2006-10-20 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Mark your calendars for one of the premier Rockaway aviation events of the year. On Saturday, October 21, Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn will host a seventy-fifth anniversary "Fly-in" with historic aircraft, a fly-over by vintage military aircraft, antique autos and emergency equipment, guided tours of the National Park Service facility and entertainment by "Arnie Mig and his Serenaders in Blue." The event will celebrate the anniversary of the field's opening as New York City's first municipal airport as well as the 65th anniversary of the birth of Naval Air Station, New York. The aircraft will arrive between 9 and 11 a.m. and the festivities will run until 5 p.m. The event, sponsored by Gateway National Recreation Area and the Department of Interior, is free.

The unveiling ceremony for the planned Rockaway YMCA on Beach 73 Street that was scheduled for October 16 has been postponed once again. This is the second postponement of the important event, but the YMCA of Greater New York, the organization that will run the new facility, promises that the plans for the Arverne facility are not dead (as some in the community have worried) and that the groundbreaking will be rescheduled as soon as possible. The buzz on the street is that the Mayor wants to participate in the event and the October date did not fit into his schedule.

The decision from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mandating that St. Rose of Lima Church officials get together with fired teacher Michelle McClusker to come to some settlement of her complaint against the church for "pregnancy discrimination" has once again sparked the argument over how much protection religious institutions have from the laws that the rest of us have to follow. The Federal law says that a pregnant woman can't be discriminated against because of her condition. The church says that McClusker knew the rules about unwed pregnancy and that her condition made her "unable to convey the faith, which is an essential element of her teaching duties." Apparently, the federal agency did not agree with the church. This is not an isolated case. On Monday, October 9, the New York Times ran a two-page story headlined, "Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights." The parish can appeal the case to the federal court system, but that would be a long and costly process for a church and a diocese with such limited financial resources that it has been forced to close parochial schools and merge parishes. Perhaps the church would win at the end, because the federal judiciary traditionally gives lots of leeway to religious institutions when it comes to employment issues, but the resources it would take to get to that point would be massive. Perhaps it would be less costly to the diocese and would better heal the community to simply pay the price to the dismissed teacher and allow both she and the church to move on.

Nearly five years after the tragic aircraft accident that killed 260 people on the plane and five Belle Harbor residents, the lawsuits go on. Some of the family members refused the settlements offered by American Airlines and Airbus Industries in favor of finding out what really happened to American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001. The majority of those who have not yet settled refuse to believe the National Transportation Safety Board's conclusion that the first officer ripped the tail off the plane by over-aggressively using the rudder. The lawyers representing those families, Kriendler and Kriendler, have used the discovery process that was restarted early this year to get documents from Airbus, including a reported memorandum that, according to a Der Spiegel article, "proves" that the manufacturer knew that the laminated tails of their A300 series aircraft were flawed. The lawyers will take depositions from Airbus on November 8 in France.

When an elderly man drove his car through the front faade of the Belle Harbor Steak and Seafood restaurant on Beach 116 Street two weeks ago, those who witnessed the accident got a glimpse of a professional emergency response from the NYPD, FDNY, EMS and private ambulances. A Wave staffer who was eating lunch in the restaurant when the car came through the front wall immediately got up and walked to the front door to call 911. As he did so, police officers from the Transit District 23 stationhouse a few doors away were rushing to the scene. The staffer called 911 and reported that there were at least three people injured and that more than one ambulance would be needed. As he finished the call, perhaps a minute after the accident, firefighters from the firehouse across the street were already on scene and extracting the driver and his passenger. Other firefighters entered the restaurant and began to work on the diners who were injured. Police officers closed off the street and assisted the medical personnel with their care of those who were injured. Within minutes, several EMS and private ambulances were crowding the shopping street. The EMT's from those ambulances quickly stabilized the patients and transported them to local area hospitals. The fire department then stabilized the wall and towed the car with a fire engine into the street. All those involved have to be given a lot of credit for their professionalism.

While the Department of Transportation has yet to set a date for a meeting in Rockaway, it is clear that the city agency is willing to listen to the Rockaway community about all of the changes it has made on Shore Front Parkway and its environs. That is a welcome change from the silence that Rockaway has heard ever since the work was done and the complaints were made early in the summer.

The Health and Hospitals Corporation, which owns the Neponsit Health Center facility, had scheduled a "stealth" meeting in Jamaica to transfer unused west end property to the city, which would then reportedly tear down the existing buildings and use the land for luxuary housing. That meeting has been cancelled under local pressure.

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