2005-06-03 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach


Nobody asked me but …

City Councilman James Sanders, who is already in trouble with the Democratic Party, created some problems late last week with one of his major constituencies, the Orthodox Jewish community, by supporting a Council bill that would lift the federal bounty on cop-killer and terrorist Joanne Chesimard and offer her clemency. On Tuesday, Sanders called The Wave to say that he was pulling his name off the bill and that its supporters had told him it was only urging a fair trial for the convicted murderer should she return home.

…After thirty years of teaching, I get really suspicious when a school goes up 25 or 30 points in one year on a standardized test. A number of local schools achieved that benchmark this year, and, to my mind, something smells. Think about it. If 400 kids are tested, that means at least 100 went from level three and four to level two. That does not happen unless somebody cooked the books (whuch has happened before) or those who can’t pass the test are suspiciously absent or allowed to skip the test. Those students include special ed and bilingual students, as well as last year’s failures. Remember, last year I wrote that keeping third graders back would help Bloomberg by having a positive impact on this year’s scores. What happened it probably a combination of the poor readers being held back and special category students kept from taking the test. In either case, something smells.

…It looks as if Bloomberg’s smoking ban is going to become an issue in the upcoming mayoral election. Tom Ognibene, Bloomberg’s Republican challenger, was first over the line, making the issue one of his major campaign points. More recently, Congressman Anthony Weiner added the issue to his mayoral campaign. Weiner says that the ban has hurt many of the small bars and pubs in his district, and he is right.

…Anybody who lives in Broad Channel knows that the combination of a Moon Tide and bad weather can do to the streets on the east end of the island community. The streets are so flooded that it is often impossible to keep a car on the street. For that reason, residents park their cars on the median on Cross Bay Boulevard. The locals have a deal with the 100 Precinct not to ticket cars on the median during those short periods of time, but the NYPD’s transportation bureau obviously did not get the word and agents ticketed many cars before getting the word. I wonder why the residents can’t get a law passed so that they can legally park in the boulevard during flood tides? There should be no problem in light of Belle Harbor’s ability to get restrictive parking rules to keep people off its beaches. If Belle Harbor can get its own rules, why not Broad Channel?

…According to published reports, Arverne housed the fourth largest number of ex-jailbirds in the entire city. While the other three areas that lead Arverne in number of ex-cons all have lots of halfway-houses, the Rockaway quota mostly live in the city housing projects that dot the bayfront. The report also says that two-thirds of all ex-cons are rearrested within three years. That statistic does not bode well for Rockaway and something should be done to address it, particularly by our east-end representatives James Sanders, Michelle Titus and Malcolm Smith.

…Mayor Bloomberg has once again proven that he does not care what people think by taking the nomination of the Independence Party despite the fact that its founder and leader is an Anti-Semite and racist. Bloomberg’s comment that Lenora Fulani is only one person in the 60,000-member party is ridiculous. That is like saying that George Bush is only one Republican and does not represent Republican values. Any right-thinking New Yorker who votes for Bloomberg on the Independence Party line should understand who and what he or she is really voting for.

…The city keeps pushing back the deadlines for proposals on a memorial for those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor 3 ½ years ago. While the daily papers assume that the delay is due to the intransigence of Belle Harbor residents to any memorial, there is no argument on the Beach 116 Street memorial (except, perhaps from Ed Re, who thinks that we already have too many memorials to the 265 people who died that day) and it should be fairly easy to get it done. Having said that, take a look at what the city did to Tribute Park and its memorial that was vetted by the community and then changed and delayed by the city’s Arts Commission, which is made up of art “experts” from outside the community.

…Dunes. What an issue. They were built by nature, they were there, the Parks Department bulldozers came and now they are gone. For Ed Re to say that he and his organization had no part in destroying the dunes is disingenuous at best. There were letters from his organization to the Parks Department and at least one of his officers told me personally that he had requested the destruction of the dune on his block because it “attracted dogs and garbage” and that “it has the potential for attracting Piping Plovers,” which would close “his beach.”

…The City Council has done it again. Each time you think that it has introduced the most asinine bill it could come up with, it comes up with one even better. This week, the Council proposed a bill that would require the city’s website be translated into six languages – Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Haitian Creole and Korean. “Where will it end,” asked on Councilman when he heard the proposal.

…The Community Education Councils are a laugh and everybody, including the officers of the school parent associations know it. Witness the fact that nearly two-thirds of those eligible to vote in the recent CEC election did not. Why? Because the new education panels, made up mostly of parents, have little power except as a rubber stamp for the Regional Superintendent and very few people want to spend time voting for, or being a rubber stamp.

…Margaret Spelling, the United States Secretary of Education under George Bush and considered by many to be a neoconservative, was recently asked about the move to teach “intelligent Design,” a thinly-veiled version of Creationism in the schools. She said, “We ended up [in Texas] saying basically that both points of view [Creationism and Evolution] are taught from a factual basis.” That would be all right, if there was a factual basis for Creationism or Intelligent Design. There is absolutely no proof that God created the Earth in seven days, while there is lots of fossil and artifact evidence for evolution.

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