2000-08-05 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

Mark Green will be in Rockaway tomorrow (Sunday, August 6). I am not going to tell you where he is going to be, because I hope you all stay away. Green is here because he is already running for mayor. The Wave urges you to come out and let him know what you want. They want him to know that you want to improve our community. I urge you not to go, because Green will do none of those things. He does not care what you want. He does not care to improve Rockaway. He only wants to win the election. If you vote for Green, it will be the same as a vote for David Dinkins or Ed Koch. He is one with them and you must remember what they did to our city. Remember the Welfare state? Remember the rampant crime? Remember the racial battles over the Korean grocer and the racial riots? A vote for Green will bring them back again. You can go to the bank on that fact. You should stay away to show Green what you think of his candidacy and our local pols should do the same.

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The Wave’s editorial last week seemed a bit strong and anti-Weiner to some. It points out to some that, despite all the hoopla over national politics now going on in Philadelphia, it is the local races that are the real deal. We have two barn-burners going on right here in River City. The first, of course, is the Senate race between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio. The latest polls show that Lazio is ahead by about seven points (49.6 to 42 percent) statewide, but that Hillary is leading by almost 2-1 in the city. The Senatorial race has become an issue of race. The latest polls show that Lazio has the white vote (60-32 percent) while Democrat Clinton has the Black vote (87.7-8.5 percent) and the Hispanic vote (60.4-18.3 percent). By the way, in his recent run for the Senate, Chuck Schumer won with more than 90 percent of the Jewish vote. In this election, Clinton is polling only about 50 percent of that vote. She will need more to win. Nobody is quite sure what the "anybody but Hillary" vote will turn out to be on Election Day, but those votes could swing the election unless Clinton can win those voters over before November.

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The other race that will probably go right down to the wire is the House of Representatives race between the incumbent Democrat, Anthony Weiner, and his challenger (Democrat? Republican?) Noach Dear. Both men have records to run on. Weiner has seemingly recently become vulnerable on his votes over allowing more aircraft slots at the local airports and over his failure to vote for an increase in veteran’s pensions. City Councilman Dear has always seemed to me to be a man who blows with the wind, agreeing to whatever the "public" wants. He has used his position as the head of the council’s transportation committee to do some things for Rockaway, but it always seemed to me that they were done to get votes, not because they were right. We can only hope that the campaign will be run on the records of the two men. By viewing what they stand for by how they voted, we could get a better picture of whether Weiner or Dear should be representing us in Congress.

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I received a few e-mails about the short take I wrote about the religious tone of the Beach Channel High School graduation. "Ah, the village atheist speaks," one such e-mail begins. "I, too, attended the Beach Channel graduation. What I heard was a personal affirmation of a speaker’s belief that God was a force that brought him to be the person that he is. (God was not defined nor was a religious institution mentioned). What I heard from the Gospel chorus was an art form that is the archetype for the development of much of American music and a metaphor for the suffering and joy and celebration of the Black experience in this country." I would have to answer that an affirmation of the belief that God had a part in bringing the speaker to this place has no part in a public school exercise, nor does music that celebrates any one racial group in this country when others are there to enjoy the ceremony as well. When I was in the Navy, the carrier I served on had two chaplains – a Catholic chaplain and a Protestant chaplain. Every night they said a prayer on the 1MC (The ship’s loudspeaker system) to end the day. That prayer always included an exhortation to Jesus. I was personally affronted that I had to suffer (I do not use that word lightly) those prayers, not believing in their words or their exhortations. The ship, with its diverse crew, was no place to expound the viewpoint of one religion or one racial group and neither is a public school graduation.

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This whole idea of Separation of Church and State that derives from the Constitution is nothing to take lightly. It was written in by our Founding Fathers because they knew what could happen should a "State Religion" take hold in the new nation. Many of them were not far removed from the religious persecutions of Europe to want to see that happen again. I mentioned a week or so ago that George Bush had issued a proclamation making light of the Constitutional provisions and its Wall of Separation. I received e-mail from a monsignor who agrees with me that the separation is necessary. He wrote: "I surmise that the proclamation you referred to breached the Wall of Separation. Apparently, even the most savvy of politicians fall into this trap. Our junior senator from New York did when he was running for office and attended Rev. Floyd Flake’s church and was given inappropriate support. And recently Mrs. Clinton was the guest of a synagogue near her home where the wall seemed, at least to me, to have been violated. Candidate nights are an entirely different matter but to bring a candidate into a building used for worship and give the impression that he/she is being endorsed by the congregation is entirely unacceptable." I agree wholeheartedly and am glad to see that those in a position of religious authority feel the same way.

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For the past few years my favorite breakfast spot on Saturday mornings has been "The Last Stop Café." The food was always good and I could probably pick up a story or two if I listened closely enough to the conversations around me (only kidding). In any case, Freddie is moving on to become a physical education teacher and the Zamplione family has taken over the restaurant. I really want to wish Freddie and his new bride all the luck in the world and send best wishes for continued success in Last Stop to Chris Zamplione and his family.

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I guess that the Viking ships are coming to Rockaway. It seems that everybody wants to get on board the event and that is good for Rockaway. I feel better now that Liz Sulik has taken over the event for the Chamber of Commerce. She is one of the Rockaway good people and everything that she is involved with turns out to be positive for the community. I look forward to seeing Eric the Red and his cohorts enter the bay and tie up at The Wharf.

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The weather has really done a job on Rockaway this summer. According to the Parks Department, slightly more than one million people visited Rockaway beaches the first three weeks of July this year, compared with 2.25 million people last year, when the weather was hot, hot, hot. This is only the second July in the last 100 years when there was not one day where the mercury climbed above 90 degrees. I guess we can blame that on the Parks Department as well.

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It definitely was not like Baywatch. There was no T & A, no girls in thong bikinis jogging daintily down the beach. The 150 female lifeguards taking part in the 16th Annual Women’s Lifeguard Competition did it all and then some. In the pouring rain they propelled surfboats and dragged "bodies" out of the roaring surf. Twenty teams took part in the annual event held at Riis Park. Some were local, from New York City and Nassau County. Some, however, came from as far away as Florida, California and Canada. It was an event worth seeing, though few turned out to watch. Look for it next year, it is a not to miss event.

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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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