1999-08-28 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

I can understand why the workers at St. John’s Hospital are concerned about their jobs. It is always disconcerting to work for an organization that is going through a financial reorganization that includes layoffs. It is also disconcerting to the people who are facing treatment in the hospital. They have a legitimate question about the treatment they will receive as a patient. I have been through the layoff process a few times myself, first at Xerox Education Publications, where the company was going through a massive decline in subscriptions (brought on, I might add, by managerial incompetence). I lost my job, but was told by a "human resources" representative that the layoffs "were small in terms of the entire corporation." I told her that they were total in terms of me. She didn’t understand what I was saying. That’s probably because she saw me as a human resource rather than as a person with a home and family. It happened once again, during some school layoffs. It can be frightening. I have spoken to a number of people involved in the controversy, however, and I really think that both the hospital and the people who currently work for the institution will make it through the crisis. There will be some layoffs, and I feel sorry for the people who have to find new jobs. It is important, however, that the institution remains and that it gains strength from whatever takes place. It is too important to our community to simply disappear.

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I noticed the new dunes on the beach from Beach 9 to Beach 19 street. They look great, and they will help to keep the sand in place this winter. A walk on the boardwalk from Beach 116 west will also reveal that some natural dunes are "growing" on the beach in that area as well. The wind has blown the sand into humps and beach grasses are growing naturally. I hope that the Department of Parks does not level those natural dunes as part of its beach cleaning efforts. Perhaps we will have dunes all along our beachfront one of these days.

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Congratulations to Liz Hila and her new husband, Harold Graham. Liz is one of the good people and she had done lots to make Rockaway more livable. She had a good old-fashioned Rockaway wedding. The ceremony was held on the beach nearby her home and the guests then walked to the Beach Club for the reception. I think that’s perfect. Good luck and long life and happiness to the newly-weds. Liz, by the way, is a teacher of the gifted class at IS 53 in Far Rockaway.

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I have received a lot of electronic mail as well as snail mail on the short take I wrote about Kevin Buckley and Breezy Point. It is clear that nobody who wrote wants his or her name mentioned, because, as they point out, "I have to live there." The consensus seems to be that Buckley’s appointment was a "political one." One correspondent told me "you can check with any co-op or board member. Art Lighthall was running for the job of general manager. He has worked almost 20 years to get the job. He knows Breezy inside and out. Kevin Buckley will probably need a map to find his way around … This thing was a sham." Keep tuned, because I do not think that this story is over by a long shot.

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Once again, the big baseball story this season (at least, outside of New York City) is the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. As I write this, Sosa leads the race with 49 (on August 21) and McGwire has 48. They are both ahead of last year’s record pace. McGwire also leads the league in RBI’s with 114 while Sosa is third with 106. That’s what lots of home runs will do for you. The point I want to make is that hitting home runs in large bunches does not always win games. As of today, McGwire’s team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is third in the central division, two games above .500 and ten and a half games out of first place. Sosa’s Chicago Cubs is last in its division, 18 games below .500 and twenty and a half games out of first. To my way of thinking, I’ll take the New York teams, both in first place, with no home run hitters at the top of the list. Team play is the difference between winning and losing, not individual performances.

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There were some members of the school board who were unhappy about The Wave’s front page story last week detailing the fact that they had chosen Matt Bromme as the acting interim school superintendent. Ernest Brown brought up the fact that the vote had been in ‘executive session," and was therefore secret. Donna Caltabiano quickly chimed in with "I think that was terrible" and Ronni (no e) Schwab joined in with "I agree." The fact is that the people have the right to know who the board voted for. I understand that "personnel matters" are discussed in closed executive session. Because of that, I would not ask what was discussed or who voted for whom. The public does have the right to know, however, what the outcome was. I really believe that. It is unfortunate that a small group of small-minded people feel that they have to "control" the information that goes to the public, that the public can be told only what they feel like telling them. By the way, Ronnie, I have no problem with strong women. I have worked successfully for many of them. If you had been at as many meetings as you say, you would know that Chapey was the laughing stock of the district. She continually abstained on the most mundane issues (there was even a pool set up to see how many times she would abstain in any given meeting). She hid behind the curtain rather than vote on the issue of replacing Richie Altabe. She made the board look silly and ineffectual when she was its president. She is only a Regent for one reason. Her daughter voted for Greg Meeks to go to Congress. That might be OK with you, but it is not with me, and I will continue to say it.

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Rockaway is getting a little part of Riverhead. I wish it was the Tanger Mall, but it is only the North Fork Bank. That bank has bought out Jamaica Savings, and it will take over and change its name in the "first quarter of next year." According to bank press releases, nobody will be laid off due to the buy-out and there will be few changes noticeable by Jamaica Savings depositors.

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I guess that our state legislature really does not want the public to see what they are doing. A bill that would have permitted gavel to gavel televised sessions (a la C-Span) died in both the Assembly and the Senate. Ever wonder why our state pols don’t want you to see them in action? I don’t wonder, because I know what they do.

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The Charter Panel has decided to kill a proposal that would have given the mayor discretionary power over a portion of the Board of Education’s budget. Giuliani wanted the money to fund his voucher program. I’m glad that it’s dead.

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A federal judge has axed a plan that would have given working families an inside track in City Housing Projects. The plan was developed to stabilize the projects by infusing working people. Minority tenant groups sued on the grounds that white applicants are more likely than black applicants to have jobs and therefore the policy is discriminatory. What an argument! Chalk one up for political correctness against all rationality.

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Websites of the Week: Somebody sent me an e-mail telling me how to get my computer ready to accept year 2000 messages, so I am going to use this space to pass it on to you. In Windows 95 or 98, double-click on "my computer." Double click on "control panel." Double click on "Regional Settings." Click on the "Date" tab at the top of the page. Where it says "Short Date Sample," look and see if it has a "two digit" year. It probably will. Click on the button across from "Short Date Style" and select the option that shows mm/dd/yyyy. Be sure that there are four "y’s" showing, not two. Click on "Apply" and then "OK" at the bottom of the page. That should do it. That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to either newsie42@aol.com or to hschwach@ hotmail.com. See you next week and safe home.

 

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