2002-01-05 / Columnists

Beachcomber

City workers are up in arms over the mayor’s plan to spend billions in city money on two new ballparks at the same time they are being told that the city has no money for salary raises. This has now become Bloomberg’s problem, and that is just the way Giuliani wants it. There is no doubt that the stadiums would draw many visitors or that baseball is important to New York. We do not want to see the new stadiums built on the backs of city workers, who did more for the city in this year of the World Trade Center and gave more to this city than any other group.

"Another year older and deeper in debt," as the old song says, Rockaway residents are entering 2002 with the hope that it will bring less grief that its predecessor. It was a tough year for Rockaway residents, as it was for residents all over the world. Our little peninsula was hit inordinately hard by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 and then again two months later when Flight 587 dropped into Belle Harbor and put Rockaway on the world map. Those two events and their aftermath were tough stories for The Wave staff to cover, but they were much tougher for those who still feel the loss of loved ones. The Wave wants to offer all of our readers a wish for a happier and healthier New Year, one free from the terror and grief that impacted upon us all last year.

American Airlines put out a glossy broadsheet called "Community News" last week to "update" residents of Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park in the cleanup activities "following the accident involving Flight 587 on November 12, 2001." The airline says that it is committed to keeping the community informed with "timely, essential information regarding the community and the impact of the cleanup process." We would suggest that the local newspaper would probably be a better vehicle for that information than a newsletter left in some stores in the shopping area.

The surprise choice of Nick Scoppetta to lead the FDNY into the Bloomberg era in New York was an indication of where Bloomberg plans to take us. Scoppetta has never put out a fire, never responded to an emergency, never dealt with emergency responders. He has, however, a track record of turning around troubled agencies, of building morale among both administrators and staff. Will he be able to do the same in the fire department? That remains to be seen. The drummer in "The Music Man," said it best. "You’ve got to know the territory," he said. He was right. Harold Levy did not know the territory and has been able to do little with the educational bureaucracy. Will Scoppetta do better? Ask us that question next year at this time.

We want to welcome to the community Rabbi Melvyn May, then new spiritual leader of the West End Temple. May’s first service at the synagogue will be held on Friday, January 4 at 8:15 p.m., Rabbi May will replace Rabbi Joseph Weiss, who passed away last year.

Homicides in Queens dipped to an all-time low in 2001, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. In fact, there were twenty-five percent fewer homicides in Queens this year than last, and the number is a 32-year-low. Both of Rockaway’s precincts showed a drop for the year and the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Park recorded only one. In 1990, there were 287 homicides recorded in Queens. In 2001, there were 83.

Robert Young Pelton is a commentator-reporter for CNN. He should not be one for long. I was watching Pelton interview John Walker last week. Walker is the young American many who joined up with the terrorists to fight against the Americans. Pelton told Walker that he "respects the cause" to which Walker has pledged his allegiance. Does that mean that he respects the attack on the World Trade Center? Does that mean that he respects the man who fought to kill American servicemen and women? "Are you a Muslim?" Walker asked Pelton. "No, I’m not," the interviewer answered "But I respect your cause and I respect your call." Later, he was interviewed by another CNN employee about his comments. "I’ve taken Americans to other jihads," he said. "It’s not so uncommon to find Americans fighting in these wars." How Pelton remains with CNN after that is beyond us. Being neutral and unbiased is one thing, but taking the side of a man who many consider a traitor is quite another.

Now I can understand why we could not reach City Councilman Noach Dear to find out about Rockaway’s loss of the $300 thousand ferry subsidy we had been promised. He was busy doing what the city council does best. Dear recently sent The Wave a press release announcing his "victory in his year-long battle to include the holidays of Purim and Ash Wednesday on the city’s list of authorized alternate side parking suspension days." Last Wednesday, the same day the money for the subsidy was cut from the city’s budget, the city council debated and voted on that new law. Aren’t you glad that we have a city council to protect our rights and to name streets and make parking rules?

The Chamber of Commerce will finally hold its postponed "Holiday Celebration of Friendship," on Saturday, January 12 at 7 p.m. at the Washington Hotel. Being honored by the organization are Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Peggy Dematteis, Curtis Archer, Bernard Gassaway and Mario Russo. In addition, an award will be presented to Aearo Corporation of Indianapolis, Indiana for its involvement in the World Trade Center Relief Fund.

There was some comment that there was no Kwanzaa display in Far Rockaway shopping area. The holiday displays are placed in various parts of the community not by government, but by individual organizations. For example, the Chanukah Menorah in Rockaway Park is sponsored by the Rotary Club while the Christmas Tree is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. It is obvious that some private organization has to sponsor the Kwanzaa display as well. Perhaps the RDRC could be the one, although it is questionable whether public money could fund what is ostensibly a quasi-religious display. Perhaps we could say that Kwanzaa is more cultural than religious and that would allow for RDRC to fund it next year. In any case, it is something to think about in the coming year.

The Far Rockaway High School girl’s basketball team will meet Beach Channel High School’s team for peninsula bragging rights this Friday at 4 p.m. at Far Rockaway High School.


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