Writog? A writer-photographer. Citizen journalist. Unless indicated otherwise all content, text and images, here at www.writog.com (C) Copyright 2006 - 2017 Luke T. Bush

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Location: Plattsburgh, New York, United States

Writog: writer-photographer.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Combat Zone Story: “Brandy”

The frustration and anger pours out over the telephone. Decades of problems and no change, no solutions.

Vandalism, noise, litter, theft – even a threatening anonymous letter. Center City resident “Brandy” has been through it to the nth degree.

She’s not afraid to share her experiences but only up to a point. She uses the pseudonym Brandy because like many people in her neighborhood, she’s afraid that being too outspoken can make the situation even worse. A lesson quickly learned: Don’t attract attention.

“People ask me why I bother to make my house so beautiful,” she explains. “Why fix it up to have it trashed?”

Most of her neighbors have learned to stay below the radar of transient residents. They don’t spruce up their homes. A plain looking house might be left alone. And if you don’t complain about all the problems, the troublemakers will focus on someone else who does raise a stink.

In the Combat Zone a majority of the civilians have learned that the best way to deal with the ongoing conflict is to keep quiet, ride it out, and maybe someday the city will fix the problem.

Brandy says the problem will never be fixed.

“The college is the #1 economy around here since Plattsburgh Air Force Base closed,” she says. That creates a problem when trying to deal with unruly students who live off campus. The city can’t push too hard or it might ruin the benefits it receives from Plattsburgh State.

Brandy understands that the city police have a tough job. She praises them for a quick response time when she calls. But the follow-up to a crime is lacking. Reports are made and filed away. The Plattsburgh PD is understaffed and overworked; it can’t provide the time and energy needed to resolve some cases.

And when someone is caught, she observes, the judge acts too lenient. An offender will act regretful and the judge will let them off easy.

“Just make an example of one of them,” Brandy says. She adds that a special statement should be published at the beginning of the semester warning students that vandalism and other such infractions won’t be tolerated by the city.

Another area that needs attention is making landlords spend more time supervising their properties. A building manager should be around to make sure that renters are behaving and the property is being properly maintained.

But some landlords don’t care. They just collect rent from their transient boarders and let the longtime residents fend for themselves.

Brandy loves her home. She has poured her heart and soul into the historic building. She has raised a family there and now wants to live in the peace and quiet that she has worked for and earned over the years.

But the peace and quiet are constantly interrupted by stolen property, busted beer bottles, torn up flowers, and fornicating trespassers.

Brandy says she might refuse to pay her taxes in protest of how the city keeps ignoring the problems in her neighborhood. But after a long exhausting fight, she is also considering moving away.

And if she chooses that path, an outspoken voice in the Combat Zone will be completely silenced.


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