2004-06-25 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Congressman Gregory Meeks, who represents the east end of Rockaway in the House of Representatives, is pushing to change the law that requires that city housing residents who receive welfare assistance must do community service. Meeks would extend the existing "Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998" by adding several exemptions to the work rule. Meeks would exempt, for example, residents more than 60 years of age, pregnant women past their second trimester, residents with a child younger than five years of age, victims of domestic violence and the non-working parent in a two parent household where the other parent works full time. Opponents of the exemptions say that there are many families where both parents have to work despite the fact that they would enjoy one of the exemptions if they were receiving welfare.

"Death By Disco," an new production by The Killing Kompany, will be presented at the Beach Club on Beach 116 Street and the oceanfront on July 23 at 8 p.m. Those who attended the recent interactive murder mystery, "Murder At The St. Patrick’s Day Parade," will know that the evening is an enjoyable one, with dinner and a show.

The Department of Sanitation (DOS) has announced that it will begin enforcing violations of the recycling laws pertaining to glass recyclables on July 1. That means the DOS will resume ticketing those who do not correctly recycle glass in their weekly garbage.

There has been lots of anger generated at the Parks Department on the west end as a result of the recent tree trimming effort. Many residents called The Wave to say that their trees had been denuded for no reason and that the people who were subcontracted to do the work did not know what they were doing. One resident who went out to complain when he saw workers indiscriminately cutting branches from the tree in front of his house soon found that none of the workers spoke English and that calls to the Parks Department were rewarded with a "they are contractors and there is nothing we can do."

Edward Byrne was a young police officer that was assassinated while sitting in his patrol car guarding a witness in South Jamaica from drug gang enforcers. The Police Athletic League recently decided to name its new Jamaica facility after Byrne, just as our Far Rockaway Center is named after two police officers that were killed in the line of duty. The Reverend Charles Norris, who was once embroiled in a racial incident in School District 27 when he likened the White candidate for the superintendent’s job to "a Kosher meal," and the Black candidate to a "good down-home soul-food meal." Now, he wants to keep the center from being named for the White cop simply because he is White. "We want the right to decide who is martyred in our own community," said a sign Norris carried at a demonstration. Norris is the chair for the Southeast Clergy for Community Empowerment.

Some parents whose children attend PS 114 in the fifth grade are complaining that the school ran a "graduation party" for the students at the Beach Club that cost each parent $45 per student at the same time that it produced a "Yearbook" at $40. "That $85 dollars is a lot of money for a fifth grade graduation when you realize that many families at the school are not wealthy and that most of the kids who ‘graduated’ will be back in the school for the sixth grade next year now that the school is moving to a K-8 organization," one parent activist said.

The New York Civil Liberty’s Union (NYCLU) and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who is actively running for mayor, got together for a news conference last week to urge the protection of the rights of those who want to protest at the Republican Convention in August. We often wonder when politicians and advocacy groups work to protect the rights of those who want to break the law, who is protecting the rights of those city residents who would simply like to be able to live their normal lives during the convention and are looking to the NYPD for that kind of protection.

There are those who believe that the U.S. Supreme Court "chickened out" by ruling that the father who brought the case regarding the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, had no standing to sue on her behalf rather than ruling on the underlying Constitutional issue of the separation of church and state. The ruling, however, will insure that those words stay in the pledge until somebody who does have standing brings suit, if that case works its way to the Supreme Court.

Rosemary Breslin died this week of a rare blood disease. Breslin is the daughter of columnist Jimmy Breslin and the stepdaugher of Democratic politician Ronnie Eldridge. She and her husband, Anthony Dunne, spent lots of time in Rockaway doing a television special for Oxygen called "The Women of Rockaway," documentary that focused on local women who were impacted both by September 11 and by the crash of AA Flight 587 in Rockaway two months later. The documentary, which was a real tear-jerker, captured the angst of Rockaway.


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