2004-04-16 / Letters


St. Patrick's Day Flowers

Dear Editor,

The following letter was sent to the Rockaway Beach Inn.

To the management & patrons of the Rockaway Beach Inn,

We wish to express our sincere appreciation for your continued support over the past years. The funds received from the sale of the St. Patrick's Day flowers these years really assisted the center. You all have been very generous and supportive. Thank you ever so much.


311 No Help

Dear Editor,

I live on Beach 112 Street. In late December, I noticed that all of the streetlights on the boardwalk between B.115th St. and B.110th St. were out. So, in early January I called 311, and they took the report. The lights never came back on. In early February I called 311 again, and they suggested I make another report. I did. The lights never came on. In late February I called to check the status of the work order. I was informed that I had to call LILCO. LILCO doesn't even exist anymore!-It is now LIPA (Long Island Power Authority). And we live in Queens, what would LIPA have to do with it? Defeated, I gave up. Now it is April and the boardwalk is still dark. I called 311 today to see if
I would have any luck. The rep looked up the work order number.

She gave me a phone number at LIPA. I called it. The LIPA rep checked the work order number and informed me that I would have to call the "Street Light Division" of LIPA. I did. The "Street Light Division" rep told me it was a Con Edison issue and that I should call them.

I give up.

I wonder what is going to have to happen for the city to get these lights back on-unfortunately someone is probably going to have to get hurt or victimized in the dark for this issue to get any attention. I am appalled by the fact that each agency pawns this off to another. 311 is supposed to be easy... isn't it?


Dogs Of Summer

Dear Editor,

The following letter was sent to Jonathan Gaska, District Manager, Community Board 14 and James Kaffero, local Parks Department Manager.

My name is Neta Erez-Raz. I have been a resident of Rockaway Park for several years. I am a dog owner and a dog trainer, part of a large group of concerned dog owners in this community.

I am writing to you to propose an idea that will solve a problem we are dealing with for a long time. Since our dogs need to exercise and socialize on a daily basis, it would seem that the greatest and only place to do so would be our beaches. Unfortunately, there are rules for dogs on the beach in the summertime and I guess it's due to some irresponsible dog owners that don't clean up after their dogs. Summertime is an ongoing war for us instead of a peaceful and enjoyable time. Police are harassing and ticketing people with dogs on the boardwalk and beaches even if it's early in the morning or very late at night.

The situation has gotten out of control and I have been corresponding with a few community leaders for the past year who stated they are willing to help come up with an answer. Only, once wintertime came and police cars disappeared, the issue seems to have been forgotten.

We desperately need your help. Summer will be here before we know it and we need a place for our dogs to exercise and socialize. A dog without these things can develop serious behavioral problems. An unsociable dog can become aggressive and fearful. A dog that lacks exercise on a regular basis can become destructive, hyperactive and have barking or chewing problems.

Please let us be responsible dog owners and let our dogs be good citizens.

Thanks to my profession, I know many of the dog owners in this neighborhood. I am confident that I can obtain their support in the creation of a dog run. If necessary I would start a petition. I am very passionate about launching this idea as soon as possible, and I am willing to give up my free time to see that it gets done. The area which came to my mind, is the empty land between Beach 124 Street to Beach 130 Street on the bay side. Finally a place where all dogs and dog owners of Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor, and Neponsit would be able to enjoy.

Please let me know how we can put this idea into reality. Thank you very much for your time and effort.


Be A Mensh Mirsky

Dear Editor,

Your issue of April 2 has a great piece by Rabbi Allen Blaine of Temple Beth-El entitled "Be A Mensh," with quotes from the prayer book, "Oh Lord, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile." An outstanding prayer for us to try to emulate.

In the dictionary, guile is defined as "treacherous cunning, or craft; deceit." So be it!

Now, a look at some straightforward guile in the same issue, page 33, an article by one Stuart W. Mirsky on "Deconstructing Kerry." Talk about inordinate guile and chutzpah. Wow!

Behold a smear job under the guise of pseudo-scholarship, with much hearsay, unworthy evidence and a lot of irrelevant personal musings, all under a mantle of supposed objectivity. A more inept unprofessional piece of words without meaning is hard to imagine.

So, the question - is it reasonable to dignify such tripe with an answer? Or perhaps to leave its distortions to rot in its own overheated rhetorical nonsense.

Its actual title ought to be "Deconstructing Mirsky."

He makes use here of an old debaters technique. State the facts as known, very grudgingly accept Kerry's outstanding attributes, and then out of desperation with very obvious administration failings, flail away with irrelevant gossip devoid of aspects of legitimate critical evaluation.

Question again - why are they so enraged?

Perhaps because they see an outstanding adversary in Kerry. The conservative New York Times columnist, William Safire, seemed to give the game away when he publicly bemoaned the exit of Howard Dean as a prospective nominee. He said, "We would have taken every state."

As for Mirsky, his vituperation abounds right off in his diatribe. He cites Kerry's "brief stint" of combat, in "coastal waters" and tries to demean these "easy" assignments in service. He minimizes Kerry being wounded three times as of little import. Question - would he be satisfied with four wounds, or six, or three thousand active soldiers with their bodies impaired and limbs shattered for the rest of their lives?

And "coastal waters?" Navy men please take notice. He insists that Kerry was playing it safe with no mention at all of Bush's Texas National Guard acceptance by using his Papa's influence to hurdle over 500 candidates who were ahead of him for the assignment.

Kerry actually enlisted, which again makes Mirsky angry.

He is critical of Kerry's voting for nuanced cuts in defense spending with lobbyists in on the take and a running deficit amounting to trillions of dollars for our grandchildren to be saddled with.

Mirsky, making his protestations in a court of law, with such fragile evidence for his claims, biased presentations, half-truths and barroom gossip would be laughed out of court.

He must not be allowed the luxury of this public venue without a response. He cites Kerry as "joining the anti-war movement" on his return from Vietnam. Is he blissfully unaware that it took our society many years to free ourselves from the horrible onus of castigating 'Nam returnees? Kerry truly saw the "Gulf of Tonkin" as the illusionary incident that it was and he, a decorated heroic vet, had the courage and fortitude to say so publicly.

He deserves commendation for that, not censure.

Mirsky rushes in to justify the Bush stand in the "war on terror." He will not wait for the commissions report in July. Because now, under close scrutiny, with Bush's statement to Bob Woodward that he did not see the urgency, and with Richard Clarke's testimony under oath that the claim is "outrageous" and fraudulent, Mirsky and his cohorts are circling the wagons, scared stiff that their one and only positive claim is unwarranted, and found wanting, and the public will soon know it.

Mirsky is also upset at Kerry's off the record remark that Republicans were "crooks" and "liars." Has he bothered to read the papers about Halliburton's overcharge of fuel to the armed services in the amount of some $60 million? Bush then piously states, "We'll get it back." Did we?

This alongside the fact that Cheney is still getting severance pay yearly from Halliburton, this year some $120,000 and had continued for the four years of his being in office.

And then, when the facts are going badly for you, attack your opponents associations, known from our college course in logic as "ad hominen" arguments. He quotes, "Amply supported by the likes of Michael Moore, Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins and nearly every other left-leaning liberal pundit." So, with the cards stacked against you, call them "lefties." We will understand.

Mirsky, we certainly do. We understand perfectly from your convoluted rhetorical flourishes, indicative of a bankrupt political agenda, pushing great country into chaos and despair. If we let you!

Nowhere does the writer take cognizance of the cataclysmic missteps of this administration. Here are just a few that he runs from today.

Colin Powell, finally at long last, admitted he was completely wrong in his talk to the United Nations about Iraq's buying uranium from Niger. What took him so long? There has been no discovery of WMD's in Iraq, although thousands of our soldiers are assigned to find them. So our President, as one of the "good ole boys," in public, makes a half hearted attempt at outlandish humor by publicly seeking them in his Oval Office, under tables, in corners and making a joke about not finding them. Tell that joke to the 600 families whose loved ones will never return because of the illegitimate war.

And the debacle with Condi Rice, who, with great reluctance from the administration, will finally appear under oath to appraise inconsistencies in their stories. What are they afraid of?

Richard Clarke, long time head of the counter-terrorism unit under three Presidents calls it an "outrage" that Bush did not proceed against Al Qaeda after being warned to do so by his office. Then they try to destroy his credibility.

A new book by John Dean of Watergate fame is out now in which he is most critical about the secrecy of this administration which he castigates as far worse than that of Richard Nixon, where he says soldiers were not being killed.

And when Bush testifies later on this week, under oath, but in private, he insists on being accompanied by Cheney and an administration who live in fear that his off-the-cuff remarks will undercut their spinning of events. One columnist suggested he be given a lollipop for his efforts.

So - Mirsky's article, almost en toto, remains an exercise of obfuscation, designed in seeing events through the filter of his own fervid imagination. Now - let us look again at a repeat of the "Be A Mensh" piece by Rabbi Blaine.

"Oh Lord, guard my tongue from evil and my life from speaking guile. And to those who slander me, let me give no heed. May soul be humble and forgiving unto all."

I say Amen to that! Can the writer Mirsky truthfully say the same?


Unaware of Key Facts

Dear Editor,

Let me begin by apologizing for the length of this article. Although several people have expressed their opinions on the issue in The Wave, I have found that many people that would be either directly or indirectly affected are still unaware of some of the key facts and circumstances surrounding this debate. Therefore, I wanted to present a comprehensive analysis of it for all to consider.

Whether or not you were for or against the new malls along Rockaway Beach Boulevard is, at this point, moot. However, the issue of what form of parking regulations will accompany this latest modification to the local landscape is far from being settled. We're told that the whole project - from the construction of the malls Beach 126 Street and Beach 139 Street to the elimination of parking along the route - was voted on, and approved, about three years ago. I don't question whether or not this in fact took place. I will state, however, that the general public was less than adequately informed about the issue prior to, or even after the fact. It's true that far too many people lack any involvement or concern about local civic matters. But when it comes to the elimination of 170 parking spaces - that is not an issue that the residents of this community would quietly ignore had they been 'adequately informed' and been given sufficient opportunity to have their collective voices heard. As it stands now, we await the delivery and installation of the new signs (which have already been ordered through DOT) that will assert the latest dictate - "No Parking Anytime" along Rockaway Beach Boulevard period.

The wanton elimination of 170 much needed parking spaces on a year-round basis is simple lunacy, especially along a band of 14 consecutive dead end streets with extremely limited parking options. Don't get me wrong, I understand and empathize with those who would like to prevent weekend and holiday traffic and congestion on the beaches. That is precisely the intent of the previously established parking restrictions from May 15- September 30 on weekends and holidays. Although this does create somewhat of a hardship for certain homeowners, and virtually all visitors, at least it allows homeowners with limited parking options a manageable alternative to exchanging keys (if your lucky and get along with your neighbor) and playing valet 24/7/365. It's bad enough to have to deal with this briefly each summer, but all year long? What for?

Arguments have been made by proponents of both sides regarding safety issues. The first few are almost not worth mentioning, but since they have been posited by more than one person, they deserve discussion here. A few people have argued that it is dangerous when passengers enter or exit a vehicle on the driver's side while traffic zooms by, therefore it is not safe to park along the Boulevard. With the exception of the left side of one-way streets, I can't think of a road in NYC where this is not the case. Another complaint is that the parked cars along the Boulevard make it difficult to see oncoming traffic when you turn out unto it from a side road - again, ubiquitous, people deal with it. With so many children and elderly in the area, crossing a street as wide as RBB is a safety concern for many. Unlike the well-known treachery of the recent past, the new malls have provided a safe haven in the middle of the road where pedestrians can stand and wait safely for traffic to pass before completing their trip across the street. Restricting drivers to one lane, and providing parking along the sidewalk, provides an additional buffer zone of the traffic-free safety for pedestrians trying to cross. This would also alleviate fears related to speeding cars attempting to pass each other if the road were to include two driving lanes in each direction.

One idea that has been suggested by many is to create a bike lane along both sides of the route from Beach 126 Street to Riis Park. Although a generally noble idea, consider it from a practical standpoint. Residents from Beach 126 Street and up would have a reasonably safe bike route to Riis Park. Unless they decided to extend this route by allowing unrestricted bicycle riding on the boardwalk from Beach 126 Street down (without the ever-looming fear of 'Are they ticketing today?'), it would serve an extremely limited purpose. Secondly, consider when this bike lane would be used most often, by the greatest number of people (residents or not) - you guessed it, weekends and holidays from about May 15 - September 30. The same time period that parking would already be restricted, and therefore, no parked cars to impede the family bike ride that I enjoy so much during the summer.

Adequate space for the passage of emergency vehicles has also been proffered as a reason to prohibit parking at all times. The lack of commercial development along the strip makes double-parking almost a non-issue. Even in the event that, for who know what unforeseen reason, some idiot decides to double-park, a picture taken by Daniel and Linda Ruscillo, and published in The Wave recently, shoes that a Green Lines Bus can still pass by with room to spare - the same should hold true for any emergency vehicle. In the alternative, since the malls do not create a limited access highway, in an extreme case, the vehicles could potentially go around an obstacle on one side of the street by crossing over to the other side at an earlier intersection, provided that there is little or no oncoming traffic from the other direction, which is quite often the case. This is in fact, regular practice in congested parts of the city.

Finally, considering the existing mayhem surrounding parking at St. Francis de Sales. The elimination of the existing parking spaces near the church and school along RBB would create an even greater nightmare while parents attempt to drop-off or pick-up their children from school, during summer events staged in the schoolyard, and year round for religious services and ceremonies.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. has said that he would need to receive substantial response from the community before the parking issue would be reevaluated. Toward that end, I have been going door-to-door collecting names, addresses, and signatures of Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor residents that would like to see the old summer parking regulations continued, and prevent the installations of these absurd year-round restrictions. During my first two brief attempts, I collected 60 signatures; and that was accomplished inside a one-block radius with almost half of the houses having nobody home to answer the door. On average, around 4 out of 5 people that I questioned agreed with my statements, and signed my letter to Joseph Addabbo. I would like to thank all of those friendly neighbors who not only provided their names, addresses, and signatures, but also provided encouragement, support, and appreciation for the effort that I was undertaking. I know that we all hope that it will not be in vain.

For or against, you have the right to your opinion. I think that a new, well advertised public forum should be held where the community is given the opportunity to express their wishes now that the facts, circumstances, and alternatives have been fully brought to light. Perhaps Jonathan Gaska, District Manager for Community Board 14 could arrange for this hearing. I urge all of you that are interested, contact your local representatives immediately. Let your voices be heard!


"More On Mirsky"

Dear Editor,

When you can't argue with the message attack the messenger. We get this reaction from the Bush campaign and local writer Stuart W. Mirsky in the Rockaway Irregular.

When the Medicare actuary found that the cost of the prescription drug benefit in the Bush administration's plan was $150 billion more than announced, the actuary was told there would be serious consequences if he told Congress.

When Richard Clarke told the 9/11 Commission that he tried to warn higher officials of the Bush administration, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist warned that he could be prosecuted for perjury.

When Ambassador Joseph Wilson investigated the possible Iraqi purchase of nuclear material from the West African nation of Niger and reported that it hadn't happened, the Bush administration revealed the identity of Wilson's wife, an undercover CIA officer.

Now Stuart Mirsky attacks John Kerry for his military record. Did John Kerry risk his life to rescue Navy men in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam? Of course he did! Mirsky questions Kerry's diverse ethnic background. We used to call our nation a melting pot and it appears that John Kerry benefited from the qualities of all his ancestors.

Americans who opposed the congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war in Iraq welcome all those who reluctantly accepted the President's now discredited evidence, but now join in searching for an honorable exit from the quagmire.

There is a role for conservatives in this election. They can remind us of the need for a balanced budget which they fought for just a few years ago. They can remind government officials of the need to tell the truth and the whole truth to the American people, not only about their personal lives, but about war, peace and government spending. They can remind big government to keep out of the personal lives of Americans and let states keep the powers they have always had under our Constitution.

Both John Kerry and George W. Bush came of age during the 1960's. They have risen to the top of the heap. If anyone wants to compare their careers, bring them on.


Respect is Not Bias

Dear Editor:

Congratulations on the "Progressive" column. You can give the guy my email and tell him that I had offered similar stuff to you earlier and that I would be willing to help him out with any stories, research etc.

Forgive the ignorance of the people who confuse your respect for your
own heritage with some kind of bias. You know the salt air and the beer
corrodes a lot of minds in Rockaway. I have never seen you to be anything
but a fair-minded person. Take it from this Catholic who thinks that you do a great job. I am more comfortable with you on most issues (although you ARE a little easy on Bush...) than I would be with the medievalist who complained about you. This is a personal note to you but you can publish it if you want.


Treated Equally

Dear Editor:

If it is true that the teacher charged for writing defamatory and racist graffiti is in fact guilty then there are three questions that beg for answers:

What is going to happen to her for committing such a criminal act that is equally a Civil Rights violation?

How many more teachers feel the same way about the children they are responsible for teaching?

Is there any community pressure on the legal and educational authorities to prosecute her fully?

She should be treated the same way that a person would be treated if they were to write anti-Jewish remarks.


Heffernan Should Grow Up

Dear Editor,

I understand that you have little choice in whether or not to run ads from a person who regularly advertises in your paper, but I think, after reading D. Brian Heffernan's (isn't that pretentious) ad in the classified section in last week's Wave, that somebody should take him out and teach him some manners as well as some humility.

I do not know Barbara Morris personally, but I do know what she has done for this community with her work in the Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Irish Parade, etc. and what she has done for our quality of life with her sand castle contest as well.

Heffernan's ad, which belittles Morris (even if she is not named, everybody in the west end knows who he is talking about) is insensitive, childish and downright nasty.

Perhaps Heffernan, who bills himself as "the most hard-working and proactive broker on the peninsula," should take a page from Barbara's book and run some events that help the community rather than simply taking some money out of their pockets on a regular basis.

What is wrong with running a contest that hundreds of residents get joy from? What is wrong with being a Notary Public and helping people to deal with the government? I am sure that the money she gets for that service is miniscule. What's wrong with running a contest around Valentine's Day? What is wrong with spending time with community members, discussing controversies of the day?

Perhaps Heffernan would be a better person and a better businessman if he did the same.

After reading his ad, I would never, ever use him as a broker.

One last word to D. Brian: Grow up and get a life!


Keep Everybody Advised

Bernie Blum was a past contributor to The Wave, writing the "Sprayview Sticks and Stones" column. Blum's submissions were dropped several months ago as part of an editorial decision to introduce new columns.

Dear Editor;

You said that the submission for the Sprayview column about toxic dredge spoils dumping at Norton Basin would "definitely" be printed in The Wave. It was not. That decision to dump the spoils, if successful, will lead to turning Jamaica Bay into a 'repository' for such a material. Instead of printing the column, you removed it as well as myself as environmental reporter, as if the combo were "toxic!"

What for? The comparative pabulum replacement you chose led to not keeping readership more focused on important environmental issues that become lost in the clutter of local community events?

At the time when the Duke was getting adulation for athletic exploits, other Asians, based on racial attitudes, were held in lesser value and so that particular dedication [of Beach 38 Street in his name] also thematically promotes tolerance. A Matthew Henson proposed beach to bay park in that area, which I have proposed, would further that goal and also preserve more natural habitat for animal migration from the HPD proposed central park.

Also, the Duke dedication reminds for the need to be conscious of the erosion control/flooding problems of coastal areas like the Edgemere beaches in the Way section. A 'special geology' promotes the focus of big waves there and any absurd attempt by HPD to demap or shift cannot change the conditions.

Resisting the boardwalk as a concrete promenade 200-400 feet inland as a broad crescent arc would be a solution for fewer beach fills and more opportunity for recreational economic developments (surfing center/small aquarium/science museum/college classrooms). This additional dimension is more in conformity with federal/state/city waterfront revitalization guidelines than just only waterfront residential development by the Community Board 14 HPD team.

So the demapping attempts at the Duke dedication only prove the more how important the dedication is and has been ahead of its time to maintain public consciousness of all the waterfront issues the dedication represents for the benefit of Rockaway! The dedication was in 1984 (unanimous in the City Council through efforts of Councilman Walter Ward) and swimming and surfing enthusiasts should combine efforts for dedication ceremonies for the Duke and Richie Allen. Note Dr. Frogman, once on the Peninsula Hospital staff, told me of Duke's 1912 swimming and surfing here as a Wave art suggests.

I provided an explanation to readership of Sprayview what happened to the column and to the borrow pits submission. The Wave has the opportunity to reply and print the borrow pits submission to keep it in public consciousness and maintain pressure on bureaucrats and pols that it is not a necessary operation. Thank you for your kind attention and past cooperation.


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