There is a solids basis for political action

Much that constitutes the affairs of man floats without direction — only after a swirl is there any chance of it congealing. More and more this unsettled manner serves to define our politics and the discharge of our business. Where can one look for guidance to a smoother flow?

Could it be to the township and the city? Entities whose continuing disagreement over sewer and water costs has been of such long duration? Little has flowed smoothly between them or as a joint product from them.

What, you may ask, would allow for a successful resolution? Hours of calm deliberation; strenuous, reasoned negotiation; insightful takeaways from expensive but failed mediation and litigation? I don’t know the answers to those questions but I know this: material in suspension has been in a solution coursing beneath their feet.

Here at the City Sewer Treatment plant, it comes together. Mike Glowinski runs the place with the able assistance of Bob Roznowski and others. Mike and Bob took time to explain to me how they resolve the issues that flow their way.

Theirs is a complex business of physical, biological, and chemical interventions. Despite extensive familiarity with the material, I saw no indication input from politicians was referenced.

Notwithstanding this complexity, an overview is possible. Unlike litigation, sewage treatment is a process that promotes settlement. Settlement allows screens, scrapers, and skimmers to be brought to bear to remove large solids: plastics, sticks, stones, “flushables” and 15 percent to 20 percent of the pollutants. These efforts — and chlorine — constituted the entire sewage treatment regimen until 1970, when a second stage was instituted.

It is during this secondary, biological stage, that nearly all the remaining pollutants are removed. This work is done by living organisms of extremely small stature — bacteria of an aerobic sort who become totally immersed in their work. In return, they are sustained by the steady stream of sustenance we send them and by oxygen — lots of oxygen — to keep their metabolisms working at peak performance.

Only after these microorganisms have completed their labor is a chemical process initiated and chlorine introduced. But this substance, too, is removed before the crystal clear, clean water is discharged to our river and bay.

If only such a clear clean discharge emerged from the seat of our government. As it stands, the old cleansing system of checks and balances has been rendered ineffective — things aren’t settling. As a result, little is being skimmed off, screened out, or scraped away.

Our government’s sanitation system is in crisis, loosening pollutants that have defiled our nation’s discourse. Vitriol is hurled at a free press whose job is to alert us to contamination from farces, shams, and whoppers. Unfortunately, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is what’s happening — it’s not “Fake News.” Those “enemies of the people” who are immersed in revelations — they’re our best friends.

Sanitation investigators attempting to get to the bottom of things are threatened by workers now permanently assigned there. Toxic measures are undertaken: infants flushed from the arms of their dehumanized parents; foreign propaganda floated without filtration; affairs exposed despite payments to keep them in drains, under covers.

We need to identify fibs, fibs contradicting those fibs, and groups of fibs that constitute conspiracy. We have to install impulse moderation tanks with beefed up dampers; enlarge the bluster, gloat, and bragging scrapers; reinforce the swagger skimmers; and — if we become disheartened — activate the lift station pumps.

History’s prolific goose, that noble lady who has laid for us so many golden eggs, cannot survive this foulness. To what end is her continued production threatened? Greed? What will we do if we lose the goose who lays those golden eggs?

Citizens, the time to respond has begun. There is a solids basis for action! Unsheath your plunger — the one with the extra long handle — and VOTE!

Doug Pugh’s Vignettes runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. He can be reached via email at