2003-01-18 / Columnists


The Far Rockaway High School class of 1978 is planning its 25th reunion for Sardi's Restaurant in Manhattan on Sunday, August 10. Roger Baumgarten, who is getting it all together, says that any alumni who are interested should contact him at his email address, FRHS1978@comcast.net.

Far Rockaway was highlighted in this week's Sunday Daily News. Once again, Warren Woodberry, Jr., wrote about a specific section of the peninsula and it is interesting to see what an "outsider" thinks of specific areas of Rockaway. First of all, Woodbury lumped Bayswater, Far Rockaway, West Lawrence, Seagirt Beach, Wavecrest and Edgemere together as one unit, when, if fact, they are very different areas. In fact, the differences between the communities that make up Rockaway is a weakness that shows up in how the city looks at Rockaway and how it treats us. Linking them together is akin to linking Forest Hills to Jamaica and calling it one area. Harvey Gordon, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council, told Woodberry that there are 1,500 Orthodox Jewish families in Bayswater and West Lawrence, and we have to add that the Orthodox are probably the fastest growing segment of our community. Bayswater, in fact, is quickly becoming a Satmir stronghold.

When term limits were set by the voting public for city officials, long-time politicians predicted dire consequences for the city. The thought was that an entirely new city council would allow the political decision-making process atrophy while they learned their jobs and that a new mayor would take advantage of the newness of that body. That, however, has not happened. With a few exceptions, the new Councilmembers have proven to be at least better than the old. Now, voters are taking a look at the state offices. Perhaps term limits would work to make the assembly and senate better as well. The state legislature has long been a monopoly, with the only new members coming when somebody retired or died. It is time for term limits to work its way for state offices as well as city.

Several correspondents contacted us to let us know that a BB gun is not considered a "toy gun." In an earlier editorial, we said that a young man had held up an undercover cop with a toy BB gun. It was pointed out to us that a BB (or pellet) gun can do lots of damage and even kill.

There are those who are angry that the cleanup of the old LILCO MGP facility on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street will take until 2005 to clean up. There are those who think that the dirt should be removed now and that the cleanup should take about two weeks. Without sounding like an apologist for Keyspan Energy, we have been assured by both the company and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that there is a very strict federal policy for cleaning up superfund sites and that they both have to adhere to that policy. The feds require both a planning and a design phase and plenty of community input in between even before the cleanup is begun.

Some Vietnam vets have called, asking for contact information for the Vietnam Veterans of America. The local Queens chapter can be found at 88-61 76 Avenue in Glendale and can be reached at vn6979@aol.com.

A reminder that the annual Heart's and Shamrocks Dance to benefit the Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held at Springman Hall at St. Camillus on Sunday, January 19.

There has been lots of controversy over the fact that a water delivery company has refused to deliver to a Rockaway church because the company's drivers are afraid to drive into the area. On Sunday, the "Ethicist" addressed that issue in the Times Sunday Magazine. The bottom line is that delivery persons are often robbed and there is no law that requires them to go into areas that they consider unsafe. That, of course, does not carry over to public services such as police, fire and education. Those services are required to go everywhere.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put his foot in his mouth recently when he said, that Vietnam-era draftees "added no value, no advantage, really, to the United States Armed Forces." What has that guy been smoking? He can knock the Vietnam experience and he can knock the plan to bring back the draft, but he certainly should not be knocking the people who were drafted and served honorably in a war they were not allowed to win.

If you thought that the politicians were ready to give up their hold on local schools by doing away with the local school boards, think again. A City Council committee, headed by Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, has asked the task force studying the question to allow for nine-member parent committees to replace the boards. The parent members of those committees would be appointed by the Borough President and City Council members. Get the picture? Think community boards and you will see what this type of political appointments would mean to the school system. The plan is probably a reaction to the general feeling that Mayor Bloomberg is taking too much power for himself in relation to the city's schools and that the other political entities, such as the city council and the state legislature had better cut some pieces of the pie for themselves before there the pie plate is empty.

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