2002-08-31 / Columnists


The tragic accident that took the life of 17 year-old Rockaway resident Ryan Rudden is a reminder that putting on your seat belt may be the most important thing you ever do in your life. Rudden was not wearing his seat belt and he was thrown violently from the automobile and died. His passenger, 18-year-old Shane Walsh, was wearing his seat belt and he survived the horrendous accident. Somebody suggested that the pictures of the accident car be posted in local high schools to remind students to buckle up, but it is adults that need that warning as well.

We witnessed an event on the beach last weekend that reminds us why it is so tough to be a police officer in this city. Two elderly gentlemen were having an argument on the beach over the fact that one of them had his small dog without a leash on the beach. The argument escalated to a shouting match, with one man threatening to kill the dog and the other threatening to burn the first man's house down. Somewhere along the line, the man without the dog called 911 and said that there was a viscous dog loose on the beach threatening beachgoers. Several police officers responded. They found that the small dog was not actually bothering anybody but the man who made the call. The police tried to mediate the controversy, quieting one man and asking the other to leave the beach with his dog. The man asked why he had to leave with his dog while there were several others on the beach who had dogs with them. One police officer went to other dog owners and asked them nicely to leave the beach with their dogs as well. At least one of them, despite the fact that it is not legal to have a dog on the beach, became argumentative, telling the cop that he was a lawyer and that he had rights because there was no sign on that particular beach banning dogs. The cop tried to be reasonable, but the more reasonable he became, the more argumentative the man became. The cops finally got it sorted out, but it made us take a closer look at what cops go through when they try to enforce unpopular laws. Perhaps it is time to get some of those laws changed.

It seems strange that the September issue of Vanity Fair magazine, which includes an investigatory story on the crash of flight 587, is not available in Rockaway. Local magazine sellers have not been able to get a stock of the issue and the magazine has not responded to questions from The Wave as to why it is not available in the area where the plane crashed.

The Justice Department has stalled a plan to give the new schools chancellor Joel Klein the power to hire and fire superintendents. The present procedure calls for local school boards, elected by the public, to recommend candidates to the chancellor for his "advice and consent." The new governance law, however, gives that power solely to the chancellor and the school boards will be phased out in June of next year. The feds, however, say that the city has not yet demonstrated that the new process will not "adversely affect minority voting rights."

Captain Charles Talamo, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, recently told a selected group of community activists and politicians that there had been no tickets issued to local residents fishing or surfing "illegally" on Rockaway's beaches. We asked locals to let us know if they had received tickets for those activities and several did respond. We are passing those letters and e-mails on to City Councilman Joe Addabbo, who attended the meeting.

By the way, we received some comment on our picture unit last week that showed a police officer's private car parked right on a fire hydrant and blocking a curb cut as well. Some of those who wrote accused us of being "anti-cop" for running the picture. That is as far from the truth as possible. Perhaps somebody can explain to me why a cop can break the law with impunity simply because he or she works for the police department. I have never been able to understand that concept, especially when other city workers are ticketed with glee, including lifeguards who have no place to park during the summer months. There was even a case of a firefighter's car that was parked on Beach 118 Street with a sign, "Please do not ticket - FDNY victim of WTC." There were three tickets on that car.

The final RMAC concert of the summer turned out to be one of the best attended as well. A few thousand people spread out over the great lawn at Fort Tilden to enjoy the "Tribute to Frank Sinatra." The officials of the RMAC should be congratulated for its fine summer series.

One Far Rockaway resident pointed out Sunday night that the weekend was one of the best that the peninsula has seen in many years. He and his wife told us that they had attended the Multicultural Festival in Bayswater Park on Saturday. On Sunday, they attended the Kite Festival, the opening of the RTC's latest show at Fort Tilden and then the opening of "

New York Waterway has just announced that it will begin high-speed ferry service from Hunter's Point in Queens and Pier 11 in Manhattan. The one-way fare will be $5, with a monthly pass costing $150, or $3.50 a trip. The owner of NY Waterway was recently in Rockaway for a tour of the peninsula and for possible ferry locations. We wonder what happened to the $300 thousand subsidy our city council people trumpeted so loudly after the last budget was approved. We also wonder what happened to our ferry service, which was promised more than a year ago.

All A Flutter" at the RAA's gallery and, finally, the RMAC concert in the evening.

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