2000-05-20 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The new muni-meters are a pain in the neck when they work, but they are even worse when they do not. Last week I did not find one working meter between the firehouse and Rockaway Beach boulevard. That makes three – count ‘em, three – meters that were inoperable. There was a transit RMP parked in front of Dunkin Donuts and I asked them to reach out to DOT and to tell them and also to let the 100 Precinct know that people could not get a ticket if they wanted to. Let’s get it right before the summer, people, or there are going to be a lot of angry parkers on the West End.

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We might be all excited about the prospect of a ferry that would take us to Manhattan each day, but those who live in Manhattan do not want the ferry terminals on their end in their neighborhoods. A significant fight is brewing over placing the ferry landings on old piers along both the East River and the Hudson as well. They worry that the ferry landings will "change the character of their neighborhood." Now, where have I heard that before?

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I don’t care whether Rudy Giuliani fools around with several women at a time and his behavior does not effect my vote because I was not going to vote for him in the first place. There are, however, several things about the affair that bother me. First of all, I worry about the kids. Here is it, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and where is dad? Out with his "new family." That has to have an effect on the kids, and it is really wrong. Any differences he has with his wife should not be played out in public and at the expense of the kids. It is not the media who "outed" the mayor. He did it himself by openly spending time with her where journalists were sure to be found. Secondly, his peccadilloes should not be at taxpayer expense. He hired his last girlfriend to be his "communications director," a job that did not exist under previous mayors. He paid her $140,000 a year (up from the $77 thou she had been paid for doing the same job as his press secretary). Then, when his wife allegedly put her foot down in order to revive the marriage, she left and he gave her a plum job in the Tourist Bureau, which she was even less qualified for. Those who are experts in the field say that she has been a disaster in the job. He wants to play around, fine. That is between Rudy and his wife. To use taxpayer money to do it, however, is not only immoral, it is illegal.

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Most of the specific polls show that voters do not think less of Giuliani because of his affairs (57.5 percent say that it does not effect their vote). Why, then, do other polls show that Rudy’s numbers are slipping? 42.3 percent of the voters say they would now vote for Hillary, while 39.6 percent say that they would vote for Rudy. It can only harm him with religious voters and with upstate voters who might not be as "urbane" as we New Yorkers.

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The Parks Department has been embroiled in a number of controversies in Rockaway over the past few years. There was the shakedown of property owners on the beachfront who had to donate money to the Parks Foundation in order to get work done. Then, there was the famous "now you see them, now you don’t" sign controversy. Last year we had the "case of the missing garbage cans." That one still goes on. Now, we have a new one. The Parks Department blew the Rockaway Ocean Run and they blew it big time. Not only did they fail to clean the boardwalk and the beach on the race route, but they argued over opening the bathrooms on Beach 116 street and Beach 108 street for the runners who had to make nature’s call. Aren’t they supposed to be working for us? Shouldn’t Parks be making our lives easier, not harder? Stay tuned, the summer has not you begun. By the way, when are the garbage pails going to reappear on the boardwalk?

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Speaking of the beach, a recent court decision in Connecticut might have a big effect on Rockaway. The court ruled that Greenwich could no longer close its beaches and its beach parking to residents only. The decision said that the coastline belongs to all, not to any one entity. I am waiting for somebody, probably the ACLU, to sue on the grounds that the parking rules in Rockaway block non-residents from the beachfront. That would be a hell of a suit, and I think that the city would lose. If that happened, all of the signs would come down and all bets would be off. It is imperative that our leaders come up with a rational plan to address the problem before the court comes up with a plan that none of us will like.

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One of the reasons that Rockaway seems to have so much trouble deciding on a strategy for economic development on the peninsula is that the two ends of Rockaway are so different and have much different needs. On the east end and in the center there is little disposable income to be spent. That income is drawn to dollar stores and to less expensive shops. On the west end there is lots of disposable income but no place on the peninsula to spend it. Try buying a book in Rockaway, a camera, a refrigerator, men’s clothing, decent shoes, a car. On the other hand, you can get lots of donuts and get your nails done and get lots of Chinese food. Very few people who have the money to do so shop in Rockaway. Those who have some cash at the east end go to Nassau County and those who have some cash at the west end go to Brooklyn. I still think that the Arverne Urban Renewal Area would be a great site for a retail and wholesale mall such as Tanger in Riverhead. Nobody, however, seems to agree with me.

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The last school board meeting of the school year will be held at MS 180 on Thursday, June 19. It would be the right time for Rockaway residents to let the school board know that they want the school renamed for Jerry Dever, the school’s guidance counselor, who died after an illness. Those who want to speak out on the topic have to call the district office and let them know that they want to speak about the school renaming. If enough Rockaway people turn out, perhaps the name change will become a reality.

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Adam Petty grew up loving and living racing fast cars. Petty, just 19, dies two weeks ago when the Busch Grand National car he was driving at 130 miles an hour crashed at the Loudon, New Hampshire raceway. Petty’s great-grandfather, Lee Petty, was one of the original racers on the NASCAR circuit and he died at age 86 just two weeks ago. Petty’s father, Richard Petty, won the NASCAR championship seven times. His father, Kyle Petty, is currently racing on the circuit. I mourn for Petty for dying too young, but at least he was doing what he loved, racing fast machines and pushing the envelope. His family, at least, would understand.

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I was glad to see that the Mets got rid of Rickey Henderson. For a ballplayer to fail to run out a hit is bad enough. To tell the media that he will continue to fail to run out hits is worse. The Mets are better off without him.

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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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