1999-05-22 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

I’m not sure yet how our local legislators voted on the bill to repeal the commuter tax, but I think that it is a sure bet that they voted along with the Democratic leadership. I can’t think of any vote in recent memory when either Audrey Pheffer or Pauline Cummings voted against the wishes of their leaders. In this case, the leadership was playing political hardball with the mayor and looking for suburban votes. New York city is sure to get screwed again. If the suburbanites who work in this city think that they do not get any services for their paltry contributions, they should think again. If there is a fire in their office building, do the volies from Valley Stream respond? If a commuter has a heart attack near Central Park, does the Nassau County Police ambulance show up? If they ride a bus, a cab or a subway, does Orange County subsidize those amenities? If the guy in the next office stores deadly gas in the hallway, will somebody from Westchester come and take it away? Those who work daily in the city use city services on a regular basis or, at the least, they force the city to man their response services at such a level that they will be ready if they are needed. Those commuters should pay their fair share of the burden and they did – up to last week. That’s when Shelly Silver (the Democratic leader in the Assembly) who wanted to make Mayor Giuliani look bad, joined forces with Governor Pataki and Joseph Bruno (The Republican leader of the Senate), who want to get votes from upstate voters. Our local legislators such as Audrey Pheffer, Pauline Rodd-Cummings and Al Waldon probably went along with the leadership, like the cattle that they are (if you voted against this, guys, I will apologize next week). The commuters have jobs in the city because it, and not the other counties, is the center of the business world. Those commuters need the city more than the city needs them. Fire them! Let them stay home in Nassau and Orange and West-chester. See if they can find jobs in those burgs. Give their jobs to those who live in the city. Or, make city services on demand for only city residents. If a Nassau County resident has a heart attack, let him pay cash on the line before the ambulance takes him to a city hospital. Or, let him lay there until the Nassau County ambulance comes and gets him three hours later. What a good idea! Think about it Mayor Giuliani. You’ll love it.

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Those who are sure of their Assembly jobs because there is never a primary for their positions and hardly ever a challenge from the other party should remember that lots of city council members who face term limits will be out and around looking for a place to fall. That’s bad for the Assembly members and good for the voters. The city council members could run for the Assembly in 2000 and still keep their council seats until 2001 if they lose.

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The local Republicans are developing a plan to raise money for the World War II Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. They point out that this is really a worth plan and I have to agree. Keep tuned to this space for more information.

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More than a year ago, I predicted that Floyd Flake would run for Mayor on the Republican ticket in 2001. It now looks as if he is getting closer to making that decision (although he has not yet decided whether he is a Democrat or a Republican). I would think that he would have to give up his church position should he win. I do not think that a person can be both an active pastor and a mayor, but he pulled it off when he was a Representative, so perhaps he’ll pull it off here as well. By the way, I am philosophically opposed to any religious leader being a political leader as well, but who am I to make that decision?

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Quote without comment from a letter to the editor of Newsday by Louis Anemone, the Chief of the Department, NYPD: "Quality of life laws are not enforced by the police primarily because we think most people who drink beer on street corners are really wanted for murder. We enforce them because New Yorkers are people worthy of respect who deserve a safe and orderly city, and because more serious crime does not take place in a vacuum, but is related to the atmosphere of the city as a whole."

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Some people who read last week’s column thought that I implied that the same person who hired a private detective to look into the background of PS 114 Principal Phyllis Mellone also set the fires at the school earlier in the month. I did not intend to make that implication, nor do I believe that to be a fact. I do believe, however, that there is a mindset among some people that allows them to act in such a way as to be detrimental to the community simply because they think that they are right.

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Both the Arverne and the Edgemere houses have been awarded a Hope VI grant. The Federal grant totals $163 million. Plans include the construction of a family resource center that will offer job training, education programs and placement programs for adult tenants of the two projects. The money will also fund a senior living facility and programs to improve child-care provisions and transportation to work sites. There will also be a retail and commercial space near the project areas.

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The city council has a good idea. In an attempt to insure that more cops live in the city, the council has proposed to offer low interest mortgages to those cops who buy homes within the city limits. The proposal would shave to points off the mortgage, saving a family about $60 thousand in costs over the life of a 30-year mortgage. I think that is better than forcing cops to live in substandard housing by making a law that they must live in the city without finding a way for them to do it rationally.

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I like the signs that announce local areas such as Broad Channel and Rockaway Beach. I like them, but they are nothing to cheer about. They are like the RDRC’s storefront improvement program and its little seagull signs. They look nice, but they do little in the way of real revitalization. Sometimes, they are a joke. Last week, there was Al Stabile and Dan Tubridy with the "Welcome to Broad Channel" sign that will probably soon be up on Cross Bay boulevard. The joke is that Stabile, the city councilman who got 95 percent of the vote from that community last time around, couldn’t get ice in the winter from that community right now. Stabile said "this town is something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, certainly an all-American town where everyone is proud to be an American, and I don’t think that any of us could be prouder of anything that that." Al, of course, disappeared into the woodwork, closing his Rockaway office and running for the hills, when the infamous "Parade Controversy" broke. Now, he’s considered a joke by one and all. I just have to wonder why Dan would be photographed with Al. I guess that politics do make strange bedfellows.

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Newsday ran a special section last Sunday on key development projects planned for the city. Among the 11 projects highlighted was our own (drum roll, please) Technodome! The article starts off, "Imagine a place that is enclosed and temperature-controlled, where a family can rock-climb, scuba dive, bungee-jump, hang-glide listen to performances and eat great food." I think that this project comes under the old maxim, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Abe Reichmann, the Canadian developer did come to talk to residents, however, and why would he have done that if he really was pulling a shell game on Rockaway? There are those, by the way, who see this as a shell game. In order for it to work, the city and state would have to kick in $250 to $300 million in infrastructure costs not to mention the cost of improving transportation to the peninsula. The developer says that the project will create more than 20,000 full-time jobs and generate $250 million in taxes for the city annually. If that does not sound too good to be true, I do not know what else does.

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Websites of the Week: Buying gifts on the web has become easier and less dangerous with the arrival of encrypted sites and the like. The QVC website at www.qvc.com, can bring you thousands of products. For cookbooks and other kitchen products, try www.foodtv.com. That will bring you to the Food Channel’s website. Another cooking site can be found at The Barbecue Source (www.bbqsource.com). The Boston Museum of Fine Arts sells lots of high tone stuff at its site at www.st4.yahoo.com/mfa. For quick gift service, try www.911gifts.com. That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to Newsie42@aol.com (although it has not been working too consistently these days). Have a good week, and safe home.

 

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