2004-12-24 / Letters


Kerik Not The One

Dear Editor;

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s headline, “KERIK STOLE LINDBERGH BABY.” What an amazing week it has been in the life of an amazing man. His fall from icon to international neer-do-well has been nothing short of complete. However, it need not have come to this and here is why, Bernie Kerik never should have been nominated for the cabinet level post of Homeland Security Secretary.

Immediately after 9/11 Americans looked for hope and in doing so looked for heroes. One of these “heroes” was the NYPD’s tough and unflappable Commissioner Bernard Kerik. And when President Bush needed a leader to take over the job of protecting us at home he was the obvious choice. The Bush White House naturally assumed that the man heading our nation’s largest police force had been properly screened and vetted. They were unfamiliar with the “business as usual” ways of the Giuliani administration. All but the most astute of New York politics cheered this decision, the rest of us just waited for it to unravel; and it unraveled for two reasons, Kerik is eminently unqualified for the job and his past scandalous behavior caught up with him.

Kerik is often touted for his army and police service when stating his qualifications. However, this requires closer examination. First, he was an enlisted man during peace time and in command of nothing. Now I have nothing against that, so was I, but it certainly does not get you into the White House. Secondly, he was only on the NYPD as an officer and detective for less than 10 years, and in that time never passed a sergeants test. (Ironically, his counterpart at the fire department never passed the F.D. Lieutenants test but had similarly befriended Rudolph Giuliani prior to being elevated to that post.) Due to law changes Police Officers serving in narcotics units had to be automatically promoted to detective after just two years while never having done any actual investigatory work. Kerik’s biggest breakthrough was getting on to the Mayoral Unit and hitting it off with the former Mayor. From there it was onto Corrections where he served as Commissioner until that post was vacated back at the NYPD. His appointment to that position was dubious but completely within the Giuliani administrations normal practices. An NYPD Captain needs a four-year degree but the fact is the Commissioner, who serves at the pleasure of the Mayor, needed no college. Kerik’s supporters have touted his completing his degree after his ascendancy but this was at Empire State College, which is little more than a correspondence course.

No one more than Bernie Kerik knew about Bernie Kerik’s background. He should have been honest with himself and forthright with America and not accepted this nomination.

So, what do we have now, a nomination in shambles. It seems the man who would be in charge of our borders and immigration employed (unknowingly) an illegal alien and (unknowingly) did not file tax forms on his employee. He had a third wife that no one seems to have known about and whom he failed to remember in his own auto-biography. He had a long-running relationship with an underling at Corrections. A case is pending against Kerik for refusing to promote a jail supervisor who just so happened to give charges to Kerik’s girlfriend. Another similar case against Kerik involving the woman was settled for $250,000.00.

Also, while at Corrections Kerik was embroiled in a messy, very public scandal involving missing funds from an inmate cigarette rebate program. He also insisted his staff procure for him a gold, bejeweled Commissioner’s badge that he became enamored with, an item that previously only was given to the Police Commissioner.

During his short 16 months at the helm of NYPD the scandals continued. He carried on an affair with his publisher Judith Regan. It has been reported that their love nest was actually an apartment overlooking ground zero that had been donated to the NYPD for the purpose of rest and recuperation of Police Officers working at the WTC.

During the writing of his memoir he dispatched three NYPD Detectives, on company time, to research the death of his mother. For this one act he was fined $2500.00 by the Conflicts-of-Interests Board. He also dispatched detectives to located Judith Regan’s lost cell phone. They fanned out throughout the city and New Jersey. I wonder if this is what happens when the rest of us fill out a missing property report? His 1998 wedding was reportedly paid for with donations from persons who would wind up with city contracts and there are construction associates with possible ties to organized crime who he reportedly took gifts from.

When he was leaving his post at the end of 2001 let no one say he was not a beneficent leader. At great cost (to the city) he had bronze busts made…of himself…and gave them out as gifts.

After leaving the NYPD he was hired by the Fed.’s to organize the Iraqi Police Force. Fourteen weeks into a six month assignment he high-tailed it out of Baghdad, leaving the I.P. a mess. If I can borrow a term used for an 1862 lopsided Civil War battle, it was “the Great Skedaddle”.

The last blemish was his involvement with Taser International, a company that produces “non-lethal” weapons. Before studies came out pinning many deaths on these devices Kerik dumped his stock with profits of 6.2 million. The company is also dealing with government agencies now.

But…the most glaring of all of these problems was the fact that an arrest warrant had been issued for Kerik from New Jersey for failure to clear up unpaid fees from a condo he owned. Could you just picture the NYPD Commissioner officiating a graduation ceremony when a New Jersey Sheriff walks up on stage and cuffs him? Any one of his actions could have meant suspension or termination for a rank-and-file cop.

Bernie Kerik was put on a pedestal for being the sitting Police Commissioner on 9/11/01. Although the facts did not bear it out, he believed the hype. Unfortunately, so did America.


City Is Wrong

Dear Editor;

The following letter was sent to Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Dear Secretary Jackson,

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is defined as a relevant Federal agency responsible for Consistency Reviews by agencies and applicants with permitting, funding and approval functions within the federal coastal zone boundary, pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act ( CZMA) of 1972, P.L. 92-583 as amended; and the CZM Program Regulations 15 CFR §923.2.

The legal instrument of the Federal Financial Awards and Work Program 15 CFR 923§132 requires consistency with the National Policies CZMA (303) (2), all relevant State Coastal Policies and applicable NYC WRP Policies and the statutes contained in the award for HUD insurance programs which are included in the NYS Coastal Management Program Final Environmental Impact Statement. The HUD approvals include insurance for construction and rehabilitation and mortgage insurance.

Impressive Homes/YOMA Development construction on Beach 26th Street Block 15818 on multiple lots has permanently obstructed a 17 foot wide right-of-way that is recorded in the deeds of the property to be used for free and uninterrupted passages to the Atlantic Ocean from Seagirt Boulevard. There are no Consistency Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements on file and project approvals and HUD mortgage insurance approvals can only be obtained if this project complies with the CZMA Rules and the National Policies, State and Local Coastal Management Program policies otherwise it shall not be undertaken.

This construction is in violation of federal law under the CZMA and relevant statutes that include NEPA and all non-discrimination laws including the Civil Rights Act that are part of the legal instrument of the federal financial awards and work program. The federal financial awards to implement the CZMA Sections 306, 309 and 310 is for the specific public purpose of the relevant statutes contained in the awards and not for a private developer’s personal profit and gain to construct homes over this 17 foot wide public access to the Atlantic Ocean.

This construction is also in violation of NY State and NYC public access and development policies 1 and 19, 20 and WRP Policies 8, 9 and 10.

In addition the bungalow development of Beach 24 to Beach 26 Streets have been identified and are protected under the NYC WRP Policy 10 as a significant historical resource connected to New York City’s waterfront that must be preserved. There should be no permits issued for demolition of these structures and new construction must be compatible with the one and a half story frame bungalows with six rights-of way to the Atlantic Ocean and rights-of access between each home as required for these public trust lands. The bungalows were constructed over artificial landfill of Far Rockaway Inlet and Norton’s Creek and the open matrix design of this unique community must remain as required by the State’s Public Access Policies 19 and 20 and WRP Policy 8 that incorporate the public trust principles.

HUD should not pre-approve any type insurance for this construction there should be a Stop Work Order on permits until these projects can be certified consistent with the CZMA Program and all relevant federal law.

HUD and State and local government should adhere to this CZMA Program and the Rules established through relevant constitutional provisions and statutes or if not would represent a squandering of the taxpayers money and warrants an investigation by Members of Congress and the Federal Inspector General.

I look forward to your reply.




  Wrestling Absurdity

Dear Editor:

Last June I wrote an opinion piece titled “Pride In the Name of Love” about my observations and pride during the 2004 Far Rockaway High School commencement ceremonies. The celebration of education and achievement, of success and future was abundant and awesome.

A commitment to realize this scene many times replayed with new students, new faces, new and familiar families are some of the joys and rewards of teaching. Working with students, colleagues, and being perched amongst our youth with a unique view of their growing strength in confidence and progress in academics is a gift beyond description.

In the opinion piece in June I also was realistic in observing “…we have room for improvement: teachers, students, parents alike can better partner, prepare, and communicate to form solid, creative solutions to our most pressing problems.” I have worked and hoped for greatness, though recently I have experienced quite the opposite.

In June of last year I was notified of appointment as the Wrestling Coach at Far Rockaway High School. During the 2003-2004 season, in a volunteer capacity alongside Coach Ken Hernandez, I worked with our wrestlers on skills and techniques, sought to generate additional fundraising income, drafted a proposal for renovation of school space for a wrestling/yoga/fitness room, and sought to diversify and intensify recruiting efforts.

This year I continued with these efforts though soon realized the previously utilized wrestling space was in dire need of repair and not suitable for use. The state of the room posed serious danger to students and me. For the next two months I worked relentlessly to schedule with coaches and administrators an appropriate time and space for wrestling practice. After my initial gestures for discussion and reason were rebuffed I sought negotiation and mediation. I sought help from the PSAL Wrestling Coordinator to no avail. These actions were taken on behalf of students whom have earned the right to competition. Each attempt to secure space was refused or blatantly ignored. Why is every effort NOT made to accommodate our youth?

The Athletic Director suggested I resign due to my “personal schedule” apparently conflicting with my duties as a coach. The expectations inflicted upon me included: practicing from 6pm-8pm when most youth will/should be eating dinner, or doing homework, or certainly home; practicing in dangerous space or dangerously moving heavy mats ourselves. My students made clear this time was not conducive to their schedules and the room: “…that’s nasty”. Apparently morality, conscience, and staunch support for our students do NOT take precedence over “memos and egos” at Far Rockaway High School.

It is absurd that adults have cost students, young growing adults, an opportunity to deepen confidence and understanding of self, to participate in competition, to mold physical strength, to earn respect, to learn respect, to support others, to lose with grace and win with humility. The cost of such disappointment will not be clearly understood for years. Why should we expect more from our students than we expect from ourselves?

The PSAL website clearly denotes responsibilities and requirements for Athletic Directors, one such responsibility: “ 4. Verify and maintain records of First Aid, AED-CPR, and appropriate course requirements for non-physical education licensed coaches .” Even this simple and serious responsibility was not vigorously and thoroughly pursued despite knowledge of a previously scheduled PSAL audit. How absurd!

And, so I find myself wrestling absurdity rather than wrestling student/athletes, and with no place to run from the “memos and egos”, no place to hide from the gossip, and with clarity as to how our children learn such behavior. When will the dysfunction at Far Rockaway cease?

Rather than time invested at regularly scheduled practices and matches, today I pray. I pray that more greatness WILL come. I pray that the applauding and smiling and laughing I witnessed at commencement last June will not be lost on false promises, incompetence, and selfishness. I hope this lost season, the absence of cheering and competition, practice and purpose will provide us all with perspective. Maybe this perspective will greater infuse our students, parents, teachers, and administrators with determination to ensure such absurdity is never repeated again. The children of Far Rockaway deserve better. Much, much better.


Nativity Scene Is Necessary

Dear Editor,

Please make a record of and print the fact that there is not a Nativity scene on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Park. As a Catholic and a Christian, I feel offended. It should be part of our holiday scene. Justice for all religions.


Put It Back Please

Dear Editor,

Kindly put the Nativity set on back on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Beach. That is what Christmas is all about. I subscribe to your paper every week.


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