2001-01-13 / Columnists

Short Takes

Short Takes

It seems now that Crown Chicken on Beach 116 street opened illegally, without passing inspection and earning the necessary operating permit. The question then has to be how it stayed open so long without the city inspectors catching on. They did catch on early in the new year and the facility was closed because of "unsanitary hand washing facilities and unsanitary conditions for food preparation." It will not be reopened until there is a hearing and a full inspection. What bothers me is that the owner kept serving food even though the Health Department closed him down and despite a sign on the door that noted that it was closed. That the workers expected that it would be reopened on January 4 has no bearing on the fact that you cannot serve food at a restaurant that has been closed by the Health Department, nor should you.

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Who represents the community? That question has to be asked again in light of a recent meeting held by the International Association of Firefighters (IAVF) and the Naval Heritage Group (NHG). The meeting was to address "several subjects of interest to our area" and it invited only "elected, community and religious leaders from the Rockaways area." The two groups stated in a letter to The Wave that the meeting cannot invite "any public advocates unless they are members of a recognized group." This is kind of disingenuous on their part. First of all, both the IAVF and the NHG are virtually nonexistent organizations. Despite the fact that the members of the IAVF drive marked vehicles and park in violation of parking rules and common courtesy, that they complain that legitimate volunteer organizations (such as the Broad Channel Volies) get funding while they do not, and that they have never responded to any fire or other community disaster that I know of, the organization continues to plow out press releases as if it really existed and had members. In fact, the organization has only two members that I know of. The NHG has an idea that I like very much, but few members and less juice. I wonder what they consider to be a "recognized group?" Is the Friends of Rockaway (with its three members) a recognized group? It is easy for a few people to make up a group, issue press releases and hope that people will believe that they are doing a valid job. That is not always true, however, witness the IAVF, the NHG and the FOR. Now, I do not mind them doing their own thing and trying to fool the public to believe they really exist. When they start disinviting real Rockaway activists, however, some comment must be made.

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When I was a kid growing up in Rockaway, there was some conjecture that World War II was fought against the Germans because Marty Glickman was not allowed to take part in the 1936 Olympics because he was Jewish. That is how much adulation there was for Glickman in the Jewish community here in Rockaway. Glickman was the voice of New York sports for at least six decades. He died last week and he will be missed.

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I have been studying the possibilities for redistricting the state’s seats in the House of Representatives and I no longer believe that Tony Weiner will lose his seat. Rockaway will, however, be impacted by the new redistricting if the scenario goes the way I think it will. Gary Ackerman will get more of Queens in his district. That will take Nita Lowey out of Queens altogether and move her deeper into upstate districts. Carolyn McCarthy will lose parts of Republican Long Island and will get part Queens by taking some areas away from Greg Meeks. Those areas will probably be around JFK Airport, but it could be the eastern end of Rockaway as well. Meeks would then get more of Rockaway and Weiner would get less of Rockaway and more of Brooklyn. The census data that will drive the changes will not be available until April or May at the earliest. Then, only time and politics will tell.

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Tony Weiner has used some of his spending initiative money to fund $680 thousand for a ferry landing, park and sea wall at the old Coast Guard station on the west end. It is hoped that the facility would attract a ferry operator to run a regular commuter ferry from Rockaway to Manhattan. This, in the face of the facts that the ferry will never come. Just this week, New York Ferry, one of the companies slated to run the service from Rockaway, closed down its Hunt’s Point to Manhattan run because it "was not profitable." The Hunts Point ferry only attracted 300 riders who paid a commutation fee of about $100 bucks a month for the service. Unless the Rockaway run is subsidized (and that is unlikely), the cost would be higher and so would the number of riders needed for a successful business operation. I love the idea of the ferry and it would be great in the summer months for that once or twice a month trip to the city. I do not believe, however, that 500 or 600 people would use it on a daily basis, especially during the winter months, when the waves are high and the air and water are freezing. Not at $120 to $150 a month (that’s what experts say the unsubsidized cost would be at the beginning) for a commutation ticket. Remember, people would still have to get from their homes to the ferry site and then from the ferry landing to their jobs in Manhattan. I think that the ferry landing will be built but it will be used only for ceremonial runs from Manhattan to Gateway National Park.

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There are a number of other spending initiatives that the public should know about as well. Both Weiner and Schumer have funded a $430 thousand "national service center for the disabled" -- not at a public site -- but at Brooklyn’s Hebrew Academy for Special Children. Those schools are dedicated to keeping religious children who need special help away from the public schools and one has to wonder why public money should be used for that purpose. Joe Crowley, for example, gave a like amount of money to District 24 to run after school tutorial programs. Weiner gave lots of money for environmental purposes around Jamaica Bay: $1.4 million for dredging, $346 thousand for a shoreline study. Weiner gave $1 million for beach replenishment. After searching all of the databases, I could find nothing sponsored by Greg Meeks. Perhaps that is because he is new and does not yet have the money to spend. I would be interested in finding out how his money will be spent.

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There are those who argue that term limits are not necessary because people get to vote on whether they want to keep incumbents in office. Statistics say otherwise. In the 61-seat state senate, every one of the incumbents who ran for reelection won that reelection. In the Assembly, only one incumbent lost (in Niagra County). It is time for a movement to bring term limits to state offices. Hey, Ron Lauder, where are you when we need you most?

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What was the judge thinking when she cleared a man for cursing at a police officer who was only doing what he was paid to do. "The defendant was doing no more than exercising his constitutional right to express his views regarding members of the Police Department," the judge said. What next, Judge Edmead? Is it OK for kids to curse at teachers? I am sure that you think that the students have a constitutional right to do that and society (as measured by civility) dies one bit more. I’d be willing to bet, however, that if the defendant cursed at the judge, he would have be held in contempt and put away for a few days. I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

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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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