During this season, Rockaway is replete with celebrations of the various religious celebrations and holiday events. For a list of those events in your neighborhood, see the “Holiday Happenings” section on the It’s What’s Happening page in this issue of The Wave.
It could well be months before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission renders its decision in the case of Michelle McCusker, the pregnant, unmarried teacher who was fired from the St. Rose of Lima School last month for violating her contract as well as for “violations of Christian morality.” The ACLU has taken on her case because that organization believes that the back story in her case goes beyond contract law, that there is a Constitutional issue at stake. “The school singled her out because she was pregnant and they only way they could do that is because she is a woman,” an ACLU attorney said. “How do they determine if male employees engage in premarital sex?” The ACLU says that the school violated a federal law banning discrimination against pregnant women. The school says that it is simply a religious issue as well as the issue of a Catholic school upholding the core beliefs of that religion. This could go all the way to the Supreme Court.
The full page detailing the 20 “high Risk” sex offenders who live in Rockaway generated lots of light and heat two weeks ago. We understand people were talking about the fact that these Level III offenders were free to roam the community angered some, scared others. We received two calls to tell us that the sex offenders in the article no longer live in the community (or, never did). They are Michael Shaia, who is registered as living at 81-05 Hammels Boulevard. His mom stopped in to say that he was registered at that address, but never lived there and she has no idea where he is living. Gaspar Camacho, who is registered at 158 Beach 116 Street, reportedly moved to Brooklyn shortly after he registered. As of last week, however, both still showed up on the Department of Criminal Justice Website as living at those Rockaway addresses.
With great fanfare, Region Five and the Department of Education announced a lifeguard-training program that would be run through the schools. Now, we find out that the Department of Education can’t come up with the $25,000 needed to run the program and is asking for private donations to fund the five sites. We find that hard to believe because the DOE probably spends more than that on luncheon meetings each day, Blackberries for regional staff and computers for special programs, but we are passing on the request. City Councilman Joe Addabbo has provided $5,500 from city fund, but 25 grand is still needed. Those who want to contribute can do so by sending a check to the Department of Education, City of New York. In the memo portion of your check, write “Region 5/LDP. All donations are tax deductible.
It looks as if the city is really ready to take over the three heavily-used private bus lines that run routes in Rockaway. The deal, which is expected to cost the city about $1 billion, is a boon for Jerome Cooper, the owner of Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Coach. He will get $25 million for the lines and then $7.5 million each year for the rental of the bus depots that he owns. Green Bus Line will officially move to the MTA on January 9, Jamaica Bus on January 30 and Triboro Coach on February 20. What will this mean for the riders? It is hard to tell. We understand that the city has guaranteed all of the present routes for at least one year, but some of the present express lines may well end after that period of time. Green Bus had more that 32 million riders last year.
Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The good news is that murders are down once again. There have been 483 murders in New York City as of the end of last month, compared with 519 during the same period last year. At that rate, the city would record 530 murders this year, 40 less than last year and one of the lowest murder rates since the 1960’s. The bad news is that non-fatal shootings are up about five percent this year. Rockaway knows all about that statistic because shootings in the 101 Precinct seem to be way up this year.
The City Council wants a city holiday honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks. The resolution, passed by the council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, encourages all businesses in the city, both public and private, to either close on December 1 or to allow workers and or students who attend Rosa Parks Commemoration events to take the day off or leave work without penalty.
The Rockaway Beach Civic Association has requested that Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 95 Street and Beach 102 Street be renamed in honor of Monsignor William Burke, who for many, many years led the St. Camillus Band in various local and national events. We think that would be a great idea. Burke was a Rockaway icon and we can think of no better tribute to his memory than the street-naming honor.
The Wave’s Sports Editor Elio Velez is working on our coverage of college students who live in Rockaway. We know of a number of players who fit the bill, but we always want some more. If you know of a local player who is participating in any college sport, contact The Wave at email@example.com and let us know.
The Wave, in an attempt to allow our readers a longer form of comment has instituted a new column to be tentively called “It’s My Turn,” that will allow for a 750-word comment on any issue of interest to our Rockaway readership. Those interested in submitting a long-form column should email a submission to firstname.lastname@example.org . The Wave’s editorial board, as always, will make final decisions on what will find its way into print. In addition, those who submit a column must understand that columns will be edited for size and content at the discretion of the editor, although every attempt will be made to contact the writer to discuss such changes. We look forward to your submissions.