2001-01-06 / Columnists

Short Takes

I know that it is not good to speak ill of the dead, but something has to be said about the way ex-mayor John Lindsay treated Rockaway. Lindsay was the quintessential limousine liberal and he was dedicated to bringing jobs and housing to the city’s minorities. He just did not want that housing or those jobs to be in Manhattan – what he and his cronies considered the "real" New York City. If you were around then and living in Rockaway, you’ll remember the blizzard that wiped out the city and the fact that all of the snow cleaning equipment headed for Manhattan. The outer boroughs were totally ignored. When it came to low-income housing, however, the outer boroughs became the target. After all, places such as Rockaway and Coney Island had lots of open land; a subway that could bring workers to low-paying jobs in Manhattan; and it was far enough away from his pals in "the city" that they would not have to see the project’s residents when they were not working. You may not believe that the construction of several major low-income housing projects on the peninsula spelled the beginning of the end of us all, but I do. For many years, the majority of crime on the peninsula was generated in those projects and their very existence deterred developers from building on the peninsula’s open land. White flight from the peninsula was based largely on the impact the projects had (and continue to have) on Rockaway’s schools. We can thank Lindsay for all of that. I am sad at his passing, but it would have been better for Rockaway if he had never been mayor, and that is a simple fact.

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Now that our present mayor is in his last year, he is trying desperately to find the "legacy" he will leave the city with when he leaves next January. He is finding it difficult to take all of the credit for the drop in crime statistics. Experienced cops are leaving in droves. His great hate of the public school system has driven that system over the edge and into the abyss. Experienced teachers are leaving in droves (despite the Post editorial that says that there is no teacher shortage). His tirade over the PA’s failure to pay homage to his "bunker" during the recent snow emergency points out that Giuliani seems to pick on agencies over which he has no control. Perhaps that is to be his legacy – bringing all agencies under mayoral control. He has said over and over again that the school system should be destroyed and brought under mayoral control. Now, it is clear that he wants the PA brought under mayoral control as well and he is willing to denigrate the PA’s officials and workers just as he had those who work for the schools. His legacy is going to be the dearth of experienced and capable city workers in many areas and he will have to live with that.

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I know that I have been tough on sanitation workers recently, but they did a great job during the recent snowstorm that hit Rockaway last week. With the exception of a couple of the beach streets, the plowing and sanding was done in a professional and expeditious manner. We all owe the workers a debt of gratitude.

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New York State is going to lose two seats in the House of Representatives under the mandates of the Constitution and the findings of the Census Bureau (which probably undercounted the city by millions of residents). Since the state legislature makes the cuts, you can be sure that the city will be screwed once again. The Republicans control the Senate and the Democrats control the Assembly, so you can bet the farm that there will be one Republican seat cut upstate and one Democratic seat cut in the city. The conventional wisdom says that it is going to be Gary Ackerman’s seat, which meanders through Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. I am not so sure. There is some talk that Tony Weiner’s seat (Brooklyn and Queens, including Rockaway) will be cut because the demand of the Republicans is that the seat be completely inside the city. That would mean we would all wind up being represented by Greg Meeks, a man whose idea of a good bill is one that forces doctors to take courses in political correctness.

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This is the time of the year when I thank all of those who do so much for the people of this city – firefighters, cops, EMT’s, teachers, sanitation workers, etc. This year a special thank you has to go to Dave Norman, a cop who once served in the 100 Precinct and is now in the Emergency Services Unit (ESU). Last week, Dave was the first diver in the water to save a homeless woman who had jumped into the frigid East River. Fighting the 40-degree water, the heavy-set woman and his own fatigue, Norman and two of his fellow officers finally got the woman to shore and to a hospital.

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The Christ the King female basketball team won the highly touted Glaxo-Wellcome tournament last week by defeating two of the top ranked teams in America. Rockaway resident Claire Droesch scored 34 in the final game against nationally third-ranked Narbonne.

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The city has funded a new map that is so precise it will show the location of parking meters and fire hydrants. According to published accounts, the map boast accurate views within one or two feet. "Every square foot of the five boroughs has been captured in a digital form," the map’s creator says. Want to bet that Rockaway does not show up on the new map. I’ll even give you odds.

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Isn’t it amazing that the mayor crows about the overheated economy that he created and nurtured and how he has done wonders for this city financially until the unions come to him for a raise and then he pleads poverty. "The reality is that we have real gaps in 2003, 2004, 2005," the mayor says. By then, of course, he will be out of office and cannot be blamed for the "gaps." The fact is that there is a $1.8 billion surplus right now. You will never hear the mayor mention that surplus and city workers in the same breath, however. Is it any wonder why so many city workers are leaving just at the time when they are needed most?

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I want to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy 2001.

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


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