The DOT started putting in the new Muni-meters on Beach 116 Street last Saturday. On Monday, although the meters were not yet in operation and some of the curbside machines still were not installed, The Wave received some complaints that the new meters were twenty-five cents for twenty minutes rather than the former cost of twenty-five cents for a half-hour. They wonder why there was no hearing held on the price increase before it became a fact of life.
New Year’s Eve was unusually quiet in Rockaway this year, with both of our precincts on an unusually high alert to end the midnight gunshots and drunken fights that have plagued the peninsula in past years. In the 101 Precinct, the local precinct cops were joined by units from the Queens South Task Force and the highly-trained Impact Team. Those extra cops made vertical patrols in many of the peninsula’s housing projects, from lobby to roof, ensuring that no troublemakers were causing problems. In addition, there were safety and drunk-driving checkpoints at various locations in both precincts. We have to thank the officers and men of both precincts for doing a good job over what has become a troublesome evening.
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will soon hold a meeting of family members of those who died on November 12, 2001 when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor. The meeting, which will be held on January 18, has been called to address a touchy problem – what to do with the still-unidentified human remains found at the corner of Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue after the crash. As we understand it, there are three options being presented to the family members: burial in a cemetery in the Dominican Republic (the majority of those who died were Dominicans), burial in a cemetery in Washington Heights in Manhattan or burial in a cemetery in the Bronx. This has been a contentious issue with family members in the past and perhaps the city waited more than four years to broach it again in the hope that with passing time it will become less contentious.
You can always count on Congressman Anthony Weiner for a good quote. Speaking of the changes in allocating anti-terrorist funds, Weiner said, “I am all for protecting the beer industry in Milwaukee, but not with the same funds used to protect Wall Street and the United Nations from a terrorist attack. Homeland security money should protect against terrorism, not for any other purpose.”
The Wave has recently instituted a new column called “It’s My Turn.” The new op-ed column will be utilized to give local residents more of a long-form chance to be heard along with the traditional short-form letters to the editor. Those interested in utilizing the column to be heard on a favorite and compelling issue should submit no more than 750 cogent words to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, the editor of the paper reserves the right to edit any material for either size or content, although every attempt will be made to use the entire submission.
Last week we noted that the sales of new homes had fallen about 11 percent over the past several months. Now comes the word that the sale of existing homes nationwide has fallen as well. The sale of existing homes fell to an eight-month low in November of last year, leaving the number of homes on the market at the highest since 1986.
A milestone was passed last week without much note. In December of 1955 Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin demanded that Georgia Tech not play in the Sugar Bowl in a game against Pittsburgh University. Why? Because the Pittsburgh team included one black player named Bobby Grier. “The battle is joined,” the governor said. “We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in the dark and lamentable hour of struggle. The South stands at Armageddon.” If you watched Georgia and West Virginia play in the Sugar Bowl this year, 50 years later, you might have noted that most of the players on both teams were minorities – or, you might not have because that has become so commonplace in today’s America. So much for those who argue that race is as much an issue today as it was 50 years ago.
With the New Year come new laws. The minimum wage went to $6.75 an hour from $6 on January 1. Next January, it will go to $7.15 an hour. The minimum age for operating a personal watercraft such as jet skis and ski-doo’s went to 14 years-of-age from 10 years-of-age. Mister Softee trucks will no longer be allowed to play their music when they are stopped. People younger than 21-years-of-age are banned from having paint spray cans as part of an attempt to cut down on graffiti. Spectators who go onto a sports field to attack a player will face stricter penalties. The law also prohibits people from “placing, dropping or hurling an object, subject or dangerous instrument” onto a field of play.
Times are changing. Sales in many retail outlets were down this holiday season, but Internet sales showed a large gain. Consumer spending on the web reached $18.1 billion this year, a record. That is a 25 percent over last year’s holiday season. Online commerce, however, still represents less than six percent of all retail sales. About 33 percent of those polled said that they bought at least one item on line this year, up about 10 percent from last year’s poll.
The New York Times spotlighted a local movement to expand the hours of operation at the Rockaway Skate Park in its “Neighborhood Report” on Sunday, January 1. “As first reported in The Wave, a local weekly, three skaters aged 11 to 15 started a petition demanding that the park be open more often, going as far as to request completely unmonitored use,” the report said in a rare acknowledgement. We’re proud of that recognition in The Times and of the fact that the Gray Lady keeps her eye on Rockaway and this newspaper, and we’re even more proud that we get to bring you that kind of story first.
If you haven’t been sleeping well lately, check out Channel 156 on Time Warner Cable for the gavel-to-gavel sessions of our State Assembly. That is guaranteed to put you right to sleep, especially since no work is done on the Assembly floor. All the important stuff is done behind closed doors.
The Graybeards will hold its annual dinner and fundraiser at Russo’s On the Bay in Howard Beach on January 21. This year, the organization, which has become one of Rockaway’s premier civic activist groups, will honor Steve and Kenny Good, who always provide their venues, the Rockaway Sunset Diner and the Beach Club for civic affairs. Those interested in further information or in purchasing tickets for the event should call the Graybeards at 718-634-6812 or visit their office on Beach 129 Street in Belle Harbor.