Friday, July 13, 2018

Attention in the New York Times

In 2015, Gossips followed the journey of Apollonia from Buzzards Bay to the Hudson River. Today, I was alerted to an article about Apollonia which will appear in Sunday's Metropolitan section of the New York Times: "Artisanal Foods, Coming by Sail to a River Port Near You."

Photo: Lauren Lancaster|New York Times
Although Hudson is the Apollonia's home port of choice, it is moored in Athens these days. Unfortunately, the Railroad Point Pier, which was intended, among other things, to provide docking space for the Apollonia, was not one of the projects chosen to receive DRI funding


  1. But the pier proposal was specific about where the Apollonia would dock: in "the southern slip [along with] the Clearwater and Riverkeeper."

    Except that the southern slip "with its deeper water" is too shallow for those vessels, Apollonia included. This proposal always required dredging, not to mention the use of State-owned underwater lands.

    The neighbors grasped it, but nobody else.

  2. I didn't mean to suggest that the neighbors influenced the decisions of NYSDOS, but only that they immediately grasped an impossibility in stark contrast to the LPC's discussions with City residents. The "thinking" of the latter was straight from the book titled "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds."

    Regarding a proposal the City labeled as a "priority" over a year ago in the initial DRI application, and which then lived on as a preferred project throughout the LPC process, the outcome that it was completely dropped from the DRI merits some level of self-inspection. How did so many people get it so wrong? Did local officials contribute to everyone's delusion, even to the point of irresponsibility?

    One reason everyone got it wrong (and the neighbors didn't) was that the project description deliberately obscured the implications of what was being proposed.

    We heard the Planning Board defend the pier proposal as being merely "speculative," but the Project Request Form included implementation time frames, a fully articulated development budget, job-creation estimates, market considerations, and an economic- and community-impact analysis.

    Rather, it was the proposal's illustrated booklet which had dissembled by changing the measured length of the proposed pier from one illustration to the next, depending on the impression they aimed to create in this or that context. Only by careful use of the site measurements provided in a comparative study between illustrated pages do you realize how deliberate their obfuscations were.

    But even a simpleton could have seen through the language of the booklet, which heralded the southernmost slip's "deeper water" compared to another nearby slip. Note that the applicants did not say "deep water," but only deeper than something less than a foot deep at low tide. Choosing "deeper" over "deep" was a nice lawyerly touch; as technically correct as saying that a glass of water is deeper than a thimble-full. It was also good enough to fool the madding crowd (if not the neighbors).

    I hope that the youngsters who pitched the proposal will now grasp the risk and price of deceitfulness. In their failed attempt to land $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars, they damn-near lost the Everett Nack Estuary Education Center in the bargain. Thanks to the inanity of the current Planning Board, and also the impressive laziness of the Board's legal advisor, the Nack Center itself was nearly toast, a casualty of a well-deserved lawsuit against all of the above. (I received a very inappropriate private email from one City official who suggested that my questioning of the proposals was "evil." Please, everyone, think about that.)

    But with no consequences other than not being rewarded, will City officials such as these or the young project sponsors themselves be willing to trust honesty in future? Those who promoted the pier proposal as a self-evident good will likely excuse any attempt to mislead as a positive thing. For some people self-respect leans heavily on self-regarding virtues, while others are simply defending raw interests with bare knuckles. I can't read into people's hearts, but I truly hope that the sloop kids will stop, think, and learn from the offensive risks they took.

    This time the cheaters lost, no thanks to extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.