2000-08-26 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

I was speaking last Sunday with one of the residents of the building that I live in about the festivals and shows that were taking place that day – the Beach 129 Street Fair and the RMAC Irish music festival. She pointed out that she would love to go to many of the events that Rockaway hosts in the summer, but that it was hard for her to do so because she could not move her car for fear of losing her parking space. This is just another example of why we need to find a way to implement "resident only" parking on the west end during the summer rather than continue to use a "the hell with everyone else but the homeowners who have driveways" policy that is in effect at present. If one of the pols who is running for office really wants my vote, he or she can push for resident only parking utilizing the "EZ-Pass" that most Rockaway cars already sport.

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Anthony Weiner has proven once again that few politicians are leaders and that all politicians are in the game just to get votes. Weiner told a gathering in Roxbury that the Doppler radar would not be repaired until his lawsuit against siting it in a federal park is heard. The radar is badly needed and I believe that Weiner is opposed to it simply because a number of his uninformed constituents are opposed to it. That is not the definition of "leadership," Tony. I have not been able to find one valid study that shows that the radar can be dangerous to anybody’s health. You can find, of course, studies on the web that show that the Doppler radar was brought from space by aliens whose prime mission is to microwave humans so that they can be served for dinner (remember The Twilight Zone’s "To Serve Mankind?). Lew Simon seems to subscribe to a variation of that theory. If Tony or Lew can show me a valid study that shows that the radar is dangerous, I will apologize to them, but I don’t think that either can do it. Weiner’s contention that the radar is unsightly and that it has no place in a national park is also disingenuous. The golf ball is actually pleasing to the eye and it is sited on a piece of property that was never part of the park and that has always been utilized for aviation-related activities. This seems to me to be the beacon school controversy all over again.

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Adhering to the restriction that one should never discuss religion or politics, I want to comment on a letter that I got at The Wave this week. John Brenni was responding to my continued comments on Bush’s proclamation of "Jesus Day" in Texas and my continuing belief that the Constitution’s injunction on the separation of Church and State is an absolute one. Brenni writes, "In the last two editions of The Wave you have offended me with your anti-Jesus venom. First we hear that you had to suffer through Catholic and Protestant sermons on the P.A. while in the Navy, and now you put down Governor Bush proclaiming Jesus Day in Texas...Like it or not, Mr. Schwach, Christianity is the largest religion in the U.S.A. Y’shus is king of kings, lord of lords." I would have to respond to John’s letter by saying that I understand that Christianity is the major religion in America and that is the point. Many of those who wrote and signed the Constitution understood that a majority religion riding roughshod over all the other religions in a nation was the problem. Many came to the New World because the religions in their home nations forced those who did not believe to either convert, lead second class lives or to die. They did not want that to happen in America. The wall of separation has to be a very real one. Political leaders cannot go around promoting one religion over others. Did Bush proclaim a "Mohammed Day," or a "Moses Day?" True historians know that more people have died in the name of religion than for any other reason and continue to do so. The Founding Fathers did not want that for America. I am not "anti-Jesus," but rather pro-Constitution. I hope, John, that you understand the difference and hope that you continue to enjoy my column each week.

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It has been seven years since the Golden Venture tried to dock on the beach here in Rockaway and gave the peninsula some national prominence. There are some who would say that both the ship and the peninsula have gone down hill from there. Rockaway is experiencing something of a revival, but the Golden Venture is literally going down. The ship, which brought 290 undocumented Chinese aliens to our shores (and 500 jokes about good Chinese food coming to Rockaway) has been sold to the city of Boca Raton, Florida. The city will sink the ship in 70 feet of water to make it an artificial reef that will attract fish. Why didn’t we think of that?

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I was driving north of the Marine Parkway bridge last week and I marveled at how great the bike path and its stopping-off points looked, with benches and other amenities. I don’t ride regularly, but if I did, I would certainly use a bike path such as that one. Then I read that some "nature lovers" were worried about the building of a similar bike path along Cross Bay boulevard. The path along Flatbush Avenue is 16 feet wide. The path along Cross Bay would be only 10 feet wide and would go no more than nine feet into the property owned by Gateway National Park and its wildlife preserve. The smaller path is in response to environmental concerns last time around. The compromise has not pleased those who oppose the plan, however. "This is a place that really needs to be protected for all New Yorkers," says a spokesperson for the Audibon Society (an organization that has protected Dubos Point to the point that it has become harmful to residents). Al Ott, the president of the Save Our Sanctuary (SOS) Committee (isn’t that cute), complains that several trees will have to be removed to make way for the path. Oh, well, that kills it for me! The NPS says that the trees will be replaced and that it will be regrown within five years. "Does it make sense to destroy the refuge for another bike path?" Ott asks. My answer to him would be that destroying several trees does not destroy the refuge and that it is worth several trees to have a facility such as the bike path on Flatbush.

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According to press reports (I would not go), Mark Green could not answer most of the questions asked to him by Rockaway residents at a "town hall" meeting last week. That does not surprise me since he has never shown any interest at all in Rockaway in all of the years he was in his various city offices. He is interested now only because he will run for mayor in the next election and he wants our votes. If you really want to know why Rockaway has the problems that it does, take a look at the list of our local politicians and representatives that showed up at the meeting. They included Juanita Watkins, Malcolm Smith, Pauline Cummings, Lew Simon and Frank Gulluscio (in case you never heard of Frank, he is a Democratic district leader and was the president of the suspended District 27 school board a number of years ago). Just listing their names with the notation that they represent us should be enough to bring shudders to any voter.

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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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