2005-05-20 / Community

Beachcomber

At the annual Dinner sponsored by the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation last week Borough President Heen Marshall praised The Wave as being the only community paper in Queens that provides a full range of information on what is happening in the community. “I read The Wave every week,” Marshall told the crowd of business people and community activists. “It is the only way I can keep up with what is going on in Rockaway.”

The latest poll for the upcoming November Mayoralty election shows that front-runner Fernando (Freddie) Ferrer continues to lose ground while his main opponent, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, continues to climb. Ferrer is now at 27 percent, Fields at 23 percent. Congressman Anthony Weiner continues to run a distant third, with 13 percent (up two percent from the last poll), while Gifford Miller continues to run last with 11 percent even though he holds the high-profile City Council Speaker slot. While approximately three-quarters of those who were questioned said that present Mayor Mike Bloomberg has strong leadership skills, about half (47 percent) say that Bloomberg does not care about people “like you.”

NY 1 television did a major story on Rockaway last week, in which it explored the problems and strengths of the community. The reporter who did the story continually referred to “Middle Rockaway,” and said that many locals referred to the center of the peninsula in that way. A number of members of The Wave staff, who have lived and worked in Rockaway for decades, say that they never heard the term used. Perhaps the station made it up to define a specific geographical area. One west end resident, interviewed at the Rockaway Sunset Diner while eating with his family, said that he could not name any of the democratic candidates running against Mayor Bloomberg in the upcoming election. We guess that people have given up on reading newspapers, including this one, which constantly updates that race.

ACORN is a community-based organi-zation that advocates for minority residents in housing and education issues. While the organization is known locally for stretching the truth on occasion to make a point, it was awarded a charter school to run. ACORN said that the school, run under its concept of fairness and justice, would provide an exemplary model for everybody else to follow. Now, a few years later, the school has become, according to the NYPD, one of the most crime-ridden schools in the city. In fact, the school reported roughly three times as many crimes in 2003-2004 than other schools its size. Most recently, there was a stabbing at the school after a fight between a number of girls. So much of being an exemplar for the rest of the city.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a businessman who wants to run things his own way. “My way or the highway,” seems to be his main management style, which might be fine if you’re making widgets, but does not work so well when you are making policy for more than eight million people and have hired some highly-knowledgeable people to assist you. The latest example of that management style concerns Rockaway resident Peter Hayden, a high-ranking FDNY chief. When Hayden recently criticized the mayor’s plan for handling hazmat emergencies, the mayor said, “Anybody who doesn’t feel that he can do that [get behind the mayor’s plan] doesn’t have to. They just can’t work here.” So much for the mayor’s promise of an “open administration” when he ran for office.

Talk about a bonehead move. Stanley Jackson was in Far Rockaway for the funeral of a man who had been shot earlier in the week. While a community affairs officer was standing nearby, wearing civilian clothes along with the distinctive blue jacket that says “NYPD Community Affairs” on the back, Jackson obviously did not see him. He asked another mourner, “ are there any cops around?” He then took out a gun and asked the other mourner to take a picture of him brandishing the weapon. The cop looked for some backup and saw the 101 Precinct Commanding Officer, Captain Walter Salowski, in the crowd. Salowski and the cop decided to wait until Jackson moved away from the crowd and then grab him. A few minutes later, Salowski tackled Jackson and took the gun away. He was quickly arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. While its unusual for a commanding officer to involve himself (or herself) in an arrest, both of Rockaway’s CO’s like to be out in the field, not behind a desk. 100 Precinct CO Deputy Inspector Paul Piekarski has made his share of arrests since coming to Rockaway.

Rockaway resident Harry Weinstein was, as a young man in the 1970’s, an agent trainee for the prestigious William Morris Agency. He emailed The Wave to point out that Molly Picon (who he worked with at the agency) was never nominated for an Academy Award, as we said in a page two review two weeks ago. The Wave got that information from the Playbill for “Picon Pie,” an off-Broadway show starring another Rockaway resident, June Gable.

Gilbert Mack, a volunteer at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, has led a long and interesting life. At 92, the Lynbrook resident is a retired actor who began his career as a country-western singer in 1931. According to Newsday, who honored him as its daily profile recently, one of his best-known parts was as a German But-cher in a Hansel and Gretel cold cuts commercial that ran on television for 12 years. Mack was recently honored by the United Hospital Fund for the 35 years he has volunteered at SJEH.

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