2005-08-25 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach


Nobody asked me, but …

…Went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my family last week and found a place that Rockaway could be with some planning and private money. The Outer Banks consists mainly of row upon row of rental homes that most people rent for a week or two during the summer. It was clear to me from the outset that this would be perfect for the eastern end of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, from Beach 35 Street to Beach 62 Street. Sell the land to private developers, let them build the rental homes (they are anything but bungalows) and the tourists will come, bringing with them the development of restaurants and tourist attractions. The rental home concept is the logical updated descendent of the late and lamented bungalow colonies that once crowded the shorefront. We could even center activities on the site of the flight of the NC-4, just as the Outer Banks centers on Kill Devil Hills and the Wright Brothers Memorial.

…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a branch of the Department of Commerce, is drawing up plans for large flood gates that would “close the door on storm surges” brought by hurricanes and nor’easters. Three gates are planned – one in Raritan Bay, one at the entrance to New York Harbor and the third where the Long Island Sound enters the East River. Sounds great until you realize that Jamaica Bay is outside the system and would become the flood plain as the rest of Manhattan sits comfortably shut off from the waters. Rockaway would flood, but who ever said that the peninsula wasn’t disposable anyway?

…The statewide student suspension rate is 4.4 percent. Large school districts such as New York City’s run a 16.3 suspension rate. The rate in the city’s public schools, however, is 2.2 percent. Are the students in the city so much less violent? No, the answer to the question of why our school’s rate is so low lies in the fact that city schools no longer suspend students unless they literally burn down the building or kill somebody. Does the lower suspension rate make the schools safer or more dangerous? Figure that out for yourself.

…Keith Williams lost his wife, Emily Williams on American Airlines Flight 587 in November of 2001. Williams lives in California and seldom gets a chance to come to meetings in New York. He does keep track of the development of a Rockaway memorial to those who died in the crash, however. “It is always churlish to criticize a gift, even when that gift involves significant waste and misuse of funding” he says. “However, it is impossible to ignore the conduct of those driving the choice of site for the memorial to the victims, including my wife, of AA 587.” Williams believes that the Beach 116 Street site was chosen so that improvements could be made to that street under the guise of building the memorial. He may well be right. “It is not appropriate to use the memorial as an excuse for street realignment and improvement,” he says. Williams is right that the Beach 116 Street site, with its proximity to a new luxury condo building as well as the beach amenities and the nearly homeless that roam the street at all times. That seems to be clear to everybody but Mayor Bloomberg and his mayoral agencies.

…I watched the Democratic Mayoral Candidates debate on Sunday morning and was impressed with only one candidate – Anthony Weiner, a man who probably has little chance of winning (not that any of the other three have any chance of winning either). A recent poll shows that nearly 40 percent of Democratic voters do not like any of the candidates, and that is understandable. While the other three candidates – C. Virginia Fields, Gifford Miller and Fernando Ferrer– waffled on specifics, Weiner at least had a plan to save the middle class. He wants to add another tax category for those earning over a million dollars a year in order to cut middle class taxes and provide more services and a pay raise for city workers. The other three are old-line Democratic hacks who would bring back the bad old days of Dinkins and Koch. It is a shame that Weiner’s campaign cannot get any traction, but it is probably true that nobody on the ballot can beat Mayor Mike Bloomberg this year.

…Rockaway is not the only place where beach access rules make headlines. The August, 2005 edition of The Island Breeze, published on Hatteras Island in North Carolina featured the headline, “As The Summer Heats Up, So Do The Beach-Access Issues.” Sounds like it could have come right out of the pages of The Wave. One problem, of course, is Piping Plovers camped on the beach and closing the beach to human habitation. “Last month on Hatteras Island, some local restaurants offered unusual specials on their outdoor signs,” one article in the paper began. “A Buxton eatery had fried piping plover and piping plover pot pie. In Avon, there were piping plover subs.”

Another problem is the lack of lifeguards. One major island beach was closed to swimmers for much of August because the National Park Service could not find and hire the four lifeguards and one supervisor necessary to protect the swimmers. Did the park service completely close the beach? Of course not. The service simply allowed beachgoers to continue to use the beach and put up “Swim At Your Own Risk” signs. Just like New York City.

…The leaders of New York’s Independence Party are finally moving to freeze out Lenora Fulani, the party’s anti-Semitic and anti-white leader. “Fulani will have absolutely no say over what happens with our statewide candidates next year,” Party Chair Frank McKay told the Daily News recently. A member of the party’s executive council said, however, that “Fulani is still an important voice in our party and she will continue to speak out on the organization’s political direction.” Since the party is the third largest in the state, many mainstream politicians such as Mike Bloomberg look to the party for 650,000 or so votes in each election. Both Hillary Clinton and Jeanine Piro are looking to the party for its line, perhaps one reason Fulani has been put into the party’s deep freeze.

...Having lived through the Vietnam War I cannot believe that President Bush has recycled two arguments that kept America in that nation far longer than it should. One was that if you don’t support the war then you don’t support the men and women who are fighting the war. The other is that we cannot pull out without winning because that would dishonor those who have already given their lives. When will we learn? It is obvious, at least to me, that Bush has not.

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