2001-06-09 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

Democratic District Leader Dr Geraldine M Chapey, along with her
husband Eugene Pasternak, was the host at a reception for New York City
Mayoral Candidate Alan Hevesi, as well as for Public Advocate Candidate
Kathryn Freed. Dr. Chapey gave opening remarks regarding Mr. Hevesi's much-contested candidacy; as he is being challenged by Mark Green, Fernando Ferrer, and Peter Vallone; as well as by Republican candidate Mike Bloomberg.

I have never seen a more natural speaker than Dr. Chapey as she spoke about her feelings for this important up-coming Mayoral race. Among the many reasons for her decision to support Mr. Hevesi, her top priority is his stance on public education.

After she was finished enthusiastically citing Mr. Hevesi's litany of accomplishments as the City’s Comptroller, Mr. Hevesi addressed the audience with humility and good humor. "Gerry, many thanks to you, as well as to your mother, for all of your support, your spirit of friendship, and encouragement. That was quite an introduction. I really don't deserve it; but as Jack Benny used to say, "I don't deserve arthritis either!"

Mr. Hevesi has recently picked up the Liberal line. He also boasted the support of Representatives Gary Ackerman, Nita Lowey, Anthony Weiner, and also Elliot Abrams. Reverend Floyd Flake has decided to endorse Hevesi as well.

Education, particularly the health of the public school system, is of imminent importance to Mr. Hevesi. He has a three-tier formula: He would limit class size to 19 children per class. There would be qualified teach- ers in every class. Parents would be skilled and trained in how to create a home environment that would nurture the education process, and parents would be taught how to have expectations of their children.

Hevesi strongly believes that parents have to become more involved in the process. He would promote salary increases for teachers; and as an incentive for those who plan to retire, he explained that he would pay them half their salary and give them full- pensions as an incentive to sign on for three more years.

Mr. Hevesi also spoke of accountability and suggested that if a child is not able to maintain a B average, the child would automatically go into a tutoring class. He states that our schools are being under-utilized and he believes that schools should be open until 10pm and during summer months. "As a manager, it doesn't make sense that we only use the schools for the entire year."

Hevesi also suggested that rather than build more schools, he would be in favor of building more stories on to existing structures. He spoke about an "Adopt-a-School" program where corporations are given incentives to buy computers, etc.

Crime was another strong point of Mr. Hevesi's presentation. He cited that while crime has been down, there have been $28.3 million in claims against the city for police misconduct. As City Comptroller, he has had to decide on these claims. He is for the use of new weapons that disable rather than kill.

"The Economic boom is ending!" stated Hevesi. "We need an experienced Comptroller!" He cited that although we have enjoyed approximately 508,000 new jobs that have been created during this boom, we are still second lowest in unemployment. He urged that we have to consider the web economy and become the center of "high technology".

He also spoke of the increasing immigrant population and of the impact of our ethnic diversity. "Forty percent of our population is immigrants. There are 407 languages spoken, other than English, through out the city. He spoke of being invited to speak recently at a Guyean Methodist Church and that through out the service there were only three words he understood, "possibilities, Amen, and Shalom!"
   Jack King urged Mr. Hevesi that if elected Mayor, that he would pay attention to Rockaway. Hevesi told Jack that much of the problems we have here are due to the fact that we have so many civic leaders and there is little agreement on what should be done here. I'm not sure whether Jack bought that response.

Indeed, we certainly have too many leaders and organizations, but to say that our problems are the direct result of our civic leaders is not only an over simplification of our problems, but it is rather insulting to blame a community for its problems. But as Malcolm Smith punctuated, "Jack, don't worry!" Thank goodness for people like yourself and all others who take the time to get involved. Perhaps we tend to get in each other's way or maybe we at times stumble all over ourselves; but history has shown that it is through the mandate of its people that a community will change for the better and flourish.
   I thank District Leader Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, and her wonderful husband Eugene Pasternak, for hosting a most informative and enjoyable evening; and also New York State Regent Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey for her opening remarks about what has been happening at the Regent level. The Chapeys are always mesmerizing to listen to and their commitment to community service is always so utterly inspiring.
  John Baxter just can't seem to sit still! Through out his years on the beach, since 1954, he has taken on issues with an unparalleled commitment and ferocious intensity. Whenever I speak with him, I do so with pen in hand. I never know what he will say or what kind of knowledge he will endow me with. What one can be assured of is his integrity toward the issues and his extensive documented research.

For many years, he has long been doing what politicians are elected to do. Several years ago, while feeling frustrated and outraged at the failure of both parties, he made a bold move to join the Independence Party. He was elected and now serves as its District Leader. Although he is perhaps seen as the "wild card", and he will be the first to tell you that he doesn't mind that characterization one bit, he is very much running in the race for City Council.

What makes John run? Outrage! He is currently so furious that the city has decided to close down token booths all over the city, leaving many millions of passengers in danger. He recently allied himself with members of the Transit Workers Union and helped to form "Coalition For Safer Transportation". They are engaging in a vast citywide petition to urge Governor Pataki to re-consider this decision.

To those who say that this isn't a Rockaway issue, Baxter states sheepishly, "What I've come to notice in all my years living in Rockaway is that I've had to come through either Brooklyn or Queens to get here! To shut down the token booths is the same as taking the cops off the street!"

Congratulations to Joann Waters on the birth of her first Grandchild! Arianna Marie Lane was born on June 2 weighing 6lbs. 11 1/2 oz. Best Wishes to proud parents Jean Marie and John Lane.

Best Wishes to my friend Brian Cawley on his new career move to the
Transit Authority!
   See you...On the Beach!    

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