2000-08-12 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

In last week’s column I wrote about the fact that Anthony Weiner had voted against the bill that would have provided a rise in veteran’s pensions. I questioned why he had done that, and now I know. That bill was an appropriations bill that provided funds for many agencies, among them the Veteran’s Administration (VA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The bill increased VA benefits at the same time it cut $100 million from HUD (including $78 million for housing for the disabled) and $2.6 billion from FEMA. That FEMA money might come in handy some day should that 100-year storm that Emil Lucev is always predicting eventually hit the peninsula. In any case, Weiner was right to vote against the appropriations bill and he assures me that he is working in other areas to increase veteran’s benefits and pensions.

* * * * *

A Rockaway icon has gone from us. Jesse Plaxen, community activist and travel agent to generations of Rockaway residents, passed away last week at the age of 89. Had he lived, he and his wife Rose would have been married 66 years next month. Jesse was a Community Board 14 member for so long that many of the present members were not born yet when he first took his seat on the board. He was very active in the Bayswater community and in the synagogue. My connection to him, however, is more personal. He was my godfather, a good friend of my father. I grew up with his son, Barry on Dune street. My first memories of him are tied to his soda stand on the beach. When I was just five or six years old, in the years just following WW II, I stood on the beach in front of his stand with a pail nailed to a long stick. People walking on the boardwalk would yell down that they wanted a cold soda and I would get it, put it in the pail and pass it up to them. They would then put the money into the pail and I would bring it to Jesse. I watched when they moved his house (literally trucked it away) from Dune street to Camp road to make way for Seagirt boulevard. He was the one who got me my plane tickets when I flew up from Jacksonville (Florida) when I had weekend liberty from my ship. I have many fond memories of Jesse and his family. He will be missed.

* * * * *

Some of you who tried to access the proclamation issued by George Bush in Texas could not do so because that particular month’s proclamations were no longer on line. Bush issued a state proclamation declaring June 10 to be "Jesus Day" in Texas. The proclamation begins: "Throughout the world, people of all religions recognize Jesus Christ as an example of love, compassion, sacrifice and service…he has provided moral leadership that continues to inspire countless men women and children today." Jewish groups and others were rightly incensed. "The proclamation is an egregious and blatant violation of the spirit of the First Amendment," said a spokesperson for the American Jewish Congress. "The assumption is that Christianity is the norm in America and that Jews and other minorities are here essentially as guests at the sufferance of our hosts, which is an uncomfortable situation to be in." In any case, should a man who wants to be the president of us all declare a day to be "Jesus Day?" I do not think so. Not all Texans, and certainly not all of the people outside of Texas, recognize the "moral leadership" or the "sacrifice" of Jesus that are central to the Christian religion. We should not have a president who thinks that we do.

* * * * *

I think that it is funny that School Chancellor Harold Levy is quickly backpedaling on his offer to parochial school teachers to take a big raise and join the city system. Levy effectively offered a $9 thousand bonus to experienced parochial and private school teachers who roll over to the city system. Those who took the offer would have to be state certified and have at least seven years experience. The Archdiocese then attacked Levy for tempting their lower-paid teachers to break their contracts and work for the city. The head of the parochial teacher’s union then attacked the Archdiocese for paying such low salaries that its teachers would be tempted. "At the bargaining table, they always tell us quality education may be too rich for out blood," the union leader said. "If teachers want to leave, let them leave." A parochial school teacher with seven years experience earns less than $32 thousand dollars, about what a starting city teacher earns. A city teacher with the same experience earns in excess of $45 thousand. A spokesman for the Archdiocese said that tuition costs would have to be increased tremendously should the parochial schools have to pay its teachers on parity with the city. A spokesperson for the New York State Association of Independent Schools said, "Most people teach in private schools because of the quality of their professional life. You teach fewer students, you have smaller classes and, on the whole, you teach highly motivated students." He added that "virtually none of the 7,000 teachers in the association’s schools are certified and therefore they would not be qualified to teach in the city." That must be a comfort to the parents of the students they do teach. In any case, Levy backed off, saying that he did not want to "poach" parochial school teachers who already had contracts with their schools. Stay tuned. It might be a rocky ride.

* * * * *

I do not usually pass on warnings that I get on the Internet, because most of them turn out to be bubameisers, but this one sounds legitimate, so I will pass it on. My correspondent says that he got a call at home from an individual claiming to be an AT&T tech rep who was conducting a test of the phone line. He asked that the correspondent dial "9" then "0" and then the pound sign. The correspondent was suspicious and refused. He then contacted the telephone company and was told that dialing "90#" would give the person at the other end of the phone access to his phone line and could then be used to make calls anywhere in the world. If you get such a call, see if you can find the number the call came from (Called ID or *69) and then let the telephone company know.

* * * * *

I was shocked by the news that Al Gore had chosen Joe Lieberman as his running mate. At first, I thought it was a political "trial balloon" that floated to see what the reaction to the announcement would be, but the pundits assured us all day long that it was for real. I do not think that the nation as a whole will vote for a Jew to be "a heartbeat away from the presidency." Something, however, did bother me and does bear talking about. Democratic Party chief reportedly said, "I don’t think that anyone can calculate the effect of having a Jew on the ticket. If Joe Lieberman were an Episcopalian, he would a slam dunk." Now, I understand what he was saying, but I do not like the way he said it or what the reaction was to his statement. Can you imagine the Republican leader saying, "If Colin Powell were not Black, he would be a slam dunk?" The hue and cry would be heard from Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson. Martin Luther King would spin in his grave. Yet, there was no reaction to Ed Rendell’s statement about Lieberman being a Jew. One can only wonder why.

* * * * *

There are others, like questions bouncing around the nation. John Leo, a columnist for the Daily News, asked some of them in a recent column: "Why is there a belief that all-Black college dorms are progressive, but all-White dorms are racist." "Why is there a 25-year yawning over a feminist’s ban on males in her classroom while a male professor who tried to bar females from his class would be beaten into submission in a day?" "Why is killing whales a social horror except when that killing is conducted by oppressed Indians?" I guess that those are all questions without answers.

* * * * *

For years, insurance companies explained to Queens residents that our payments from car insurance were among the highest in the nation because of the rate of car theft in the borough and the high cost of repairs. Then the car theft rate began to drop each year while insurance costs continued to rise. We were then told that the high cost of insurance was never due to the theft rate, but because of the high cost of accidents. Rates will rise again this year – by about four percent. "It almost defies gravity that theft rates have declined as much as they have and insurance stays as high as it does," says Senator Chuck Schumer. "It makes you wonder if there is any justice or competition in this market." The city recently sued several major insurance companies to lower their prices, but the suit got nowhere. It would be interesting to see what would happen if replacement costs and repair costs went down. What would the insurance industry have to blame high costs on in that case? I am sure they would find something.

* * * * *

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

 


Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History

 

 

Check Out News Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Riding the Wave with Mark Healey on BlogTalkRadio