The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
It has only taken 10 years, but Croton is finally going to enforce the vehicle idling law. As I noted in this paper more than a year ago (The Gazette, week of July 5/11, 2018) the law has been blatantly ignored on a daily basis, including by the J&S taxi drivers who occupy a prime space granted by the same village which has previously refused to enforce the law.
Of course this is Croton and we do things the Croton way. So it is only after much jawboning and 10 years of delay that we act. Better late than never, I suppose.
And this is Croton 2019, where you can’t stub your toe without at least implicitly blaming Donald Trump and engaging in sanctimonious virtue-signaling. So Brian Pugh announces that Croton will finally enforce the law (The Gazette, week of August 15/21), but not without taking a swipe at actions “at the national level” contrasted with Croton, where the “Village Board’s Democratic majority will continue, consistent with the interests and values of our community, to empower residents to take environmentally responsible steps and protect our local habitat.”
While not technically inaccurate, Mr. Pugh is misleading: Croton’s Village Board is a Democratic monopoly. And for most of the period since the anti-idling law was passed but not enforced, it has been a Democratic majority or monopoly on the Board of Trustees which has refused to enforce the law.
Indeed, Croton is overwhelmingly a Democrat village: in 2016 the village went 69% for Hillary Clinton versus 25% for Donald Trump. Both Nita Lowey and Chuck Schumer got over 72% of the vote in Croton.
So it stands to reason that the cluster of vehicles which have been idling at the Croton train station belching toxins and greenhouse gases for the past 10 years of non-enforcement are not exactly a hotbed of Trump supporters. Statistically speaking, it is likely that most of the people in Croton who are breaking the law and idling their vehicles are not Trump voters. Most of the gas-guzzler SUVs you see driving around Croton are owned by Croton residents, and it was not “industry actors” at the “national level” who forced Croton residents to purchase those SUVs.
I support the belated decision to actually enforce the idling law that went into effect 10 years ago. And if it took the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States for the village of Croton-on-Hudson to finally enforce a Westchester County law, then that is at least a silver lining from the 2016 election.
Mr. Pugh’s sanctimonious tripe about empowering residents and community values is not only false, it is counter-productive. If you simply look at the act of idling in violation of the law while at the Croton train station, we all can agree that this is wrong, wasteful, and damaging to our Croton environment. By changing the subject and talking about “uninformed idealogues [sic]” “at the national level” we avoid discussion of the actions of well-informed ideologues at the Croton level, and even give ourselves a pass: we may selfishly belch greenhouse gases while idling in Croton, but at least we don’t like the guy in Washington.
Contrary to Mr. Pugh’s implication, Croton’s ticketing of violators does not “empower residents” any more than the State Trooper who ticketed me on the Thruway “empowered” me to drive 55. The whole reason that Croton must now have police enforcement of environmental laws is because the vaunted “community values” of we the residents of Croton do not include turning off the damn key while we wait at the Croton train station in our 26 mpg, 3,500 pound behemoths, cranking the AC up to the max and forcing law-abiding drivers to breathe our gas fumes.
We need to stop blaming Mr. Trump and/or Republicans for our own selfishness and profligacy. We need to start taking action on our own. It should not take the election of Donald Trump to get the Village Board of Trustees to enforce environmental laws, and frankly it should not take the threat of a court fine to get residents of Croton to be environmentally conscious.
I remember a few years ago when the Trump administration announced it was pulling out of the Paris accord on climate change. Croton was in an uproar and the upper village was packed as people gathered to send off angry postcards to Trump/Ryan/McConnell. What struck me most was the number of gas-guzzling SUVs that lined the street that day. I applaud any mother who is out front on climate change, but when I see you drive up in a single-occupant vehicle that is larger than my college dorm room I have understandable doubts as to how woke you are with regard to environmental issues.
Donald Trump is an eminently whackable piñata on many issues, including environmental issues. But he is not preventing you from turning off the key when you are waiting at the Croton train station, nor is he forcing you to blast the AC instead of opening the windows. We need to start taking responsibility for our own actions. We need to start protecting our Croton environment even when the Croton police are not looking over our shoulder and issuing tickets.