2000-01-22 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

Despite the fact that the company’s leave-taking will leave The Wave as the oldest continuous business in Rockaway, I am sad to see Loeb and Mayer leaving our community. For more than 100 years it has been a Rockaway mainstay, serving business both locally and around the area. The business and the family who staffed it will be missed by one and all.

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Even the naysayers who knock every new development that comes to Rockaway have to be happy with the way new housing is springing up all over the peninsula. From Bayswater to Rockaway Park, new housing is being built and it is being sold at market-rate cost. This is good news for all of us, because new housing always spurs new business.

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The Gormans own the property that includes the gas station at the corner of Beach 116 and BCD all the way down to the Bagel place. I guess property owners have a right to do what they want, but a mistake was made in closing off the entrance to the parking lot for those coming north on Beach 116. Previously, a driver could go straight across BCD onto the property, make a right behind Bob’s auto and then into the parking lot behind the Medical Arts building (the Harbor Health and Fitness building). Now that the entrance has been gated, however, a driver who needs to access the parking lot without going three blocks out of the way must cut through the gas station pumps and make a left to access the back parking lot. Cars exiting the lot once came to the light and made a safe entry onto BCD or onto Beach 116. Now, they must cut through the gas station and move across two lanes to make a left onto Beach 116. I understand that the change was made because gypsy caps often sped through the area. The change will cause accidents and there really was no reason to make it in the first place.

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Don’t worry about who you are going to vote for to take Al Waldon;s place as state senator. The rumors have it that both the Democrats and the Republicans are going to agree on Malcolm Smith to take Waldon’s place until the next general election. Smith was the nupshleper (read, chief aide) for Floyd Flake before Flake left public office to build his parochial school empire. Smith is now a Far Rockaway real estate developer involved with the "affordable" housing popping up in Edgemere and Arverne. Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to worry about making a choice, that the politicians have already made the choice for you? Governor Pataki has not yet set a date for the coronation.

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The federal government has upheld a $440 thousand fine against the city for evacuating the Neponsit Nursing Home last year. The Feds said, "There is no evidence provided by HHC that the conditions at Neponsit…presented a sudden, urgent, unforeseen occurrence necessitating a precipitous evacuation." The story is not over, however, because the city plans to appeal to the next level. It is another case of the mayor being caught with his hands in the pot and the city taxpayers taking the fall for the mayor’s excesses.

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It is funny that the mayor pushes for competition when schools are concerned, but is opposed to competition when it comes to non-bid contracts for bus companies that supply hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Republican office-holders. Seven years after the deadline for competition set by the city charter, companies such as Green Bus Lines got another year of no-bid access to $139 million in taxpayer subsidies. "I like competition," Giuliani told reporters, "but it would not make any sense to give other bus companies a chance to bid just yet on the 91 bus routes. The mayor added that the would-be bidders are "in a state of confusion" over their own "cost targets. It is more likely that the mayor and his friends are confused over how they would replace the campaign contributions they would lose by granting the business to new franchisees.

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Marty Feeney took me to task for not presenting some end-of-the-year diamonds to those who work on a volunteer basis with our youth, and he is right. He cites the Rockaway Little League, the Rockaway Rockies, The BCAC, Coach Carter and his thousands of kids, and all of the people who work with the local parishes throughout the peninsula. I was remiss not to mention them and I honor them all.

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The year 1999 was a record one as far as weather is concerned. January was the fifth wettest on record. February was the seventh warmest on record. May was the tenth warmest on record. June was the second driest on record. July was the driest on record. September, thanks to Hurricane Floyd, was the eighth wettest on record. October tied the record for lowest temperatures. November was the seventh warmest on record. December had a couple of record high days. Many blame this on Global Warming, and they may be right. Whatever the reason, I kind of like it.

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Even though the Y2K problem never surfaced, it is clear why programmers in the mid-1960’s made their early programs with only two digits. David Liddle, who spent ten years with Xerox, pointed out the reason in a recent New York Times: "Any kind of storage of memory was scarce back then. I remember someone had written a program to properly handle leap year that used 36 bytes of memory on something that happened only once every four years. He was thrown off the team. Back then, you wrote those programs under very tight memory constraints. The idea that you could waste two additional characters in every date field…on something that wasn’t going to be an issue for 35 years, in fact, would have been the wrong thing to do. It’s easy in retrospect to talk about how shortsighted they were, but a big machine in the business world had 64 megabytes in it, so you didn’t squander those things."

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High Speed Internet connectivity is coming, if you can believe Time Warner in the wake of its merger with AOL. Road Runner, a high speed cable-driven Internet connection, is now available in parts of Jackson Heights and will spread throughout the borough by the end of 2001. Astoria and Flushing are next. Rockaway, as usual, is last.

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The Queens Citizens Orgainzation (QCO) is a church-based organization trained by Saul Alinsky and his "Back of the Yards" organization. For those of you who have forgotten, the Back of the Woods neighborhood in Chicago was one of the poorest in the state. Alinsky’s group was a radical organization whose major principal was that an advocacy group can "gain power," by "picking the target, freezing it, personalize it and paralyze it." The QCO tried that tactic in Rockaway when it tried to bring low-income housing to the Arverne Urban Renewal Area. I was at a meeting where the QCO told Hispanic parishioners at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Far Rockaway that they would be granted homesteads in the AURA if they would push politicians to allow the Nehamiah housing into the area. They went so far as to assign individual home sites to individual families. I mention this now only because it has come to light that Hillary Clinton wrote a college thesis that praised Alinsky and his organization and urged that it be used as a model for community organizing. That is a frightening thought. Especially, on the day that Hillary met with Al Sharpton at his organization’s headquarters. I shudder at the thought.

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One of the more bizarre crimes in Rockaway history was committed last week. Federal Parks cops riding through Fort Tilden (part of the Gateway National Park) at the extreme west end of the peninsula saw smoke coming from a park area. They found a burning body. Police believe that the body was killed elsewhere, dumped in the park and set afire to deter cops from identifying the body. I wonder if this murder will count against the 100 precinct or against the federal police.

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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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