1999-10-16 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The traffic on the Gil Hodges bridge remains intolerable, especially during rush hours. I have an idea that could relieve the traffic. Do away with the tolls for the rest of the reconstruction period. This would have a salutary effect in two ways: one, it would move the cars quickly over the bridge from Rockaway to Brooklyn and would "pull the traffic" through with little wait. Secondly, it would make the drivers feel better and the long waits would not be as galling as waiting 50 minutes and then having to pay almost two bucks to do it. It probably would have little effect on the TBTA’s funding and it would be the right thing to do.

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Many of the tenants at Dayton-Seaside are worried that their rents will quickly escalate once the city takes over the buildings for failure to pay taxes. Even if the current owner claims bankruptcy, the city can still negotiate with the trustees to raise the rents in order to pay off the tax lien. In fact, it could even get worse. The city can take over the building and then turn it into "low-income housing," which I believe is the current euphemism for welfare housing. That would be a blow to the people who currently live there and to the community as a whole. The shame of the matter is that there is no easy out. The current owner cannot or will not pay the massive amount of taxes owed on the building. The politicians have all but abandoned the problem over the past 15 years and it may be too late to get involved at this time. As usual, it will be the residents who will suffer. The owner will walk away whole, the city will get a welfare building and the residents will be out looking for someplace decent to live.

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How can a health care facility such as St. John’s Hospital cut the health benefits of its workers? That is the last thing that a hospital should be doing. If the hospital is that deep into the hole, it should close its doors and slink away into the night. To unilaterally do away with health benefits, child care benefits, pension benefits and the like is the coward’s way out. Either do it or get off the pot.

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Stop by at the Broad Channel VFW Hall this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. for the community’s Historical Day. There will be old pictures, newspaper articles, interviews and reminiscences. It should be a fun day for local historians.

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The city has been spraying malathion for weeks now, hoping to stop the spread of whatever it turns out to be. While new cases of the Nile River (the latest word) bug slowly sprout, not one case of infection or death from the spray has been reported. Once again, our resident environmentalists have spread the word that "the sky is falling," and once again they have turned out to be wrong. By the way, don’t believe that the coming frost will end the mosquito problem. According to the experts, it is likely that mosquitoes hatching from eggs laid in recent weeks will carry the same virus as their parents. A two week warm snap in the near future could cause those eggs to hatch In addition, those eggs that do not hatch will survive and hatch in the spring.

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Congratulations to the owners of the 101 Deli on Beach 101 street and Rockaway Beach boulevard. The deli was cited by the Daily News as making one of the best sandwiches in the city. The accolades are well deserved. Many people who live outside the city but work in Rockaway look forward to their daily sustenance from the 101. Well Done!

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Congratulations also to Maizle Morris, a community stalwart who recently retired after 31 years at the Peninsula Hospital Center. Most recently, Maizle served as director of nurses at the facility. She is also a long-time member of Community Board 14.

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It was a story worthy of the New York Times. The People magazine story "revisited" single teen moms who had been featured in a magazine article five years ago. That story was titled "Babies having Babies," and it was apt. The new story focused on a few of the single mothers (now in their 20’s), and the message the piece gave was clearly "they are doing well." I don’t think so. One of the women, for example, was lauded for her hard work and for keeping her family together. This, despite the fact that she has three kids with two different fathers and lives on public assistance, food stamps and her parent’s disability check. She has had two jobs–in a restaurant and in a warehouse. She quit both because "it’s just not for me." I guess that welfare is just for her. She recently quit a secretarial job because "I got tired of him (her boss) yelling at me." This might be a success story for People, but slugging it as a success is what is wrong with our society.

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A few weeks ago I wrote that I wished that the Arverne Urban Renewal Area could be dredged to look more like Baltimore’s Inner Harbor development. I got no response, but those who want to see what I was talking about can log in at the Discovery site at www.discovery.com/cams/bharbor/

Bharbor.html.

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The good news is that Tony Weiner lined up more than $1 million dollars for refurbishing parts of Gateway National Park. The bad news is that none of it is coming to the parts of the park located in Broad Channel or Rockaway. In fact, I am not sure that the two small parks earmarked for the work are in Gateway at all. They are both in Howard Beach, and I did not even know that the park had land in Howard Beach. Shows you what I know. While the Daily News headlines "1M grant for Gateway," Newsday says that the parks "border the Gateway National Recreation Area." I wonder which daily is correct. I also wonder why some of that money did not come to such local parts of the park as Fort Tilden, Riis Park and the Bird Sanctuary, all of which fall within Rockaway or Broad Channel. This is the "largest capital investment in the property since it was transferred to the Federal Government in 1972," a parks spokesperson said. It would have been nice if it were really spent on the park. "The children of Howard Beach should not have to play on equipment that is decrepit and unsafe or on fields and courts covered in glass," Weiner said. I agree. Of course, I wish that he would feel the same way about Rockaway and Broad Channel kids. I have nothing against Howard Beach kids getting their share. I would just like it if Rockaway and Broad Channel kids got their share once in a while.

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Any professional sport depends on the kids getting excited about its games if the sport is to continue into the next century. If kids become disenchanted by baseball (as some say is happening) and stop watching, there will be no fans to fill the seats in thirty years. That is why it was shortsighted for major league baseball to start the Met games at 11 p.m. on the east coast a week or so ago. It made sense for the networks (the Met games did not bump up against the Yankee games) and for the owner of the Diamondbacks (he got maximum exposure in prime time on the left coast), but it made no sense for the game of baseball. Young fans are the future of the game and if you shut them out then you are destroying yourself in bits and pieces.

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The research director for Ruth Messinger’s mayoral candidacy has published his "campaign diary." There are some interesting tidbits to be gleaned from "The Campaign," by Evan Mandery. One of them is that Messinger’s campaign was pulled down by hiring lots of "political favors," kids and other relatives of Democratic hacks who did not know what they were doing. Another point the author makes is that the Reverend Al Sharpton sought a "large donation," amounting to "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to back her candidacy. That does not surprise me at all, but it is interesting to have my suspicions satisfied from somebody inside a campaign.

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The paranoia is going to run rampant. The EZ Pass people have announced that they are going to track the speed of motorists on certain highways by reading their EZ Passes as the move through certain zone. They promise that they will not use the information to issue tickets, just to check on traffic flow, but they do have the capability to see how fast you are going. For example, if driver A’s easy pass shows he reached point one at 2 p.m. and point two at 2:03 p.m., it’s an easy chore for the computer to then say that the car was going 60 miles per hour. According to the announcement, the computers will "scramble the identity codes of each pass entering the zone, masking the identity of the tag holder." If you believe that, I have a bridge you might want to buy.

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Those of you who use the local post office might have noted the millennium clock posted on the wall. It shows the time left until the year 2000. If you watch it closely, it will also tell you how long you have been waiting for service, as long as the wait for the millennium in some cases. Lots of people in Texas and California complained to postal officials. Those who complained said that the clocks made them feel older and that it reminded them of how long they had been waiting. That organization is now primed to take the clocks out of many of its locations, mostly in Texas and California, where the complaints were the loudest. Why Texas and California? "I wouldn’t begin to speculate," said a USPS spokesperson. "Talk to psychiatrists about it." Sounds like a good idea.

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Beach Channel High School went 4-0 last weekend with a 14-6 win over Long Island City High School. Frankie Saunders scored the winning touchdown on a 20 yard run, but Frazier Osbourne rushed for 150 yards on 30 carries and scored once on a four-yard run. That gives the Dolphin star running back seven TD’s in the last three games.

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Websites of the Week: Teachers who are looking for good web links and lesson plans in almost any subject from art to US Government can log onto www.teachersfirst.com. It is a winner, and I thank one of the UFT teacher’s center directors for alerting me to the sire. Those who want financial information can find some little-known but highly used sites. The Behavioral Finance Research Library can be found at www.undiscoveredmanagers.com.

The Federal Reserve Economic Data site is at www.stls.frb.org/fred. That site has lots of historic data. The Ohio State Virtual Finance site can be found at www.cob.ohio-state.edu/dept/fin/ overview.htm. The Hollywood Stock Exchange will not give you financial data, but it will let you play a fantasy stock game in movies, movie stars and recording artists. Bet the bundle on Ricky Martin or My Mother the Car. You’ll find it at www.hsx.com. That’s it for this week. Send comments and complaints to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.

 

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