2000-12-09 / Columnists

Short Takes

Those who doubted that people would come if affordable middle class houses were built on the edges of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area can doubt no more. According to the builders of Rockaway Park Estates on the old Playland site (and expanding), the new development includes 50 two-family homes, 13 two-story townhouses, and eight one-family homes. Many of them have already been built and the majority of those are sold. Many of the new homes being built are being done so "under contract," which means that they are already sold. The developers hope to build 140 homes in the area over the next few years. This has been a real shot in the arm for Rockaway and I hope that the trend continues in other parts of the peninsula.

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The good news is that the MTA is thinking of buying new buses for lines such as the Green Bus Line and Jamaica Buses. The bad news is that if the MTA ever does buy the buses, they will not be on the streets until sometime in early 2002. The MTA has been doing a study on our local buses for two years now and it was supposed to be done sometime in September. Have you seen it? Neither has anybody else. Now the organization is saying that it wants to get some more comment from riders and will hold a hearing (probably in some obscure place 100 miles from Rockaway) sometime in January. Figure another year for the final report and two or three to implement its suggestions for improving the local service. That’s what you get for your millions in tax money that has gone to the two lines as subsidies in the past seven years and you can thank politicians such as Noach Dear for what we got.

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Why is there a shortage of teachers and administrators in the city schools? There is, you know, even if the mayor says there is not. See School Scope for the detailed answer, but a short answer can be found in an ad in last Sunday’s New York Times. The Jericho Public Schools is looking for an assistant principal. The minimum salary for the job is $110,000, about $20 thousand more than an AP makes in the city. In fact, despite the new contract, that is more than many city principals make. Do you wonder why so many of the good ones are voting for the suburbs with their feet? I don’t.

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Everybody has to have a hobby and one of mine is collecting early military books. I recently won a bidding war on E-Bay for a 1918 version of the Bluejacket’s Manual – the book that is still given today to sailors entering Naval boot camp. In its opening pages, it talks about why men (there were no women on ships in those days) should make the Navy their career. "If you are an enlisted man in the service, you have your lodging and board free," the tome says. "The average pay in the Navy is $39.00 per month; this means that the average of the enlisted men have $39.00 cash each month for their own use. The average age of an enlisted man in the service is just 24. There are very few men of 24 in civilian life who, at the end of each month, can show anything like $39.00 in cash for a month’s work, after living expenses are all paid." It sure sounds like the mayor telling teachers why they should stay in the city school system.

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Speaking of schools, voters in both California and Michigan turned down school voucher plans, despite the fact that conservative and parochial school funds were poured in the battle by the tens of millions. Those who love vouchers will tell you that the unions defeated the plan, but don’t believe it. The people defeated the plans by more than a 2-1 vote in each state because the majority of the people still believe in public education and still believe that public money should not be used to fund religious education.

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We should all mourn the passing of poet Gwendolyn Brooks. I know that most of you will not believe that I care at all for poetry, but I have always liked the hard, tough stuff that Brooks wrote. If you have never read her, pick up an anthology of her poems and enjoy!

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Speaking of Brooks and other "black" authors, I am continually incensed by going to major book stores in the malls and seeing all of their works in a "Black Interest" or "Afro-American Authors" section. The implication of putting those books in a section of their own, segregated from the books by "white" authors is that white people would not be interested in books by black authors. That is not necessarily true. Perhaps this should be Al Sharpton’s next target.

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I have always heard that one of the more traumatic events in life is the picking out of the wedding dress for a daughter who is recently engaged. That turns out not to be necessarily true. My daughter, my wife and I recently wound up at Kleinfeld (Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn). We had trouble parking and it was getting past the time for our appointment and I thought that it was going to be the Amityville Horror all over again. When we got in, however, we were assigned to Rita, who quickly took us to a private room, sized up my daughter (and probably us as well), asked her a few questions and brought her the gown of her dreams. One gown, in and out. Ron Rothstein a principal in the business, wandered by while I was waiting for her to try on the dress and we got to talking. Turns out that he was related to Harry Locker, who once owned the Park Inn Hotel on the boardwalk at Beach 116 street. He went there for all of the major holidays and we had a good time talking about Rockaway of old. He should see the Park Inn today. Harry would roll over in his grave. In any case, it was a great experience and I would recommend it to anybody in the hunt for a wedding dress.

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It seems like the daily papers are just finding out what we in Rockaway have known for years. Technodome is dead and it is just possible that it never was alive in the first place. Talk about "impossible dreams." We were sold a bill of goods with pretty pictures and a stirring video and there were some who bought it hook, line and sinker. There were others who were always skeptical and I was among them. Now we are going to get housing and a miniature golf course. Whoopee! I would still rather see a retail or outlet mall that would bring people and provide thousands of jobs at the outset and forever.

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Mayoral politics is a complicated and wondrous thing. Bob Liff, writing in his column in The Daily News, makes the point that Queens is really three boroughs. Southeast Queens (which includes Rockaway) is predominantly Black and Caribbean. Our area is the bailiwick of Floyd Flake and Greg Meeks. They are currently backing Alan Hevesi for mayor. Archie Spigner holds sway in the northern part of this borough, but he is on the way out through term limits and his vote for Peter Vallone might not count for much. The second borough is in central and northeast Queens, which is predominately Jewish. Hevesi represented a large chunk of this area in Albany and should do well there. The third borough is mostly white and Catholic western Queens. That is where Vallone has his strength. It all depends, of course, on who the Republicans run for office. If they run somebody in the middle of the road against the leftist Dems, the elephants might again carry the day.

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Clare Droesch is at it again. The Rockaway senior who has been leading Christ the King for the past few years is arguably the premier female basketball prospect in the area. She recently helped her team win against Mary Louis Academy by a score of 86-23. If you had Mary Louis and 62 points – you lose (sorry, Warner). Droesch had 22 points, six rebounds and five steals. She has already made a commitment to Boston University, where she will join Rockaway resident Janelle McManus (who played for Bishop Kearny last year), who is now a freshman at the school. Of the top dozen female CHSAA players in the city, four either live in Rockaway or play for Stella Maris, a Rockaway school. Keep your eye on E.J. McElroy, a Maris standout who comes from the Rockaway playgrounds that spawned Nancy Lieberman many years ago and was recently the playgrounds of McManus, Tricia Turbridy (Harvard) and others.

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That 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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