2003-12-26 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Beachcomber

The Wave staff would like to wish all of our readers a happy and healthy holiday season and an outstanding New Year.

Dr. Kathleen Cashin’s favorite words still appear to be "no comment." She must know that many more parents read The Wave than turn up for school meetings, yet she refuses to answer important questions about school safety and the future of district 27. After a recent meeting, a Wave staffer went to Cashin and introduced himself. She answered, "I know who you are." When he responded that he wanted to ask her a question about what happened at FRHS, she angrily responded, "why don’t you call them," fully understanding that the school could not talk with us without her permission. When he told her that, she told him that she "had no comment either." At least three times in the past two weeks, the Wave managing editor has requested permission from the Department of Education to speak with Cashin about school issues. The department never returned The Wave’s calls. We have to wonder what Cashin and the others want to hide. Don’t the schools belong to the public, and doesn’t the public have the right to know what’s going on in their schools? Cashin seems to think that the answer is a resounding "no!" At a recent meeting, we approached Cashin for some information about the plan for MS 180. She told us that she could not speak to us about it, but that we should not be angry at her, that it was a Department of Education decision, not her decision, not to talk. We understand that she is under orders not to speak, but should not a public official earning in excess of $125 thousand a year be trusted to speak with the press without DOE permission?

Last summer, when the mayor was talking about drinking on Rockaway’s beaches, he defended the wine and alcohol drinking during concerts at parks such as Central Park and Prospect Park on the grounds that those parks were safe for drinkers while the beaches were dangerous. There have now been three daylight attacks at Prospect Park in the past two weeks. It is obviously not safe for either drinkers or non-drinkers.

The other day, in a dense fog, a gray Cadillac with U.S. Congress license plates and a flashing grill light array, came roaring over the Cross Bay Bridge heading for Rockaway, went into a no-passing zone and blew a red light. One driver who saw the car said that it was doing at least 75 or 80 miles per hour. What was the rush? Given the time and place, we can only think it was Representative Meeks on his way to give toys to poor kids at Ocean Bay Houses. It would not have been a merry Christmas for those kids if a number of drivers hadn’t quickly gotten out of the Congressman’s way.

A Daily News editorial about the AirTrain made the point that we have been making all along. "No doubt, travelers will find the train a handy way to move among the terminals, and will be able to do
so for free," the editorial said. "But somehow, it’s hard to imagine that an international arrivee toting suitcases will pay the $5 fee to ride to Jamaica for the privilege of shlepping to the LIRR, paying full fare for a ride to Manhattan and battling for space with a mob of commuters." We have to agree wholeheartedly. Congressman Chuck Schumer has a plan to use federal money to extend the AirTrain from Jamaica to Manhattan. That would be a whole other story.

The Graybeards are going door-to-door on the west end this weekend to collect funds for those firefighters who lost their homes in the recent California forest fires. The organization’s leaders say that they are trying to repay the kindness of firefighters all over the nation after September 11 and November 21, 2001. Those who will not be available this weekend and want do donate can do so through the Graybeard’s office at 436 Beach 129 Street.

The annual Walter Blum Blood Drive will be held this year on January 11 at St. Francis de Sales Church from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Those who want to donate blood must bring a photo ID. In addition, they are urged to bring a friend.

The rest of the nation has gone to Code Orange, a terrorist level that New York City has remained at since September 11. What that means to Rockaway is that residents will see more of a police presence on the two bridges that take people from the peninsula to the mainland and will see more safety checks by police patrols.

Photographer Rosalie Frost has been visiting the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel for years, photographing the area for which she shows great concern for. Now, Frost has a photo exhibit in Soho entitled, "Landscapes of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge." The show will run through January 3 at the Soho Photo Gallery, 15 White street in Manhattan.

Local politicians are lining up behind Presidential candidates as the election season heats up. Joe Addabbo says that he "did sign a Howard Dean petition, so I guess that makes me a Dean supporter." Congressman Greg Meeks says that he will support John Kerry. Meeks recently attended a political gathering at the Kerry compound at Nantucket and reportedly came away very impressed with the candidate. The Queens Democratic Party is supporting Dean.


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