2001-06-16 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

During the Spring, flowers begin to bloom and during the election season just begun, so do the politicians. There were a couple of major events in Rockaway this weekend and candidates were at both. To their credit, they did not mar either event by politicking or by attempting to collect petition signatures. They were just there to see and be seen, to speak with constituents and there is nothing wrong with that. On Saturday night and into Sunday, there was a very impressive Cancer Walk at Beach Channel High School. More of the walk below, but suffice it to say that city council candidates Joann Ariola, Joe Addabbo, Jr. and Rey Clarke (running in the East End election) were present and were very low key. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who is no longer running for anything, was the mistress of ceremonies and not once did she mention politics or the election. On Sunday morning, at the Save Israel parade, both Ariola and Addabbo were once again present. Peter Vallone was expected, but failed to show because he had another breakfast someplace else and "Rockaway was too far to come to keep the rest of his schedule." One whose absence was noted by all was city council candidate Lew Simon, who usually attends every function in Rockaway (and, some that he fabricates himself). The conjecture was that he was probably in Atlantic City on another of his famous casino trips. By the way, I have received a number of telephone calls and e-mails asking me if there is a "Democrats for Ariola" group developing in Rockaway. They tell me that they will join up should Simon win the Democratic primary. "Anybody but Simon" seems to be the mantra. I might just join that group myself.

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The Cancer Walk was one of the best-planned fundraisers I have ever attended. More than 600 people camped out all night at Beach Channel High School. There were teams from Waldbaum’s, from Madeline Chocolate, From the Rockaway Action Committee, from PS 225 (the largest, with 65 members, including principal George Giberti) and from many other local organizations and businesses. The rules required that at least one team member had to be walking laps all the time. The rest of the team members rested, ate and took part in some really fun activities, such as a scavenger hunt that had everybody in stitches. The only discordant note during the evening came when a white teacher and her parents were leaving the field. A number of young black teenagers began to hurl invective and bottles at the departing trio. A young man who was believed to be an undercover cop quieted the kids down. The highlight of the evening was the lighting of the "luminaries" in honor of cancer victims and survivors. Each luminary was a paper bag filled with sand and a candle. Each bag had the name of a survivor or a cancer victim written on the outside. They were all lit between 9:30 and 10 p.m. and they gave everybody the chills. It was a great Rockaway event and I look forward to next year’s version.

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Al Stabile’s troubles seem to be growing by leaps and bounds. First came the word that he had played fast and loose with money from the Ozone Howard Little League and that he had tried to trade land for money when he owned neither the land nor the money. Now comes word that Stabile played fast and loose with his campaign funds as well, reportedly attempting to overpay the bills for his political fundraisers and then apply the overpayments for his daughter’s wedding party at Russo’s On the Bay. There are reports that the DA is looking into both events. The DA isn’t talking, however. There is a report that a Federal Grand Jury will "soon" indict Stabile. The Southern District is not talking about it until it becomes a reality, and then there will undoubtedly be a large press conference. This all casts doubts on Stabile’s future in politics. Republican pols tell me that he is already out as the party’s candidate for Borough President, although he can still try for the nomination by vying in a primary against whomever the party chooses to replace him. There are doubts that his health will allow him to do that. In any case, Stabile’s political run is probably over, just when it was getting started.

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The environmentalists will hate the idea, but the only way to keep the mosquito population at bay so that people in Arverne, Bayswater and Sommerville can keep their sanity is to spray a strong pesticide in those areas. That was the finding at a meeting held last week in Far Rockaway. "The mosquitoes here have destroyed our summers since they stopped spraying," Jonathon Gaska, the district manager for CB 14 said. "We have to convince the city to do something." The city sprayed areas of Rockaway until about ten years ago, when environmentalists forced the state to stop paying for the spraying program. The city stopped when the state money stopped.

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Gene Woodling and Hank Bauer were two of my favorite Yankee players during the early 1950’s. The two were intertwined in Casey Stengel’s two-platoon system. Both were veterans who came back from WW II to go back to playing games. Woodling had a .318 average in his World Series career and he died recently at age 78. His death brings back memories and he will be missed.

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The new JFK Terminal 4 is a modern wonder, but its opening has caused consternation among people who worked in the food service area in the previous terminal. The food service in the new terminal was given to Restaurant Associates, subsidiary of a British group (remember that a British group is slated to take over management of the entire airport should the mayor get his way). The new group has refused to rehire 63 of the 100 food workers who previously had jobs there. It has discontinued other jobs, putting even more local residents out of work. Is this anyway to take over an airport? I don’t think so.

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The eighth annual 100 Precinct Olympics has become one of the highlights of the school year. Teams from each of the public and parochial schools within precinct boundaries take part in an opening and closing ceremony and in a number of athletic events. The kids get a kick out of the day and they get to know the police, who act as coordinators and judges, in a different light. St. Frances De Sales took home Olympic Gold, PS 42 took home Silver and PS 183 took home Bronze. This is one case where winning really isn’t everything.

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St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway has emerged from bankruptcy with both a good credit rating and a three-year accreditation from the Joint Committee on Accreditation. This should be good news to those who have close ties to the hospital, but who have backed away in recent years due to the institution’s financial and patient care problems.

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


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