Neighbor to Neighbor: Turn off TV, get involved in your community

By Barbara Morris

Following the old adage of “waste not, want not,” we try as hard as possible to recycle almost everything. Even landfills are being covered over to create, wherever possible, usable space for human and animal activity. We recycle Christmas trees, wreaths, leaves and other vegetation to make mulch. We hold onto household furnishings, hoping they will someday become valuable antiques or we sell or give them to some good cause. We recycle old eyeglasses to be made into glasses for someone else. We turn in old cell phones to be used for emergency 911 calls only. We have tried to do all those things and much more trying to limit dumping in our already overflowing landfills. Why on earth then has some agency come forth in December with the pronouncement that “After the year 2009, any television set now in use will be useless and will have to be replaced by digital models.” Who decided that, and why? Most television watchers I know have no complaints about the present machines they have… although many do complain about some of the programs. No one seems to promise that digital TV will upgrade that, and more's the pity. Maybe instead of investing our finances and time in television and watching the programming, we should meet and work with more of the folks who are trying to improve our communities. Hard work that shows positive results can be very rewarding, as can the parties that spring up as an outgrowth of that work.Early in December, members of Citizens Against Graffiti Everywhere were proud to meet with City Council member David Weprin, 105th Deputy Inspector Steven O'Brien and the folks from K.F.K. Harley Davidson Alteration Specialists, Queens Village, applauding two special squads from the 105th Precinct, The Bat Team and the Detective Squad led by Lt. Gregg Reutter that had successfully completed a burglary graffiti investigation by making arrests. These officers are good people and well trained. In spite of that and in spite of the fact that some members of our communities who are unfamiliar with the types of people who indulge in disrespecting our communities with graffiti and other criminal activities say “we hope the police won't squeeze the graffiti kids for information,” everyone should learn more about graffiti taggers. They are not all underage “kids.” Some are adults. Some are gang members. Even more important, some have killed or tried to kill people. In fact, one of the arresting officers working with Lt. Reutter had just returned to work after an attempt on his life had resulted in a very lengthy, expensive hospitalization. Making the arrest in Queens Village, the graffiti “kid” vandal slammed the door on his hand in an escape attempt, resulting in further injury. Please, if you know something about those who do graffiti or where they do it, please give details to 311 or tell the police directly. The property and community you help may be your own.Shortly after this important arrest, Fred Kress, president of CAGE, and other members visited Lost Community Civic Association where Fred briefed members of that organization about CAGE's past, present and future activities. It was a holiday party as well and, as luck would have it, a CAGE member won some money that was immediately donated to CAGE for continuation of their graffiti eradication work. From there, the CAGE group went to a really big party at Rocky Hill Civic Association. The occasion was the retirement of Bernard Aquilino as head of that organization after 25 years of devotion and hard work. The big room was jammed with civic groups and politicians including state Sen. Frank Padavan. He sat with us and chatted briefly since we had visited him a couple of days earlier at the North Bellrose Civic Association meeting and holiday party where he presented Erin Tracy and Kaitlin Hansen with service awards. Sen. Padavan presented Barney with New York State's highest gold medal award. Not to be outdone, Mark Weprin and representatives from Mayor Bloomberg, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilman David Weprin all presented awards they claimed to be “bigger and better” than the previous presentation, to be sure all who were present, and more, love Barney.

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