2005-07-29 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

Nobody asked me, but …

…I want those who don’t believe that the military draft for both men and women will be back sooner than later to look at two recent developments: In the first, the Army just announced that they will not be able to meet its recruiting goals for the year. In fact, only 47,121 new recruits have signed up by July 1 and the goal for the year is 80,000. The second is word that the Army is considering older recruits – up to 42 years of age. Sounds like the Pentagon is getting desperate. In order to keep up the levels necessary to pursue the President’s interests in Iraq, we will need a draft within two years.

…The Parks Enforcement Police (PEP) officers who patrol our beaches and parks have great impact on the quality of life of Rockaway residents. Unlike NYPD officers, the qualifications for the job are very low. In fact, a recent ad for the job listed the requirements: 21 years of age; qualify for special patrolman status; have a driver’s license; be a citizen and live in New York City. The ad says that 60 college credits are preferred, but judging from those I have seen on the job, a high school dropout seems to be OK as well.

…Judging from what I have seen in the media, most city commuters have no problem with the NYPD checking bags before entering subway or bus stations. Even if the civil libertarians don’t understand the need for a little rationality, the people do. Why is getting on a subway any different from getting on an airplane? Airline screeners have a profile that they look for and they check people who meet that profile. Why can’t cops do the same? Because there is some crazy idea that the Fourth Amendment means that people can’t be checked on a rational basis. Racial profiling? Sure, but when elderly Jews begin bombing trains and buses, I will be glad to be checked.

There is a real problem with housing in Rockaway despite the fact that new homes are being built on every empty lot throughout the peninsula. Young families can no longer afford to live in the west end of Rockaway. The massive jump in home prices in the past few years has cut out young workers such as police officers, firefighters, retail workers and teachers, unless their parents can afford a massive down payment in their name. Look at The Wave’s classified ads. Belle Harbor homes go from $750,000 to more than $1 million. Neponsit homes begin at $1.5 million an go up from there. Rockaway Park homes begin at $600,000 or so. Even Arverne homes go for more than $300,000. Will that last? The housing “bubble” is already beginning to break in some western cities. Apartment rents in Rockaway are growing “soft” because there are so many rental properties on the market. There may be a time when housing costs go downhill very quickly. That will be good for the young people who want to stay in the community, but bad for those who invested big bucks in their dream homes and find that they have purchased a white elephant instead.

…Despite the fact that President Bush was literally photographed holding hands with a Saudi Arabian prince, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is still the major funding agency and educational proponent of terrorism. When terrorist funding is concerned, one Saudi expat said, “all roads lead to Riyadh.” And Saudi clerics, devotees of Wahhabism, still preach jihad against the west, and particularly against the United States and Europe. When Secretary of State Rice went to Saudi Arabia recently, she did not raise the question of purging the educational system of Wahhabism and cutting off the radical clerics from state funding. The Saudi princes continue to be Bush’s biggest booster (and reportedly, his funding source) at the same time the government funds both active terrorism as well as the schools that breed the bombers.

…The local zoo in Tulsa (Oklahoma) was ordered to balance its evolution science exhibit with a display extolling the Genesis account of God’s creation of the universe from nothing in six days. When challenged, the zoo’s directors said that they were misunderstood, that they wanted several “Creation Myths” included. So, they got the Cherokee buzzard that gouged the valleys and mountains and the Norse God, Audhumia, who reportedly was a giant cow. Personally, I like the Iroquois creation myth. In that one, Sky-Woman was pushed out of heaven and landed on a island that had been created when a muskrat placed lots of mud on the back of a giant turtle. As the turtle grew, so did the island on its back. Before leaving heaven, Sky-Woman had been given a daughter, who later gave birth without the need of a man to two sons – Great Spirit and Evil Spirit. Great Spirit formed men and women, laves, rivers and peaceful animals. Evil spirit created anger, warfare and all of the dangerous animals. The two brothers then fought it out in an epic two-day battle that left Great Spirit as the progenitor of the Iroquois people and Evil Spirit banished to an underground domain. If that all sounds sort of familiar, let me know.

…As we get older, many of the places of our youth go by the wayside. Most Rockaway residents who were around at the time think of Playland in that way. In 1963, now more than 40 years ago, I was in the Navy, and my ship went into Graving Dock Number 1 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a refit. The 710-foot long concrete and steel basin, built during the Civil War, was home for my ship for several months. I first brought my wife to be to visit the ship while it was there and that was where she first met my mother (but, that’s another story.) It was a good deal for me, because I got to go home most nights with the “yardies.” A few weeks ago, the New York Times had a piece about the dock, which will now become a parking lot for an Ikea that will be built next door.

…Perhaps we should have some sort of test before a person can become a coach for a youth team. Witness a Pennsylvania baseball coach who paid off a player to bean an 8-year-old autistic team member. Seems that the league rule required that each member of the team play three innings of each game and the coach did not want the handicapped player dragging down the team record. Remember, these are eight-year-olds. The coach was arrested and charged with several assault and child endangerment charges.

...The City Council will soon vote on doing away with Sunday parking meters. That is fine for most of the city, but for a beach community such as Rockaway, the shopping areas will suffer if the meters are cut off on Sunday. Beachgoers will park for the entire day and shoppers will have no place to park, cutting summer business.

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