2000-05-13 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The New York Times has taken another shot at Rockaway in an article on surfing, one of our strong suits. Read this and see what the Paper of Record thinks of Rockaway. "He needs to make a quick trip to the hardware store on 116 street to get some sandpaper for the final touches on a Dakota board (surfboard). It’s future rider will pick it up at his home soon. The center of Rockaway Park, a community of about 20,000 in Far Rockaway, is stark and utilitarian. A couple of disheveled men in hooded sweatshirts stand in front of the Pickles and Pies market holding bottles in brown paper bags. Signs hanging from the lampposts depict an animated grinning sperm whale above the phrase ‘Rockaway – a whale of a town.’ Underneath one, laborers clutch their white helmets and talk with the police. A woman pushes a metal basket filled with neatly folded laundry and mutters to herself. Apart from some babies in strollers, there are no children to be seen. Elderly people stroll from the many nursing homes and slowly move along the sidewalk. The last thing on anybody’s mind here is surfing." Carl Fiedmann wrote the piece and I think that the Chamber of Commerce should invite him to Beach 116 street on a hot summer afternoon. His description angers me because it is not a true picture of the street. The words he uses are designed to show a Rockaway that does not exist and both he and the New York Times should be ashamed of themselves for defaming a street and a community in that way.

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In last week’s column I wrote that Audrey Pheffer refused to sign the pledge that she would not accept more than $25 in gifts from lobbyists any longer. Since I wrote that piece, Audrey has finally decided to sign on to campaign money reform. The word of her signing came to me from the Rockaway Coalition for Integrity in Government. That is one group that is going to be very busy and very frustrated. In any case, I am glad that Audrey has stopped her waffling and signed the pledge. I offer her congratulations. Now, if she would only move on the teacher assault bill.

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Those of you who miss the "right turn on red light" sign that was once posted at the entrance to the Waldbaum’s shopping center, take heart. According to Congressman Tony Weiner (who, by the way, visited the shopping center last Sunday and actually spoke with residents), the sign will be back within a week or so. Lew (I did it myself) Simon also tells me that he got the job done with a call to DOT. In any case, the sign blew down in a recent wind storm but will be back shortly. Until then, you make the turn at your own peril.

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I really thought that Floyd Flake would be our first Black Republican mayor. I guess that it is not to be because Flake, who runs one of the largest parochial schools in the area, recently took on the presidency of a company that runs both charter schools and entire school systems. Flake was the dean of students at Boston University and an administrator at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He has been one of the major proponents of giving public money to private interests, including parochial schools. I like Floyd and I wish him well. He says that he wants to be "very aggressive in helping public education." I hope that he is not stretching the truth one more time. He did little (make that nothing) for Rockaway during his tenure as our representative. Let’s hope he does more as a private administrator of public funds.

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I have heard teachers tell their sons and daughters not to become New York City school teachers. They don’t want their kids to come into a system where teachers are shown no respect either by the kids or by the administrators. Why then, is there something wrong with the police union’s ads that effectively tell people not to become cops because of the high risk, the low pay and the contempt of the community that the NYPD seeks to serve? One cop who told a perspective applicant (who turned out to be an IAB operative) to apply to the fire department instead is in danger of losing his job. He should not, because he was telling the truth. If the bosses and the city bureaucrats do not like it, it is too bad. He spoke his mind and he had a right to speak his mind. Until city workers are paid what they are worth and are shown some respect by their bosses and the people they serve, it is not necessarily bad advice not to get into the business. By the way, despite $10 million bucks spent on recruitment, the PD fell far short of its quota of applicants. One has only to look at the headlines and at the pay of Nassau cops to understand why.

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If you want to see baseball played as it was on the "Field of Dreams," go to watch the Queens Kings play at St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows. You can even watch the team play the Staten Island Yankees. Tickets behind home plate go for $10, as do the tickets behind first base. The third base tickets are cheaper, costing you a whopping $7. You can purchase a 10 game package for $70 and be guaranteed to see all of the Queens – Staten Island games. The team, by the way, is affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not major league, and it is not even AAA or AA, but the games are fun and it is a chance to get out to see a ball game without mortgaging your home.

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The people who want to see the U.S Navy out of Vieques have no idea what that means. It is fine to play a game of political correctness and force the Navy out, but when war comes again (as it always does), the lives of the men and women who fly jet fighters and bombers will be put in grave jeopardy if they cannot practice with live ordinance. And, the only place to do that on the east coast is Vieques. I was actually there for a couple of days back in the early 1960’s. A flight of AD-1 Skyraiders was practicing dropping live ordinance on the spit of land called "Fungi Bowl" by the pilots. One flight leader got too low on his drop and blew the next pilot diving on the target out of the air. I was part of the team that did the line of duty investigation at the site and later at the "green board" where the pilot who dropped the bomb was "asked" to leave the service for his own good. Pilots need to practice if they are to go to war. They need a place like Vieques and that has been the place for forty years. You can push us out, but people will die because of it. That is something that political correctness should not change.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to Newsie42@aol.com or to hschwach@ msn.com. Have a good week and safe home.

 


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