2001-06-09 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

For a political science junkie, there are not many things that are more fun than a free for all election. After all, there are so few of them these days when the incumbent hardly ever loses. This is a special year. The term limit law has removed both of our city council members, our mayor and our borough president at one fell swope. Everybody who ever wanted to run for office smells the blood in the water and wants a chance to take office while the taking is good. In the next election, there will once again be an incumbent – the person who wins this year. This year, however, it is a wide-open race. That leads to the fact that there are eight people running for the city council seat in the "white" district and at least seven running in the "minority " district. Add four or five running for mayor and three or four running for borough president and ain’t we go fun!

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An election such as this one always brings out lots of rumors and conjecture (rumors are usually closer to the truth than conjectures). One such conjecture was that Audrey Pheffer would run as a Republican if she did not get the Dem nod for BEEP. You can see how that one went. Audrey withdrew from the race when Helen Marshall was picked by the organization. Local conjecture now has it that Manton and his minions did not pick a candidate for the city council slot in the 31 District because it wanted to see if Palmer Doyle, a local firefighter, would get union backing. If so, the conjecture goes, the party might come out for Doyle.

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Speaking of conjecture and rumor, there is lots of both surrounding Al Stabile’s removal as president of the Ozone Howard Little League. That is about the only fact that is known about the story. Stabile is no longer president. Did he resign? Was he forced to resign? Was he removed? Nobody is talking. Did he make a deal to turn over the use of a piece of property dedicated to the little league to a private contractor? Did he do it for the little league or for himself? Nobody knows and the rumor and conjecture will grow until somebody who does know talks about it.

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Last week I wrote about Lew Simon’s phony teaching license, believing that many of my readers would know what I was talking about. Many did not, so here goes the story one more time (it is fair game now that Lew is officially running for office). A few years ago (I have to look at back issues of the paper to figure out just when it was), Lew had signs up all over Rockaway for a tutoring service that he was running. He promised that he was "NYC/NYS Certified), or at least, that’s what it looked like). I questioned his certification in my column the following week. Shortly thereafter, Lew came to The Wave office with a lawyer (Terry Quinn) and a Xerox copy of what he said was his K-6 teaching license. The name was whited out and Lew’s name and address were typed in. There was no file number and no social security number. Kevin Boyle, who was then the editor of the paper, checked with both the city and the state and found that Simon did not have any teaching license. He ran the story on Page one of the paper. There were no criminal charges brought against Lew only because he never attempted to use the phony license to get a teaching job. Today, Lew denies that it ever happened. He told me a few weeks ago that he never said that he had a teaching license. And, he wonders why I can’t support him for public office. Keep tuned. There is much more to come.

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Let me get this straight. The ferry service planned to carry tourists and commuters from Breezy Point to Manhattan, scheduled to begin service this week, is now on hold because Fox Navigation (the same people that own Foxwoods and the high-speed ferry that runs from Long Island to Connecticut) cannot find a suitable boat for the run from Rockaway into the Lower Bay and into Wall Street. When will the ferry service begin? Nobody is quite sure, although you can probably find a betting man who would give you 6-5 that there will never be ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan and that the brand new ferry landing at Gateway will go the way of many other Rockaway landmarks.

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I don’t usually respond to writers who take objection with my writings, but I would just like to point out to Mary Eiland (who wrote me a long letter that was published in last week’s paper) that I have not been a staff member at MS 53 for more than four years. For two years, I was a staff developer with the district, servicing such schools as JHS 198, JHS 202 and JHS 226. After that time, I was assigned to MS 202 full time and have been there for two years. Thanks for writing, however.

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You often forget what Memorial Day is all about and then you run into an old friend at one ceremony or another and are reminded of what the day means. Walter Patterson worked for many years at Dragon’s Den Florist and we seldom discussed anything other than some flowers that I wanted to buy or how things were going on Beach 116 Street. I met him last week at memorial circle, however, tying a flower arrangement to a tree nearby one of the memorial plaques. He told me that the flowers were for his friend, Harold Roberts. He and Roberts grew up together and went to school together. They joined the Army together during World War II and went for training together. Patterson then was sent to the Pacific while his friend, Harry, was sent to Europe. Roberts was killed in the last months of the war in 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge, the famed German attempt at a breakout that would end the war in its favor. Roberts is memorialized with a plaque on the memorial circle on Beach 121 Street. Each year, Patterson places flowers on a tree nearby the plaque. It is one of millions of stories, but it brings home what the day is really about.

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After the ceremony at the Memorial Circle, a woman came up to me to complain that people walk their dogs on the circle each day, leaving dog poop on the memorial plaques. Would they do that at the Battleship Arizona Monument or at Arlington National Cemetery," she asks. She is right. The people who are memorialized there gave their lives for their nation and deserve better than dog poop.

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If you want to find out which local restaurants received violations from the city for various reasons, log onto the city’s Website at www.nyc.gov. The database can be searched either by name or by location.

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A few months ago, I wrote of Michael Blair, a Rockaway resident and a student at Christ The King High School. I wrote about him because he had won a major prize in a national science fair. Michael recently was elected school body president at the school. We are going to see great things from Michael in the years to come.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to hschwach@nyc.rr.com or to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.


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