2000-08-19 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

I have written in this space in previous columns that Newsday often goes out of its way to vilify city workers – especially cops and teachers. More proof came this week with an incident in Brooklyn. One cop, responding to information that a man had a cache of weapons in his house, was shot. Other cops responded and there was a six-hour standoff before the shooter decided to bolt and shot four other cops in his attempt to escape. Police returned fire and killed the shooter. How did the daily papers treat the story? The New York Post banner headline on page one was: "4 Cops Shot." The Daily News used the same headline, with slightly smaller type. The New York Times had a small front page headline that stated: "Brooklyn Gunman Wounds 4 Officers Before Being Slain." The Newsday headline stated: "Cops Kill Gunman." While the other heads speak of shot cops, the Newsday head speaks instead of a dead gunman. Perhaps the difference between the headlines is too subtle for most, but it’s connotation is that the cops did something wrong. It is representative of the paper’s editorial policy and everybody should understand the bias that underlies the headline.

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I am looking forward to the Viking Fest scheduled for the Labor Day weekend. Liz Sulik, the event coordinator for the peninsula portion of the weekend, assures me that it is going to be fun for all. There are many great activities planned for Sunday, September 3. The conclusion of the day will be the fireworks show that was postponed because of bad weather back at the beginning of August. One strange thing happened, however. The Fire Department quickly agreed to provide a fireboat to shoot water over the Viking ships as they enter the bay. There is no cost for that, but the coordinators were asked to pay for the food coloring that would provide for multi-colored water. Just seems strange since food coloring is so cheap to begin with. By the way, Stu, I did not mean to disparage you or your commitment to the community. I will be there, wearing my horned helmet and carrying my camera instead of my battle-ax. Just call me Hagar.

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My wife and I were having lunch at Last Stop last week when our friends, Barbara Morris (West End Realty) and her husband Dennis, came in and joined us. I have been watching my wife eat mustard with her french fries for the past 36 years, but I was surprised that Barbara used mustard with hers as well. Turns out that both began the habit when they were in grade school at PS 42 right here in Rockaway. This was the early 1950’s and Bernies was on one side of Beach Channel drive nearby the school and Mary’s was on the other. Bernies served at lunchtime a brown paper bag filled with fries and a few globs of mustard. Mary’s was famous for its Breyers ice cream. I wonder how many other old Rockaway hands still use mustard with their fries because they started that way at Bernies?

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At first, I thought that somebody had stolen the ball that makes up the Doppler Radar unit at Floyd Bennett Field. One day it was there, the next day it stormed and then it was gone. Some pundit suggested that Tony Weiner and Lew Simon had used a giant golf club, called "Fore," and drove it into the bay. The fact is, however, the storm dislodged the radar unit from its tower and it will soon be put back in place. Actually, it is not very funny, because the radar is badly needed during the thunderstorm season by the planes landing at both JFK and LaGuardia airports. The Doppler radar is the only radar that can "read" the wind speed and wind direction changes in those massive storms.

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There is more proof that "you can run, but you can’t hide." The Times Herald Record, published in Newburgh (New York), recently ran a letter by the vice president of Sane Aviation for Everybody (SAFE). Why am I mentioning it in The Wave? Because the vice president of SAFE is nobody but Bill Mulchay, who once posited the idea of closing down JFK airport to safeguard the gulls who were being hit by high-performance aircraft. In any case, Mulchay writes the following in response to a plan to increase cargo flights into Stewart Airport: "I moved to the Hudson Valley two years ago to escape from JFK Airport noise when the airport decided to change its nighttime route to include my community. I eventually (after a year and a half) sold my house and took a $10,000 loss – and was happy to get it. Now I see that the same destruction of a region’s environment, quality of life and property values, because of airport expansion is happening here." Bill would probably be happy to know that his old house in Rockaway Park is probably worth $20,000 more now than when he sold it two years ago. I know that Bill hates airports. I don’t want to see him driven out of New Paltz like he was driven out of Rockaway, but perhaps he should move to the deserts of New Mexico. I hear there are no airports in that area—except for perhaps Area 51.

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The beaches in Lido Beach and Long Beach were closed early in August because more than 50 needles were found scattered along the beachfront. Local officials thought that the needles might have come from "overflowing New York City sewers," but found no proof. It is surprising that none of the medical waste floated westward to our beaches, and it would have been highly unlikely for the waste to flow out of our sewers and move eastward, against the tidal flow. It’s just another Nassau County case of "blame it on the city."

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As more and more people find out about George Bush’s "Jesus Day Proclamation," his spinmasters are trying to make it look as if the proclamation was "business as usual." One spokesperson told a weekly magazine, "…the governor signs thousands of such proclamations, recognizing everything from the Holocaust Remembrance Day to Fire Safety Day." Does Bush or his minions really believe that a public figure declaring "Jesus Day" is the same thing as that public figure declaring Fire Safety Day? I can’t believe it, and I certainly would not want a person who believed that to be the next president.

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More than 120 kids are winding up the summer at the Beacon Program at MS 210 (on the mainland). The program was oversubscribed because it ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and included meals and two trips a week. Why do I mention that fact? Because that program was set to be housed in Rockaway, at JHS 180. It was killed by a small group of people who went to Al Stabile and told him that the community did not want it. The program was then moved to MS 210. Despite the good that those people might have done since, they still killed a program that would have been a boon to countless Rockaway families because they personally did not want it. Are you listening, Al? Are you listening, Tony? Five people do not make a community.

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Chancellor Levy has ordered the District 29 school board to come up with more nominees for superintendent, rejecting Rockaway resident Rhia Warren, who the board wanted for the job. "I have determined to reject Ms. Warren," the chancellor said in a letter to the school board president. "Her educational, managerial and administrative abilities, while notable, are not what the district needs at this time." "Additionally," he said, "she has not served in a district-wide capacity, which gives me concern about her ability to assume and delegate responsibility." What bologna. Warren is a highly successful middle school principal and has been for a number of years. The man who Levy put into the job in an acting position and now wants full-time had three years as a substitute teacher and was then made a director of an alternative school. He has far less experience than Warren. That man, Michael Johnson, was not one of the five finalists chosen by the parent committee. There are rumors that Warren will sue and she is right if she does so. This is blatant politics and Levy stands right in the middle of the political mess.

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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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