2006-03-10 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

By Howard Schwach


Nobody Asked Me, But ...

...I still think that Beach 116 Street is the wrong place for the memorial to those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in November of 2001. The street is too commercial, too filled with summer visitors, with panhandlers and neer-do-wells (to keep it politically correct) and has too much traffic. The better spot would have been the triangle of land at the bayfront between 126 and 130 Street. The mayor, however, wanted it on Beach 116 Street and that's where it will be, despite what the community thinks about the site. Rockaway has been treated like a mushroom in all this. We have been kept in the dark and the mayor (and, his office of Immigrant Affairs) has been shoveling manure all over us on this issue.

...David Patterson, the Minority Leader in the State Senate and a candidate for Lieutenant Governor has seen too many John Wayne movies. Patterson is pushing for a bill in the Senate that would make police officers criminally liable for shooting to kill rather than shooting to wound a suspect, even if that suspect has a gun aimed at the cop. The bill would create a new category of manslaughter in the second degree for a cop who "uses more than the minimal amount of force necessary to stop a suspect." I have to wonder what world Patterson lives in and how his running mate, Eliot Spitzer, can condone his partner's lunacy.

...I'm glad that I'm no longer in the school system and at MS 53 because the principal, Claude Monereau and I would have been in a death battle by now. A few weeks ago, Monereau locked out a handicapped teacher by gating in the parking spot that had been used by that teacher for himself and his buddies. Then, he fenced in the remainder of the building, endangering the kids should a fire ensue. On the last snow day, when many teachers had to travel from heavily-impacted communities in Nassau County, Monereau failed to thank the teachers who did show up. Instead, he sent letters to those who could not, summoning them to come to his office for a meeting "regarding your absence." Then, a parent called to tell me that Monereau was prepping students to lie about teacher's behavior so that he could get rid of them. I have to wonder what the five outside consultants and two Department of Education personnel assigned to help him run the school are really doing. One teacher who has been in the building since 1999 told me that she is leaving the profession because of Monereau. She says that she is forced to use books that the kids can't read and then is given an Unsatisfactory rating for "not asking questions that are rigorous enough." She says that "the kids are frustrated and that Monereau does not even know who she is."

...I finally saw "Munich" last week and have not changed my mind about anything I wrote about the major point of the movie in the past month or so. Spielberg's points include his belief that there is a moral equivalence between the Black September terrorists who killed 11 unarmed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games in 1972 and the Israeli agents who went after them in the following years. He also seems to believe that the Israeli hit team suffered some sort of psychic damage because of their mission. Neither is true and if you read the book that the movie comes from, you will see that for yourself. Abu Daoud was one of those who planned the Munich attack and remains alive today. He said recently that he has no regrets about the killings. "Today, I cannot fight you any more, but my grandson will, and his grandsons also." He added, "There is nothing we were not prepared to do to keep the Palestinian cause in the public eye."

...It is clear that the Department of Education wants to rid itself of "older" teachers - those more than 40-year-of-age. All you have to do is look at the statistics to see what is going on. Slightly more than 60 percent of the city's teachers are more than 40. Yet, 85.3 percent of those brought up on disciplinary charges fit into that category. More than 90 percent of those brought up on charges last year were more than 40. A full 90.5 percent of those who were brought up on charges in the 2002-2003 were more than 40 years of age. In addition, 78 percent of those teachers given Unsatisfactory ratings in the last school year were more than 40. The stats speak for themselves. Bloomberg and Klein (who are both more than 40 years of age, and therefore expendable) would rather have young, inexperienced teachers who will willingly buy into their "educational theories" than the older teachers, who know that they do not work for the majority of our students.

...City Councilman Joe Addabbo seems to be on the track to run for the State Senate against Serf Maltese whether the mayor backs him in his run or not. Recent events that include a meeting between Bloomberg and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno seem to suggest that the two will soon cut a deal to get more money for the city's schools with a promise that the mayor will not try and eviscerate the Republican minority in the State Senate. Such a deal could leave Addabbo out in the cold.

...The sudden demise of the Rockaway Sunset Diner has left a large hole in the daily lives of many Rockaway residents who used that facility for a quick breakfast or an inexpensive dinner before a Rockaway event. The only ones benefiting from the closure are other restaurants that are quickly attempting to pick up the slack. On Saturday morning, for example, the Last Stop was so crowded that some had to wait for a table.

...In the same vein, many small restaurants and bagel places on Beach 116 Street are facing a slow demise thanks to the draconian street cleaning rules on that street. Nobody can park on either side of the street from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., Monday through Saturday. That means nobody can run into any of those restaurants during that time to pick up a cup of coffee and the daily papers.

The new rules are pure stupidity as far as I am concerned, proving once again the lack of any knowledge or concern on the part of the city for those who live here. A far better plan would have mimicked Beach 129 Street, where street cleaning closes one side from 7:30 to 8 p.m. and the other side from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. With that plan, motorists have a chance to park (if they can get around the dozens of sanitation trucks that park there each morning) and get their coffee and papers.

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