2000-08-05 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter
A Festive Failte To Councilman Dear!

Although we had never met before, I was rather looking forward to the occasion of meeting Councilman Noah Dear, who will be challenging Congressman Anthony Weiner in the Congressional race on September 12. Oh indeed, I've heard Noach Dear speak at civic meetings about pertinent issues, such as transportation, a committee which he chairs, over the past several years; however it always seemed rather odd to me that a councilman who represented another district would be interested in and take on particular causes that were germane to Rockaway. After all, it is the usual norm that elected officials stay in their own backyards, that is when they remember where it is. It just seemed strange that one who represented another district would take on our concerns and actually care enough to come here. Pure skepticism? Perhaps. After awhile, the enthusiastic attitude recedes into, "heard one, heard them all"! So much so that when a politician with decent intentions really comes along, I find myself reluctantly listening and finishing their sentences, with all the well song lyrics and adjectives, before they can utter the words. If I hear Rockaway referred to as a "tarnished jewel" that needs to be "polished" one more time, I will absolutely scream! If Rockaway's looking for a good cleaning lady who does windows and polishes silver, I'll recommend and endorse mine! Pardon the pun; but perhaps there's an appropriate analogy here! I mean, nobody knows better the work that needs to be done in Rockaway than the Rockaway people themselves. When we elect a politician to represent us and negotiate the services we receive and are entitled to, we are in fact hiring that politician, with our vote, to do a job. Just as you would hire a tradesman to do work or a housekeeper to clean your home, you would undoubtedly fire them if they just stood around telling you, while you paid them, that your home is filthy, neglected, and in dire need of repair! After a while you find yourself either accepting the compromise of mediocrity or you take on the task and pick up the rag yourself; thus all the numerous civic associations!

Having been a "ra ra" girl cheerleading for various causes and politicians whom I've truly believed in, I can understand how one could become disengaged and discouraged by the political process in general. However, we must continue to be interested, open and "interview" and "hire" qualified people for these jobs. Stepping up to the plate in this congressional race is Councilman Noach Dear. We met at the Irish Festival last week; and since I didn't really know enough about him or his record to pitch an opinion, I thought I would tag along with him and feel the pulse of the crowd. Although I am a registered Republican and Dear is a Democrat, I was most interested in his conservative stance on the issues. We met up with Belle Harbor resident Dr. Pacifico who expressed concern over the issue of accessibility. As chairman of the Transportation Committee, Councilman Dear's efforts have been extremely relevant. Taking on the vital task of making travel under the El safer for drivers as well as pedestrians, Dear was responsible for the restructuring of the Rockaway Freeway, which had for years been horrifically referred to as the "deathway". His efforts as chair of the Transportation Committee have resulted in one third fewer accidents, and there has not been a single fatality since its redesign. He has also been responsible for our receiving a newer fleet of Green Line buses that are more environmentally efficient.

Rockaway Action Committee President Harold Rochelle joined our conversation and expressed a need for private state-of-the-art ferry transportation that would take commuters to Manhattan in half the time of conventional, and often dangerous, public transportation.

Another issue that is being adamantly raised by many locals is the recent approval of Congress to potentially allow an additional 700 more flights to fly over our airspace; and the fact that there have been several disasters out of J.F.K in recent years may indicate that our system is perhaps antiquated. Until we approve more fights in and out of J.F.K., perhaps we need to address environmental and safety concerns.

The always-vocal activist Liz Sulik was meandering around the crafts section with Rockaway Artists Alliance President Geoff Rawling. Knowing Liz and the issues that are dear to her, I invited her to chime in and speak with Councilman Dear on his stance on coastal replenishment and restoration. Liz emphasized that unlike Long Island's east end and other coastal areas around the United States, we are one of the few that is also a heavily populated urban area; however, when she went to Washington to lobby for federal money for beach replenishment, she was amazed that she, along with Ingrid Ain, president of Adopt-A-Dune, were the only representatives who attended from the five boroughs of the city! And she spoke to Dear of the contemptuous attitude in the Clinton Administration toward beach restoration. The notion that only the "rich", a small piece of the voting pie, can simply move and rebuild does not apply to Rockaway, where we have a large sub-poverty culture with thousands living in high-rise buildings on the oceanfront. With a vastly deteriorating and fragile foundation, these residents are directly impacted.

Councilman Dear will continue to travel through out our community in the weeks ahead. Walk up to him, introduce yourself, and "interview" him! You will assess him to be most gracious and eager to learn more about how to better serve us if elected to Congress.

***Happy 29 years of wedded bliss to my good friends Barbara and Dennis Morris!

***While dining at the Snug Harbor for the best corned beef and cabbage after the festival, we ran into Pat Keane, who told us how well his niece Ann is doing. Ann was hit by a car while crossing Beach Channel drive with her family after celebrating her 16th birthday at Tavern On The Bay. Her family is so grateful for the generosity and prayers of the community.

***A miraculous achievement for one of our own Rockawayites. Owen Baxter's new CD, featuring his new song "Peace At Last", is on sale at Tower Records, Lincoln Center at 1961 Broadway at 66 street, and Tower Records Trump Towers located at 5th avenue and 56 street. Also at Colony Records, 1619 Broadway at
49 street. You may also visit Owen's site on the web at OwenBaxter.itgo.com. You can also hear samples of his music by visiting amazon.com and CDNOW.com! Watch weekly for additional exciting locations and please pick one up. You may be the maker of a Rockaway star!


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