2006-03-24 / Community

Beachcomber

In August of 2005, a retired cop who was arrested for drinking a can of beer at a Belle Harbor beach as part of a fundraiser for the twin tragedies of 9/11 and AA 587 sued the city and NYPD Captain Charles Talamo, who was then the CO of the 100 Precinct. You probably all remember the story of how cops from that precinct stormed the fundraiser on July 4, 2003 where about 200 local residents were holding the beach party. David Reilly, the retired cop, allegedly went up to Talmao and asked him why his neighbors were being ticketed and arrested. According to the complaint, Talamo answered, "I don't know yet." Reilly says he was taken to the precinct house barefoot and handcuffed to a pipe for six hours after opening a beer can in front of Talamo. Now, nearly a year three years after the event and a year after the suit was filed, Hillary Frommer, an assistant corporation counsel in the Special Federal Litigation Division of the city's Law Department told The Wave, "The matter is in the early stages of litigation, therefore we cannot discuss the case further."

We have been told by a long-time resident of Belle Harbor that singer Kate Smith, famous for her rendition of "God Bless America," once had a summer home in that community. We have not been able to confirm that fact from our regular sources, so we are asking our readers for some assistance. If you know anything about Kate Smith's Rockaway summer home, give us a call or send us an Email.

Beginning in 2008 it will be harder and probably more expensive to renew your driver's license. A new federal law aimed at stopping terrorists and illegal immigrants, called "The Real ID Act," requires everybody in the country seeking a license to prove in person that they are in the United States legally. Under the new law, drivers would have to appear in person and show a Social Security Card (or have an excuse as to why they don't have one). They would also have to show documents that prove their name, address and date of birth. Residents of those states that do not comply with the federal regulations will be punished when trying to use that license for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane or getting a passport.

Nearly a year ago, Governor Pataki set up a commission on how best to teach the state's children about slavery. Called "The Amistad Commission, after the famous slave ship that was taken over by its inmates and sailed to America, the commission remains mired in politics. Officials have named only one of its 19 members and it has held no meetings. Under a law signed by Pataki the 19 unpaid members of the panel would include eight appointed by him, and eight appointed by the state Assembly and Senate. The final three members would by appointed by the state's education commissioner. The one member named so far is a Long Island lawyer who is not an educator. In light of the fact that New York City has reduced the number of social studies periods a student takes each year to below the bare minimum, it probably makes little difference whether or not the commission ever gets going, but it proves an example of the importance that the state places on studying history and government in its schools.

Those annoying Capital One television ads that ask, "What's in your wallet," will soon have a larger impact on Rockaway. The financial giant has purchased North Fork Bank for $14.6 billion, a great deal for the bank's owner, but probably not as great for the people who work at the local branches or for its customers. Plans call for all those bank branches to get a name change as well as changes in procedures.

Somebody once said that style is everything. If that is true, and we doubt that it is, then Congressman Greg Meeks has it all over Congressman Tony Weiner. Seems that the government car we pay for that Meeks uses is a brand-new Lexus that costs us $1,062.85 a month. According to a recent New York Post story, that is the fourth most-expensive automobile in the Congress. On the other hand, Weiner has one of the cheapest cars in Congress, a Chevy Impala that costs the taxpayers a whopping $219 a month. Just thought you'd like to know.

The word is that there will soon be a television documentary based on a new book about the JFK assassination. Entitled "Ultimate Sacrifice," the book by Lamar Waldron posits that the Louisiana mafia led by Johnny Rosselli had Kennedy killed in Dallas after trying unsuccessfully in other parts of the nation. Should make interesting watching.

Facing a budget crisis, the city's Housing Authority has decided to make some money of the backs of the working poor who live in its housing projects. The HYCHA has come out with a seven-page long list of fees that housing project residents will now have to pay, including such things as a monthly water fee for those who have a dishwasher ($5.75), using an air conditioner ($10), and replacing a toilet seat ($22.52). The agency's deficit is reportedly $168 million. The new fees are expected to bring in $1.5 million a year. We wonder why they even want to bother.

According to recent Department of Education (DOE) statistics, more than 20 percent of the students who are slated to stay after school for tutoring under a new program do not show up. While attendance in elementary schools runs at about 86 percent, attendance for the mandatory tutoring sessions runs at slightly less than 79 percent. Region Five, which includes Rockaway schools, has the lowest percentage of attendance for tutoring programs in the city. Region Five attendance for the mandatory tutoring is running at 74 percent, according to the DOE's own statistics.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg says that he wants to "share the pain" of having a prison in your neighborhood by placing new prisons in the outer boroughs and reducing the population at Riker's Island. Strangely enough, there is no prison planned for any of the Manhattan neighborhoods where the mayor and his friends hang out.

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