2000-01-29 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

Wouldn’t it be great if the Mets decided to place their new minor league team in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area? The idea is a good one. The land is available and the park would draw people from all over the city and from Long Island as well. When we lived in Connecticut, we regularly traveled the state to watch the New Haven Yankees and the Bristol Red Sox play at their home parks. Minor league baseball is lots of fun and a ticket behind the plate sells for five bucks. I know that some people want to see the AURA stay just as it is, and others will say that the stadium will bring unneeded traffic, but we really need something of substance if Rockaway is to be truly revitalized. Not only will they come if we build it, but the new Jets owner might just see an opportunity to bring his team back to Queens. I can dream, can’t I?

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If you want to listen to the ten final candidates for the District 27 school superintendancy, then show up at 7 p.m. at Middle School 202 (in Ozone Park) on Monday, February 7. It will serve as a good chance to find out who they are and what they stand for. You may even get a chance to ask a question or two.

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I want to join the Broad Channel community in mourning the passing of Robert Russel. The deceased was chief of the Broad Channel Volunteers and both the volies and the community he served for so many years will sorely miss him. A memorial mass will be held for Russel today (January 29) at St. Virgilius Church. Past and present members of the BCVFD are invited to a brunch following the services.

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I usually would not write about the Reverend Charles Norris because he has no ties to Rockaway. He was, however, a member of the city’s Civil Rights Commission and he is (or was) executive director of the Southeast Queens Ministers for Empowerment, an organization that often insinuates itself into local issues. Norris is infamous around here for his letter to school board members when Margaret Bradley and Brenda Isaacs were vying for the district superintendent’s job. Norris said in his letter supporting Bradley (the Black candidate) that Bradley was like "good old down-home soul food," while Isaacs (who is not Jewish) "was like Kosher food." Norris recently drew notoriety for using a MLK Day celebration to vent his anti-Semitism once again. Warming up the crowd, Norris reportedly launched into a tirade about how he had once been fired by a Jew named Miller. He said that it turned out all right because another Jew named Jesus Christ had then hired him. Apologists for Norris pointed out that he did not mean anything anti-Semitic by his statements and that he had never done anything like that previously. They must have forgotten the famous "kosher food" letter. Norris was reportedly active in the District 29 superintendent’s search, which was recently halted due to politics, and inappropriate pressure brought on search committee members. Sources tell me that Norris is also active in the District 27 search process and that would not surprise me at all. Michael Myers, a black conservative columnist writing in the Post, put Norris and others of his ilk in perspective. "Loose lips can sink careers – if you are white. But, not if you are a black leader. Black leaders, and especially black ministers, can be as despicably hateful as they want with impunity. Their anti-white madness is regarded as ‘telling it like it is’ racial bravado." We can only hope that Norris and his brethren will not pollute the search process in this district once again. Once is enough, and the kids deserve better.

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I went out to visit the Barnes and Nobel bookstore nearby Roosevelt Field last week for a book signing by one of my favorite authors – Nelson DeMille. His new book, "The Lion’s Game" is one of his best, although I think that I still like "Cathedral," "The Charm School," and "By the Rivers of Babylon" much better. DeMille is a personable guy and took time to speak with every person who stopped by to have his or her book autographed. He was supposed to sign between 7 and 8 p.m., but so many people showed up that he stayed until 9:30 and he turned all of his profits from the sale of his books that night to a literacy organization that works with adults who cannot read. It made me wonder once again why we have no bookstore in Rockaway. I know that people on the peninsula read and I know that a bookstore would do well. How about it somebody?

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Congratulations to Mike Dever, a young man who had earned a full-time staff slot on Mayor Giuliani’s senate campaign. Mike is the son of the late Jerry Dever (a guidance counselor at JHS 180) and Mary Dever (reading teacher at JHS 198). It is nice to see the next generation moving into the area public service as well, although I cannot understand how the son of two educators can possibly support Giuliani. Oh, well, good luck Mike.

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Speaking of Giuliani, the latest polls show that he and Hillary Clinton are virtually neck and neck in the Senate race. According to the poll, Giuliani leads Clinton by 46 percent to 44 percent. One indicator of how the election might go is that Clinton leads among Black voters by 85 percent to 11 percent and among Hispanic voters by 61 percent to 31 percent. Giuliani leads among men and white voters while Clinton leads among women.

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Pizzalady tells me by e-mail that there is a new club in town. It is for Rockawayites (past or current) who want to explore the many issues that impact the community. There is a private chat room and a message board. The club can be found on the web at:

http://clubs.yahoo.com/rockawaybeachclub.

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The Broad Channel Athletic Club is attempting to start its own little league organization, with a charter from Williamsport, PA, the headquarters for all little leagues. There will be t-ball, baseball and girl’s softball for kids from the ages of 4 through 18. The games will be played at the BCAC field on Cross Bay Boulevard, including night games under the field’s lights. There is a fee, which goes for everything from upkeep of the field to uniforms, insurance and trophies. Since Broad Channel does not have enough young players to maintain its league, it is opening its rosters to youngsters from other areas, particularly from Rockaway. This is a group that is truly for the kids and it deserves the support of all of those who live on and around the peninsula.

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Even though it is snowing outside while I write this, it is time again for lifeguard training. The Parks Department is offering free training courses for those interested at as number of sites, including Far Rockaway High School. Candidates must be at least 16 at the completion of the course, have unaided vision, and be able to swim 50 yards in less than 35 seconds. Those who are interested should contact the Parks Department for further information.

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Congratulations to Janelle McManus, the Rockaway resident who stars for Bishop Kearney's girl’s basketball team. She was recently named the Daily News Athlete of the Week when she scored seven points in 5.8 seconds to pull her team to a 77-76 win over Bishop Loughlin. She scored 42 points in that game. In the other two games in the same tournament, McManus scored 46 points, pulled down 24 rebounds and had 15 assists.

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I have often said that the city council is a waste of time and money, good only for self-aggrandizement and for naming streets. Now comes the proof. The council recently had a hot debate on whether or not to condemn John Rocker. First of all, what he did was stupid, but he had the right to say whatever he wants. Secondly, nobody cares any more and third, the event happened weeks ago and everybody had already made the decision that he was stupid. These men and women are poster boys and girls for term limits.

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I notice that Norman Siegel, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is at it again. He wants to force cops to live in the city. How about the civil liberties of cops to live where they feel most comfortable and where their kids can grow without gunfire? Siegel obviously hates cops and wants to see them incapable of doing their difficult job. That is why, in New York City, ACLU now stands for "All Criminals Love Us." Every time I get a mailing asking me to join the organization, I shred it as quickly as possible so that it does not desecrate my apartment. I once liked the organization and was a member in college, but now it has become anathema to all that it used to stand for and has become a cop-baiting group plain and simple. Norman has become a caricature for that hatred. Once, when I was shooting pictures of one of Lew Simon’s jaunts over the Cross Bay Bridge in protest of the tolls, I saw Siegel walking with the group. He was wearing a yellow armband that said "Official Observer – ACLU. When I laughed at his armband and said that Rockaway was no Banana Republic that needed an official observer, he told me that he was there to stop the cops from rioting and beating the marchers. Please, Norm, in the 100 Precinct?

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That’s it for this week. Stay warm, have a good week and safe home. Remember to send comments and complaints to Newsie42@aol.com. See you next week.

 

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