2005-09-02 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Reporters covering Hurricane Katrina last week continually spoke about the fact that beach dunes kept the water from pouring into local streets in many areas. In Fort Walton Beach, for example, a woman was interviewed who reported that the dunes had been put in after the last hurricane that that they worked flawlessly, keeping the water at bay. Only in New York City does the Parks Department plow under nascent dunes in the name of “beach grooming.”

The New York Times has discovered Rockaway and Broad Channel. On August 24 the papers Metro Section featured on its front page a story about Charlie Howard of Broad Channel, the owner of Call-A-Head, the company that supplies porta-potties to businesses and construction sites across the area and that has reportedly made Howard a millionaire. On August 25, the front page of the same section featured John Baxter and his “shabby” hotel on Beach 116 Street. Why all of the attention from the “Gray Lady” all of a sudden? Rockaway is obviously “in” once again, at least in the Times. On the same day the Baxter story hit the papers, Mayor Mike Bloomberg came to speak to seniors at the Beach Club across the street from Baxter’s Hotel. The campaign aide who set up the meeting was heard to say that she had never been in Rockaway and did not know that it even existed in New York City until that day. In any case, both of the stories were generally favorable. The Howard story buried the fact that he had worked out a deal with DA Richard Brown to pay fines of $100 thousand and $10 thousand in restitution to clear charges of polluting protected wetlands and using unmetered city water. The company admitted no wrongdoing in paying the fine and restitution. That fact was buried in the twelfth graph on the jump page, buried under all of the positive details of Howard’s $10-million-a-year business and his redevelopment activities in the community. The article on Baxter made the man who holds the key to a valid development plan for Beach 116 Street hostage to his ego into something of a Robin Hood who is the only one around who wants to help the poor and is beleaguered by the evil community activists and developers who only want to put his renters on the homeless list.

Nancy Kalisak of Broad Channel had a double winner last week. She won the top prize of a large-screen television set at the annual Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department carnival by playing full-card Bingo. It just so happened that it was also her birthday.

The Department of Education is quickly becoming the new “Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight.” The DOE handed out brochures to new teachers two weeks ago and then quickly tried to get them back. Seems that the brochures were replete with grammatical mistakes and misspellings. For example, the brochure said that the DOE was “promoting high ulaity education (sic)” talked about “the chancellors instructional goals” and the “Children first initiatives.” A spokesperson for the DOE says puts the blame on the printer who did the job, but every teacher knows that you should check your work before you give it out.

The old pictures that we run in The Wave as often as we can continue to draw a lot of interest. Rcourt75 emailed us to say that he and his wife were married in the Del Mar Hotel in 1955 and that the wedding put on by the hotel was a topic of conversation for years because it was so wonderful. “You could walk outside and be right on the boardwalk,” the correspondent said. He noted that the food was excellent and that he and his wife are still together fifty years later. One of The Wave’s advertising reps, Marilyn Kohn, recognized the top picture in the August 19 issue, something that nobody else was able to do. She says that the building is the Embassy Hotel that once stood at Beach 29 Street and the Boardwalk, nearby the present PS 43 and now an empty lot that is part of the Arverne By The Sea property.

Connecticut is the first state, but probably not the last, to sue the federal government over the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Law. The state accuses the Bush government of being “rigid, arbitrary and capricious” in the enforcement of the law. The state says that it is not being adequately reimbursed for complying with the law, something that amounts to “unfounded mandates,” which are strictly outlawed by the signature act. Connecticut says that complying with the law would cost state taxpayers more than $50 million this year alone. While New York is contemplating a similar suit, many states are reportedly reluctant to sue because they are afraid of retaliation by Bush and his ultra-conservative Secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling, who recently told the New York Times that she agrees with Bush that both intelligent design and evolution should be taught alongside each other in Science classes.

John Miller was a beat reporter for Channel Five News. In 1998 he actually interviewed Osama bin Ladin for the station. When William Bratton became the PC, Miller went to work as his Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI). When Bratton was pushed out by Rudi Giuliani and traveled to Los Angeles, Miller followed and became his Director of Anti-terrorism. Now, he will soon become the Chief of Information for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). What a career.

Here we go again, another commission made up of politicians rather than educators who will decide on what curriculum the New York City public schools will be forced to use. The Amistad Commission was voted into existence by the state legislature and signed by Governor Pataki last month. The controversial new panel will determine whether New York school children are taught enough about “the physical and psychological terrorism against Africans during the slave trade.” The commission will be made up of 19 politically-appointed non-paid members, who need not be academics or educators. Eight members will be appointed by the governor, the rest by the state commissioner of education, majority leader, and the state’s secretary of state. Those officials are to choose other members who should be chosen “with due regard to broad geographic representation and ethnic diversity, who have an interest in the history of the African slave trade and the contributions of African-Americans to our society.”

Gifford Miller, who is running hard for mayor, did not help himself with a recent comment about public education. Miller and his wife have been waffling about whether to send their two sons to public or private school. He recently said in an interview that he would not make his kids a campaign issue and that he might send them to private school because “my kids are more important than my campaign.”

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