Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Endicott Flood Follies

"Man cannot live by incompetence alone." - Charlotte Whitton

As the waters have receded, we have all begun to look back on our recent flooding.  As we previously aknowleged, we all witnessed the outpouring of generosity from our fellow citizens.  We also witnessed the total ineptness of some of our readers.  This was certainly true in the Village of Endicott.  Whether through ignorance or callousness, the Endicott Village Board members revealed themselves to be ineffectual.

Mayor John Bertoni was certainly a leader in this regard.  In the midst of the flooding, he was advised that the fresh water system for the Village was about to collapse.  The effect of the flood waters pushed the underground piping system to the state of near collapse.  Did Bertoni have questions or seek solututions regarding this impending emergency which could have turned Endicott into a ghost town?  No.  His primary concern was the fact that several cars were underwater at the Oak Hill Ave/Railroad underpass.  He wanted immediate solutions as to how the cars would be removed.  Nevermind that with or without the cars, the eight foot flood waters made the area inpassable.  This was a crisis which needed immediate solutions.  "Potable water is a luxury!  We must clear the downtown waterways  of obstructing vehicles!"

Trustee Frank Flint certainly had his priorities straight.  Many Village residents lost their homes to flood waters and the attendant mud and muck.  Water was in short supply and a water conservation order was issued.  So where was trustee Frank Flint?  Helping village residents?  No.  Solving Village problems at Village Hall? No.  Visiting evacuated residents at shelters? No.  In the immediate aftermath of the flooding, Trustee Flint was seen hosing mud off of his sidewalk.  In the height of a water emergency, Flint was using scarce water resources to clean his sidewalk!  Did he even know what was going on around him?

Trustee Cheryl Chapman's offense was one of stilted priorities and ignorance of the devastation the Village suffered.  Chapman was aware of the severe flooding at the UE High School football field.  Her top priority was ensuring that the football games go on!  Her thinking was that the students needed a level of normalcy in theor lives.  This was certainly the most pure of motives on the part of trustees.  However, her solution was to play the games at the Tri-Cities Airport.  Aside from the fact that this is a working airport and not suited to use as a football field, it was also under water!  We give Trustee Chapman half credit for attempting to serve her community and arrive at solutions.  We only question her priorities and solution.

The most callous and shocking response to the floods came from Trustee Dave Baker.  As the flood waters receded plans for reopening schools were discussed.  With the serious flooding around the High School, it was clear that parking would not be sufficient for students and faculty and staff.  Rather than seeing a problem, Baker saw an opportunity!  Trustee Baker was excited by the prospect of parking ticket revenue which could be realized. Our biggest complaint with Baker is that he was not thinking big enough.  Think of the parking tickets that could have been issued to the vehicles under the Oak Hill overpass.  And there was a veritable gold mine that could have been realized by ticketing  flood victims for putting their trash out on the wrong day!

In the end, the village employees in the police department, the fire department and the public works performed in the professional manner we have come to expect.  Unfortunately, the elected officials also performed in exactly the way we have come to expect.

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