2006-01-13 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

Nobody asked me, but …

…Whistle-blowers are important to a democratic society. Our society won’t long endure if whistle-blowers are criminally punished for revealing what the powers-that-be don’t want revealed because what they are doing is somehow illegal, immoral, unethical or unconstitutional. Journalists play an important role in the balance of powers chain and they need to be able to protect the sources that give them the facts about official misbehavior. This is as true for The Wave and its sphere of influence in Rockaway and Broad Channel as it is for The New York Times and its sphere, which includes the world at large.

…I have nothing against Christine Quinn, the new Speaker of the City Council, because she is a lesbian. What I hold against her is that she is a one-issue councilmember who sees everything through the prism of gender and choice. I feel about Quinn as I did about Floyd Flake, an AME preacher who became our and who saw everything through the prism of religion and steered everything to the area where his Allen AME Church is situated in Jamaica. One-issue advocates worry me, no matter what that one issue may be.

…The things that some judges’ do never ceases to amaze me. Two weeks ago, a convicted rapist who was busted anew for having two illegal handguns was released by Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Anne Feldman to go live with his mother. The problem with that was that his mother ran a day care center in her home. What did that give to society? A convicted sex offender who had illegal weapons living in proximity to a group of young kids. That might make sense to the judge, but it makes no sense to me. When a probation officer challenged the judge for her inconceivable ruling, she reportedly snapped back, “I know more about this case than you do.”

…It shouldn’t surprise me that politics plays a large part in how anti-terrorism money is distribute throughout the nation. Some Senators even fought a recent change in the law to allow the money to go only to legitimate terror targets because that would have reduced payments to their home states. Congressman Anthony Weiner recently released a list of some of the projects that got anti-terrorism money last year. They include: a computer museum in Toledo, Ohio; Knots Camp Snoopy Amusement Park in Twin Cities, Minnesota; the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Jesse James Farm and Museum in Kansas City, Kansas. They all sound like nice places to visit, but are any of them a legitimate terrorist target as opposed to, let’s say, the stock exchange, the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building?

…Toronto, Canada has seen a massive rise in gun violence over the past year. That city has seen 78 murders this year, 52 of them gun-related, nearly double last year’s totals. Who do the Canadians blame for this crime rate growth? The United States, of course. “It’s a sign of the lack of gun laws in the United States, allowing guns to flood across the border that are literally being used to kill the people of Toronto,” said Mayor David Miller. “The United States is exporting its problems of violence to the streets of Toronto,” To me, that sounds like the relationship between Far Rockaway and the nearby Five Towns area in Nassau County. For many years, every crime that was committed in the Five Towns was blamed on criminals from Rockaway. Sometimes they were right, but most often it was home-grown talent that did the deed. It is probably true that the gun violence in Toronto has the same genesis as the gun violence here in New York City.

…At the beginning of the 2004 school year, a number of school secretaries came to me to complain that, despite the fact that they had all worked in the system for at least 20 years without ever getting an unsatisfactory rating, the all got a “U” in June of 2004. What did they have in common? They were all over 40, some of them over 50-years-of-age. Now, the UFT has charged the Department of Education with discriminating against teacher over the age of 40. Of the union’s nearly 65,000 tenured teachers, about 41,000 or 63 percent are over 40. Of the 143 tenured teachers given “U” ratings and brought up on charges, 122 (85.3 percent) were over the age of 40. The union charged Chancellor Joel Klein with a “disdain for experience,” and I believe that he is right. Why the push to drive older staff members from the schools? First of all, the DOE wants to rid itself of all the teachers till in Tier I, those who can retire at 55 with a full pension. Then, there are those who believe that younger teachers are better because they are “energetic” while older teachers are “burned out.”

…Working on deadline is often tough for any newspaper – be it a daily like the Daily News and the New York Post, or a weekly such as The Wave. Witness the front pages of Wednesday’s daily papers, all of which ran headlines in their early editions that proclaimed that all of the trapped miners in West Virginia were safe and about to be evacuated when in fact, all but one had died. How did that happen? A deadline is just that – a point where words have to go onto paper and be printed. Often, information is incomplete at deadline time and the editor has to make an on-the-spot decision to go with the information on hand or wait for further information and possibly be scooped by the competition. That is not always an easy decision. A few weeks ago, we ran a story on deadline on Thursday evening about a young child who allegedly had been killed by her father. The facts were scant but the story was solid, confirmed by the District Attorney with the caution that charges had not been brought at that time. Twenty minutes after the paper was shipped out to the printing plant, the DA issued a statement with all of the particulars, things that the daily papers had on Friday, but we did not. We were asked by a number of people why we withheld that information. The answer was simple. We didn’t have that information on deadline and decided to go with what we had. Such is life in the newspaper game and that is partially why is remains so exciting week after week.

…The mayor is going down the proverbial “slippery slope” by allowing Ultra-Orthodox rabbis to perform the ritual of sucking the blood from the penis of newborn males during circumcision, causing herpes. One child has died; another is brain damaged and four more were made ill by the practice. The Orthodox community says that it a religious practice and may not be controlled by the government. Medical experts, however, say that the practice should be banned. Bloomberg, who is beholden to a large Jewish vote, has tried to warn Orthodox away from the practice with little effect. What could this lead to? Suppose some religious group says that genital mutilation is a legitimate religious rite. Suppose another brings back ritual sacrifice. Will the city turn its back on those “religious practices” as well? The fact is, children are at risk because of the present practice and the burden is on the Orthodox community to continue the tradition in a way that is does not leave those children at risk.

...The DOT has pulled a fast one on west end residents. The promise of a new, reconfigured Beach 116 Street was compelling when tied up with the new memorial to American Airlines Flight 587.

Now that the street has been reconfigured, however, we find that the DOT took away our old Muni-meters, which cost twenty-five cents for thirty minutes and replaced them with new meters that require twenty-five cents for only twenty minutes. If anybody in Rockaway knew about the increase, they certainly were not talking. Where was the Chamber?

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