2000-07-29 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

Chalk one up for the kids. The mayor has allowed Councilman Al Stabile to announce that the city will turn over the athletic field in Broad Channel to the Broad Channel Athletic Club. I don’t really care who takes credit for it, as long as it becomes a done deal. The word is that the parking lot, coveted by outside organizations, will be a part of the deal and that is equally good news. For once, the right thing happens for the kids.

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There are a number of questions that are raised by the PS 114 controversy quite aside from the main question, which is whether school superintendent Matt Bromme did a job on the school’s parents by appointing "their" principal candidates to other schools. First of all, one might ask, where are all the viable candidates? The same five candidates were the finalists at a number of schools, both inside and outside the district. The fact that the same candidates appear over and over again for all of the openings is a serious indictment of the system as a whole. If it cannot generate a pool of qualified candidates for supervisory jobs, then what is the system doing wrong? Is it the pay? Is it the working conditions? Is it the district’s reputation and the fact that word is getting around that this is a district that may not promote from within? A school such as PS 114 should draw hundreds of candidates. At one time, it did. Now, it draws perhaps 40 or so applications. Other schools in Rockaway generally draw so few candidates that the C-30 process has to be put on hold while the board rounds up more candidates. Secondly, the controversy shows the weakness in the new Schools Governance Law that took effect a relatively short time ago. The problem there was that the nine-member school boards were sometimes corrupt. Ours was not, but some were. Now, instead of nine people making the decision, you have one. That does not sound like a solution to me. One writer to the paper wanted to know why the school board members did nothing to protect PS 114. The answer to that is simple: The school board no longer has any control over appointments, nor much of anything else. Not one member of the school board was allowed to sit on the C-30 Committee nor were community school board members allowed to review that committee’s decision. It had no input at all. The C-30 Committee proposed and the community superintendent deposes. Community control is gone and probably for good. Why? You’ll have to ask your state legislators. They’re the ones who wrote the bill and they’re the ones who pushed it through even though the community could not have cared less. Our politicians should now revisit what they wrought and look at the new law in light of the things that have happened since it was passed.

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The city and the feds are in a battle over spraying wetland areas to combat the West Nile Virus and the mosquitoes that carry the disease. According to the ProMed website, the feds have given the city permission to spray federal land in Staten Island, but not the area around Jamaica Bay. According to the reliable site, "The National Park Service says it isn’t against the city spraying on Staten Island, but it says that the salt marshes in Jamaica Bay, Queens are off limits because it isn’t a natural breeding ground for the virus-carrying mosquitoes." The city says otherwise. "We’re facing the possibility of an outbreak of West Nile virus, which has the potential to end life…so we feel that we would like the federal and state governments to give a reconsideration to the balance in order to stem the tide of what might be a very unacceptable outbreak," the city’s health commissioner says. "We admit that we might kill some plants and wildlife, but people's lives should come first."

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Those who are young and those who are young at heart should gear up for the fifth annual Sand Castle contest sponsored by West End Realty. Barbara Morris, one of the really good Rockaway people, will once again offer a child-friendly activity on the day of the Night Out Against Crime, August 1, 2000. The sand castle contest will once again take place on the beachfront at Beach 116 street. Final registration begins at 12 noon. There are three categories: Kids from 1-8 (with parents), kids 8-13 (without parents) and adults of any age. Nighttime activities begin at 6 p.m. at the Beach Club and fireworks will begin at 9 p.m.

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People move to Rockaway for the beach. They want to walk down to the beach on the block they live on and spend a nice beach day with their friends and neighbors. It is easy for the Parks Department to say, as it has that "it is a matter of walking a few blocks" to beaches that are open during the weekdays. Ordinarily, I would agree that a few blocks walk is no big thing, but this is the beach were talking about – kids, wagons, chairs, umbrellas, food, books, toys, suntan lotion and lots more. The least the Parks Department could do is hire enough people so that all of our beaches could be open all week long during the summer. If that is too much to ask, then we should ask for a new Parks Department. We never had this problem when Walter Ward was our councilman and the chair of the Parks Committee. Hey, Al, where are you when we need you?

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The Rock N’ Roll Concert sponsored by the RMAC at Fort Tilden last Sunday was another reminder of how great things can be in Rockaway during the summer months. Hundreds of people showed up for the free concert, the weather was beautiful and it was a joy to see the kids running around on the grass, enjoying themselves. The music was great (particularly Kenny Vance and the Planotones), the company was great and many brought great food to complement the rest. It was a great night. A week from Sunday, the L.I Pops will perform and that is usually my favorite concert of the summer. Don’t miss it.

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I don’t like to sound like a naysayer, and I like Viking Ships as much as the next guy (I saw the movie, "The Vikings" with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis a dozen times when I was a kid), but Stuart Mirsky’s story in last week’s Wave sounded a little like extortion. "There remains a serious possibility that the ships will have to pass the peninsula by," Mirsky says. "The site and nature of the event have yet to be finalized." He envisions some sort of "Viking Festival," on Beach 116 street, sponsored and funded by Rockaway businesses and people. Without that support, he says, the ships will go elsewhere. "The crews are looking for some sort of celebration," he goes on, "and they would need to be provided with food and refreshments." I am not so sure that some Viking wool is not being pulled over our eyes by Mirsky and his Viking hordes.

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I found another reason not to vote for George W. Bush. Take a look at his statement on separation of church and state that can be found on the Internet at www.governor.state.tx.us /proclamations/May00/500Jesus.html

Perhaps Bush believed that his proclamation would be read only by his Texas constituents, most of who probably agree with what he had to say on the site, but one has to wonder if he has ever heard of a document called the U.S. Constitution.

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

 

 

 


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