2 Jul


By Louise Annarino,

July 1, 2012


The stress of enduring day after day of near and over 100 degrees heat with daily thunderstorms roaring through neighborhoods at 60-80 miles an hour uprooting trees, breaking off huge limbs, toppling trees and telephone poles onto cars and houses, plunging our cities and towns into darkness, isolating us from one another and formal information channels by shutting down cable television, and cell phone communication while we labor all day to clean up the mess and toss all night in the heat and humidity has been quite a test of patience and human kindness. Yet, we have endured. In fact, we have renewed our communities and our sense of belonging to one another. We have demonstrated lessons of fortitude and selflessness to our children. We are moving forward.


Neighbors have joined together to clear their streets and their lots of debris, pulling trees from right-of-ways, cutting them into manageable pieces, loading them on flatbeds and pick-ups, waiting in long lines to drop off their loads at city recycling lots to be turned into mulch for later on their neighbors’ yards and gardens. Citizens have worked to clear the storm debris alongside hundreds of private tree crews; while professional crews of power companies, hundreds from out of state, and city workers are able to access areas more easily and focus on doing what only they can do, what is beyond that of an average citizen’s ability, even when joined with neighbors in a common endeavor.


When every intersection must be treated as a four-way stop because lights are out and a normally 15 minute drive from Worthington to downtown Columbus takes merely 15 minutes more,I am surprisingly amazed. Because nearly everyone does act in communion with one another, and the few who cruise on through seem to be forgetful not self-serving, the process goes smoothly. We cooperate with one another with a mindfulness of our fellow travelers’ needs.


Customers are talking with one another and with the sales clerks, in darkened stores operating at half-power where the brightest light is the check-out screen on the electronic registers; and where clerks in stores with no power write up sales on a pad of paper, laughing with customers at their fumbling with this new old-way of doing things. Even the most taciturn among us join in these spontaneous conversations over where ice is still available and where gas pumps still work.


The mayor directed city workers to open fire hydrants during our over-heated afternoons so children can cool down, inviting them to play in the city’s fountains and water features. The memories of this struggle will be more joyful for our children and for us as a result of the mayor’s compassion and foresight. This is as it should be. This is what works. This is what moves us forward most quickly, no matter what the cause of our stress. This is what builds a strong community. We have easily shifted into a community of common interest where private citizens work alongside government workers and private company workers, and emergency personnel in government and private companies coordinate services for our common safety. While police cruise our darkened streets, National Guard soldiers go house-to-house checking to make sure our elderly are getting whatever help they need to survive the threatening heat.


When then-candidate Senator Barack Obama ran for president in 2007, I heard from a friend working for the Chamber of Commerce in southern ohio, and from another friend in northern Ohio that he had quietly made time to meet with local chamber leaders to discuss what Ohio needed to make our state economically strong, how business could be encouraged and strengthened, how his policies should be molded to assist small business owners in Ohio’s communities. At first, this surprised me. This was not a campaign stunt. Few people knew of these meetings. They were not being publicized, nor used as a campaign tactic for political gain. They were a sincere effort to learn more about Ohio’s business needs, and help Ohio’s employers and workers. It was, as I came to understand our president better, typical Barack: recognize we are all part of the same community, discuss our common concerns and needs, listen to the voices of others whom you know and of those whom you just met, learn from others, teach others, find common ground, plan how to improve things, offer a helping hand, work side-by-side no matter how difficult. That alone was enough to make me canvass so many hours for Barack Obama that I broke off bones in my foot from simple wear and tear.


How we have handled these climate-deranged days this week is a metaphor for how we must handle the challenges our nation faces as world economies shuttered and nearly stalled as a result of de-regulation and lack of institutional oversight of our business and banking enterprises, a strategy plotted, planned and financed by the U.S. Chamber of commerce, ALEC and fueled by Republican think-tanks. While Barack Obama was seeking common effort by recognizing the value of and including their ideas for a strong America, they were pledging to undermine every effort he made even those efforts which they had planned and initiated themselves under former administrations. Their goal was not to move us all forward, but to keep Barack Obama in the back of the bus.


If only they could have responded as our central Ohio cities and towns are responding to our latest crisis, as the good people of Ohio – Democrats,Republicans,Libertarians and Independents – are responding. Instead, our Governor John Kasich rejects transportation funds to build train routes reconnecting us to the rest of the country,tries to eliminate an avenue of communication with government workers by attacking collective bargaining, seeks to destroy and limit the economic and political power of unions representing hundreds of thousands of the government workers who keep our communities working safely and smoothly through crisis after crisis, and with his Lt. Governor Mary Taylor refuses to implement health care insurance exchanges offering Ohio businesses a structure to compete for health-care dollars. While he decries the nanny state he asks President Obama to declare Ohio in a state of emergency, to receive water, generators and other emergency supplies, cash and  other assistance from agencies he has argued should be cut or eliminated. I hope the events of these last days and weeks have thwarted the excesses of his ideological position.

But it is not just our governor, it is every governor across the nation who invites in and colludes with carpet-baggers (Tea Party) of ALEC, Koch Brothers, Chamber of Commerce to override the good judgement and wisdom of Ohio’s citizens who work hard every day to make Ohio strong, productive, and safe for themselves, their children and their neighbors. It is our state representatives and senators who attend ALEC events and introduce ALEC-drafted legislation as their own who ignore the needs and wisdom of Ohioans. Ohioans awoke to one another and the need to work together for the common good during this heat wave;hopefully, they will wake up to political reality of Ohio and throw out all carpet-baggers and those who do their bidding.


The insistence that taxes must be cut, and that tax cuts for individuals earning more than $250,000 dollars per year must be maintained at the expense of all our people’s employment, the education of our children and the safety of each of us and hoping for some trickle-down is a disproven approach to sustainable economic growth. Every Ohioan who endures this heat wave, works to clear up after the damaging storm, and reaches out to neighbors and strangers knows better than these elected representatives. Ohioans are better than this and behave toward one another better than this. When Barack Obama reminds us in his public addresses “We Americans are better than that”, this is what he means. We are better than that.






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