Thursday, April 1, 2021

TWF 313: LI Communities To Opt-Out Of Cannabis Sales, But Strangely Refuse To Close Bars

 Greetings, friends; and, no, this is not an April Fools article, despite the headline.

You see, New York finally voted on a substantial bill to end Cannabis prohibitions, albeit with some stupidly long delays in actually allowing sales, which was signed by Governor Cuomo.  This isn't exactly a new issue, and to be absolutely clear, prohibition of a drug known to be less harmful than alcohol is outright stupid.  That's not me saying, "It's a great idea to smoke an ounce of weed right now!" by the way, it's just a harm-for-harm comparison that's been made a bajillion times.

However, this new law does allow local municipalities to "Opt-Out" of recreational sale in their jurisdiction.  This fact, combined with numerous bad-faith arguments against legalization, has me positively disgusted.

Today, rather than just look at a Freeport-specific thing, I'm expanding my gaze to all of Nassau County, and putting the attention on politicians of every level of our government.  In particular, I'm going to address one argument that I keep seeing politicians make that really rubs me the wrong way.

The Bad-Faith Argument Of "Impaired Driving."

First, foremost, and before you say anything else - Drinking alcohol and using cannabis are both intoxicating experiences, and you should never drive under the influence.  That said, everyone from my "Democratic" State Senator Anna Kaplan to numerous Long Island mayors (Including Freeport's, I must note) have cited road safety issues as a determining factor for their decision-making.  This opt-out movement is also prevalent in "Democratic" Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and many leaders at the Legislator and Town level, as well.

And, in fairness, let's not kid ourselves, cannabis poses one unique safety risk that other intoxicants do not:  There is no reliable short-term test for cannabis intoxication, versus breathalyzers for alcohol.

With all of that said, however, I believe this to be a bad-faith argument.  I believe it is saying, "Well, there is no clear-cut technology to test for this yet, so we can't legalize it yet!" in such a way that it creates a permanent excuse justifying why you can't legalize it.  "Oh, if only there were a reliable test!"  "Oh, if only we could know for certain it wouldn't lead to any increase whatsoever of intoxicated driving!  Alas!"

Why do I think this is a bad-faith argument, you ask, perhaps concerned about it, yourself?  Because the trade-off to a potential but un-proven danger happens to be the continued incarceration of people, mostly People Of Color.  It's saying that the very real, very proven harms of the drug war are better than the potential that a problem that might exist could be a little worse, but also might very well not be any worse.

If concerns about impaired driving is your only justification for entire "no" vote, then you've chosen to support a prison-industrial complex over supporting increased funding for - I dunno - anti-drug and anti-DUI programs.

And, to me, that's an unacceptable choice.

The Real World Knocks.

Blunt honesty, pun intended:  If you're so concerned about intoxicated driving (and, let's be real, car accidents seem to be a weekly occurrence at best, these days...):  SHUT DOWN THE NATUICAL MILE YESTERDAY!!  THERE ARE INTOXICATED DRIVERS LEAVING EVERY BAR IN TOWN!  PANIC!  PANIC IN THE STREETS!!  WAIT - THAT LEADS TO MORE ACCIDENTS!  PANIC AT HOME!!  AGAGHAHHAH!!!

...Okay, it's April Fools Day, but, seriously, now:  We've been through this song and dance, before.  It was called the Prohibition Era, and it's when the U.S. Constitution was amended to prohibit the sale of alcohol.  Chaos erupted.  People who were skilled enough built stills in their houses (just like cannabis partakers are legally going to be allowed to grow their own plants), only, people who weren't skilled enough did, too, leading to numerous deaths by accidental poisoning.  Instead of the government regulating sales, crime families did - look up Al Capone and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, sometime.  People who need an escape turn to more dangerous products, like illicit moonshine, when they'd much rather just have something safer - something like cannabis.  Freeport in particular ought to know about this:  We have a history with Rum-Runners.  We sided with the Rum-Runners.  "Free" is in our town's name.  Ultimately, the Constitution was re-amended to repeal Prohibition.

And the reality is that nobody is talking about closing the Nautical Mile down, or making Nassau into a Dry County, or anything like that.  Alcohol sales aren't going anywhere, nor should they.  But since we, A, don't prohibit alcohol sales and, B, already have no way of knowing how many people are driving intoxicated on cannabis while it's illegal versus any other intoxicant, I'm going to call out people's bad-faith arguments where I see them.  Sorry, but at best you simply have not thought through this issue in any way, shape, or form.

Obviously, I urge you all to make your feelings clear in a polite and professional manner to your local electeds.  Tell them that you want them to vote a certain way; make clear that you will not vote for them if they do not.  That's just how democracy works, and in the worst case scenario for a situation like this, well, there's a regularly-scheduled election coming right up at a predictable date, and you can vote for someone you like in a primary as well as in a general election.  You can even run for office, yourself.

I, for one, know I've told Senator Kaplan how I feel, and I plan to make my plea to others who will listen, as well.

I hope you will do the same for your elected officials, on all levels.

Jesse Pohlman is an author who grew up in Freeport and is now hailing from Mineola, Long Island, New York.  He mostly writes Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels, which you can check out at his website!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

TWF 312 - Farewell to Mr. Kight.

 Greetings, friends,

As I am sure many of you heard, Mr. Ernest J. Kight Jr., former Principal of Freeport High School and President of the Freeport School Board.  Mr. Kight was an assistant Principal at FHS when I was a student there at the turn of the millennium, and was the Principal for a chunk of the time when I worked at the high school, myself.

I'd like to tell a quick story that will hopefully encapsulate a bit of what it was like to work with him.

I once had to report graffiti in one of the bathrooms.  It turned out to be pretty innocuous, but one can never tell when first stumbling upon something.  As I was concerned about the content of the graffiti and wanted to make sure it was seen, I went - well - directly to Mr. Kight's office.  He made himself available immediately, then came with me to read what was on the walls, take pictures, and thanked me for bringing it directly to his attention so that it could be documented and cleaned up.

Aside from that, I know he was passionate about Freeport for a number of reasons.  For one, he himself was a student at Freeport High back in the day.  For two, he could always be seen at school sporting events, which brought an excitement to his eyes that's hard to tell someone about because words just kind of fail to spell it out.

Photo courtesy of Freeport Schools website.

I wish to extend my deepest condolences to his family, and my best wishes to all those who knew and loved him as we mourn at this time.

Friday, February 5, 2021

TWF 311 - CoVID Vaccine Shortages In Nassau County; lower infection rates (CoVID Update #10)

 Hello, friends,

Hopefully, by now, your back pain from digging out of this week's snowstorm has faded.  Mine...Is still present, but that's nothing new.

Today, I was flummoxed to see this tweet from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran:

I mean, what is there to say that isn't explicit with this tweet?  According to Curran, we are administering all of the vaccine we get, and we're only getting a mere pittance of what we need.  It'd be one thing if we were only inoculating 70% or so, but if you're ever gonna talk about "herd immunity" or "return to normalcy," that's only gonna come any time soon with a maximum-efficiency vaccination drive, and it is not efficient to leave a county which has plenty of spare potential-to-vaccinate without anything to do.

I have family members who are trying to get these shots and are navigating through the already labyrinthine madness that is the NYS vaccination system.  It's a sick joke to make senior citizens have to use computers to do this!  But when they can access the site, they are told there are no appointments available.  And this sounds like it could be the reason, why!  So, I don't know who to call out for this bullshit, but it's bullshit that needs to be called out.

CoVID Positivity Rates Falling!

With that said, I don't want to leave you thinking it's all bad news on the CoVID front.  We reported in late December that the CoVID positivity rate for Nassau County was pressing up against 10%, which was definitely a scary thing.

County Executive Curran reports that we've made significant progress:

Now, in fairness, we reported back in early November that rates were increasing at a potentially problematic rate.  At the time it was only 3.4% positivity, which wasn't too bad, at all, but wasn't good.  Then, of course, came holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the next thing you know we're at 10%.

It's almost like this was predicted at the time.

Stay safe, friends.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

TWF 310 - Snow Storm Inbound 2/1/2021 - Freeport Schools Snow Day

 Hello, friends!

Just a quick update that pretty much everyone on the internet is already aware of!  So it seems we've got a big snowstorm coming our way, with at least 6-12 inches of snow expected, maybe more.  You probably already knew that, but you might not be aware of the fact that Freeport Schools have preemptively declared a Snow Day with no virtual instruction to take place.  I'm sure that is a relief to your children, if you have them!

Below is a quick list of various snow-related safety tips that we've accumulated over the years on this site.  Feel free to post on our Facebook page if you've got anything you'd like to see added!

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.
 - Help your neighbors do the sidewalks if you can.  If possible, clear out a 3-feet circle around your nearby fire hydrants.  (via TJ Johnson.)
 - 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.
 - Get your car off the road!  Park your cars in your driveway, if you can. (Via FFD member Robert Volpe).
 - 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 to say hello and make sure they're alright!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

TWF 309 - Nassau County Positivity Rate Breaks 10% (CoVID Update #9)

 Greetings, friends,

Unfortunate news, today, brought to us by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran:

With a 10% positivity rate, that means that one out of every ten people who go in to get tested are turning up positive.  Our biggest problem is that, yesterday, this number was only 6.8%

As you can no doubt see, there are significant problems facing Nassau County.  If this is a one-off and we drop back down to something more like a 6.0, then it's not the greatest warning sign in the world.  If, on the other hand, this number stays elevated...

...Well, we have significant problems.

I don't have much to say.  I don't know what there is to say in a situation like this.  All I can do is say that we need to call our representatives, senators, and the rest and demand that help be provided to businesses and individuals who are suffering the economic hardships of this virus, because the fact is that at this rate there there will need to be another shut-down.

Nobody will like it.

Nobody will be happy with it.

But too many people have already died, and are still dying of this virus.  It's absolute madness to allow it to spread out of control, and when one in ten people tested are positive, well, it's out of control.  Last week, I talked about how our area hospitals were nearly at their ICU capacity.  I talked about how, if you either get CoVID or if you just happen to need intensive medical care for any accidental or chronic reason, you might find that care unavailable.

So once again I'm asking you to limit your gatherings to essential meet-ups only.  That's all there is to it.


I just want to say a final farewell, and extend my deepest condolences to the family of Freeport High School teacher Robert Lordi.  I worked with Mr. Lordi for five years, did some teaching certification observation hours with him, and he passed away on December 27th.  He was a really great guy.

Thank you for reading.  Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York.  He mostly writes Sci-Fi and Fantasy these days, which you can check out at his Amazon Author Page at this link!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

TWF 308 - Area Hospitals Reaching ICU Capacity! (Covid Update #8)

 Greetings, Freeporters!

First, let me wish you happy holidays, whatever you celebrate!

Now, let me unfortunately have to dampen them.  Recently, I came across this article/document/tool from the New York Times.  It provides an updated-weekly list of all of the ICU beds available in hospitals, as well as the number of CoVID patients at each one.  Here is the headline information from my check just now:

The news is grim, friends:  We are nearly at maximum capacity for ICU beds.  What that means is that, if you should have a bad car accident, or a stroke, or a heart attack, or a severely injury due to a fall on the snow, or any kind of just-bad-luck that happens, you might not be able to get an ICU bed.

A simple plea.

I know it's the holidays.  With that said, I want you to take a look at this chart:

Did you notice how, even two months ago, the Coronavirus numbers were starting to grow significantly?  And do you notice how, in the last month (say, since November 26th?), that number has grown drastically and remained at a high, sustained level?

Look, I know nobody wants to hear this, but it's the truth:

Please don't go out and have a big Christmas get-together?

I'm not saying don't see A person or two.  I'm just saying that CoVID is a virus we can't easily detect - one that can slip into a young person undetected and infect their entire family in hours, family members who aren't young, don't stay asymptomatic, and do end up needing hospital-level care.

I have had family members who have gotten CoVID.

I have had good friends be struck down for months from CoVID.

I know you have, too.

So just...

...Please be smart, this holiday?  Especially with who you see?  If you must go out, quarantine and get tested if you can.  Just be advised: If you try to walk in, you're going to wait hours to get tested.  I know this first-hand, I needed a test for a procedure and I had to wait for two hours.  And I was HAPPY it was only two hours, and that I was allowed to wait in my car where it was warm, because I've seen night-time lines wrapped around other locations.

Thank you for reading.  Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York.  He mostly writes Sci-Fi and Fantasy these days, which you can check out at his Amazon Author Page at this link!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

TWF 307 - (Fundraiser) The Aftermath Of The Fire At Duryea's Florist.

 Hello, friends!

As so many of you are already aware, a recent fire burned down a rather famous storefront in Freeport.  Duryea's Florist is one of Freeport's older businesses that's still in operation, and along with the florist's a deli and some apartments located above it were decimated.  The fire injured numerous firefighters who responded to help put out the blaze.

Now, Kara Willocks has set up a GoFundMe page to help Duryea's set up at an alternate location and keep operating as we get into the holiday season - usually one of their best times-of-year!  The Weekly Freeporter knows that with CoVID numbers rising throughout Nassau County (and New York State as a whole), times are really hard for a lot of people, but given that I've been an appreciative patron of Duryea's and they really are nice people, if you can contribute to help this Freeport landmark stay in Freeport and keep their business going in the face of this horrible disaster, that would surely be appreciated.

Duryea's before the fire.

Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York.  If you enjoy fiction, particularly Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels, check out his Amazon Author's page.  Thanks for stopping by!