2001-11-17 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The tragic plane crash in Rockaway on Monday morning drew attention from all over the world. Wave editors and the publisher, Susan Locke, were besieged by requests for radio and televisions interviews via telephone all day long and into the night. One of The Wave editors got a telephone call from Sidney, Australia at midnight, asking for a five-minute interview for its morning show and that call was followed by one from Wales. Many of the calls came from American newspapers and stations as well. All wanted "local color and a read on the mood on the peninsula, something they could not get from government press releases and televised statements. The Wave has indeed become Rockaway’s "Paper of Record" since the World Trade Center attack.

Sometimes, the spirit of helping others surprises even this paper. The managing Editor of The Wave was interviewed by Matt Lauer for the Today Show on Tuesday morning. On the show, he related a story of his wife’s friend who had lost everything when the jet airliner landed on her home on Beach 131 Street. He related how she had called his daughter, who is being married this weekend, to ask if it were alright for her to come in the clothing she was wearing, because that is all she has left. Soon after the show, a Connecticut man called The Wave offices to offer to buy the friend a dress. "Just let her go into any shop and pick what she wants and have them call me for my credit card number," the man said. He really felt that he wanted to do something for a Rockaway resident who was impacted by the crash and this was his way of doing it.

Firefighters from all over the nation have been coming to New York City on a regular basis to attend the funerals and memorial for our firefighters who fell on September 11. There were several groups at the recent memorial services for firefighter Richie Allen at St. Francis De Sales last week. On hand were detachments from Detroit, Michigan; Northbrook, Illinois; Barnaby, Canada (a suburb of Vancouver); Vancouver, Canada; Chicago, Illinois and Worcester, Massachusetts. One of the Vancouver residents told The Wave that there are 800 members of his service and that there are 200 in New York City at any given time. He told me that he and the others from his unit were going to Syosset the next day for another memorial. Standing on the corner of RBB and Beach 129 Street, he also asked me if we were still in New York City. "I can’t believe that this is part of the city," he said. "This is more like another state." New York should find some way of thanking these men and women who leave home for a week at a time to support our city in our time of need. We understand that at least a few of them even helped out in that same neighborhood when the jet plane paid an unexpected visit on Monday.

Although the New York Post did not like it very much, Mayor-elect Mike Bloomberg has started out on a positive note, visiting with those politicians and unions that did not support him in his race for mayor, but will be important in governing the city. What impressed us was the fact that Bloomberg went to them, rather than inviting them to come to his new offices. That shows a certain respect that is usually lacking in politics.

The Speaker of the City Council is perhaps the second most powerful politician in our city, ranking right behind the mayor. It takes 26 votes to become the city council speaker and those votes are cast by the members of the council, not the public. Peter Vallone has held the job for the past 16 years, but he is now a private citizen. The Queens delegation has 13 votes. Two of those votes come from Rockaway, in the form of Joe Addabbo and Jim Sanders. We know that the two recently-elected council members are already getting pressure to vote one way or the other, even before they are seated. We would hope that they would trade their votes for something that would benefit Rockaway. It is sad to say, but that is what politics is all about and we should at least gain something for voting for the man who will wield that kind of power for the next few years.

When John Baxter was running for the city council on the Independence Party line, he was asked about the party’s leader, Marxist Lenora Fulani and her ideas. Baxter said that she was a wonderful leader and that he supported her completely. Fulani recently said of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York that killed 60 Rockaway residents, that we were attacked because of "the combination of our government’s aggression and arrogance." Perhaps Baxter does agree with that. If he does, it might be one indication of why he got only a few hundred votes.

Mike Bloomberg beat Mark Green by almost three to one in Rockaway and Howard Beach in the recent election. The Democrats have to learn that they cannot keep running old-line Liberal hacks such as Dinkins, Messinger and Green if they expect to win ever again in this city. People do not want to go back to those days of welfare and crime that those candidates promise.


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