2001-02-10 / Columnists

Short Takes...by Howie Schwach

Short Takes...by Howie Schwach

There are a few politicians who do not care what you, the voter, thinks. That should be anathema for a politician, but it obviously does not bother Al Stabile and Juanita Watkins. They are leading a movement to overturn the term limits rule that would kick them from office next year. The voters in a referendum approved the term limits in 1993. Three years later, Pete Vallone (who now wants to be mayor) tried to push through another referendum that would have changed the term limits from two terms (eight years) to three terms (12 years). The voters rejected the change. They wanted term limits and they wanted eight years. Now they want to sneak around the law to find a way so that term limits will not apply to the city council. Those who favor doing away with the limits say that the council is too important to wipe out its "experienced memory" in one year. I would say that just about anybody can name a street, which is what the council does about 75 percent of its time. Think about Al Stabile and think about Juanita Watkins and what they have done for Rockaway in their eight years in office and then tell me that they are the best we can hope for. I say thank goodness for term limits.

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ScottR35 lives in Houston, Texas, but he once lived both in the Edgemere Houses and in Bay Towers (from the early 1960’s to 1989). He fondly remembers living in Rockaway despite the fact that his family was admittedly "poor" and that they subsisted on a salary of about $10 thousand a year. Yet his parents encouraged him to give something back to the community that provided him and his family shelter and food. He and his brothers and sisters did that in various ways. Today those kids are a cardiologist, a MTA supervisor, an attorney, and a commercial designer. He takes umbrage to the fact that some people living in public housing today object to providing community service as part of getting subsidized housing. He says that the real crime is that "people with an attitude need a law before they decide to give something back to the society that is paying to maintain a roof over their heads and four walls to keep the cold north wind away while they sleep comfortably each night." He added that he often played with Lew Simon on the playgrounds in Bay Towers. "I haven’t talked to him in over 25 years," he says "but if I were you, I wouldn’t believe a word he says either." As an aside, I have to marvel at the web, which allows a reader such as this one to read the paper regularly, even in Texas.

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Let me get this straight. The city’s Board of Education and its chancellor were willing to give $500 thousand to a charter school company so that it could convince parents that it would do a better job than the city’s schools. Does anybody else see anything wrong with that picture? How many textbooks could it buy with that money? How many teachers could it hire? If Edison wants to spend its own money to convince parents to allow the company to educate its kids, that is fine with me. To give the company that money free and clear in what amounts to a public relations campaign is just plain stupid and possibly illegal as well.

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I think the Community Board is being taken in by the city on the plan for the Arverne Urban Renewal Area. The more I look at the housing planed for that important area, the clearer it becomes that it will be "affordable" housing rather than the "market rate" housing that the location calls for. I hope that our community board and our local politicians will not allow that to happen. Just this week the CB heard a proposal for "affordable" housing to be called the "Bridge Creek Apartments" on Beach 3 street right off Seagirt boulevard. I do not care as much whether that is "mid-income" but I do care if the AURA goes in that way. It is clear that our mayor wants his legacy to include more low-level housing and it seems that he has targeted Arverne for that housing. We can’t allow that to happen.

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Those of us who use Flatbush avenue as an outlet from the west end of Rockaway know that the traffic increases around Toys R Us. Soon, however, we may have a new mall there that will attract even more traffic. The mall is reported to include a Kristal Automall, several acres of one and two-story businesses, a chain bookstore and an office supply store. "It’s going to be a high-class, Long Island-looking place," a spokesperson for the developer says. "There are the same stores in King’s Plaza, less than a half mile away," says one resident who opposes the plan. "They may build it, but the community does not want it and it will not be successful."

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We have to ensure that something in Rockaway is named for Al McGuire, the successful Rockaway basketball player, coach and announcer. Perhaps it should be the playground on Beach 108 street, where he played as a youth. Perhaps a street around Snug Harbor (which was once McGuire’s Bar). If they can do it for Mickey Carton, then they have to do it for McGuire.

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By all accounts, Kenny G’s Doo Wop Show, which was featured at Beach Channel High School last week, was a real success. We need more events such as that one during the long winter months.

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Barbara Morris has reminded me that it is once again time for the annual "Name the Teddy Contest." Those who want to enter need only look into the window of West End Realty on Beach 116 street. This is the third annual contest and it has quickly become a favorite of west-enders.

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Last week I wrote about Lakim Luster, a Christ the King football player who is in jail for attempted murder. His partner in crime was Marcus Fyall, who played basketball for Bishop Laughlin. Fyall was asked to leave Laughlin and enrolled at Beach Channel High School. He was judged eligible to play for the Dolphins despite the fact that he had been indicted. He had not been thrown out of Laughlin because the incident did not happen on school grounds and he was not yet convicted of a crime. He pleaded guilty on November 2 of last year and the sentencing was pushed back to allow him to graduate from Channel. He went on to become one of the top players on the team and now Channel will go into the playoffs. Fyall will be sentenced on February 13 to five years in prison. He will not be playing in the playoffs and many people in the education business want to know why an indicted youth was allowed to play at all.

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"Oh, the Navy gets the gravy while the Army gets the beans." That’s a song from an old Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie, but it has some relevance to Rockaway. Reads Lane (the richest area on the east end) and Belle Harbor (the second richest area on the west end) will soon get center malls to "beautify the community." I know that some have been lobbying for the malls. Neponsit, (the richest area in Rockaway) has had them for years, but I have to question whether this is the best way to spend public money. They will reduce parking where they are built and it will cost lots of money for their upkeep. I know that the local community organizations have pledged to pay for the upkeep, but that need last only as long as the organization and its present leadership do. It just does not seem like it is time to do that kind of beautifying with public money where there is so much "real" work to do in Rockaway.

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The Broad Channel Volies will hold its annual Officer’s Installation Dance on Saturday, February 24 at the American Legion Hall in Broad Channel. It is a worthy organization and its dance should draw those who want to help it continue to do its fine work.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to newsie42@aol.com. I would particularly like to hear from those of you who read this online and live far from Rockaway. Have a good week and safe home.


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