Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Security Issues"

Today's local radio headline bemoaned the fact that Greenwich is getting next to nothing in the latest round of the Homeland Security sweepstakes - a paltry $53,000, as opposed to almost half a million bucks two years ago. The headline was delivered in a tone of pained disbelief, as though the morons who run Homeland Security (and yes, by and large, one suspects that they *are* morons) were acting in an even more moronic fashion than usual.

But let's look at the record here. Has Greenwich been threatened with, much less subjected to, a terrorist attack? Methinks I can hear the terrorists LOLROFing all over the map at the very idea. The closest we've ever come to an invasion, at least since the British left, was when a boatload of black inner-city youngsters, led by a minister, attempted to land on our then-private beaches. The Greenwich Gestapo sent an armed contingent in a police boat to repel the would-be waders at the high-water mark, and to be sure they did not wriggle their toes in our pure white sand. Chalk up another victory for Law and Order, Greenwich-style.

Oh, yes, and then there was the elderly cyclist from Stamford, who breached the perimeter of the beach last summer. The GG promptly arrested him, and issued him a summons to appear in court. When he did, this time it was the prosecutors who fell all over themselves doing the LOLROFing routine, and the trespass charges were immediately thrown - er, laughed - out of court. Thereafter, the gentleman cycled into the beach another eleven times, and the bureaucrats in Town Hall came up with the bright idea of sending him a bill for $120 - a dozen visits at $10 a pop. The gentleman sent back a check for $25, the amount that local residents pay for a beach card, and the town started to make noises about taking legal action over the remainder of the alleged "bill". The gentleman responded by making noises about suing the town for discrimination (he had a recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision on his side). A group of alarmed and anonymous citizens quickly delivered an envelope of cash to Town Hall to pay the putative "fine", and no doubt thought that would be the end of it.

But the gentleman has doffed his cycling togs to press his suit, as it were, and in recent weeks the town has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars attempting to defend the indefensible. Nothing new here, of course; when jogger Brenden Leyden filed his original lawsuit seeking to open the beaches of Greenwich to the public, the town spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a vain attempt to hold back the tides of change. A tame rock-ribbed Republican judge in Stamford, known for his unflinching support of the status quo and outspoken dislike of The New York Times, gave the town an initial victory in a deeply-flawed memorandum of decision, but the State Appellate Court overruled him unanimously. The town, ever eager to spend the aforesaid tax dollars on legal frivolities, appealed the case to the State Supreme Court, which likewise ruled unanimously against Greenwich. The Board of Selectmen muttered loudly and publicly about appealing to the U. S. Supreme Court, but even the myopic attorneys in the town's law department could see this was a non-starter, and managed to call the Board of Selectmen off.

Ah, yes, we were talking about terrorist threats to Greenwich, and our need for our place at the Homeland Security trough. One needs to understand, dear reader, that Greenwich has a very solipsistic world view; the meridian that used to pass through Greenwich, England now runs through Greenwich, Connecticut instead, at least in the minds of our town bureaucrats and nouveaux riches citizens. Thus it was that on September 11, 2001, the town fathers sent the GG to the beaches to close them and post armed guards lest they become the next target of al-Qaida that day. Likewise, the GG SWAT team, in full combat gear, encircled Town Hall to be sure that no terrorists would be able to walk in and apply for a beach card, if not worse (as though!). It all would have been quite comical, if it weren't so pathetic, and the day itself so tragic.

Obviously, dear reader, all of these exercises, however inane, require funding; and that is why Greenwich is today taking umbrage at sucking hind tit at the Homeland Security piggy bank. BTW, I hope you don't think that I make this stuff up. It is totally factual, I assure you.

One last vignette: I was going into a local bank today, and noticed that all the adjacent plantings and yew bushes that had been there for decades were being hacked down by employees of a tree "service". I asked the branch manager what was going on, and he replied darkly, "It's a security issue." What? I said - do these 15-inch-high bushes provide cover for terrorists and their bombs? That was the general idea, he implied. Who, dear reader, has ever heard of a terrorist blowing up a bush when there was a perfectly good brick bank building nearby? I can understand them perhaps taking a moment to pee in the bushes if the excitment of the moment became too great for them, but other than that it was hard to see what aid and comfort the poor bushes could offer a malefactor. So today - which is already uncomfortably hot and muggy - we have sacrificed some harmless oxygen-providing decorative plants in the name of the war on terror. Who's winning here, one wonders....

Ah, Greenwich! Ah, humanity!


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