2000-10-21 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

Rick Lazio did an education ad about public schools and shot it in a private school. One of the girls seen in the ad is the daughter of a man who just happened to give Lazio several thousand dollars for his campaign. In addition, his idea of testing teachers every five years is disingenuous. Why not test somebody where the testing will really count? Test doctors, for example. Test lawyers. Test school bus drivers. Test pilots. Lazio is simply pandering to the public, trying to get a few more votes from those who think that teachers are the problem. It used to be anybody but Hillary for me, but I am beginning to think that Hillary looks good compared to Ricky.

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Signs have sprouted up in the windows of the stores on Beach 129 street. They warn motorists to come to a full stop at each of the intersections crossing the main avenues in the community and to take it easy when driving on those avenues. That is a good message, because too many people have been hurt when those rules were not obeyed.

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Twenty years ago the then lieutenant governor, Mario Cuomo, told a Rockaway audience at a Chamber of Commerce dinner that neighborhood revitalization would make unemployment much less of a problem on the peninsula. Boy, was he wrong, both about the revitalization of Rockaway and about the unemployment level of Rockaway residents.

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Noach Dear still plans to run for Tony Weiner’s House of Representatives seat despite the fact that Weiner beat him by 40 percent in the Democratic primary. A recent story in The Wave calls Dear a Democrat, but he is no longer a Democrat if he lost the primary and still will run as both a Republican and a Conservation. I am not sure what he is, but a Democrat he is not.

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Tony Weiner is 1-1-1 in recent months. He lost the swimming pool battle and won the ferry battle. The tie goes to the Doppler radar station, which he won by losing. If that doesn’t make any sense then you haven’t been reading this column very long. Weiner recently announced that he had secured almost three-quarters of a million dollars for a permanent dock and a seawall to protect it. That sets up the Riis Park Ferry Landing very nicely and all we need now is a ferry service. I am not sure if this is a "if you build it, they will come" sort of deal, but I think that lots of additional federal money will be needed to subsidize any ferry operator who wants to service the Rockaway commuters on a regular basis.

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Speaking of politicians and The Wave, there was a picture in The Wave and the caption said that Anthony Stasi, who is running against Audrey Pheffer for her Assembly seat, enjoyed "an evening with Rockawayites." He is pictured with Al Stabile, "local businessman Joe Russo" and Joann Ariola. Not a Rockawayite in the picture, except perhaps for Russo, who I personally have never seen before and I have been around the block a few times. Where were the real Rockawayites? Probably enjoying the beautiful fall weather and supporting Audrey for reelection.

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There are rumors that the Paul O’Dwyer Foundation and the AOH want to turn the old courthouse on Beach 92 street and Beach Channel drive into an Irish cultural center. I can’t think of a better idea and a better place for it. I can even suggest a name. I can see it now: the Al McGuire Cultural Center. It would be a fitting monument to the Rockaway resident who brought basketball to millions via his coaching and his reporting.

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The New York Times and other papers recently ran a picture that was captioned as "an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount." The Palestinian was bleeding and the soldier carried a truncheon. The soldier had an angry look on his face. The picture was obviously run to show the brutality of the police towards the Palestinians. The only problem was that the young man in the picture was, in fact, a Jewish boy from Chicago and the police officer had just rescued him from a Palestinian crowd that had assaulted him. The boy’s father, Dr. Aaron Grossman, wrote to point out the error. He pointed out that the scene could not have been the Temple Mount because there was clearly a gas station in the background and there are no Jewish gas stations on the Temple Mount. The Times actually ran a correction that did not point out that the man was Jewish nor did it say that the police officer was saving the youth from a Palestinian mob. It also pointed out that the site was Jerusalem’s Old City rather than the Temple Mount. This is just another example of how our "paper of record" handles the stories that it considers to be "liberal issues" such as the Palestinian "cause."

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Esther Grillo really deserves kudos for the great work she does turning mundane bus shelters into pieces of art. In addition, she gets the youth of the community involved in community service in a big way. If you want to see what I am talking about, take a slow walk along Shore Front parkway and enjoy. Well done, Esther!

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The Beach Channel Dolphins won another grid match up, beating Campus Magnet High School 14-6 in overtime play. Despite being hurt on the first play, Dolphin Quarterback Sylvanas Mbachu rushed 17 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 40 yards. After scoring in the overtime period, the senior quarterback intercepted a Campus Magnet pass in the end zone, ending the game. The Dolphins are now 4-1 on the season. Far Rockaway High School trounced Manhattan Center High School by a score of 30-2 to go 3-3 for the year. Soph Aaron Pegues stepped into the quarterback job and threw one 55-yard touchdown and ran for two others. Despite those heroics, the school’s soccer team continues to overshadow the school’s football team. The Seahorses beat Wagner 6-3 to go 5-2 for the year. Carlos Orozco had the hat trick for Rockaway.

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There is a cabal in the city council that is trying to sneak around term limits, something that the voters had approved twice in recent memory. Why? Simply because they don’t want to lose their cushy and high-paying jobs. As it stands now, 36 of the 51 members of the body will have to leave office on December 31, 2001. Al Stabile and Juanita Watkins are among those numbers. Thank goodness for term limits! Council staffers are arguing that the body has the right to change the law without going back to the people. Over our dead and cold bodies, they will. Stay tuned and let’s see how our elected city council members weasel to keep their jobs against the will of the people.

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It was expected that fewer people would apply to become teachers and police officers. Those are two jobs where the public perception has dropped like a stone and where job satisfaction is low and pay is even lower. It is surprising that, however, that there are fewer people seeking jobs as firefighters, correction officers and sanitation workers.

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ShaggyBilly e-mailed me with a plea to write about his pet project and I think that it is a good one. He wants the Parks Department to set up a dog run much like the runs already in existence in Manhattan. He sees a strip of land next to the boardwalk between Beach 78 and Beach 80 street as the perfect place for the run. "Since I moved into the building six years ago, I have not seen this area used more than ten times," Billy says. Implementing Billy’s idea would be cost effective and would keep the dogs off the beach and the grassy median along the parkway.

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Going to the movies from Rockaway just got a little more difficult. Scott Weinfeld e-mailed me to point out that we once had three theaters in Far Rockaway, a couple in the west end (including the Surfside, which closed down most recently) and the Central in Cedarhurst. They have all closed down now. There was also the Five Towns Theater in the Mays Shopping Center and the Lawrence. Last week, the Lawrence Theater closed down for good. That leaves Green Acres, Long Beach, Valley Stream, Brooklyn and Ozone Park as destinations. You probably would be hard put to find another area with 100,000 residents in this country that has fewer options for seeing a movie.

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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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