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Notes To The Children's Children's Children's...From G-Pa Cliff
New York, NY, Tuesday, October 26, 2004--


"Children First - Not Business First - Stop The Bid"
"Children First - Not Business First - Stop The Bid"

Yesterday was my first real protest.

I stood with a sign chanting: No Restauarants For Playgrounds as Mayor Bloomberg walked by, shrugged his shoulders at us and said: "Somebody's gotta pay for it!"

It was a sad commentary. The mayor of the world's biggest city simply shrugged his shoulders and said: "Somebody's gotta pay for it," and with that Complacent resignation, virtually sold off Union Square Park to commercial interests.

I joined the battle against putting a restaurant on public park space a few weeks ago when I was approached to sign a petition while watching our two-year-old grandson playing in one of three playgrounds located in Union Square Park, one of the oldest in New York City and famed for its historical relation as place of public gathering and protest.

Angus, the youngest of my grandchildren, seemed fed up after hearing the Mayor's announcement
Angus, the youngest of my grandchildren, seemed fed up after hearing the Mayor's announcement

Located between 14th and 17th Streets at the bottom end of MidTown and upper end of the East and West Villages, Union Square is a hub of political, social and public activity.

It is surrounded by hundreds of restaurants, ranging from the Number One ranked in diner's guides to McDonald's and Starbucks. The need for a restaurant in Union Square Park is about equal to the need for another squirrel in Union Square Park.

But, for $5 million bucks--the amount the 'anonymous donor' gave to refurbish the park on condition of having the restaurant built into the package--the restaurant was shoved through the local community board with little to no communication with the public--especially the parents of the kids who use the North End of the park daily.

Since my grandkids have used that park from virtually the day of their births forward, I had an umbilical relation to the issue. I felt duty-bound to fight for the rights of my grandkids and their kids, since once that land is locked down by a restaurant, there will be no more room for playground expansion in the future.

Plus, there is the bigger issue of public versus private domains--and whether the city has a right to turn over public property--regardless of the enticement.

So I stood with my sign and chanted as the mayor went by. I handed out flyers. I got threatened by the police for going too close to the mayor. My wife was followed into the playground by a plain clothes cop to insure she wasn't going to hold up her protest sign in the playground with the other children. She had our two-year-old grandson with her and was only intent on watching him as he played Thomas train in the sandbox.

It was an interesting day.

I felt like an ant crawling up an elephant's leg.

The Mayor announced to the public the Third Phase of Union Park's Restoration that included the use of land at the northern end of the park be used for a restaurant
The Mayor(X) announced to the public the Third Phase of Union Park's Restoration included the use of land at the northern end of the park be used for a restaurant

Here was the mayor announcing before the media a chest-thumping roar that Union Square Park was going to be fixed. The old was going to be replaced by the new. A fresh new look was going to appear--all thanks to private funding that rescued public budgeting. And, the only cost was selling out the kid's land.

Of course, he didn't say that. But, as he looked at us and shook his head, the implication was: "Hey, kids....sorry...but progress first..."

I had a scary feeling. I almost felt like a Democrat...a liberal who opposes big business and government. That sensation swept over me like a chill.

But I remained apolitical on this issue, as I try to on all issues of Vigilance. What I saw was children being abused--or their rights being abused, and there is little difference when you stand before the Angels of Vigilance for judgment.

In a blink it seemed to be done
In a blink it seemed to be done

That sinking feeling was based on the machinery of public funding versus private funding, and how quickly something like shifting the ownership of land from the public to private sector can occur.

In a blink, it seemed to be done.

I wondered how many other "rights" were being shifted away from children on a daily basis, and realized that I was fundamentally Complacent on this issue.

I had only stumbled on the issue in the park and the next thing I knew I had a sign in my hands and was chanting at the mayor like so many protestors I often chided for impeding progress.

But there I was. There was my wife. There was my grandson, immune to all the noise, but nevertheless a key part of it.

In summary, I felt good.

Yesterday I took The Right Actions for future generations
Yesterday I took The Right Actions for future generations

I acted.

One of the keys to being a Sentinel of Vigilance is having the Courage, Conviction and Taking the Right Actions for future generations.

Yesterday I took the Right Actions for future generations, for the Children's Children's Children. The park may fall into the hands of the private sector, but not without a fight.

I wondered how many parents have selected one cause they believe will benefit future children and sought it out to stand up for the future.

I thought it would be great if each Parent or Grandparent of Vigilance took on one cause--just one--and stood up for it.

Maybe by doing so, the future of the children will be protected.

I wonder.


Go To Yesterday's Story: "Special Report From Union Square Park: A Letter From The Children Wondering Why The Adults Are Trying To Steal Their Playground Land To Build A Restaurant"


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