1999-08-21 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

I think that the appointment of Deputy Superintendent Ken Grover to oversee all of the low-performing schools in Manhattan and Queens proves my point. First, let me say that Ken deserves the job. He is hard-working and knowledgeable and has a real handle on curriculum and instruction. It seems strange to me, however, that Rudy Crew choose him for this important job at the same time he was denigrating the district and its leadership by demanding the resignation of its superintendent. Basically, the question that has to be asked of Crew is, "if instruction in the district is so bad, why hire the man who was responsible for instruction to lead the Chancellor’s District into the new millennium?" The answer is obvious, at least to me. Isaac’s retirement was a political and racial issue, not an educational issue (I believe that Crew has admitted to that privately). Crew picked Grover because he is, in fact, one of the most qualified people for the job and because he was cut loose when Isaacs was forced to retire. Keep tuned, it should be an interesting year.

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Congratulations are due to a number of people: To PO Willy Olmeda of the 101 precinct, who was recently promoted to detective specialist; to Barbara Morris, of West End Realty, for her successful and ever-popular Sand Castle Contest; To Beverly Baxter on her 16 birthday (at least, it looks that way); To Victoria George, who steals the show in Nunsense; To the administrators of St. John’s Hospital, who are doing everything they can to keep that fine hospital afloat financially; To Ken Grover, on his appointment to lead the Chancellor’s District in both Manhattan and Queens and to Matt Bromme, who has been chosen by the local school board as the interim acting superintendent to fill the position recently vacated by Brenda Isaacs’ retirement.

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Al Stabile spent approximately $7,500 of your money on his cellular telephone bill during a three-month period of March to June. Perhaps I can see why. Stabile trumpeted a number of things that he has done for the community in last week’s Wave. He urged the passage of the "Bubble Bill" which would mandate that the government study air quality around airports. He expressed his opposition to the sale of Aqueduct racetrack. He wants the city to keep the land until it is rezoned. And, finally, he has submitted a bill that would force the city to pay for damage to sidewalks done by "trees exclusively under the Parks Department’s care." Now, if that is not worth $7,500, I obviously do not know what is.

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When I was a lot younger (and thinner), almost 30 years ago, I worked for the company that produced Weekly Reader, Current Events and other educational magazines. One of my jobs was to do short celebrity interviews with people who held some interest for kids. Being a great Yankee fan, I pitched the editors a story about a young local kid named Rusty Torres who the team had just brought up. I was dispatched to Yankee Stadium to get the story. It was a good story of an underprivileged Brooklyn kid who made good. After a season and a half of doing little, Torres was traded to Cleveland and faded from memory. In his last years with the Indian’s he had become addicted to alcohol and cocaine. He drove cabs and worked as a porter. He sold off his World Championship ring. He hit bottom. Now, Rusty Torres has resurfaced as an ex-addict who works with kids who have addiction problems. Is Rusty’s life a failure because he did not make the Hall of Fame? Not if you count all of those kids he has helped over the past 25 years. He is perhaps more of a champion than some of the players who earn in the millions and treat their fans like dirt.

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Speaking of Baseball, I have to note the passing of Dodger great Peewee Reese. The arguments in Rockaway during the years of the great Yankee, Giant and Dodger teams were not always Mantle, Mays or Snider. The argument was often Rizzuto or Reese (Alvin Dark never quite made the grade). I remember going to a game with hundreds of other Far Rockaway students because Seahorse pitcher Steve Berman was going to be on Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang. Those of you who don’t remember the program should know that three or four high school players would work out under the eye of a Dodger player and one would win a prize. Steve was a pitcher, and I think that Don Newcombe was the player involved, but Reese came up the right field line where the program was taking place to talk with some of the kids in the stands (nobody thought to ask for autographs in those days). It must have been 1955 or 1956, but I remember what a gentleman he was with us kids even forty-some years later. He will be missed.

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I worked with Amy Kimpson for a number of years in the Special Education unit at IS 53. She was always a dedicated and caring teacher and person. She died too young and she will be missed by her students and by her colleagues both.

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Each year, beginning in 1950, pollsters for the Gallup Organization asked people to choose the "top problem" facing America. It is interesting and perhaps instructional in seeing how perceptions change over the years. In 1950, the main problem facing Americans was "war." In 1954, it was the "threat of war (the Korean Police Action was over and the Cold War was renewed). In 1959, it was "keeping the peace." In 1965, it was "civil rights." In 1970 it was "campus unrest" (over civil rights and Vietnam). In 1975, it was "the high cost of living,". In 1985, it was back to "the threat of war and international tension." In 1990 it was the "budget deficit." In 1995, it became "crime and violence." In 1999, the perception is that the top problem is "ethics, morality and the decline of the family." Have things changed much over the past 50 years? Decide for yourself and let me know.

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Lots of politicians are lining up to run for mayor when Rudy Giuliani goes, as he must sooner or later. The "experts" already have a morning line on the candidates. Mark Green (the man whom Giuliani despises more than any other) is listed at 3-1. Green will take over if Giuliani leaves to run for the Senate, but Giuliani has indicated that will happen only over the mayor’s dead body. City Council Speaker Peter Vallone is a close second at 4-1. Comptroller Al Hevesi (my favorite for the job) is also 4-1. Bronx Borough President (what do they do?) is 7-1. Floyd Flake (I think he will be the winner as a Republican) is listed as 25-1. He is called the "longshot to watch." Fran Reiter is 150-1, Al Sharpton, 300-1. Herman Badillo is 150-1, Sal Albanese, 100-1. Tom Ognibene is the tail gunner at 500-1. How will it be? Watch for Hevesi against Flake, with Flake as the winner. If the Democrats run Green, the ultra-liberal will be steamrolled by whomever the Republicans run, just as Messinger was.

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I like Kevin Boyle’s list of the worst and most disappointing players of the millennium, but I’m still waiting for his best. Another list just came out to challenge your taste. The list purports to be the "50 Funniest Movies of All Time." Number one is "Some Like it Hot." I can’t argue with that, I guess, although my all-time favorite comedy is "Cat Bollou" (I think that I spelled it wrong, but I laughed at Lee Marvin through the whole thing). The list omits all of Bob Hope’s movies and all of Mel Brook’s (with the exception of "The Producers," which was a funny movie starring the stirring "Springtime for Hitler." There is only one Marx Brothers movie (Duck Soup) and few others that I really liked. Oh, well, to each his (or, her) own.

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Quote without comment from the Real Estate Section of Newsday (All houses reasonably similar): House on the 100 block of Beach 123 street: $147,000. House on the 100 block of Beach 135 street: $435,000. House on West 12 road, Broad Channel: $145,000. House on Beach 9 street, Far Rockaway: $179,000. Tell me, Congressman Weiner, how does the Far Rockaway zip code designation affect these sales?

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Websites of the Week: In the past, when your doctor told you that one of your tests was off the board, you relied on experts for information on what options you had. Today, you go to the web. When my PSA numbers grew like topsy, I hit the web browsers and came up with literally thousands of hits. Some were great, some were nuts. How do you tell the difference? Stick to the government sites and the top hospitals. Avoid doctors who want your business and people who leave messages about their personal trial and tribulations. Some sites that were helpful to me in my search on Prostate problems (most will help with other problems as well): http://unisci.com, www.harv

ardhealthpubs.org, www.Phrma.org,

www.cancer.org (American Cancer Society), http://jhu.org (John Hopkins University), www.mskcc.org (Sloan-Kettering) and the site set up by our past Surgeon General, www.askdrkoop.com . Other sites include www.healthfinder.gov, www. Nih.gov (National Institute of Health), and www.fda.gov (Food and Drug Administration). That’s it for this week. Send comments and complaints to either hschwach@hotmail.

com or Newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week, and safe home.

 

 

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