2003-08-08 / Letters



Editor's Fuzzy Math

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to Howard Schwach's Editor's Desk article, which appeared last week in The Wave. The Wave editor is entitled to his opinions whether they're accurate or not. Whether there were 1500 or 500 people at the July 9 rally is not the issue. The issue is, as I see it, is: have I heard the message. I have. I understand that there is a significant group of people within my district who have concerns regarding beach and boardwalk access. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Capt. Charles Talamo, Chief Thomas Lawless, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have heard it. I have spoken to many of those voicing their concerns. I've told them to go out and enjoy themselves on the beach and boardwalk, within reason, and to let me know if any NYPD or Park Police officer harasses them. I will address the harassment of any individual with the appropriate officials.

I respectfully take issue with the editor's fuzzy math. Yes, 500 + 1500 + 2000 does = 4000. It also presumes that each is a different individual. I know that the approximately 500 names in my office includes those gathered on petitions by my office staff at the rally as well as those who have called, stopped into my office, or written me. There is duplication. The 500 number even includes those who have called more than once and those using fictitious names and giving false call back numbers. I'm sure some of those who were at the rally also called my office and/or signed a petition. To date, I have not seen any other completed petition, nor has Commissioner Benepe or the Mayor's office. There are even residents who have given their names to be added to a list in favor of keeping the beach and boardwalk hours unchanged. Nevertheless, I still encourage people to call me to discuss the issue whether they are for or against the existing beach rules. If there is another petition out there, it would help if it got to the appropriate offices so it can be reviewed and the views of its signers taken into consideration by me and other officials.

It is my decision to continue to speak to any resident, to monitor the beach and boardwalk activity day and night, to continue to speak to community leaders, elected officials, CB14, Capt. Talamo, Chief Lawless, Commissioner Kelly, and Commissioner Benepe. I do this on my own without instruction from Speaker Gifford Miller or anyone else.

I took an oath to represent all the people, regardless of where they live in my district, and that is what I have done since being in office. I will continue to do so.

I am mindful of the fact that the 2000 Census indicates there are approximately 104,200 people living on the peninsula. More than 80,000 of those people, a significant majority of the peninsula's population, live in the 31st Council District. Their opinions on the beach/boardwalk access issue are just as important as those of my constituents. As chair of the Council's Parks Committee, I need to respect their views too and use my best judgment to do what the majority of the residents of the peninsula want. That's a factor in the consensus equation. That is one reason why I have called on CB14 to review the issue and help to assess opinion.

The mention of my father by the Wave editor was unrelated to the issue at hand and, in my opinion, totally out of line. It also was not accurate. Any review of Congressional records will show that my father was not the chairman of the Armed Services Committee at any time during his tenure in the Congress as the editor of The Wave states. My father's record as to what was delivered to this city and his district as a result of his efforts stands for itself. It is the observation and sentiment of many that our city and his district were well served by him. I regret that The Wave editor seems not to agree. I am and will always be proud of what my father taught me about how to serve the public. A newspaper may speculate as to what my future may hold. I'm far more concerned with the present and the daunting task at hand - which is to represent all my constituents, to serve them, and to serve the city as a whole during these difficult times.

I want people to be free to enjoy the Rockaway beaches and boardwalk like they have in the past. If this freedom to enjoy the area does not exist, I want to know about it, so that the situation can be corrected.


City Council Member

Simon, Not Addabbo

Dear Editor:

While my family and I schlepped our fishing poles, coolers and chairs to the beach and were participating in the recent rally successfully organized by Lew Simon protesting the inequitable enforcement of regulations of the New York City Parks and Recreation, I was approached by two workers from Councilman Joe Addabbo's office, requesting signatures on a petition drawn up by his office requesting an adjustment in the hours for the use of the beach and boardwalk.  What an insult to my intelligence!  First, these petitions, prepared by his office represents, in my mind, a conflict of interest since he is chairperson of the parks and recreation committee at City Council, running for re-election and obviously does not responsibly address the needs, desires nor supports issues of concern of his Rockaway constituents.  Second, since he is running for re-election, he will probably use these names and addresses as a base for campaigning efforts. We're not talking about his office being one of non-partisan human service or community based advocacy here. We're talking about an ELECTED OFFICIAL.

Third, the issues concerning the beach, waterfront access, bans on surfing, fishing and walking away from your towel (which constitutes "abandonment of property" in the regulations and enforced as such) and boardwalk restraints are much more complex than his token petitions requesting an hour or so change in the use of the beach or boardwalk.  I just CAN'T believe he stooped to that level.  When I asked Sandy Doremus, one of the ladies circulating a petition from his office why Mr. Addabbo wasn't present at the rally, she told me he had to attend a wake that night.  Meanwhile, he made it clear a few weeks prior to the rally (as reported in a WAVE article) that he wouldn't appear because of a "prior commitment". So, I take it that Mr. Addabbo is some sort of clairvoyant, anticipated someone was going to die that week and he would be attending the wake instead!  I was brought up believing one should have respect for the dead and the grieving family and to assist the living.  Where was he when Rockaway needed his assistance?  I was glad to see Norman Siegel at the rally, ready to defend, pro bono, any person arrested during the festivities.  I was also very happy to see the police stand by, maintain adequate traffic control and allow the peaceful demonstration to take place without incident.

Please keep in mind I am not a Rockaway resident (born in Rockaway, where my heart will always be) but a nearby Five Towns resident who supports businesses and endeavors of all kinds in the Rockaway community.  I have selflessly volunteered my time, energy and professional skills as a nurse and EMT for many years as a member of the Peninsula Volunteer Ambulance Corps., as well as cared for critically ill Rockaway residents and visitors at nearby Peninsula Hospital Center. I have continuously used the waterfront access for recreational fishing and still do. I financially support businesses and programs Rockaway has to offer, so I consider myself just as much a stakeholder in the Rockaway community as anyone else. I have hundreds of signed letters in my possession requesting all the Parks and Recreation rules and regulations be reviewed, revised and equitably enforced to the benefit of those who use Rockaway's beautiful natural resources for various purposes, be they residents, visitors or recreational enthusiasts. These letters are in ADDITION to petitions and letters previously accounted for in your newspaper.

Each and every member of the community and those who use Rockaway's waterfront resources have a stake in Rockaway's future and a responsibility to assert waterfront rights.  Letter writing is a very important aspect to get laws changed and voices heard.  Organize yourselves and reach out to those who did not participate in the rally and are members of the community, especially on the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula.  I'm sure you can garner a lot of support there as well.  I hope to see you all at the fireworks on August 5th at the beach.  Let's all enjoy the sand, sights and sounds that night in support of making changes to regulations as well as support for a wonderful community.

By the way, I never met Lew Simon until the night of the rally when I introduced myself to him and I told him how much I supported his endeavor. 

I now look at him as Rockaway's unofficial Mayor (unpaid, non-elected voice of the community).  I shall be in touch with his office in the future to organize protests, rallies and media events, so please keep in touch with his office as well.  He is truly a mensch and a gem.  He reminds me of the late, great Councilman Walter Ward of Howard Beach, who tremendously represented the true concerns of the Rockaway community and received bipartisan support for many years in return for his privilege to serve on the City Council. Does Addabbo fit in his shoes?

I quote Councilman Joseph Addabbo's campaign promise: "If you have a problem, that's my problem to solve," he said. "If I'm not accountable, then vote me out of office."

Shall we take him up on his offer?


Egg Hunts And Puppet Shows

Dear Editor,

The writer of the "Adios Addabbo" letter in last week's Wave brings attention to many issues very similar to those expressed to my office by residents, Robert Rooney and Michael McManus in the same manner. Mr. Rooney, Mr. McManus and Mr. Murphy are free to express their opinions.

During the course of the controversy over the beach rules issue, I have been telling all residents to go out and enjoy the beach and boardwalk just as they have in the past. I've asked that they let me know if any NYPD or Park Police officer harasses them. I will address any harassment issues any individual brings to my attention with the appropriate officials.

Mr. Murphy's letter accuses me of doing nothing for my Rockaway constituents. I believe that the record indicates that I have. Some of the items I have done in Rockaway are egg hunts and a puppet show in our parks for children, co-sponsored the Kite Festival, obtained funding for a skateboard park, arranged for the MetroCard van to visit the area, added 10% more lifeguards (many whom are Rockaway residents), and ensured that this year more concessions are open than in years past. I have provided funding for RMAC, RAA, senior centers, volunteer fire and ambulance corps (including their compensation insurance), libraries, public schools, the Interscholastic Olympics, beach comfort stations, the Rockaway Museum, and the Rockaway Theatre Company. Thousands of residents have had their individual issues addressed by my office. Ultimately, I will continue to work to deliver more to my constituents.

I have organized and attended meetings before the summer season with 100th Pct. Captain Charles Talamo, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Queens Parks Commissioner Rich Murphy, the Park Police, and the lifeguards' union where concerns over enforcement issues were discussed. I have been involved in ongoing discussions with them all. But, I do not, and cannot, control the enforcement of rules or laws by those charged with enforcement.

Unfortunately, I could not be at the July 9 rally due to prior district commitments. Members of my staff were there. I attempt to attend as many community meetings as I can, but to attend all is impossible for me or any other elected official. I have attended or have had a representative of my office at every meeting regarding the Riis Park pool known to me and that I've been invited to. Even though it is a federal issue on federal property, I have expressed my support and will continue to do so. I believe that there is an Olympics 2012 venue site proposed for an area between Roxbury and Breezy Point. As the Olympic effort moves forward I will support and work toward Rockaway inclusion if that is what the residents desire.

I have tried to be far more accessible to my constituents than my predecessor. I regularly speak with and listen to residents whether at the diner, on the boardwalk, at civic and other community organization meetings, at CB14, or in my Rockaway office.

We get nowhere by attacking anyone's ethnic background or another community. We get nowhere denigrating the good work of a community entity. I am proud of the dedicated, good work of the Addabbo Health Center in providing quality health care for many on the peninsula. I have made it my business to try to be accessible and to serve all of the areas of my district. Like all people, elected officials have different styles in how they work best. I'm not one who works confrontationally. It is a mistake, however, for anyone to equate my non-confrontational style for inaction. I encourage and invite Mr. Murphy to contact me to discuss his concerns, so that I can properly address them.

Very truly yours,

City Council Member

Function Was Beautiful

Dear Editor,

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity... Psalms 133.

The Function at the Junction was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, to see old friends and loved ones who came from far and near. Cynthia Johnson Woods, Hattie Girl, and committee members, "we thank you for planting this seed and watching it grow." Continue the good work and 2004 is just around the corner.

P.S. Love is the key that helps us get where we have to be.


Been Treated Badly By Dems

Dear Editor;

I would like the community to consider the campaign promises that will be delivered as politicians begin their run for their respective offices.  This community has overwhelmingly voted for the Democratic candidates for as long as I can remember, yet how has the Democratic Party treated our community?

The Rockaways continue to have the highest concentration of adult care facilities and public housing than any other community in the city or its outer boroughs. Presently, private home construction has expanded to the point that our schools will not be able to accommodate the number of families preparing to live in our community. To this day, we have only one major supermarket on the entire Peninsula and no other major businesses, who can hire either adults or young people in the numbers required to improve our economy. Recreational facilities are limited to exercise clubs, karate, or dance studios.

Our community has been promised recreational facilities by every politician who has been elected and yet there is not one movie theater on either the west or east ends of the Peninsula. The majority of our residents must travel to the mainland for any recreational or business activity.
  Our Borough Presidents have ignored our community in favor of the needs of the mainland. City Hall votes for money to be spent on areas that are either richer or more vocal than our community. Our beaches which stretch for almost six miles are in direr need of repair. The rules placed on Rockaway residents are not extended to any other community in the city. Where in any other area of the country is prime real estate not afforded the money or the publicity to attract major investors. Our community was deemed not viable to attract either a minor league stadium, or heaven forbid, the Olympics. As to transportation, there is none. Disabled or elderly residents do not have the ability to get to needed medical services because the Green bus line is so inadequate. Only recently have sidewalks been built on the East end. Drug and alcohol abuse among our young and older population is climbing to dangerous levels. Yet, we see our politicians or hopeful candidates only during the campaign season.

The question that I put to the Rockaway community is whether we will continue to elect politicians who promise the sky but can't deliver even crumbs to our community. Are we going to accept the party dogma that if you and your relatives belong to a party then no other politician will have a chance? Will we allow politicians to come to our community only when they desire to seek office, but negligent our needs after the elections? If other communities can demand and receive basic services, if not more, then we should also demand and receive the same services. We are a powerful and resourceful community and if we work together we can force our elected or hopeful politicians not to ignore us for other communities. Now is the time to let the political parties know where our community stands and what they must do instead of what they will promise to do in the future. It is up to every registered voter to tell the politicians in our community that we demand an equal share of the pie.


Belle Harbor Malls Are Wrong

Dear Editor,

I usually don't agree with Howard Schwach's comments, especially his con­stant attacks on the West End of the peninsula. His latest spew of venom for Belle Harbor and Neponsit was from June 6, 2003's "From the Editor's Desk" where he accused residents of having an elitist attitude regarding use of the beach. I just read this article on-line this week. His contempt for the West End has been well documented in this paper for years, and I really don't know why we stand for it sometimes.

However, I have to agree with him about the construction of the silly
center mall in Belle Harbor. The project will not be completed until October. Why are major road projects completed in a matter of weeks and not months outside of New York City? Aside from this ridiculous timeframe, this project is going to be bad for the residents of Belle Harbor for several reasons. The center mall has permanently eliminated parking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. With the increasing number of visitors who use our beaches, parking in Belle Harbor is now at a premium. For those of us who rent on the beach blocks or close to the boulevard and do not have access to a driveway, it has become quite a frustrating experience to obtain a parking spot near our home during the week. Parking will be tight from now on, and we (owners and rent­ers) should be looking for ways to be courteous to each other. Many home­owners do use the street for park­ing during the week and leave empty driveways because they do not want visitors dumping their garbage in front of their homes, which, as any resident can tell you, happens quite frequently. 

Is it elitist to not want garbage, beer bottles, etc. dumped in front of your home? I have a feeling this isn't an issue in Bayswater.

I recently heard that there was a center mall in Belle Harbor in the
early days of Rockaway (1930's or 1940's). It was dismantled within 1
year because of traffic tie-ups. That was 60 or 70 years ago. Can you
imagine what kind of bottlenecking this mall will cause in 2003? The
boulevard will be impassable when parents are dropping off and picking
up their kids at St. Francis de Sales on Beach 129th Street each day.

So, Howie, despite your bitter attitude toward the West End, I agree
that the mall is stupid and I believe the property owners will regret the decision to build it.


Gun Control Not The Answer

Dear Editor:

Last week we saw another tragic and senseless murder befall the black
community. Councilman James Davis was gunned down by a political rival in City Hall.  While I fundamentally disagreed with his politics, he was a good and decent man and will be sorely missed by his Crown Heights constituents.

Like clockwork, the usual suspects of useful idiots are squawking for
tighter gun control. From Norman Siegel of the ACLU to 100 Blacks in law enforcement to Al Sharpton, these liberal do-gooders believe the solution to gun violence is to abolish our Second Amendment rights.  New York City has the most ardent gun control  laws next to Washington D.C. (which, by the way, has the highest homicide rate in the country).

Being a daily reader of The New York Post's police blotter, it should
occur to anybody who can read much less have two brain cells to rub
together, this city is a free fire zone and is flooded with illegal guns.
Downtown Monrovia appears to be safer than democratically controlled
downtown Brooklyn. The Sullivan Law, (racist and elitist as it is, ask
Ron­ald Dixon, the hard working black man who shot a career criminal with a 9mm handgun he was in the process of registering and had to face the wrath of that guilty white liberal, Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes rather than getting the key to the City), has killed far more people than it has saved and more gun control will not do diddily squat to reverse that. 

Simple economics dictate that if you want to create a black market for something; ban it.

Look how many smokers buy their cigarettes tax free over the Internet
because of the City's confiscatory taxes. Truth be told, the only groups of people who benefit from gun prohibition are criminals and liberal democrat politicians. Why? Because they share the same M.O. Liberals, like Bloomberg, want to impose their will and so called values on you and take your money, and criminals, well, they want to impose their will on you and take your money.

The fact is that the 35 states that have a carry concealed law on the
books have a drastically lower rate of crime, across all categories, than
states with strident Second Amendment rights restrictions.  Now unlike all pea-headed liberals who just whine, bitch and moan, I offer a simple solution. Repeal the Sullivan Law.  Allow the law abiding citizens to qualify for carry conceal permits, not just limo liberals like Donald Trump and Robert DiNero, and give them the option to defend themselves rather than dialing 911 and dying. I'm sure the Bodega owners association would agree.

The bottom line is, as a gun owner and Second Amendment rights activist it took me one year, a pistol consultant, a lawyer and a few thousand dollars to exercise my Second Amendment rights to obtain a pistol permit.  Criminals just have to go to Far Rockaway, cough up a few bucks and they are cocked, locked and ready to rock in ten minutes.  What the hell is wrong with this picture?  Think about that when you pull the lever on Election Day.


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