The problem, dear reader, is that McCarthy Manor’s front door is accessed by a circular driveway off Crouse Avenue and we travel by bus. The tenants of McCarthy Manor—mostly disabled—travel on short buses owned and operated by Centro’s Call-a-Bus, the Salvation Army, PACE (Loretto), Speedy Medical Transport, Blue Chip and Aladdin, to name several.
And the buses don’t have room to pull out of McCarthy Manor and turn onto Crouse Avenue because of The Wall. Friday when I was on Call-a-Bus, I asked the driver how much clearance there was between the bus and The Wall. The driver said, “About six inches.” The driver also asked, “What are they going to do in the winter?” You add six inches of snow plowed to the edge of The Wall and no buses will be able to get to My Home. Those buses take me and my poor, sick neighbors to day programs, doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping and the mall. What is to become of us? And, by the way, the information I’ve got is that The Wall will stand for two years.
So I set out to learn how The Institute is allowed to jam in My Home. I call the Mayor’s office, which refers me to the Permit Desk of the Division of Code Enforcement. At the Permit Desk I have a very nice conversation with a very nice man who utters lots of initials—PCO, TTC, MUTCD—and then tries to explain them to me. He talks about the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control, how big signs have to be, types of fences, and what is allowable. In short, he gives me good general information about the process for getting a permit to block a city street.
Then I ask him to refer me to the individual who signed the permit for Upstate Medical Center so I can get more specific information. He freezes up and goes postal on me, refusing to give me the man’s name and saying I have to file a FOIL (pronounced “foil”). A FOIL is a request under the Freedom Of Information Law. The County of Onondaga calls them FOIAs (pronounced “foy-yah”). A FOIA is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Why is the county working under an act and the city working under a law? I have absolutely no idea, however, I do know from my experience with the county that all a FOIL does is give the agency a three-week extension for saying no.
So I say to the used-to-be-nice man, “Why do I need to file a FOIL?” After all, I am not asking for the blueprints to the Federal Office Building; I am asking to talk to the man who signed the permit. Is there any good reason why he should be in hiding? I say to the ex-nice man, “Whatever happened to transparency?”
And he says, “We need to be transparent about who we’re giving the information to.”
I’ve got this conversation on speaker phone and my aide, Amelia the Inestimable, and I look at each other in dumbfoundment. “We need to be transparent about who we’re giving the information to.” What does that even mean? We have no idea, so I thank the ex-nice man and hang up.
Then I call the Mayor’s office again to find out if there’s any good reason why the permit signer shouldn’t just pick up the phone and talk to me.
Check back later; we’re working on it.