Monday, July 2, 2007

Closet NIMBY Emerges

It's Monday and I'm moving backwards, slowly backwards, but we will get to that front page headline reference as always - patience!

Transformers - can a toy change itself into a high tech summer blockbuster movie? Batteries, plot and dialogue not included, but Michael Bay thinks its child's play. As Good As News is sceptical - there's a refreshing change - but then As Good As News kept saying "it's a theme park ride, not a movie" then loved Pirates of the Caribbean (original only - Pirates sequels not recommended here). Today's Time's review generally negative, but "big cars, big guns..big breasts", maybe we will see for ourselves. What we really need is a T class of Mercedes sedans that will - all things come to ye who wait- transform into robocop, disarm any bomb planted inside and apprehend terrorist.

NYU is seeking to engage Greenwich Village neighbors in its expansion plans. Columbia President Bollinger sent a broadcast e-mail detailing the extensive community relations efforts Columbia undertook before finalizing and announcing its plan to expand to the North - a plan which met with immediate resistance anyway. Conflicts disclaimer - I have degrees from both these schools and want to see them thrive - but - for today I am defending the opposite side - quote from NYU President Sexton an ugly reminder of institutional view of neighbors standing in the way of "progress", so As Good As News will play NIMBY apologist.

First the quote - "Once you get past the ..minority who as a matter of conviction are against any growth at all"...and the people opposing NYU for their own political gain, "then you just have to ask people to have a genuine dialogue and not just say, "Not in my backyard"." Sounds civil, but Pres Sexon's unstated assumption shines through - NYU must expand, the only issue is how best to do so. Anyone who disagrees before dialogue is a no- growther, beneath contempt. Anyone who might disagree after dialogue is a NIMBY until proven otherwise. Is there anything so morally or logically wrong with the proposition that NYU is already big enough that it is outside the bounds of civil discussion. Maybe NYU can figure out how to use its existing buildings more efficiently if it wants to grow? If Pres. Sexon was losing a townhouse view of Washington Square Park to an important twenty story low income housing project NYC badly needed he would understand the point, and he might not be too happy if the political debate was limited to whether the housing project should be 18, 19 or 20 stories. The dialogue can include "Do Not Grow" as well as a discussion of how and where to grow, the people that feel this way are trying to preserve an environment that has been part of their lives, they are not necessarily evil curmudgeons.

I own a home in a quiet, leafy, melting pot suburb. When the FAA restructured East coast air lanes it turned my patio into a jet fuel dump. My once peaceful suppers on the back porch suddenly featured the soundtrack from a volcano epic. I did not really care that NY area airports wanted to handle more traffic, I wanted to go back to the old routes. I went to meetings and signed petitions. I had my twin three year-olds explain why they could not sleep into an FAA answering machine at 3AM with a low flying jet on takeoff providing the background noise. Anyone with a home, a home in a suburb, in the Village, in Harlem, has expectations based on a lifetime of experiences. I hope NYU and Columbia find a way to grow, but if they begin a community dialogue believing that their desire for growth is an aspiration shared by a large segment of the neighboring community then the dialogue will produce more heat than light.

Pennsylvania allows sale of fireworks, but not to Pennsylvania residents without permit? New Jersey announces special admissions policy on bars, strip clubs, gun shops - You must be 21 years old to enter, but 14 close enough with Pennsylvania ID.

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