2003-04-12 / Columnists



Broad Channel, one of the more patriotic communities in our city, is preparing to cover the town with American Flags in support of the men and women who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The coordinators of the program are asking residents to sponsor a flag for $20. Your flag will be mounted on a light pole in the community and will highlight your donation. For further information on how to sponsor a flag, contact Ed O’Hare at 718-318-5504. Checks made out to Sons of the American Legion can be sent to 806 Shad Creek Road in Broad Channel.

Those who really want to know what brought on the deterioration of Rockaway in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s should read a newly-published book, "Between Ocean and City," by Lawrence and Carol Kaplan. The book, published by the Columbia University Press, details the way our city fathers, with the approval of the Chamber of Commerce and local politicians, sold Rockaway down the river. It is must reading for all Rockaway residents interested in the peninsula’s history. Lawrence Kaplan is an old-time Rockaway resident and has been a professor of History at City College. Watch the pages of The Wave for more on this compelling history book.

The rally to support our troops in the war zone was well-attended considering the weather and the short notice. More than 200 people crowded into the street in front of the boardwalk in Beach 116 Street. We were surprised at the number of local people who carried pictures of loved ones who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. City Councilman Joe Addabbo, Congressman Tony Weiner, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and State Senator Malcom Smith all showed up to support our troops. While City Councilman Jim Sanders (who voted favorably on the council resolution against the war) was on the street during the rally, he did not attend. He did tell us, however, that he was planning to hold a meeting with veteran’s groups on steps to make the soldiers welcome and provide them with needed services when they do come home.

The Rockaway Beach Civic Association will he hosting a giant yard sale to benefit the American Cancer Society’s "Rockaway Relay For Life." The yard sale will be held at the First Congregational Church on Beach 94 Street on Saturday, April 12 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The preliminary results from local saloons and pubs in the wake of the smoking ban, and those results show that everybody is down in terms of both diners and bar patrons. While some local admit that the war and the economy might have played a role in the precipitous drop, a couple say flat out that the smoking ban might just put them out of business in the near future.

The Columbia University professor who started a controversy by wishing for the death of thousands of American soldiers has been guaranteed his job because his comments come under "academic freedom." We understand the concept, but we wonder why lesser professors and students are dismissed from their jobs and from the university for "hate speech."

Twenty years ago, a local subscription to The Wave cost $12. Today, it costs $15. We don’t think that anybody can complain about a three-buck raise in 20 years.

Two years ago, just before Giuliani left office and the Assembly left for the session, a bill was passed to allow casino gambling in the Catskills. At the same time, and at the last minute, the then Mayor Rudy Giuliani pushed Rockaway into the mix by making Rockaway the only place in New York City eligible for a casino. That little-know fact was headlined in The Wave at the time, but was played down by our local legislators. Now, Mayor Bloomberg is calling quietly for an OTB Casino in New York City that he hopes will bring in $400 million for the city coffers. According to an inside report in the Post, the casinos would include not only horse racing, but slots as well. While Bloomberg’s people are not talking about the plan, it is clear that Rockaway might be the only place where it can be placed under current state law.

Bloomberg can’t find money to keep firehouses open, but he is going to spend a couple of million dollars to buy nicotine patches for city residents who want to quit smoking. After hiring workers to check on bars and restaurants to insure that nobody is smoking and to buy the patches, it can wind up that the mayor’s anti-smoking fetish might wind up costing us all a small fortune.

After reading the Beachcomber about Angel Ouiles, a Beach Channel High School graduate who is fighting in Iraq, the staff and patients at Rockaway Park Physical Therapy decided to send him a care package and did so on April 7.

The Rockaway Museum, which is housed in The Wave Building, will be closed for vacation this week.

There has been lots of reaction to Stephen Wohl’s letter to the editor in last week’s edition of The Wave. Wohl called those who are fighting in Iraq "dirty war criminals," and urged that they be tried as such. At the Saturday rally for the troops, a number of people carried signs decrying Wohl’s comments and one Beach 134 Street man even told us that we should contact Wohl and bring him down to his street for a "little dance."

Many local residents, particualry those who live on the west end, called to ask about the U.S. Coast Guard cutter that sat off Beach 123 Street from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. Even in the fog of Saturday, it was clear that the boat was still there, tooting its horn to warn incoming ships of its prescence. Some wondered if it were on anti-terrorist patrol. We are trying to find the answer.

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