info 02.17.06

A Request for Your Help

We're asking for your help today to fix something that's wrong.

We've written before about first responder communications. It can get eye-glazing, we know. But here's how we look at it: there's no certainty that another terrorist attack can be prevented. There is something that can be done about fixing the communications problem facing firefighters, police, and other first responders.

Not only will the ability of first responders to communicate with each other help save the lives of those first responders, it will also help save the lives of New Yorkers who are caught in the next attack. You only have to look at the disastrous response to Katrina to know how vital such communication is. First responders and civilian New Yorkers deserve something better than Keystone Cop technology.

Back in December, a spokesman for the city's Dept. of Information Technology and Telecommunications, which is taking the lead on developing a solution, said:
"The City will be starting a pilot within the next month to determine the best technical solution for building out a citywide wireless mobile network to support the City's first responders."
No such pilot has yet been launched. And despite repeated requests for a new timetable, the DoITT has stonewalled us.

It is well over four years since the September 11th attacks. It is not unreasonable to demand some answers. The DoITT doesn't need to talk to MUG, but they are accountable to all of us as New Yorkers. What has become clear is that 1) too little has been done to solve this problem and 2) the City needs to show leadership on this issue.

How You Can Help: We know that many MUG readers are in the media, in city government, that you have people's ears. We've done what we can to raise the alarm on this. We ask you to help get answers: what is the city doing about first responder communications and what is the timetable for testing and implementation? Reporters on city papers and magazines, at local stations, and on the web can help demand answers. You can also send a message to the DoITT Commissioner Gino Menchini here. If you have any information you'd like to pass on to us, on or off the record, please email us here.

We don't have to remind you about the bravery of first responders on September 11th. And there's no doubt whatsoever that better communications could have saved lives. You haven't forgotten. We haven't forgotten. The City seems to need reminding.
On a more pleasant topic, we're excited to introduce today a new monthly column tracking the theater world, written by the delightful, though pseudonymous, George Spelvin.









By George Spelvin

RISING STAR: Keep your eye on Quiara Alegria Hudes, author of the off-off-Broadway play Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue. The Times called it "that rare and rewarding thing: a theater work that succeeds on every level while creating something new." The showcase production must close Sunday, but you might snag a $15 ticket here. Next for Hudes: she's been commissioned to write new plays for three regional non-profits and she's also written the book for a salsa/hip-hop/merengue musical, In the Heights, which producers Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller (Rent, Avenue Q) hope to open on Broadway next season.

BOX OFFICE: The current revival of Chicago, now the 9th longest-running show in Broadway history, began as part of the City Center Encores series. However, you may be surprised to learn that this isn't Encores' biggest financial success. That honor goes to its most recent production, Kismet, which despite mixed reviews, is reportedly the highest-grossing show in the 12-year-history of this concert series. (Can-Can is the #2 high-earner to date.)

OFFSTAGE: The best way to enjoy theater is live and in person. But you can get your fix in other media, too. On BBC America this weekend, watch the acclaimed, Olivier Award-winning drama Blue/Orange as it premieres this Saturday, February 18 at 6pm….On the web, Broadway actor-turned-songwriter Jeff Blumenkrantz has created a series of podcasts that feature wonderful singers like Liz Callaway, Victoria Clark, Rebecca Luker and Julia Murney performing his material….And here are some notable new off-Broadway cast recordings: Songs from an Unmade Bed (an impressive showcase for gifted singer Michael Winther) and See What I Wanna See (a show that made many critics' Top Ten lists for 2005 and, Idina Menzel fans, the line forms here). Both CDs are released on Ghostlight Records. Next up for Ghostlight: Sweeney Todd star Patti LuPone's new solo album.

JUST ASKING: Did anyone else think it was odd that in last Sunday's New York Times announcement ad for the new Broadway musical Hot Feet, the names for the show's producers were in huge type, while the names of its director/choreographer (Maurice Hines) and stars (award winners Keith David and Ann Duquesnay) were buried in small, paragraph billing? I never miss a Rudy Durand musical, but does he really think his name will sell enough tickets to fill the not-so-intimate Hilton Theatre?


times square

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