2005-03-11 / Community

Beachcomber

A few weeks ago, The Wave did a story on gang activity at MS 198 and noted that there was a possibility that the action was moving to other peninsula schools as well. The Department of Education said that “there were no new issues at the school,” and that the gangs did not exist. Just last week, however, a semi-secret (neither the public nor the press were invited) meeting was held at MS 53 with the main agenda topic being gangs in the schools. All the Rockaway middle schools, school safety officials and NYPD officials were at the meeting as well as people from the District Attorney’s gang unit, we have been told.

What do people who plan to move to Rockaway expect in the way of amenities? One clue might be found in an email that The Wave received this week from a Texas woman. “I am excited to see a Newcomer’s Guide for Rockaway published,” she said. “Our family is relocating to New York and Rockaway might be the place for us.” She then asked a number of questions about Rockaway. Unfortunately, the answer to most of them is a sad No. She asks, “Does Rockaway have any hotel accommodations? Is there a community college or branch college in Rockaway? Is there a nationwide shopping center with stores like Home Depot, Target, K-Mart? Is there a movie theater or a ice/roller skating rink or other such activities? What is the school rating? Does Rockaway pay Long Island Home taxes or NYC taxes? All of our politicians know the answer to these questions. Our question is, what are they going to do about it?

The Rockaway Museum will host a workshop featuring the Celtic music of Celeste Ray and her Psaltery, an ancient Celtic instrument. The workshop, which is free to all, will be held at the Seaside Branch of the Queens Public Library, Beach 117 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Wednesday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m.

This is going to be a long campaign season. The election for mayor is still nearly 10 months away and the campaign has already heated up to the boiling point. Many experts believe that Bloomberg has spent lots of the political capital that comes from being the incumbent on his push for a new stadium on the west side of Manhattan. In any case, the latest polls show that, if the election were this week, Democrat Fernando Ferrer would beat Bloomberg by 47 to 39 percentage points. Bloomberg would beat any of the other Democratic candidates, however. The poll shows the mayor beating Virginia Fields by 41 to 38 percent; Giff Miller by 40 to 38 percent and Tony Weiner by 41 to 36 percent. We still have a long way to go, and anything can happen and probably will prior to the November election. By the way, Ferrer leads all Democrats with 40 percent of the tally in the poll, with all the others losing out to “Don’t Know,” which holds 20 percent of the vote. Weiner and Miller are tied at 12 percent with Fields slightly ahead at 14 percent. About two percent of the Democratic voters said they wouldn’t vote for anybody in the field.

Last week, in his “From The Editor’s Desk,” Managing Editor Howard Schwach outlined some of the reasons for using or not using photographs in the paper. This week, Newsweek magazine ran a front cover that showed a well-dressed, renewed Martha Stewart walking through some golden drapes to freedom. Problem is, only the head in the photo was Stewart’s. The body the head rested on was that of a model hired by the magazine for the cover picture. The inside of the magazine listed the cover as a “Photo Illustration,” but even those in the business did not understand that to mean that it was a doctored photo. We believe that it is wrong for journalists to alter reality by manipulating images to make an editorial point. We would never do it and would hope that other journalists would likewise agree that Newsweek was wrong.

As another example of the Department of Education’s commitment to parental input, the committee studying gifted and talented education is comprised of bureaucrats, teachers and administrators. There is not one parent on the committee and there is no expectation that one will be appointed in the near future. A recent on-line poll showed that nearly half of city residents believe that the city schools are “on the wrong track,” despite the mayor’s takeover plans. Slightly more than 30 percent believe the mayor’s plan is the way to go. And, less than ten percent believe that their neighborhood school is “excellent,” with 25 percent believing that their neighborhood school is “fair.”

The 27th annual Rockaway Rotary Ocean Run, sponsored by Sweet ‘n Low, will be held on the boardwalk, beginning at Beach 116 Street on Sunday, May 1 at 10 a.m. There will be two races that morning – a ΒΌ mile children’s race and then a 5K race for all-comers. The post race party and awards will be held at the Irish Circle.

Newsday recently rated the best pizza places in New York City. While nobody in Rockaway made the list, Gino’s Pizza on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach did. The paper admits that its ratings might not be 100 percent correct and that the city “is crowded with great pies.”

The Port Authority is continuing its program of soundproofing schools that are impacted by the airports in Queens. Funding was just approved for the soundproofing of nineteen more public and parochial schools, including three in Rockaway. They are Beach Channel High School, MS 180 and MS 198. Most of the peninsula’s elementary schools have already been soundproofed in past years. According to the Port Authority, the soundproofing of BCHS will cost $14.4 million, while MS 180 will cost $100 thousand and MS 198, $500 thousand.

Congratulations to Cornelia (Connie) Taylor, long-time housing and education activist who has helped numerous local residents solve their problems for being named Newsday’s “Everyday Hero” last week. Taylor, 84, has been a tireless worker for those in public housing on the peninsula for at least three decades. Well Done!

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