2001-12-29 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The mayor’s decision to cut the $300 thousand budget allocation that would have allowed for a subsidized ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan was a tough story for The Wave to cover. All of the city council people involved, from Speaker Vallone to Al Stabile, already had one foot out the door, as did the people in the mayor’s office who usually comment on such things. In addition, the usual spokespersons for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) were packing up to go or on vacation as well. One person we contacted at the DOT did not even know who Noach Dear is, and he is the chairperson of the council’s transportation committee, the most powerful council member involved in transportation issues. Nobody answered the phones at OMB. There was not even an answering machine turned on. It will be nice when the new council members take their seats next week, and at least there should be somebody to answer the phones once again.

Ten years ago this week, the state Supreme Court upheld virtually the entire jury verdict rendered in November, granting Hartman Y executive director Steve Kaplansky a libel judgment of $2.25 million against Rockaway newspaper publisher John Baxter and his paper, The Rockaway Press. The judgment was as a result of a series of articles on the front page of Baxter’s paper charging Kaplansky with irregularities, charges that Kaplansky’s lawyers successfully proved were not only false, but were defamatory and damaging as well.

Those who want to get a good look at how the world viewed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should get a new book entitled, "September 11, 2001: A Collection of Newspaper Front Pages Selected By The Poynter Institute." The book is 146 pages full of newspaper front pages, a tome that would not sound interesting under normal circumstances to anybody but newspaper design people, but this book is at once horrifying and gripping. We got a few copies at The Gift Is Love on Beach 116 Street, but they were going fast. It is definitely something you will want on your bookshelf to show your grandchildren. By the way, the picture of local activist Steve Cooper running from the white cloud of ash is shown a couple of dozen times in the book.

The on-again, off-again bus strike that may affect tens of thousands of riders in Queens, including many in Rockaway, is driving bus-riders slightly crazy. While our own Green Bus Line is not involved, there is a vague threat in union statements that should the three lines that are threatening to strike do so, workers the other private bus lines, including Green Bus, would join in.

The Transit Authority is once again threatening to trim costs by closing token booths in a number of subway stations. While none of the Rockaway stations are directly affected, you can bet that once the plan begins and the savings are realized, the agency will want to widen the program and token booth clerks at Rockaway stations will be cut.

"Black Cloud" is leaving Rockaway. Detective Eddie Henson, who gained some fame and notoriety during the run of "The System" on Court TV, is retiring from the NYPD after 20 years of service. Henson earned a reputation for knowing everything there was to know about the housing projects in Rockaway and the gangs that plagued those projects. He once chalked up 30 gun-related arrests in a six-month period. He reportedly earned the nickname "Black Cloud," because he had the ability to walk into shootouts, drug deals and other chaotic situations and turn them into arrests. He was a black cloud for criminals in Rockaway and he will be missed.

President Bush has signed legislation that would make September 11 "Patriot’s Day" in the United States. The legislation is in honor of those killed in the terrorist attacks on that date. It requires the President to issue a proclamation each year and order flags lowered to half-staff. It is not clear what this will do to the idea to commemorate that day "Firefighter’s Day."

In last week’s Wave, we ran a picture of a young PS 105 student with Santa Claus. In going through The Wave from 20 years ago this week, we noticed that the issue had a picture of a young lady with Santa Claus. The then four-year-old was Robin Neuer of Broad Channel. Last month, Robin was the Maid of Honor at Wave editor in chief Howard Schwach’s daughter’s wedding. Things in Rockaway go round and round.

The owner of the Island Princess, the ferry that runs from Riis Park to Sheepshead Bay called to tell us that his ferry is also in the running to pick up the Rockaway to Manhattan run should the ferry subsidy be restored to the budget. Competition is always good, and it would be great to see two ferry services running from Rockaway to Manhattan by spring.

As we write this, airport security is busy checking the shoes of vast numbers of holiday travelers. The plastic explosive found in the shoes of a passenger who was trying to set his shoe bomb off is no laughing matter, but we are not going to stop threats such as that easily. What happens next, when a woman is found with a rack of plastic explosive under her skirt? Are we going to make each female traveler wearing a skirt to raise it for inspection?


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