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My Moment of Delirious Schadenfreude

December 3, 2006

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
To the editor,

I am a semi-retired attorney and one-time Crotonite now far from the village, but one who still keeps in touch occasionally through the Internet and I regret to see the village I once called home fall on evil ways. For one, to judge from the Police Blotter, a poisoner of pets—the lowest, most cowardly form of human life—is loose in the streets. Pet owners would be well advised to look to their animals. Although I am a staunch believer in law and order, I would gladly take part in the old-fashioned punishment of tarring and feathering such an offender and riding him or her out of town on a rail.

Your news story and photos about the trucks depositing a layer of gypsum dust on Croton’s streets was right on the money. For the nonce, the village can advertise, “Come to beautiful Croton, where the streets are paved with gypsum.” In the meantime, I ask you to pardon me while I enjoy a moment of delirious schadenfreude. Call it glee, if you will. For those unfamiliar with this useful expression, it’s a German word meaning “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.” The someone else, of course, is a certain Maria Cudequest and her Hole-in-the-Head Gang of naysayers and not-so-merry mischief-makers. Thanks to a torrent of abuse, lies and innuendo about imagined public health hazards hurled regularly at Metro Enviro, the appropriately zoned business venture too loosely surveilled by Croton, the chubby, loud-mouthed Pied Piper of Grand Street succeeded in browbeating the village into spinelessly shutting down that entity.

Bitter experience alone should have made the village wary of this pushy fishwife with wardrobe by Wal-Mart who wields a mean set of car keys. More than one resident has wondered what master she really serves. Whence cometh the monies to finance such a negative, vituperative campaign pursued so relentlessly over so many years? Lately, this agent provocateur no longer seems to be monopolizing village board meetings, especially at a time when she might be expected to be railing publicly at the latest turn of events, But wasn’t the arrival of this railroad something her Machiavellian machinations actually brought about? Could this have been her purpose all along in working to get rid of Metro Enviro?

Boring and brassy beyond belief, always seeking center stage, and more visible and more available for a newspaper interview than any public official, she badgered the village into shutting down a potential cash cow. In the process, she also encouraged the village to spend endless tax dollars on litigation. Then she crowed loudly and took credit for the expulsion of village-regulated Metro Enviro, an operation that could have been milked in perpetuity by Croton to reduce the annually growing tax bite on residents. But her end-zone victory dance was premature. Closing down Metro Enviro’s C & D site only set the stage for an unregulated common carrier to come in, subject neither to rate setting nor regulation by the municipality. I’d call that a lousy exchange, but, in the end, it was poetic justice.

Common sense should have prompted the village to explore the possible consequences stemming from its actions when it arbitrarily shut down Metro Enviro. Now perhaps you’ll understand why I simply cannot avoid the quite human feeling of schadenfreude at being far from Croton and especially its taxpayer-unfriendly litigious tendencies that border on barratry, a legal term to describe the persistent instigation of lawsuits, particularly groundless actions.

An old proverb cautions, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” The white tire-tracks on the photographs accompanying the story reminded me of another even more appropriate bit of folk wisdom, “If you dance with the devil, you’ve got to expect to get a little ash on your shoes.” To celebrate this latest denouement, I am opening a bottle of expensive French Champagne I had cached for New Year’s Eve. I’m having a tall, celebratory glass of the bubbly right now. And you out there, Croton’s passive victims of Cudequest & Co., the conniving crew in and out of office responsible for this disaster, how does it feel to discover that Croton’s first snow was a dusting of gypsum? Cheers!

Call me Ahab.

— George Horn

On December 7, 2006 2:10 PM, bojangles said:

I watched the village board meeting last week and it occurred to me that the Mayor and Trustee Brennan are being swayed by the stubborn “stay the course” attitude of the Bush administration. They like the President “have faith” that right will win out. Must more lives be lost and more blood be shed before our leaders face the truth? They cannot win with their current policy. The refusal of the President to look at other options is dangerous and foolhardy. The best minds in government, military and dipolomatic forces repeatedly told him so yet he refuses to listen.

The fallout from our board’s failure to listen to reason and “negotiate” with the people at 1A Croton Point Avenue pales in comparison to the damage inherent in the President’s repeated calls to “stay the course.”

To listen is not to lose. To negotiate is not to give anything up. To do nothing is to accomplish nothing. These are expensive and dangerous roads to follow.

On December 4, 2006 12:29 PM, weewill said:

Cheer up Ahab. To hear Ms. Cudequest (and a very few others) rant and rave at village board meetings could well make one think Croton has fallen on evil ways. Please know that’s no more true than the awful tales she tells about the past horrors and impending disaster at 1A Croton Point Avenue. Her “torrent of abuse, lies and innuendo about imagined public health hazards” is just that. We’re still a proud and beautiful village in spite of those who would make you think differently.

Fortunately, her tales of woe will do no more damage. She and her small band of chronic complainers have lost their audience. People are tired of the same old nonsense week after week and have tuned her out. She’s become the laughing stock of this small village and is more and more unbelievable every week. She’s even resorted to having like-minded mavericks from Ohio and Massacusetts join in her chorus. Officials from those neighboring towns confirm that her “friends” are equally irresponsbile in spreading half truths and unfounded rumors.

Seems strange to me. One must wonder what makes these birds of a feather stick together. Why are they so consumed with trash and trash hauling? Are they part of a “mob” working to eliminate competition by closing down competitors? If so, I’d love to know by whom and what they’re paid.


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