2005-09-16 / Community


Wal-Mart had taken lots of hits lately for the way the large corporation treats its workers, but it certainly has generated lots of good will for its policy towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina. First, the major distributor announced that anybody who had been working at a Wal-Mart Store in the affected area could walk into any store in the nation and immediately have a job. Then, it announced that victims who had access to computers could set up a wish list of things that they need badly on the company’s Website and those who wanted to donate those necessities could then order them and have them delivered directly to the evacuees. Nice touch.

New York City is appealing the recent injunction that stalled the merger of four private bus companies (including Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Bus), with the city. The city’s Law Department has reportedly asked the Appellate Division to stay the order that was issued last month. The injunction was issued because Judge Duanne Hart believed that the merger would harm the rights of some of the people who worked for the companies, a violation of the takeover agreement. What this will mean for Rockaway residents is that they will have to suffer the horrible service of the three lines for a few months longer unless a stay of the injunction is ordered by the higher court.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum had verbally committed to a town hall meeting in Rockaway to discuss such local issues as lifeguard staffing and beach access, but she pulled out at the last minute, according to local activist Norm Silverman. Silverman sent us an email from Gotbaum’s spokesperson, Erin Bennett, in response to our endorsement of Gotbaum in last week’s paper. Bennett told Silverman that she had “overstepped her bounds” in agreeing to a town hall meeting and that it did not have her boss’s approval.

Both gunplay and murders involving guns have jumped sharply in the past months, according to the police department’s own statistics. Homicides were up 13 percent and shootings jumped 10 percent in the past month, with 52 killings and 155 shootings, compared with 46 murders and 141 gun incidents last year at this time. Rockaway is doing its share to bring up the statistics. Police decline to provide a reason for the spurt, except to say “these things run in cycles,” but many feel that the police have not been as aggressive in taking guns off the street as they were in the past because of the bad publicity the force got after some unfortunate gun accidents as well as the fact that city government has ordered them to back off on stopping and searching residents unless they have some real evidence that they are carrying a gun.

The Rock Ambulance Corps, a volunteer rescue group run by The Lighthouse and Pastor Donald Ventura, will soon send an ambulance and crew along with a relief crew to New Orleans to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The group will leave Rockaway on September 18 and is expected to be on site two days later. The supplies the ambulance will carry have been donated by PHC, SJEH, Addabbo FHC and Rockaway Churches United.

Independence Party leader Lenora Fulani refused last week to renounce her past comments that many believe are racist and Anti-Semitic. She told reporters, “New York lacks the proper environment to discuss issues related to Israel.” That wouldn’t matter much, except that Mayor Mike Bloomberg accepts her support and her party line, thereby validating what the party leader has to say. In addition, her All Stars program got $250,000 in grants from the city last year? Does one have something to do with the other? Of course it does. She refuses to talk about her past comments and about the mayor’s support. “My political friends and advisers have told me that it is impossible to have a serious dialogue and discourse in this city and at this time about those issues, so I am following their advice,” Fulani told reporters. The Reverend Charles Norris once backed a black candidate for School District 27 Superintendent by saying that the white candidate was “kosher corned beef” while the black candidate was “good old home cooked soul food.” Now, Norris defends Fulani by saying, “Some of the media are still harping on things of the past.” The mayor would do well to rethink his acceptance of her party line.

Remember that the Rockaway Music And Arts Council (RMAC) will host its annual Fall Festival this weekend. The fair, which features food, fun, entertainment and lots of crafts and fine art sales, will be held once again at the Riis Park Mall on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Parking in the Riis Park lot is free and there is fun for all ages.

The three top jobs in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) went to political cronies of the president who had no previous experience in coping with catastrophes. Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, spent the last 20 years with the Arabian Horse Administration. His job was to make sure that breeding rules were followed. It’s no wonder that he so badly “screwed the pooch” on Hurricane Katrina. The number two man at the agency, Patrick Rhodes, was the advance man for the Bush-Chaney campaign and in the White House. He previously was a functionary in both the Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration. The number three man, the former Chief of Staff for the agency, was a public relations expert who worked for Maverick Media, the company that did all the advertising for the Bush-Chaney campaign. It sure looks to us that the President has turned this vital agency into a dumping ground for those who can’t hold a real job. It also turns out that Brown fudged his resume, which is posted as his on-line biography of the FEMA Website. He reported that he was a professor at a Midwest university when is fact he was just an adjunct instructor and he said that he had been one town’s director of emergency management, when in fact, he was just an intern in the office. Isn’t the fact that he lied on his resume enough to get him fired?

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