2001-03-10 / Columnists

Short Takes

I want to wish best of luck to Susan Locke who will be taking over the reins of The Wave as publisher beginning this week. Susan’s accession to the post comes after the shocking and untimely death of her husband, Leon Locke, who had been the publisher of The Wave for the past 25 years. Good luck and best wishes, Susan.

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Picking a candidate to vote for in the City Council race (particularly on the Democratic side) will be tough in the coming election. Palmer Doyle is a firefighter who has been a community activist for many years. Now, he wants to parlay his community activism into a seat on the City Council. I like Palmer. After some initial disagreements, we seem to be on the same wavelength on most of the important issues. Having said that, I have to add that Joe Addabbo Jr. is also running for that seat. He is a person who has been in politics ever since birth and who I have supported in the past. They are not the only locals reportedly in the hunt now that term limits opens the seat and takes away the question of incumbency. Joanne Shapiro has been the executive assistant (read, nupshleper) for Audrey Pheffer for many years. She is knowledgeable on the issues and has assisted many Rockaway residents (especially the elderly and immigrants) in problems with government. Tom Gebert is an activist from the mainland. I always believed that he was one of the few people on the suspended school board that cared about kids, but that belief ended when he turned up as the attorney for the Knights of Columbus in that organization’s attempt to take the BCAC’s ball field away from the kids in Broad Channel and give it to the Knights as a meeting hall. Chris Jorge is a local who is very articulate and knowledgeable, but to my mind, she is an elitist. You will remember that she and a small group of her friends killed the Beacon Program at JHS 180, a program that would have brought after-school programs and Saturday programs to hundreds of kids and adults. Their rationale? "Our kids would not go to a program like that," they told me at the time. They were also disturbed that there would be anti-drug programs that would "draw the wrong kind of people, outsiders" to the building, as if there were not enough drug problems here in Rockaway. Everybody knows Lew Simon. He has done lots of things for lots of people and he has a large following. People seem to excuse his lies and his transgressions (such as having a phony teaching license and a number of lies on his resume). Who would be the best for Rockaway? Doyle, Jorge, Shapiro and Simon are Rockaway residents and know the peninsula best. Addabbo, Simon and Shapiro have the political background to translate their ideas into action. Shapiro, however, has never proven to be her own woman and we have to question what her mentor (Pheffer) really did for Rockaway and why she ran for another term in the Assembly when she clearly had already made up her mind to run for Borough President. It has to make me believe that Pheffer somehow wants to shoehorn Shaprio into her Assembly seat before she leaves office. A newcomer such as Doyle would ordinarily not have a chance, but he has the backing of some of the municipal unions and that could make a big difference. I have to dismiss Jorge’s candidacy out of hand. She lacks the background, the experience, the temperament and the backing to really challenge for the office. I also can personally dismiss Lew Simon because of all of the times he has lied to me over the years, but that does not mean that he can’t take it all. Who will win? We have a long time to go and it will be one of the more interesting, if not important, races in that election year.

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I had won an auction on E-Bay for a jacket from the U.S. Naval Academy from a person in Arizona. The mail got fouled up and we traded e-mails before a new jacket was shipped. In any case, the person in Arizona told me that her husband was a "city boy" who spent his summers in Rockaway and that he "sure misses those cherry cheese and potato knishes." Everybody has a connection to Rockaway in one way or another.

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The Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a real success. The parade beat the really bad weather by a day or so and all of the marching units were crisp and entertaining. The Broad Channel volies, my favorite marching group, once again took first place in their category. Kudos to all of the parade’s coordinators and to all of the honorees.

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People in Rockaway take the proximity of several volunteer fire and ambulance companies for granted, but there are really only 10 such companies in the entire city. Two are in the Bronx, two in Staten Island and one in Brooklyn. The other five are in Queens. There are three at the extreme western end of Rockaway – Point Breeze, Roxbury and Rockaway Point, one in Broad Channel (that also responds to Rockaway), and one in West Hamilton Beach (on the mainland). We are all lucky to have such dedicated men and women in our community.

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The Beach Channel High School women’s basketball team is holding its own in the city playoffs. The Lady Dolphins recently beat Health Professions High School 56-46 in the quarterfinals. The team overcame an 18-point half time deficit to win the game in overtime. Shana Hamilton had eight of her 24 points in the overtime session. The game was tied with 13 seconds left by Quianna McBean, who stole the ball and scored on a lay-up. McBean, the star of the game, scored five points in the last 40 seconds of the game. The team will now face defending B Division Champ, John Adams High School, on Sunday at noon at St. John’s University.

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A few weeks ago I wrote that the subway from Rockaway was "slow and dirty." I received e-mail from an old friend who works for the MTA. He writes, "I believe you work in the Rockaways and probably do not ride the subway. Next week, I will start my 28th year in Transit (seven as a conductor) and find your comments about slow and dirty subways uncalled for. I leave Far Rockaway at 5:34 a.m. weekdays and get to Jay Street on time better than 95 percent of the time. Similarly (sic) the service is almost as reliable. I can’t deny that delays don’t occur, but the Transit is faster than driving…cleaners are stationed at Rockaway Park on a regular basis, and by the way, who makes the trains dirty?"

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I was recently involved in an accident with one of the car service vehicles here in Rockaway. I was backing out of a driveway, so the accident was officially my fault, but I know that the cab in question had to be traveling at an excessive and dangerous speed under icy conditions when it hit me. When I looked both ways before I began backing out, I saw the cab parked about 150 yards away at the base of the boardwalk. I put the car in reverse and backed up about three feet when it struck me in the passenger side rear door. I began to watch the car service cabs more closely as I drove Rockaway streets and noted lots of near misses and lots of erratic driving on the part of car service drivers. Then came a story in the Daily News that, in Queens alone, there were more than 13,000 accidents involving livery cabs in 1999 and that more than 10,000 of them caused accidents. I know that the livery cabs provide a valid service, but I wish that the cops would crack down on their driving habits. In more than a few cases, the livery drivers hung U-Turns and made illegal turns right under the eyes of police cars and nothing was done. If you have any stories of incidents with local livery cars, let me know.

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I have to wonder why Newsday’s "Queens Life" section would run a story such as "Quiet Desperation," as its main Sunday story last week. It was really a non-story and it was designed only to make Rockaway look like a depressed, lonely place. The pictures that accompanied the story, of a lone person on the boardwalk, of a low-income bungalow owner, of two elderly people on the corner of RBB and Beach 116 Street, of a discarded car, and of people in a bar, all were used to show how bad off Rockaway really is. The story just repeats that theme. Why not pictures of the new housing on the Playland site? Why not pictures of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade only the day before? The story was just another example of an outsider coming in for a day, interviewing some bar-sitters and whining people and then moving on.

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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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