1999-07-23 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach


Every few years, the Army Corps of Engineers comes up with a plan to dredge the channel into New York Harbor. That’s a good idea, because the silt that builds up in the channel and in the harbor as well stops shipping and New York lives to some extent on shipping. With the good, however, comes the bad. Where do you put the toxic silt that you just dredged from the harbor channel? Most often, the Corps of Engineers wants to put it someplace in close proximity to Rockaway. One year, they planned to put it in "Borrow Pits" in Jamaica Bay. You make a Borrow Pit by digging up lots of sand to make a large pit. Then, you drop the toxic sludge into the pit and cap it with the clean sand you just took out. That plan was proposed several years ago. Some years later they planned to dump it off the Ambrose Light Tower that sits right off Rockaway. In other years the plan was to dump it off Coney Island, then to take it far out to sea. Now, as part of something called the Jamaica Bay Ecosystem Restoration Program (JBERP, to those of you who care), they once again want to dump the toxic sludge in Jamaica Bay. That does not sound like restoration to me. Norton Basin, the place where the sludge will be dumped, is at the head of the Bay, nearby Bayswater. The sludge will most likely repollute the bay for generations. Local and national groups are joining to fight the proposal. I wish them luck.
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I have to apologize to City Council member Juanita Watkins. A few issues ago, I berated her for voting for the commuter tax repeal, even though I knew that it was the Assembly and not the City Council that took that vote. I realized my mistake right after I sent the column to The Wave by e-mail (isn’t modern life wonderful). I called the paper and asked them to change it, but nobody ever did change it. The error got into the column, and I forgot about it. Even in the world of modern communication (or, maybe because of the world of modern communication), goofs happen. Sorry, Juanita. Now you can go back to naming streets after semi-famous people and putting out press releases. That is what you people in the Council do best. In fact, that is all you do and I should have remembered that fact while I was penning (computering?) the mistake.
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Mark you calendar for Tuesday, August 3. That’s the night for our annual "Night Out Against Crime." Come to Beach 116 street and watch the fireworks at nine p.m., but there’s lots to do prior to the star show and it is a don’t miss evening.
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Speaking of community events and the coming fireworks, the 100 Precinct Community Council cruise to raise money for that event was, by all reports, a great success. Even Lou Simon singing his theme song "Nothing Can Stop Us Now," couldn’t dampen the evening. I would have thought that Lew’s theme song would be "Oh, Yes, I’m the Great Pretender." Oh, well, life goes on. Those who honchoed the event, including association president Palmer Doyle, JoAnne Greenberg, Sandee and Jake Doremus, Barbara Buffalino, Marty Ain, Steve Good, Joanne Shapiro and others, deserve a hearty "well done." I promise to make the next one.

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Reverend Floyd Flake, who used to be our Congressman, used an entire column to praise New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith, who recently broke with the Republicans and became a Democrat. That just strengthens my belief that Flake has plans to defect from the Democrats and join the Republican Party for a run at the Mayoralty in the next election. Flake against Hevesi or Green would be a lock. By the way, I like Floyd, but he never did anything for Rockaway. What sort of mayor would he make? I’m not sure. He is strongly interested in minorities getting their acts together and in joining the economic mainstream. He is also strongly against allowing criminals to walk away from their crimes. He might be what the city needs. It is really too early to tell.
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According to city officials, the Giuliani administration is planning to open the lucrative Queens bus routes (including the Green Bus routes) to competitive bidding for the first time. That should happen sometime in January according to sources. That will probably mean better service for Rockaway residents and others who must ride the surface transit.
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Pat Moynahan, who will soon be leaving our service as Senator, is perhaps the premier sociologist in America today. He joined with Nate Glazer in the 60’s to write the seminal work on race in New York. It was called "Beyond the Melting Pot," and it is still must reading today (you can only get it on-line). More recently, however, Moynahan wrote that America was "Defining Deviancy Down." He posited that our society today was allowing things to happen that it would never have allowed in the past. He is right. When I was young, men wore coats and ties to go to ball games. Women wore dresses. Everybody rooted hard, but everybody was restrained and polite. One recent letter writer told a daily that "my family took a group of children to the Mets-Yankee game. The people on my right and my left were cursing and throwing beer all night." I went to a ball game last year at Yankee Stadium where a group of drugged-out drunks actually ripped off an opposing team’s jersey from a young woman. They were cheered. There was no sanction for their act. How about the call-in show where a mother called the mayor to complain about the cop’s treatment of her son. Her son was reportedly involved in a robbery. Her son and a nephew had reportedly robbed tenants the day before and told them that they would be back to do it again. When they showed up, the cops were waiting. The cops shot him. The mother took the cops to task, although her son had a police record. The mayor said "the cops had to kill your son because he wanted to kill other people." Many took Giuliani to task for that statement and another that asked "Maybe you should ask yourself some questions about the way he was brought up and the things that happened to him." There were many who believe that there was nothing wrong with the mother's attitude that the cops had no right to shoot even though her son was involved in a series of criminal acts. How about the parent who beat up her daughter’s teacher because the teacher had failed her? How about our professional athletes, who constantly show the "colors" of their sponsors whenever they are on television? Even the women soccer players are not exempt. The woman player who took off her shirt wanted to show off her sports bra because she designed it for a famous manufacturer. Once, players left the sport to fight in our wars. Ted Williams was a Marine fighter pilor. Gerry Coleman, a great Yankee player, flew fighters in both WW II and in Korea. Warren Spahn fought in the Battle of the Bulge. At one time, Hank Bauer and Cliff Mapes surrounded Joe D. in the Yankee outfield. Both left baseball to fight in WW II. Today’s players will not play unless you pay them millions and give them a private jet to boot. They decide when they want to pinch hit or if they will play in the All-Star Game. Things have gotten bad. How else do you explain Howard Stern? Let’s hope that the pendulum begins to swing the other way – and soon.
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Speaking of deviancy, Al Sharpton, the man who brought us Tawana Brawley and the Rockaway Five, was recently in St. Louis, Missouri. He was blocking a road project, demanding that a larger share of construction jobs go to minority workers. All I can say to Al is "Go West, young Man, go West!" Anybody want to provide a one-way ticket to Hawaii?
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By all accounts, the new children’s ward at Peninsula Hospital Center is a centerpiece for all to see. The large, 200-gallon aquarium is a sight to see and the unit has all the latest amenities. It is nice to see one of our great community assets moving ahead instead of backwards.
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Remember this week’s Irish Festival and the RMAC’s Rock and Roll show at Fort Tilden on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Don’t miss either.
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Some people were upset at School Board members Steve Greenberg and Jim Adams, who appeared for their swearing in ceremonies wearing what can only be called "casual clothing." To those people, I say, "get a life." There are so many things to complain about in Rockaway, that what somebody wears is clearly not a priority.
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Websites of the Week: If you are a Rockaway organization with a website all of your own and you want our new Wave website to provide a hyperlink to yours, let us know. Check out our new website at www.rockawave.com. Our first electronic issue should be next week. If you are interested, E-mail us at thewave@poboxes.com with your URL and a description of your site. Like free stuff? Try www.drugstore.com/gifts. That site give you $15 worth of free stuff plus three additional items for only a penny each. You pay $3 for shipping. Yahoo! Has dropped 37 "hate clubs from its website. Some might call it "censorship," but I call it good taste. If you want to see beautiful sea or landscapes, log into www.earthcam.com. That site takes you to 5,000 webcams around the world. Princess Cruise Lines has a website that shows the scene from the bow of their ships as they sail the Earth’s oceans. Log onto that site at www.princess.com. Why anybody would want to listen to the radio on their computer, I’ll never understand. There are, however, two good sites to do just that. Try either www.spinner.com or log into www.imagine radio.com. People who want to contact their local city council member (perhaps you want to rename a local street), can log into a new site at www.cmap.nypirg.org. That will get you the name, address and telephone number of your own personal council member. That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to hschwach@hotmail.com or to newsie42@aol.com (that is working again). Have a good week, and safe home.

 

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