2001-08-04 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes by Howard Schwach

I am beginning to rethink my support for local school boards specifically and the entire school governance situation in general. The members of the local board are all good people and most of them mean well, but they have lost all of their power to do some good for the community, with the exception of making recommendations on rezoning issues and choosing a district superintendent. The chancellor and the functionaries at the central board, however, review all of the decisions made by the local board and that is no power at all. What does that leave the board? They serve as a conduit between local residents and the power structure. Even at that, they are not very active. Not too long ago, I wrote a series of articles about "Student M," and the problems he was causing a district middle school. Each of the school board members knew what school I was writing about and not one of the nine ever visited the school to see for him or herself what was going on. In my opinion, that shows a great lack of disinterest on what is really going on in the schools. Instead, they listen to Matt Bromme, Marty Weinstein and Rose Molenelli telling them fairy tales about how great things are in the schools, when in fact, they are anything but great.

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Police officer Courtney of the 100 Precinct is notorious for giving parking tickets on the West End. One of the sergeants from the precinct was in the other day to check out a complaint that he was writing tickets to cars parked on a street where parking is legal and writing that they were parked on a street where parking is illegal. At a recent 100 Precinct Community Council meeting, many residents again complained that a cop should be assigned to only give out tickets. When another resident complained of people walking their dogs on the beach, one person quipped, "The captain should put Courtney on "pooper duty" and we would have no dogs left in Rockaway."

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The New York Post called The Wave office late last week looking for a quote from the editorial staff. They wanted us to say that the three young girls who drowned in Far Rockaway last week might have been saved had the city done more to make it known that it was dangerous to be in the water before the lifeguards came on. I gave them a quote, but it was not the one they wanted. I said that it was a tragedy, but that their uncle had to have seen the "No swimming without a lifeguard on duty" signs coming on to the beach. All he had to do was look to the right and to the left and see that no lifeguards were on duty and say to the girls, "don’t go near the water until the lifeguards come." That would have saved their lives. I do not think that a bigger or more explicit sign would have helped. I do not think that fencing off the beach would have helped. People will disregard signs if they want to and they have to know that they do so at their own risk.

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Steven Fox, son of Dr. and Judge Jean Fox of Neponsit, and the editor in chief of CNET, recently served as a judge at PC EXPO 2001 in New York, choosing the best and innovative new technology companies in the nation. Fox has previously been the Editor of Computer World and Internet magazines. He is a graduate of PS 114 and JHS 180.

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The week before last, the Department of Parks put in new aluminum railings on a stretch of the boardwalk centering on Beach 47 Street. The first night that the new railing was in place, however, somebody came and stole the entire section.

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Brendan Eagan of Beach 126 Street was a real hero recently. The young ex-lifeguard was looking for a place to surf on Beach 96 Street when a passerby yelled to him that somebody was drowning in the ocean nearby. He raced into the water but did not see anybody. He dove into the depths and saw a young child. He pulled the child to safety and assisted paramedics. The child was taken by ambulance to Peninsula Hospital Center, where he remained for a few days and is now doing much better.

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The Wave and the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce are hosting a series of forums spotlighting the candidates for mayor. Whether the candidates accept our invitation or not is some indication of their interest in the peninsula. Peter Vallone, Freddie Ferrer and Alan Hevesi have already accepted and set up forum dates (8/13 for Ferrer, 8/22 for Hevesi) Mike Bloomberg has accepted, but no date has yet been set. Mark Green has turned us down, although he was here for a "walking tour" on the East end of the peninsula last week. Herman Badillo has not responded.

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It seems clear that no Democratic candidate will get the requisite 40 percent of the vote to win the party nomination in the September 11 Primary. If that happens, there will be a runoff among the two top candidates two weeks later, on September 25. In the latest polls, Green was still the leader at 30 percent. Ferrer (18 percent), Hevesi (17 percent) and Vallone (16 percent) trailed. If Green wins, but gets less than 40 percent of the vote, then he and the number two votegetter will face off two weeks later. Who will that be? The other candidates are too close to pick, but in a runoff, anything can happen. That is what makes being a registered Democrat in New York so exciting. You get to vote in a primary, which is not usually the case with those registered as Republicans (although this year you Republicans have a choice between Bloomberg and Badillo—two ex-Democrats).

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The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has announced that it will go ahead and activate the Doppler radar unit at Floyd Bennett Field "sometime later this year." This announcement came in the wake of a 2-1 federal court ruling that allowed the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) to remain at the site. An agreement between the Interior Department and the Federal Department of Transportation reportedly allows the FAA radar facility to use the park for 20 years in return for $180 million in "improvements" within the park.

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


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