2001-08-25 / Letters

Slamming The WAVE

Slamming The WAVE

Dear Editor;

Last Thursday, August 16, I had an opportunity to attend the Congressional Town Hall Meeting, which was entitled "Keeping In Touch." Congressman Gregory Meeks hosted the meeting, and the attendance was not what many had expected.

Congressman Meeks introduced the members of his staff, which came across as a take-off of "The Tonight Show". The issues on the agenda were the Hope 6 Program, the horrendous condition of the United States Postal System in Rockaway and economic development. Representatives from each area were on hand to discuss these matters.

The meeting opened with a display of extreme arrogance by the Postal Service Inspector. At times, it seemed as if he was taunting many from the community, who were simply expressing their concern with poor service and a number of post offices that were closing for no apparent reason. No real solutions were put forth, other than the fact that an additional window would be opened at the Beach 59 Street location in Arverne.

Discussions of the Hope 6 Program promised to offer improved living quarters for the families in public housing, including live surveillance equipment on every floor. In addition, a pledge was made that no families would be displaced from their living quarters during construction and that 29 jobs would be available for residents that met the requirements.

As a result of these promises, the floor was flooded with a number of questions by skeptical residents. It was at this point the Congressman Meeks announced that a new public housing development building would begin construction in Edgemere, along Beach Channel Drive and Beach 58 Street, as part of the economic development plan for Rockaway. The thought of more public housing being dumped on Rockaway did not sit well with many in attendance, including those already living in public housing!

The surprise of the hour, at this very dictatorial and controlled meeting, came when the Congressman was questioned about his knowledge of potential sludge waste sites scheduled for the Jamaica Bay area. His feverish response was that he had no knowledge of this information. He then turned to State Senator Malcolm Smith to acquire assistance in answering the question. Smith responded that he did not have any knowledge of the information either. Meeks then inquired as to how this information became public, and the speaker told him that the information appeared in the August 11 edition of the local newspaper The WAVE. The Congressman responded that he does not believe everything the newspapers write, especially The WAVE. He then ushered the speaker away from the podium.

Whether he agrees or disagrees with printed articles, or who those who write them, he should be much more receptive to investigating the validity of the subject matter and have some level of sensitivity toward the concerns of his constituents, rather than dismissing them or their questions as frivolous.

As a Congressional member and leader in our community, he should not have taken such a defensive position without first investigating the claim being made. His reaction to the speaker, and his treatment of them, leads one to question his leadership ability.

In defense of the speaker, the article did appear on page 2 in the August 11 issue of The WAVE. We all read it! Someone from his staff of celebrities should have schooled him on it. I believe an apology from the Congressman’s office should be forth coming, and it should be directed at the young speaker; The WAVE, who informed us of this potential hazard; and Bernie Blum, who has been warning the community for years about the potential danger of this sludge.

REY CLARKE

COMMUNITYACTIVIST


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