2001-02-24 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

Let’s see. Everybody agrees that we need better transportation facilities before any real revitalization can take place. The LIRR, however, will not reestablish the old Rockaway Beach Line and the new comprehensive plan for ferry service throughout the city does not include Rockaway. What does that leave us? Just what we have now – the slow and dirty subway and the heavily subsidized, politically connected busses. What a disgusting thought. Transportation will not improve here in Rockaway until something is built that requires large amounts of middle class people to come here. That is a fact of political life and neither the MTA nor the NPS nor any other political group will give a damn for Rockaway until that day comes.

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There is no doubt in my mind that Al Gore would now be President if Ralph Nader had stayed out of the race. That does not mean that Nader did not have a right to run. He certainly did. He did, however, take votes away from Gore that would have made a difference. Nader, who has been called an egotist by his friends, was recently asked if he had any regrets in running. His answer: "Yeah, I didn’t get more votes (he got less than four percent of the vote). The Democrat’s scare tactics in the last month took millions of votes that were leaning my way. People get cold feet. That happens a lot with third party candidates." The fact is that he knew he could not win it. He knew that he would take votes away from Gore. He knew that a Bush victory was anathema to everything he stood for. Yet, he ran and did just what the "Democratic scare tactics" said he would do. He gave the election to Bush.

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Why not use the Far Rockaway High School pool as a training ground for prospective lifeguards. Most of the lifeguards are employed in Rockaway and many of them live here. It makes no sense to cut a community pool out of the loop.

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Speaking of Far Rockaway High School, congratulations to Tom Cunningham, the school’s principal, for his appointment as the new principal of the prestigious Townsend Harris High School.

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Community Boards were founded by politicians who did not want to take the heat from the populace and who thought that it would be nice to put a group of "community activists" between themselves and the general populace. Of course, they would simply be advisory, a "rubber stamp" to the needs of the politicians. The politicians appoint them and the politicians get rid of them if they become too obdurate. That is a fact of life. Ask Kevin Callaghan about it. Ask Steve Cooper what happens if you cross the politicians. The board recently voted not to allow a large (for the area) development on Beach 3 street off Seagirt boulevard. It is going ahead anyway. "They can’t stop this project," the developer said, and he is right. The R-5 zoning for the site allows "as-of-right" construction of what the developer proposes -- a four-story, 20-apartment building. It raises the question one more time of why we need a community board at all. Does it do anything for Rockaway? I am not sure anybody but the politicians who appoint them and the people on the board who use their position as a self-promotion tool, would answer in the affirmative.

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Over a year ago, the Post Office people took a number of mailboxes from Breezy Point, ostensibly to paint and repair them. They have never reappeared and it has become a hardship for the senior citizens in the community to access the mailboxes in front of the shopping center or at the church. The community considers the removal of the boxes to be a reduction in service at a time when costs are rising. They say this is not fair and I agree.

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His statement at the Jesse Jackson conference a few weeks ago that he was committed to bringing back the affirmative action plan ended by Giuliani is strike two for Al Hevesi as far as I am concerned. He was my front-runner and now he’s almost no longer in the game.

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It did not take Mike Barnicle long to catch on to our city council. You’ll remember that he moved from the Boston Globe to the Daily News about a year ago. He writes, "City council members have a job description unlike any other you’ll ever encounter: Draw a breath and collect a check. Some use their public office like a blackjack to drive up their outside income. Others – the more limited among them – are smart enough to realize they probably have the best jobs they ever will, so they sit like stones or trained seals and do the bidding of the strongest among them." That statement does not need any comment from me.

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Even though term limits are going to drive out most of the incumbents in the city council, while the faces might change, and the names might change, the backgrounds may not. According to published accounts, the "new" candidates include one former and eight current top council aides, three senior officers of the Borough President’s office, two former assemblywomen, three senior aides to state senators or assembly members, and a former staffer in the Cuomo administration. Of the 85 who have filed, 36 are part of the political establishment. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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LIPA has a plan to keep the cost of electricity down and Bayswater plays a big part in the plan. The plan calls for adding a 120-megawatt generator to be either barge-mounted or land-based on the current LIPA property in Bayswater. If needed, both possibilities might be developed on the Rockaway property. This is good news for Rockaway residents because we do not want to see the rolling brownouts that California residents have become so accustomed to.

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If you are an airplane buff like I am or if you are an opponent of everything JFK Airport, you can now monitor the control tower without leaving your computer. Simply log on to the controller’s new website at www.jfktower.com. Let me know how you like it.

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Grady High School was ranked as number two in the high school championship tournament. Beach Channel was ranked number 33. Add to that the fact that the Dolphins were playing without Marcus Fyall, their most productive scorer, who began serving a five year term for attempted murder. The final score: Grady, 84 and Beach Channel, 37.

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This is a quote without comment from the lawyer defending Lakim Luster, the man who committed the crime with Fyall. "In that part of town," Michael Horn says, "People get robbed all the time. Good kids think that there are no consequences."

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I am not Catholic, but I do not like religious icons displayed as the woman who took the pictures at the Brooklyn Museum portrayed them. That does not mean, however, that she does not have the right to her art. I am not sure that I should pay for her to display those pictures, and perhaps no public subsidies should be given to museums. That would solve that problem for me. Having said that, I do not want Mayor Giuliani or anybody who would be on his commission to say what is moral and what is not, what I can see and what I cannot. After his recent marital problems, I cannot see how the mayor can even portray himself as a moral person. His behavior towards his kids and his wife were more immoral than anything a photographer could ever think of.

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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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