2002-12-28 / Columnists


Mike Barnicle, one of our favorite writers, recently did a Daily News column on Rockaway and on Kevin Boyle's book, "Braving The Waves." Barnicle, who had to leave Boston when the Globe asked him to find other work, likens Rockaway to the town in Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." "Here, there is a story on every block, inside just about every house too," Barnicle writes. "There's even a narrator now, an updated voice to take you by the hand as you stroll through the sadness of September 11 along with the startling crash of Flight 587 two months later." Barnicle says that the updated voice is Kevin Boyle, and we would have to agree.

Gene Michael's restaurant was dedicated by his brothers to the memory of Firefighter Eugene Whalen, who was lost on September 11, 2001. The Rockville Center restaurant wants Rockaway residents to come and see the new establishment. The owners are offering 20 percent off all checks over $60 during the week. Gene Michael's has become one of our favorite restaurants in the short time that it has been open.

We want to wish good speed to Dennis Kirschner, the owner of Dragon's Den Florist on Beach 116 Street. Dennis has been in business in Rockaway for more than 40 years and we wish him well in his retirement.

Both Ed Koch and Rudi Giuliani seemed to enjoy the Town Hall meetings that they hosted. They always seemed to love the give and take, hearing directly from their constituents. Mike Bloomberg obviously does not enjoy the give and take. He has put a hold on future town hall meetings until he can come up with a format more to his liking. "He wants to go in another direction," a city hall official said.

The city council, in a shocking discovery, has found that most schools do not answer their phones after 5 p.m. in the evening. What a find. Anybody who ever worked in a school could have told Eva Moskowitz, the chair of the Council's Education Committee that generally the schools are closed at that time and there are no secretaries funded to be in school that late in the day unless there is an after-school program running in the afternoon. The cost of funding a position just to sit around on the off-chance that a parent will call is prohibitive, especially in this time of tight budgets.

Speaking of schools, we call the Education Department and asked for a list of the cuts being made to district office staff in District 27 under the chancellor's mandate to cut from the top. We were told that the final cuts have not been made as yet, to try in a "few months." The fact is, a number of people have received notices that their positions would be cut on January 3. Chalk up one more lie for the "transparent" Education Department.

It is going to be interesting to see the form our laws and notifications take now that the City Council has passed a law that all language in official documents be "gender-neutral." It' amazing, with all that the council has to worry about these days, that they made their priorities the anti-smoking bill and the gender-neutral language bill. Boy, they are sure earning their $100 thousand plus salaries.

The Broad Channel Historic Society is now selling its 2003 calendar, which is once again chock full of historic pictures and material. The calendars can be purchased at a number of local venues, including The All American Deli, Broad Channel Grocery, Grassy's and Channel Cutters.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo had the promise of the city fathers that Rockaway would have received free ferry service to Manhattan should there have been a transit strike. The strike did not happen and our ferry service did not materialize, but recent news stories say the settlement is not a done deal and we may still see a strike. If we do, perhaps we will see free ferry service for the duration of the strike as well.

The father of a Canadian hockey player is suing his league officials for not naming his son as the league's Most Valuable Player. The $300 thousand suit says that his 16-year-old son is so crushed that another player was chosen that he "has lost his love for hockey." The suit demands that the MVP trophy be taken away from the recipient and given to his son. What is the world coming to? The next thing you know, there will be no more MVP trophies so that nobody will have to get a reduced self-esteem by not winning a sports award.

We were surprised when we came back to work this week and found a number of telephone calls and email from people associated with Beach Channel High School who wanted to talk (not necessarily on the record) about problems in the school. We guess that our front-page story about an assault at the school that appeared in last week's paper opened the floodgates. Stay tuned. We wish that the school administration could comment on the situation and give us its side of the story. That, however, is prohibited by the Education Department.

If you live on the west end, remember to attend the meeting on January 8 hosted by the DEC to address the clean-up of the old LILCO MGP plant. This could very well be an important issue for the health of those who live in the area, as well as those just passing through.

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