2000-09-23 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

You would think that Noach Dear would give up his hunt of the House of Representatives in light of the fact that he could not even get 30 percent of the vote in the recent Democratic primary against Tony Weiner. Dear still plans to run as both a Republican and a Conservative in the November election but neither of those parties has the juice the Democrats do and I don’t see how he can win in the face of his disastrous loss last week. The numbers devastated even Republican insiders. One person told me that they expected him to get at least 40 to 45 percent of the vote. Dear seems to believe that he can still win with a massive Republican effort in people and money, but he spent more than Weiner in the primary and it did him little good. Even The Wave’s endorsement did Dear little good. We’ll have to wait for the campaign, however, to really gear up before we can really see what the Republicans can give Dear that would give him a chance to beat the incumbent. No matter what it is, it might be a case of too little, too late.

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The word on the hardcourt is that Al McGuire, the quintessential Rockaway ball player, suffers from a blood disorder and that he has little time before he, as he puts it, "moves towards the dancing." Mike Lupica of the Daily News wrote one of the best pieces I have seen on the long-time Rockaway resident in last Sunday’s edition. According to Lupica, Al told Jimmy Breslin (a long-time friend) that he was going to get one last laugh on his friends by having "a cash bar at the wake." McGuire’s family owned a bar on Beach 108 street, a property that is called Snug Harbor today. He and his more famous brother, Dick, played all comers at the basketball courts that are now a roller hockey rink. Oh how things change. Al won a NCAA championship as a coach with Marquette and then went on to a long and storied career as a television sportscaster. His book, "You Can Call Me Al," published last year, is one of the best personal histories of life in Irishtown during the war years and the 1950’s. Rockaway and the rest of the world will miss him.

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Bernie Feuer and the others who attacked Kevin Boyle for his obviously faked pictures of Lew Simon should lighten up. Kevin’s column is just that – Kevin’s column. I do not think that Kevin really thought that anybody in their right mind would believe that those were really pictures of Lew Simon on the "Survivor" set. It is parody. It is a spoof and everybody knows that fact. Nobody around The Wave took it very seriously and Kevin’s detractors should not take it very seriously either. Lean back and chill out, guys.

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If you lack for something to do this weekend, check out the Rockaway Music and Arts Council (RMAC) Festival 2000 at Jacob Riis Park. There is free admission and parking and there will be lots of arts, crafts, music and food. There will also be a petting zoo and pony rides for the kids and a tram tour of historic Fort Tilden. The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Some of my favorite Rockaway artists will be there and I will be also. See you there.

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Now that everybody in Rockaway (with the exception of Lew Simon) really knows deep down that Technodome is indeed a dead issue, it is time to ask, what next? I want to chip in with my two cents worth and push for one of two things: A retail outlet mall such as the Tanger Mall in Riverhead. A mall with a large number of large outlet stores would draw from all over the area and would bring thousands of jobs to Rockaway; or, a NASCAR racing facility. The Donald and others with big money are looking for a site in the New York area "with a view of the Empire State Building." Why not Rockaway? I’ll admit that the second idea is not as realistic as the first, but why not dare to dream?

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Memo to Beverly Baxter: How come I was left off your fantasy dinner party list? I think that I would have fit in nicely between Geraldo Rivera and Don Imus. Just kidding. I enjoyed your column if not all of your choices.

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Neither of our two high school football teams started the year on a high note. In fact, neither scored a point. Far Rockaway lost to a strong Nazareth team 16-0 while Beach Channel lost to a 5-rated (BCHS is 3-rated) South Shore team by a 26-0 score. Both teams look to improve as the season moves on.

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The City Council is concerned with buses that have polluting engines. If you remember last week’s column, I pointed out that Noach Dear, the chair of the council’s Transportation Committee, has been accused of taking campaign funds from Green Bus and Jamaica Bus in order to look the other way at polluting buses. Has this changed? Not at all. The buses that the Council is looking at run only in Manhattan, the double-decker buses owned by New York Apple Tours. Under the new legislation proposed by the Council, those buses would have to be equipped with engines that meet EPA standards. That’s great for Manhattan, but how about us people in Queens. Don’t we deserve clean buses as well? Why doesn’t the bill call for cleaner buses in Queens? Perhaps the New York Apple Tours did not give enough in campaign money to the right people. It certainly is something to think about and to study.

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The new transportation director for the city (Chuck Schumer’s wife) has announced, by the way, that she plans to launch a bidding process "early next year" for bus franchises that now serve the Rockaways. That means the Green Bus and the Jamaica Bus companies, people. They have been operating outside a bid process for so many years and have generated so much money in public subsidies that most people have lost count of both. Don’t start cheering as yet, however. Giuliani just approved a "technical extension" of all of the franchises that will last until at least the end of 2003. The mayor said that he approved the bill because it would give the DOT "the flexibility to work towards a competitive bidding system." The non-bid extensions will now last 10 years rather than the seven they have already lasted.

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Rockaway is getting some much-needed money for health care on the east end. The Addabbo Family Health Center, an agency that has well served Rockaway for many years, will get an $8.4 million grant to improve services to at-risk families. Heaven knows, we have too many of those on the peninsula. The money will be used to provide early prevention and intervention services to those who are now underserved. The programs will run through the newly-formed Project for Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education, an organization that I know much less about. According to the study that brought Rockaway the grant, 18 percent of those in Rockaway live below the poverty line, a figure more than one and a half times greater than the borough average. More than 20 percent of Rockaway residents live in public housing and 30 percent are enrolled in Medicare.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.


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