2004-04-16 / Columnists


The sneak attack by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the west end at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning lit up The Wave switchboard with calls from angry residents that the No Parking Any Time signs would go up on Rockaway Beach Boulevard on the day before Easter, when many locals park nearby St. Francis de Sales for services. Luckily for motorist, the NYPD officials at the local precinct had the good sense to declare a two-day moratorium of sorts, providing a grace period for people to see and obey the signs. What were DOT officials thinking? Could not they have waited until Monday morning? That’s what our city has come to.

One of the high-priority projects funded in a new House of Representatives bill is the purchase of three ferries and the establishment of ferry service from the Rockaway peninsula to Manhattan. The princely sum of $15 million has been allocated by the House bill. Don’t line up just yet, however. The Senate has its own bill that may or may not address the Rockaway ferry issue. In addition, President Bush has said that he would veto the measure as being inflationary.

A new semi-organization called "The Council of Presidents" is forming in Rockaway. The new group, made up of the presidents of every civic association on the peninsula will meet at the Beach Club on April 20. Those who have been around long enough to remember the All Rockaway Planning Council know that this type of group has been tried before and has failed miserably. Why? There was too much in-fighting among the organizations and the reality dawned that various sections of the peninsula have very different agendas from each other. Let’s hope, however, that they can do better this time. It does not look promising. We understand that one west end civic president told the acting chair for the groups that she would attend "as an observer only," that she was not sure that she or her group wanted to be a part of the new organization.

A large brush fire on Cross Bay Boulevard raged for more than an hour on Wednesday, sending up palls of thick, black smoke that could be seen all over Rockaway. The fire was in the area of 157 Avenue in Howard Beach. The boulevard was not closed down because of the fire.

I’d be willing to bet that few who live in Neponsit know that the community houses a charitable organization called "International Charitable Middle Asia and Kazakhstan, Inc." The Wave has been trying to find out about the local charity, which is listed as being housed at 144-04 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, but so far have not been able to find much. Watch these pages for further information.

Business Informatics Center, a small college in Valley Stream, nearby Green Acres, has signed a deal with SUNY at Old Westbury that will guarantee those who earn associate degrees at the college admission with junior class status at the university.

Beware of another rip-off that is just hitting Rockaway. Many with fax machines have received a flyer asking people to vote on taking "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance. Those who get the fax are asked to check whether or not they are in favor of the change and then to fax the sheet to a 900 number. There are a couple of problems with the whole deal. First of all, the company doing the survey is in London, England and a fax to the number will cost the sender at least $20 (five minutes are $3.95 a minute). The latter, of course, is in small print buried in the body of the message. Like all other such offers, it is buyer beware.

A justice in the Southern District of New York (Federal) Court has upheld the constitutionality of the New York City Smoke-Free Act. That solidifies the mayor’s campaign against smoking in public spaces because it is unlikely, experts’ say, that the United States Supreme Court would hear the case.

Another rumor shot down by reality. We have been told by a number of usually-reliable sources that Region Five Supervising Administrator, Kathleen Cashin was soon going to be named as the new chief executive of schools in the Brooklyn Diocese. When we printed that information a few months ago, we were told by the DOT that there was no truth to the rumor, but it persisted to this week, when Thomas Chadzutko was named to the top spot in the local parochial schools. Many residents on the west end, who like what Cashin has planned for local schools, can breathe a sigh of relief that she will remain and that the plan will go forward.

The local post offices will be collecting food for the needy on May 8. Sponsored by the postal workers union, the food can be dropped off at any of Rockaway branch post offices.

We guess that school reorganization is another way of saying "more for administrative salaries." When Bloomberg and Klein got control of the school system, they both said that one of their major goals was to reduce administrative costs. They started well, getting rid of the 32 school district offices, but they have more than made up for those cuts with a 27 percent increase in central staff and a 16 percent increase in workers who are paid more than $100,000 a year in salary. In fact, there are now 352 Department of Education employees who earn in the six-figure range. The total central Department of Education payroll (for 708 employees) has reached $74 million, and that does not count anybody who works in a school. That averages out
to more than $100,000 per employee. The senior counselor to the chancellor earns $168,000. The head of youth
and community development earns $168,000. The arts director earns $165,000. The director of procurement earns $150,000. At a time when Klein is telling teachers that there is no money for raises, it is somewhat strange for those who do less work than teachers earn three and four times the salary.

Congratulations to Wave columnist Liz Guarino, who was named as an "Everyday Hero" by Newsday last week. Guarino writes the highly-popular Broad Channel Bits for this paper and also writes the island community’s newsletter.

Jacques Evans grew up in Rockaway and went on to a career in the Air Force and then with the Apollo team at Kennedy Space Center. He has penned a thriller that centers on "The Last Flight of The Blue Goose," a B-24 that disappeared on a training flight in the first years of World War II. Some of the action takes place in and around Rockaway, so it makes a good read for local residents. The book is available from www.publishamerica.com.

We have had it with "Pop-ups" on our computer screens and have vowed never to buy anything from a website that introduces itself by popping up on the screen unbidden. That is akin to breaking into a private conversation and we hope that a national movement to disregard any company that uses the vile pop-ups begins to grow.

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