2001-06-02 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

The Daily News did a picture story last Sunday on the city’s monuments to our fallen veterans. There were pictures and stories on ten such monuments in New York. Guess which ones were not mentioned? Despite the fact that we have the Doughboy Monument, which is one of the oldest in the city and the memorial to women who served in combat (the only such monument in the city), we got nary a mention. This is just another indication that the peninsula is invisible to our daily newspapers unless there is a murder or a fire.

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The election season has begun in earnest with the June 1 deadline for filing with the Board of Elections. Since I write this before the deadline, there may be some minor changes, but the lineup seems pretty well set for the opening pitch. With Audrey Pheffer deferring to Helen Marshall, the county party’s choice (I guess that I should not be surprised. Audrey has never bucked the party in her entire career, and look what she gets for the trouble), that leaves no locals in the Borough President race, at least on the Democratic side. We are left with Marshall, Sheldon Leffler and Carol Gresser. Leffler and Marshall are term-limited councilmembers and Gresser is the former head of the Board of Education. I am inclined, at the outset, to go with Gresser. On the Republican side of the ledger we get to choose from Al Stabile and Al Stabile. Al was just removed from his position as the long-time head of the Ozone-Howard Little League. Was he pushed or did he jump? The waters are muddied. He reportedly played with a piece of land that was not his to play with and got caught. Whether it was for himself or for the league is not clear. It may never be clear, because nobody involved – Stabile, the league, the city or the businessman involved – is talking. In the heat of the campaign, however, somebody will dig up the real dirt. Perhaps, for reasons of health and morality, Al should follow Pheffer and jump before he is pushed.

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The more exciting race will come in the race for the city council seat now held by Stabile. You can’t tell the players on the Democratic side without a scorecard and even then there are many that you have never heard of. In fact, it is doubtful that many of the candidates listed in this space will be able to get the requisite signatures to get on the ballot for the election. The field is so crowded and muddied that the Democrats refused to designate an official candidate in the race. As I write this, there are only two people who have filed their intent – Joe Addabbo, Jr. (the son of long-time Congressman Joe Addabbo) and Chris Jorge (local Rockaway activist). Many are expected to enter by the day this paper goes into circulation. Lew Simon, long-time Democratic district leader told me at the Broad Channel parade that he was going to announce on Thursday. That would, unfortunately, make him an instant frontrunner. I say unfortunately, because I have never met a man who lies more often than Lew. Many of the reasons I say that are well known – his phony teaching license and his phony resume for two. Other facts that support what I say here will come out as the race progresses. They are just too delicious to print all at one time. Two other Rockaway men have indicated their interest in the race and have set up election committees. They are Robert Curran and Palmer Doyle. Curran’s backing seems to be lacking, but Doyle is a New York City firefighter and claims to have the support of the city unions. That could go a long way towards getting him on the ballot and then getting him the party nod. At the Queens Democratic Party meeting last week, Assemblyman Tony Seminerio nominated his son, John Seminerio for the post and he may just be the wild card, because Seminerio has lots of juice with party regulars. One other local who was expected to run, Geraldine Chapey (the younger) has apparently decided not to run. On the Republican side, the choice is among Joanne Ariola (who was the chief of staff to Stabile and is now working for Democrat/ Republican Noach Dear), who claims to be the "most experienced" candidate, John Macron, a Rockaway lawyer, whose only claim to fame so far has been to screw with Ariola’s domain names and Alex Lutz, (Stabile’s present chief of staff), who may or may not stay in the race. I would have to say that Ariola is the leader of the pack. That would set up an Addabbo – Ariola race or a Simon – Ariola race that would be fun. If Addabbo wins, I will support him. If Simon wins, I will support Ariola. Simon, for me, is not a choice, but an echo of the old-line ward healers who gained popularity by doing small favors for lots of people with one hand while screwing everybody for his own good with the other.

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The Memorial Day parades in Broad Channel and the Rockaways were small but intense. It is a shame that more people do not come out to support our vets. I remember a time in Rockaway, when I marched with the boy scouts in Far Rockaway and the Sea Scouts in Broad Channel, that thousands of people lined the streets to cheer for our nation’s heroes.

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It seems as if beaches in Rockaway will be the only ones closed this summer. No beaches in Staten Island or in Brooklyn will be closed, if I read the press release from the Parks Department correctly. Why? The answer is that Rockaway beaches are "surf beaches" and therefore require better swimmers as lifeguards. I can buy that, but how are the Coney Island beaches, for example, any different? It looks like our complaints got us dumped on rather than serviced by Stern and his minions.

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It is now June and the ferry service from Breezy to Manhattan is scheduled to begin. Have you seen a timetable? Have you seen any ads about the service? Have anything that indicates that it is on schedule? Neither have I.

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It is a pleasure to drive the length of the peninsula on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and see that all of the new homes being built are also being inhabited. There is no doubt in my mind that the middle class people who are buying those homes, no matter what their ethnic or religious background, are welcome additions. That development might signal the revitalization of Rockaway more than any glitzy business or recreational development, but many people are looking down at the homes as somehow "second class." They are wrong.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints or story ideas to hschwach@nyc.rr.com or to editor@rockawave.com. Have a good week, and safe home.


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