2006-02-17 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

Nobody asked me, but …

The legislature threw out the baby with the bath water when they passed the new school governance law a few years back. While some school boards were corrupt, at least they existed as a place where parents could go to talk about local problems and school zoning. Today, even the school activists on the Community Education Councils are dispirited because they have no impact at all on the system. Every detail, from hiring to zoning, is controlled by the Regional Superintendent and all the CEC’s are good for are as rubberstamps. Witness the fact that the most connected parent advocacy group in the city, The Parent Advisory Council, rebuked the mayor by voting to boycott the Department of Education’s annual trip to Albany to lobby for the city’s schools. “We’re just there as bodies,” said one of the organization’s leaders. “Nobody in the DOE cares what we think, what we want as our priorities.” Chancellor Klein countered by saying that “parent involvement is “critical” to the mayor’s plan to reorganize the schools. That is pure hooey. The mayor, the chancellor and the DOE have cut parents out of the process in every way.

…Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently got a resignation letter for a cop who recently graduated from the academy. The letter detailed that the man had wanted to be a cop since age five, but could not feed his family on $25,000 a year and could no longer afford to take the $17,000 pay cut that he had taken to go “on the job.” New cops now earn less than city bus drivers, sanitation workers and even the gardeners who work in city parks. The starting salary for those gardeners is $30, 630, at least five thousand more than the new cops make. Somebody ought to tell the mayor that it is the city’s workers and its middle class that keep the city alive, not his elite friends at Elaine’s. If he keeps dropping salaries and demanding givebacks from workers at the same time that he tickets the middle class to death, he will have no city to govern.

…I was glad to see Michele Kwan drop out of the Olympics. She didn’t belong there in the first place. A competition was held two months ago. The top three skaters were supposed to go to Turino. Kwan did not compete because she was injured. Too bad, but you’re out. Can you imagine a super bowl being played with one of the team’s quarterbacks out and then, there weeks later, the quarterback gets a chance to throw a couple of passes and the results of the game are changed? Of course not. Emily Hughes came in third in the nationals. She should have been on the team from the beginning. Ice skating will not be considered a sport until it takes its own competition seriously and cuts the politics from its decisions.

…Let me get this straight. An Arab (United Arab Emirates) firm with ties to Moslem terrorists will soon be taking over the operation of six American ports and the deal was approved by President Bush. The administration has not objected to the takeover by Dubai Ports purchase of a British company that had been running the ports until the $6.8 billion sale. The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, made up largely of Bush loyalists, said that it “thoroughly reviewed the potential transaction and has no objection.” Congressman Charles Schumer did object. “Our ports remain terrorist targets,” he said. “Just as we don’t outsource military operations or law enforcement duties, we should be very careful about outsourcing sensitive homeland security duties.” We agree with Chuck.

…There is no end to what the principals operating under the Region Five banner won’t do to denigrate their staff. Chris Frazier, a teacher at the school is handicapped. He spends his days in a wheel chair, but that does not stop him from either teaching or coaching sports teams. For some time, Frazier has parked in the rear of Middle School 53 in a spot accessible to a ramp that leads to the rear door of the school. Recently, however, Principal Claude Monereau (you’ll remember the name from the BCHS racial fiasco a few years ago) decided he wanted that spot for himself. The small lot was fenced in and Monereau kept the key close. Only he and a few friends can now park in that area. Frazier now has to seek another space far from the school. What compassion!

There are those who don’t like what The Wave publishes. Just last week, we got some calls from a woman who did not like Beverly Baxter’s column about alcoholism in Rockaway. I explained her options. She could write a letter to the editor, which we would certainly publish. She could cancel her subscription. She and her friends could picket the newspaper’s office. One of the options was not burning down The Wave’s publishing facility. Civilized people have a right to their voice. That is why the letters page exists. Civilized people do not burn down newspapers and embassies because they don’t like what was printed in a newspaper. Moslems have a right to be angry but they have to understand that non-Moslem’s have a right not to buy into their anger. Perhaps moderate Moslems should show their anger instead to those who behead innocent hostages and who bomb innocent people.

…Exxon Mobil and the other oil companies keep telling the public that the inflated costs of gasoline at the pump is not their fault, that they are just passing on the prices charged to them for crude. That story does not hold up well, however, when you look at the fact that Exxon posted record profits last year — $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and a whopping $36.13 billion for the year. The results exceeded predictions and the stock went up. Other companies joined the bandwagon. ConocoPhillips said that its fourth quarter earning were up 51 percent. Why doesn’t the government look into the obvious price gouging of the oil companies? Nobody will as long as the Republicans control Congress. Remember that most of the companies do business in Texas and we all know who comes from that state.

…A federal judge has finally overturned the archaic and unfair system of choosing candidates for judgeships in New York City. In the past, candidates were chosen by a “nominating convention” made up of district leaders. Now, there will be open primaries. Thank goodness. Do you want Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey choosing your judges? I don’t, and now those party hacks will become even more irrelevant.

…The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs held a meeting at the Beach Club last week for the family members of those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor. Also invited were some community members who have been involved in the process of picking a fitting memorial to the crash victims. Specifically not invited once again was the press. When The Wave found out about the meeting, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told editors that no press would be allowed at the meeting. We wonder what the mayor’s office is trying to hide from Rockaway residents and what surprises will be sprung on the community because the media was not allowed to attend.

...Now that the Rockaway Sunset Diner is officially closed, I would like to see another restaurant take its place -- something like Applebee’s or Taco Bell.

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