Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where DECIBEL THE PARROT is screaming, Heir and Spare are laughing upstairs, and the faeries are dancing, dancing, dancing, in the newly-fallen leaves!
Here in the state of New Jersey, we have local Leaf Retention Boards. Funded by taxpayers, these Leaf Retention Boards are charged with prolonging autumn by keeping the most colorful and beautiful leaves on the trees.
Snobville is a high-income borough. The manager of the Philadelphia Phillies rents here. (Like me, he's an Appalachian expatriate.) Some of the Phils live here too, and the Eagles ... you know, assorted New Money. Many other residents just have fistfuls of cash. So much of the stuff, in fact, that they can afford very high Leaf Retention fees. As a consequence, those of us who live on the other side of the Snobville tracks get to enjoy stunning autumn displays way until the end of November.
In defense of Home Rule, I did my part. I rescued a Japanese maple seedling that would never have survived the winters around here in George Washington's era. But now, readers. Now ... oh, you should see it! It's just beginning to turn a magnificent hue of scarlet/magenta/burgundy, with yellow highlights. Takes your breath away, this tree.
During the previous election cycle, New Jersey's Democrats slept through election day, paving the way for a porcine moron named Chris Christie to assume the mantle of governor.
Governor Christie thinks the Leaf Retention taxes are too high. He says the trees don't deserve the money we pay them to hold their leaves until Thanksgiving. As proof of their failure, he points to the bare branches that we see here and there. You know, some trees just get hit by high winds harder than others.
Governor Christie wants to cut down any tree that loses its leaves before Thanksgiving. He wants all trees to be subject to rigorous oversight, in case they get lax about their leaf-losing. Furthermore, he wants to streamline the taxation process on the trees, so that one overseer will look after all deciduous trees in each of New Jersey's counties. Leaf Retention taxes will be collected not locally, but on a county-wide basis, saving taxpayers money both by eliminating local involvement in Leaf Retention and by putting more of the burden on the trees to keep their leaves.
Here in Snobville we have a state champion black oak that has needed a great deal of taxpayer support in recent years. The tree dates to 1840, so needless to say it's not doing the shade job (or autumn color job, or squirrel protection and feeding job) that it did 100 years ago. This tree is very scared that it will be cut down in favor of some sapling that will be less of a burden to county taxpayers. Imagine being 160 years old and fearing for your future!
You might think that this dire news for the old oak would be good news for my young Japanese maple. But the maple's prowess at delivering autumn splendor is impacted by the weather. If we have a cold and rainy autumn, this tree goes bare in an eye blink. Our local Leaf Retention administrator knows this and judges the maple accordingly. But will a county-wide administrator have the time to get to know 500,000 trees? (Yes, this county has a small tree population. It's suburban, not rural.)
I don't understand why Governor Chris Christie doesn't get it. So many factors impact Leaf Retention -- the weather, the winds, the quality of the soil. Can all trees, regardless of age or location, be held to the same high standards for Leaf Retention? What about the ones in elementary school playgrounds, where the kids amuse themselves by ripping whole branches off just for fun?
The moral of this sermon is that Chris Christie is a moron, and a dangerous moron. He wants to be your president, and the only thing that will stop him is his weight (immense) and/or the collective strength of the trees he's trying to cut down.
Don't hold out much hope for the trees. If you've seen pictures of Mountaintop Removal mining, you know what a few greedy bastards can do to entire populations of trees in record time. Our only hope is to stop the Christie menace right here in New Jersey, before he spreads his anti-tree message far and wide.
Home Rule for Scotland. Home Rule for Snobville. Keep our Leaf Retention statutes local, where we know our trees and the lay of our land.