2006-10-06 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But ...
Commentary By Howard Schwach


... When City Councilman James Sanders and three local organizations, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation and Margert Community Corporation, held a meeting a few years ago to announce that it was going to put out a "community map" that would allow people to find locations on the peninsula as well as highlight Rockaway businesses and community organizations, I researched the Buffalo (New York) company that was working with Sanders and decided that it was a commercial project, not a community project and that the $25,000 of public seed money that Sanders was pumping into the map was probably going right into the pockets of those producing the map. Officials of the three civic groups and a spokesperson for Sanders assured me that the map was for the public good and that the advertising money would bring lots of good to Rockaway. Now, the map is out and I believe my contention has proven true. From what I understand (nobody is talking officially) the three locals organizations received not a penny from the project and the $25 grand went to publication costs as did the money gained from the advertising on the map. In addition, the map is replete with errors and has angered many residents. First of all, while all of the Roman Catholic Churches are listed on the map, there are no Jewish houses of worship noted, nor those of any other Christian denomination. The word, Peninsula" in Peninsula Hospital is spelled "penninsula." St. Genevieve Church in Roxbury is spelled "St. Jennovice." That community is designated as "Rocksberry." The 101 Precinct is listed, but not the 100 Precinct. And, while it was promised that "Every business in Rockaway" would be noted, only those who advertised actually made the map. Looks to me that the map project was a waste of $25,000 in public money and a boondoggle for the publishers.

... Even after explaining its position on running photographs from the Middle East crisis, The New York Times continues to be one-sided in its coverage of the area. On Tuesday, September 26, the large front-page photo was of two Muslim families celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan together because one of their homes was destroyed in war. It was designed to evoke some feeling for the plight of the poor Muslim people who were ousted from their homes by war. On Sunday, October 1, the large front-page photograph was of two young Arab boys looking over the destruction of their town in Lebanon. It was designed to evoke sympathy for the youth, who lost their home to Israeli artillery. I have to ask again, where were the balancing photographs of Jewish citizens celebrating Yom Kippur next to their ruined homes, destroyed by Hezbollah rockets? There were none on the front page of the "paper of record" and there probably will never be.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) inarguably drives the House of Representatives in its deliberations on gun use and gun restrictions. The organization does all it can to hobble the governments right to stop gun crime in its cities. The Justice Department has reported a jump of nearly 50 percent last year in gun crime victims, yet the Bush Administration, working with the NRA, refused to renew the ban on assault weapons and pushed through a law that barred the federal gun control agency from searching out its own records on weapons sales for municipalities. Now, the NRA is pushing the House to pass a law that would stop the government from revoking gun licenses from those who arm the underworld. To revoke those licenses, law enforcement officials would have to prove "willful intent," rather than simply proving that the sale to a criminal actually took place.

... Rather than focusing on the important issues, such as gangs and gun violence, City officials are focusing on taking away our French Fries. The big issue in city government has become trans fats. The major target of the city's ire would be fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Wendy's. The law would force such restaurants to use cooking oils without the trans fat. Those restaurants are already under fire from the City Council, which is trying to keep them from expanding by passing zoning regulations that would restrict the number of fast food restaurants in any one area. I guess the council has to have some other work to do other than naming streets, but this seems a little out of the council's jurisdiction. The last thing we need in New York City is the mayor and the City Council looking over our shoulders and monitoring our eating habits.

... For those who believe that Hamas and Hezbollah have really agreed to a secret deal that would recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel, have I got a bridge that you might like to buy. Hamas proved once again to the world last week that it has no intention of ever recognizing the Jewish State. "We will not participate in any government that would recognize Israel," Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said. "I can confirm that Hamas will never be a part of the recognition government." John Paul Culotta, please copy.

... Let's see now. Israel has kept all of its promises, withdrawing from Lebanon as per the timetable and keeping other promises as well. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has not lived up to United Nation Resolution 1701 at all, refusing to either disarm or to turn over the captive Israeli soldiers that sparked the war in the first place. In addition, Hezbollah fighters continue to occupy southern Lebanon and continue to stockpile rockets and other weapons supplied by Iran and Syria- all in violation of the cease fire agreement. So, what does the UN do about it? It plans to censure Israel for demanding that Lebanon and Hezbollah live up to the agreement.

...How much homework is too much homework? That question is quickly becoming a major educational issue throughout the nation. All I can tell you is that one of my grandsons is in the second grade. I picked up his bookbag last week and it was so laden with school books and notebooks that I could hardly lift it and carry it myself. There is no reason why a kindergarten student should have homework at all or that a first or second grader should have more than a half-hour each night. We are turning our young students off to school, and it is no wonder they start to lose it in middle school.

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