2005-02-04 / Community


While there have been some minor complaints about beach block streets, we have to tip our hats to the Department of Sanitation for the way Rockaway streets were cleaned of snow after fourteen inches fell on the peninsula two weeks ago. Joey O’Hare, the supervisor at our local sanitation garage, seemed to be most accommodating in getting the job done. We followed Tom McGrath, who was piloting a payloader on Sunday to take pictures and personally saw the job he and others did under difficult conditions. Well Done!

Congressman Anthony Weiner is making another try at a Rockaway commuter ferry. He called to say that he is going to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ask for special funds for a commuter ferry in light of the fire last week that will severely limit A-Train service to Rockaway for at least months and, possibly, years. At least we should give Weiner an A for effort.

The State Assembly is at it again. It was not enough that it passed a school governance act that we think is unworkable and counterproductive. The Assembly will soon vote on a law that would require schools to grade kids on their weight as well as on academics and behavior. Under the new law, schools would have to send home twice a year “confidential information” on a child’s body mass index, which would show whether a kid is overweight for his or her age and height. In addition, schools would have to send home a yearly report on the possible problems of childhood obesity. Our questions about the proposed bill include who will administer the tests, how much the program would cost, and where the money to fund the program would come from at a time when the Assembly has forced the schools to spend money in very unproductive ways.

John C. Bellew was one of three firefighters who died in two separate fires on the same day two weeks ago. While Bellew did not live or work in Rockaway, he spent many years prior to hooking up with the FDNY as a lifeguard on Rockaway’s beaches. He left four children and his friends at the fire department have started a fund to provide for their education. Those interested can send donations to The John Bellew Children’s Fund, c/o Tom Moran, Citibank, 460 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

During the days that special elections were held to elect to elect the members of community school boards, those who were elected served for three years. That provided some continuity to the process and, of course, in those days, the CSB’s actually had some power. That power was gradually taken way because of various scandals to the point where school zoning was the only CSB prerogative left. Last July, the CSB’s were replaced by community education councils (CEC’s) with no power whatsoever except to rubber stamp the decisions made by professional staff. This is what Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg mean by parental involvement. In any case, those new councils served for only one year, so it is time once again to begin the process of choosing new members. Will you get a chance to vote? Only if you are a parent association president, vice president or treasurer. Remember, only some democracy is allowed, as long as it does not go too far.

Wave columnist Liz Guarino (Broad Channel Bits) has been reelected to the Board of Directors of the Queens Independent Living Center, an organization that helps people with disabilities. Guarino will serve a two-year term and is the only board member from this area of Queens. Congratulations, Liz!

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps (BCVFD), will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year with a gala to be held at Russo’s On The Bay on March 10. Newly elected Chief Thomas Larkin invites all Rockaway and Broad Channel residents to help the volies celebrate the anniversary. Those interested in further information or in buying tickets or journal advertisements should contact Ed O’Hare, the BCVFD President at 718-318-5504.

There is a new Internet search engine for those who believe they lost loved ones in the Holocaust. The site, funded by the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel, provides lists of known victims from all over Europe simply by typing in a last name and clicking on the search button. The new site is at www.yadveshem.org. While most of the victims were Jewish, there are many people of other faiths and ethnicities as well.

Tom Ognibene, the Republican who plans to challenge Mayor Mike Bloomberg in the upcoming election, says that an aide of Bloomberg offered him a big-ticket job in the his campaign in order to keep him from running. Ognibene says that he was offered a $12,000 a month job for now and a yearly job at $150 thousand if the mayor wins. Offering jobs to keep a person from running in an election is a federal crime. The mayor’s aides said they had no idea that Ognibene was planning to run when they offered him the job.

The 1860’s came back to haunt J.P Morgan Chase this week when it filed a statement acknowledging that two of its predecessor banks had received thousands of slaves as collateral for loans prior to the Civil War. Both of those banks, located in Louisiana, served as banks to many plantations in the state from the 1830’s until the war, which started in 1861 and ended in 1865. The bank estimated that its Louisiana branches accepted approximately 13,000 slaves as collateral and that the banks came to own 1,250 slaves as a result of defaults on those loans. It was not made clear what happened to the slaves that the bank owned.

The Parachute Jump in Coney Island will soon be electrified in order to “invite everybody to New York City’s premier beach.” Here in Rockaway, we can’t even get a decent subway ride.

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