2000-10-14 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

It is normal for Rockaway to feel that it has been jobbed once again by the exclusion of money in the federal budget for the promised pool at Riis Park. The pool was first proposed when Floyd Flake was our Representative. Somehow, the money disappeared into housing in South Jamaica rather than a pool in Rockaway. When Chuck Schumer took over Flake’s slot, he carried on the promise. Somehow, under Schumer’s guidance, the pool went from a $25 million "Olympic Style" pool that would have attracted teams from all over the area to a $5 million pool that would have been "adequate" to Rockaway’s needs. Now, however, even that $5 illusion is gone. The loss of the pool is not a major blow to Rockaway, but it is just another indication of where Rockaway’s importance and where the peninsula stands in the scheme of things.

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Memo to Anthony Stasi: I know that you are challenging Audrey Pheffer for Rockaway’s "white" assembly seat, so perhaps it’s time you took a look at the U.S. Constitution (a document that you will have to swear to uphold should you somehow win the election). You support an Assembly bill that would allow working families (aren’t we all) a tax credit of $1,500 dollars per child to send their child to private school. Now, we all know two things. The first is that public education is so worthy of support, so critical to democracy, that even senior citizens and others who do not avail themselves of the service must pay for it. Secondly, we know that when you say "private," you are talking about "religious," whether it be parochial school, mosque school or yeshiva. And, we also know that it is unconstitutional to use public tax money to fund religious education. Giving money to fund religious beliefs, which is what you are pushing, is one of our nation’s major no-no’s because our ‘founding fathers" had a good first hand idea of what that could lead to. Working class families now have the same choices as wealthy families. They all pay for public education because that it what democracy demands and they all have the option of sending their kids to the public schools should they choose to do so. They don’t want to do so? That is there prerogative, but then why should my tax money go to fund a religious teaching that I do not believe in? Shame on you, Tony. Without an understanding of the Constitution, you will never make a good politician. On the other hand, being a know-nothing might just make you fit in with the other politicians just fine.

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Residents on Newport avenue tell me that the road is bidding to replace Indianapolis and that the speed of the cars on the avenue mixed with the lack of patience on the part of drivers on the cross streets makes for a deadly mix. Drivers on the side streets are ignoring the "Stop" signs altogether or simply coming to a moving stop before entering the intersection.

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Mike Duvalle is running for the "minority" Assembly seat now held by Pauline Cummings. Mike is a community activist and a businessman who knows that it means to work to make a buck. I would like to see him win the seat.

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There is a great new website for those interested in Rockaway history. The site includes a collection of hold photos and stories of the men stationed at Fort Tilden from 1917 to 1974. It also includes technical details of the big guns and the missiles that were sited there. To log in, go to www.geocities.com/fort_tilden. You will find it exceedingly interesting and it is probably a good topic for students working on a local history project for a social studies class.

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Local resident James Leonard, the city housing inspector who graced the front page of last week’s Wave because of his arrest, played a part in the closing of the Neponsit Home. Leonard acted on his own authority to require full demolition of the site. The recent incident points out Leonard’s close ties to Republican politicians in this city. It makes one wonder whether his instant move to demolish Neponsit had ties to local Republican politics and politicians.

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Norm Siegel, the longtime head of the New York Civil Liberties Union (All Criminals Love Us), has decided to take a break from his duties to run for public advocate. "I have been the private advocate for so many years, that I would like to be the public advocate now," he says. Since the public advocate really has nothing to do, I guess that it couldn’t hurt. I didn’t think that there could possible be a worse person in the make-work job than Mark Green, but Siegel is probably it. What fun New York City can be.

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For American leaders to say that the President ordered America to abstain on the Jerusalem issue in the UN because we were involved in negotiations with the two combatants is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst. The pictures of Palestinian youth desecrating the tomb where Jews believe that Joseph (he of the coat of many colors) is buried. That belief makes the tomb holy to the Jews. It is also holy to the Palestinians. Why? Because the site, once a mosque, is believed to hold the tomb of a wealthy sheik. To say that it was wrong for any Israeli to visit the site is ridiculous. For America to give the Palestinians a victory in the UN that they did not deserve is equally as ridiculous.

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Beach Channel High School did it again last weekend, beating Jefferson by a score of 22-12. Ricky Richardson ran for a pair of TD’s and Ben Nieves caught a pass from Quarterback Sylvanas Mbachu for another score. The Dolphins are now 3-1. Far Rockaway High School won by forfeit when Flushing did not provide a doctor for the game as required by PSAL rules. The Seahorses now stand at 2-2.

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I do not like Frank Borzellieri very much. He is a columnist for The Queens Ledger and a school board member in another district. He often is far to the right of Attila the Hun. He wants to ban books. I do not like his ideas or the way he goes about forcing others to adopt them. I do like the fact that the publisher of the paper has reinstated him as a columnist. He was suspended in July for comparing Queens school board representative Terri Thomson to Hitler. The owner of the paper said that he suspended the columnist because he is a friend of Thomson’s, but that is neither here nor there. As bad as his criticism of Thomson was, he had the right to say it. The ADL wrote to say that his comments were "gratuitous, ignorant and deeply offensive." The organization added that his statement "trivialized the Holocaust." C’mon, guys, lighten up. I am glad that he is back, not because I agree with him, but because I agree that he had a right to say what he did. He is back, according to the publisher, because "…my readers are genuinely attracted to the information and the viewpoint that his column gives." All I can add is Amen to that.

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Speaking of political correctness, the Columbus Day Parade in this eclectic city is in danger of being deleted by those who believe that the explorer was some sort of ecocriminal. A group in Denver, who forced the parade to disappear for a few years, held signs at this year’s parade that proclaimed "Mafia Scum," and "Sons of Italy, Sons of a Bitch." The Denver parade was canceled in 1992 when thousands of Native Americans showed up to protest and to complain that Columbus was responsible for bringing genocide to the Americas. Judging by what I know of pre-Columbian history, the natives had no peer in either slavery or genocide. The Denver parade was allowed to continue this year only after the parade organizers promised the Democratic government that there would be no mention of Columbus – that it would be an "Italian Pride" parade. Could this happen in New York? You bet it could. Stay tuned.

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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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