seemingly-weekly debate over which pizza place is the best.

Here's a hint on that one, by the way:

Try 'em all, and then it's the one you like the best.

Jesse Pohlman is a sci-fi/fantasy author from Freeport, New York, and while The Weekly Freeporter is certainly no-longer weekly, it documents and reflects on critical events within the Village.

Monday, October 17, 2022

TWF 331: On The Incredible News Of A Shooting In Freeport

 Hello, Freeporters,

I wish I could be joining you with better news on this day, but unfortunately I cannot.  Yesterday, as I first learned from the news agency Daily Voice Nassau, and later saw repeated on sites like NBC 4 New York, a drive-by shooting took place at a house party located on Babylon Turnpike.

Four children were shot.

I want to start by offering my best wishes to these wounded children, along with my wishes for anyone who was present at the tragedy.  I don't know their physical condition, as the NBC 4 article notes that their condition wasn't known at the time of publication, states that they were expected to survive.  That is good news.

I hope these are relatively minor injuries, and that they can and will make a full recovery.  As bad as that still is, things are not going to be so easy as simply healing from wounds. I know they - and all those who were present - are suffering psychological trauma.  There's no escaping that, but it's still horrific to consider.

The Positive Response

Overall, the community response has been one of horror and support.  I've seen many a Facebook post about how tragic this is, and how they wish for the victims to recover.  That lightens my heart.  Moreover, after reading what someone related to a victim said (I'm only mentioning this because it's a public forum), that one victim is doing okay.  Just knowing that is a huge relief, and we again wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Again, on the whole, most people have condemned the violence, cheered on the victims' recovery, offered updates about those they are close to, and called out for what little excuse there is standing in for justice in such a horrible crime.  True justice would be that this never happened, but that's impossible, so all we have left is pain and preventing this from happening again.

But not everyone has handled this gracefully, and I feel there's no getting around the need to point out that some people are saying insensitive (at best) 

The Less-Than-Positive

I can always rely on the majority of Freeport and its neighboring communities to get things right in times of crisis, and I take heart from that.

However, not everyone has handled this situation appropriately.

I will be pointing out two comments, both of which were unacceptable, and both of which shall remain nameless because their authors do not deserve credit, and because I am not interested in creating internet brigades.  One is, in my opinion, suggestive of racism.  One is suggestive of attempting to make an unacceptable political point in an election season off of of dishonestly representing the law.

It's also my understanding that both of these commenters are either from outside of the Freeport community (with no clear evidence they've ever spent time, here), or are no longer even so much as in geographical proximity of the community.  In other words, it's easy for them to talk when it's not at all related to them.

The first was as follows:

I'm just gonna be honest:  Best case is that this is a projection of insensitivity, or maybe some kind of crude attempt to be an edge-lord.  Worst case (which is where my mind happens to go, these days) is that this is deliberately racist.  There's no expression of contrition, there's no giving a damn about how the kids are.  "No crime in the Hood" right?  To my mind:  I'm sure that thought might be followed by, "And we all know who lives in the Hood."  Also implied is, "We don't care about the Hood, or the kids that were shot."

We should rise above this pettiness.

We must.

Another post I saw that was distressing was a deliberate attempt at politicizing these childrens' suffering by ranting about New York State's bail reform law under false pretenses.

This is a lie.

According to the Brennan Center, a non-partisan law and policy institute, they write:

Very clearly, at least according to this analysis done by legal-world professionals, violent felonies are still bail-worthy offenses.  Now, the fact is that if this person has the money and/or means to get it from a bondsman, they can just pay bail and get out just like it was before bail reform was initiated.  But a judge can absolutely order them detained on bail.

Hell, for four counts of attempted murder, I would not be surprised if they were remanded without bail as an option.

I also noticed that, since the man brought up politics, he didn't talk about New York's actual, real laudable attempts to take illegal guns off the streets.  Because New York has been trying to keep gun violence low, and overall has a fairly low incidence of gun violence to begin with compared to other states.  Now, I might imagine some other things this person might believe about firearms, but I won't get into those.

So In Conclusion...

If you're one of the two people I mentioned, or if you're just someone who liked one of their posts:  Be better than this, especially if you left the town a long time ago and never looked back, or if you never lived here to begin with.

The rest of Freeport is carrying on with solidarity and love for those who were hurt, and with an eye intent on preventing another tragedy like this from ever happening.

May such lofty hopes come true.

Thank you for reading.  Jesse Pohlman is the editor-in-chief of The Weekly Freeporter, and spent his first thirty years living in Freeport. He still visits the community regularly (imminently after publishing this, in fact), with the intent to live there once again when all affairs are settled.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

TWF 330 - Research Reveals Abortion Restrictions In Freeport & Other Municipalities

 Hello, friends,

We're going to start this off by saying all people have the right to control their own bodies at all times, and we'll be taking a strident Pro-Choice position.  If that's a Rubicon for you, now's a good time to close this article.

New York State Senator Anna Kaplan (NYS Senate District 7) and Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti (NYS Assembly District 16) recently took part in a review of Long Island's various municipal legal codes.  They were searching for abortion prohibitions, and they discovered five local governments which banned abortion under varying conditions.  Freeport turned out to be one such community.

It was a surprise to me to learn Freeport had such a restriction.  It turns out it was a surprise to others, as well.  This could constitute a ban on things like mail-ordered Mifepristone & Misoprostol being taken at home to induce abortion.  While current New York State law would appear to make these laws toothless, there is no guarantee that the next Governor (there's an election coming up in November...) is going to be a Pro-Choice Governor.  There's no guarantee of a Pro-Choice Assembly and Senate, either.  The rules-as-written can be changed.

It's my understanding that the Village is going to be reconsidering these rules; rules which were, according to Kaplan's press release, issued in the 1970's; rules which were lost in time, but unearthed through diligent research.  And, good!  Change for the better is progress, and such shifts get made by people who pursue it.

Thank you for reading.  Jesse Pohlman is a Science Fiction/Fantasy author born and raised in Freeport, New York.  The Weekly Freeporter is over ten years old, now, so you probably know what it's about!