2005-02-18 / Community

Beachcomber

Those who participate in what is traditionally called “Polar Bear Clubs” love running over a snow-filled beach to jump into the freezing water of the Atlantic Ocean. This year, however, those people were disappointed. The sun was out on New Year’s Day, when there are three separate polar bear events and the water was still relatively warm due to a warm winter to that point. Last week was the final event of the season, the Plunge For Cystic Fibrosis, and again, the sun was out and it was in the 50’s. While there was a remnant of snow on the beach, there was nothing like a few years ago when a foot of snow fell just prior to the event. We hope everybody has better luck next year.

While the closing of Broad Channel’s St. Virgilius School has angered and saddened the community, there is a continuing fear that the closing of the parish may not be far behind. “The basis of the Church is family,” one parent told the New York Times. “If you don’t have a school, how can the parish survive?” As with any other news of this sort, conspiracy theories abound. One holds that there was a $380 thousand contingecy fund collected by parents for just such an eventually and that the money was turned over to the diocese by the present administrator when he took over from the ailing Father White. Another is that the diocese closed only those schools in areas where the Department of Education wanted to take them over due to public school overcrowding in those areas. That theory posits that the city is willing to pay the diocese a good fee for renting the building as an annex of PS 47 and that the decison to close the school was based mostly on that contingency. As with anything else, there is probably some truth in both of those theories, but locals are lax to speak ill of the church or its leaders.

Queens Republicans handed Mayor Mike Bloomberg a blow when the group endorsed former City Councilman Tom Ognibene for mayor rather than the incumbent. Will it be a fatal blow? Of course not. Bloomberg will most likely still win the Republican primary (if Ognibene’s past does not come back to haunt him, forcing him out of the election completely), but it is a slap in the face nevertheless. There is a real possibility, however, that Ognibene will get the Conservative line in the election and that will siphon enough Republican votes away from Bloomberg to allow the Democratic candidate to sneak in the back door. Queens Republicans say that there is an arrogance about Bloomberg that they cannot accept and that he is really a Democrat in disguise.

The Wave has been running a poll on its website that asks readers to respond to a question about reasonable access to the boardwalk. Over the time the poll has been running, more than 900 people have responded. Approximately 21 percent think that the boardwalk should be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. A like number think that access should be from 6 a.m. to midnight. The remaining 58 percent think that there should be no restrictions on access to the boardwalk. Politicians take note.

As if the City Council has nothing else to do (perhaps they don’t), the body will soon hold hearings on legislation that would require city contractors to delve into their history to find if they ever enabled slavery 140 years ago. Let us get this straight. We are going to judge today’s business people for what their ancestors did legally prior to the Civil War. How about we check all of the city council members and see what their ancestors were doing in 1865? “We’re hoping that these hearings will bring to light the fact that there had been a history of slavery in this city and that there are some corporations that might have been a part of that history,” Councilman Bill Perkins said. Peter Vallone called the hearings “a chance for trial lawyers to get evidence to bring lawsuits.” Was slavery immoral? Of course it was, but it was widely accepted and even the Supreme Court had ruled that it was legal (perhaps the most reprehensible decision in the court’s history) in Dred Scott vs. Sandford. We have to say once again that you can’t judge people who lived 150 years ago by today’s standards or today’s morality.

A number of patrons who use the Queens Library on Beach 116 Street have called to complain that homeless people hang out in the building at all hours, ruining the experience for everybody else. “They smell terrible and they often reek of booze,” one woman told us. “Sometimes, they even urinate right inside the door in the vestibule.” While many believe that the police have the right to evict such problem residents, they do not. Courts have long ruled that public buildings have to be open to all, regardless of their sanity, sobriety or state of cleanliness.

Those who can’t wait for this year’s baseball season know by now that pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this week. That is a harbinger of spring more than the first robin.

Denis Leary is an actor who befriended many firefighters after September 11. His most recent show, “Rescue Me,” about a firehouse in New York was filmed mostly in Rockaway. Last week, Leary presented a check for $100,000 from his Leary Firefighters Foundation to the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association “Heroes Fund.” The check was presented in Brooklyn, at Engine 46/Ladder 27, the house where the firefighters killed in January worked.

A Long Island grand jury has refused to indict a man who had been arrested for making lawyer jokes while standing in a line outside a Hempstead courthouse. Court officers were tipped off by a lawyer standing on line and two men were slapped in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct.

Carmen Farina is the Deputy Chancellor for Instruction for the city’s public schools, but she certainly has a great disdain for teachers. Responding to a demonstration against the Department of Education mandating certain styles of teaching, a group of teachers in one region chanted “Let Teachers Teach.” While that might sound reasonable, Farina, who owes allegiance to Chancellor Joel Klein for her appointment, commented, “We’ve been letting teachers teach for the past 40 years, and the kids haven’t been getting where they need to be.” Where has this woman been working all these years? Certainly not in New York City, where teachers are kept from teaching by restrictive rules and a need to keep disruptive kids in the classroom.

There is a movement afoot among movie-goers for theaters to publish the true times that a movie begins – not the time that the “Twenties” begin or the time that the six or eight coming attractions begin – but when the actual movie starts. This is far from being an important issue, but it is one of the little things that drives people crazy and keeps them home watching DVD’s or Pay Per View.

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