2006-11-03 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The city's Health and Hospitals Corporation has rescheduled its public hearing to address transferring the Neponsit Health Care Center on Beach 149 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard to the City of New York. The original meeting, scheduled for a Jamaica venue in mid-October with little notice to the Rockaway community, was postponed because of community opposition. The city plans to demolish the existing buildings and to find a developer who will build market-rate one and two-family homes on the site. In order to do that, the state legislature must vote to rezone the site. The meeting will be held at the DSSM-Neponsit Adult Day Health Care Center at 230 Beach 102 Street (The Sands Point Building) at 6 p.m. on November 28.

Five bus routes, one in each borough, will be part of a pilot program that will utilize special traffic lanes and computerized traffic lights to speed bus travel on that corridor. The pilot area selected for Queens is along Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica. There are hopes that a Rockaway east-west would be in the second go-around if the project works.

The Wave is attempting to aid the Ronald McDonald House in Floral Park by conducting a holiday drive to collect material that the facility needs to serve the families of critically ill children while those children are in Schneider's Children's Hospital. Items such as serving bowls, storage containers, Teflon fry pans, plastic, aluminum foil cooking oil, salt and pepper shakers, tuna fish, toilet paper, linens, postage stamps, AAA batteries, phone cards, and clock radios are needed. For a complete list, or to make monetary or material donations for the Ronald McDonald House drive, contact The Wave at (718) 634-4000 or come to 88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

The Department of Education has suspended an on-line tutoring program because the tutors were in India and none of them had been vetted by the DOE to communicate directly with city kids. A Plano (Texas) firm, Socratic Learning, made $2.4 million from the city last year by promising to tutor the at-risk students. The city and state are also investigating a claim that the company provided free computers to get kids to sign up for their program, something that is illegal under state guidelines.

A Mayoral Commission has recommended big raises for elected officials across the city. The commission, for example, recommended a 25 percent raise for City Council members, bringing their part-time salary to $112,500 a year. Perhaps that body has done such a great job in naming streets and banning aluminum baseball bats that its members deserve the raise, but we doubt it. Borough Presidents, who have a job without a job description, would be raised to $160 thousand a year and the Public Advocate, who holds another position that could easily be deleted, will earn $165 under the commission's recommendations. Talk about throwing good money after bad. There is no doubt, however, that the mayor and the City Council will approve all the raises that you now have to pay for.

Anybody who has ever received a ticket from a Department of Sanitation (DOS) supervisor probably got a chuckle over the story about one such supervisor who made the dirt and then ticketed three storeowners because their sidewalk was dirty. There are those, however, who believe that the incident was not funny, but indicative of what happens when city workers have quotas (excuse us, we mean "productivity goals), to meet in order to keep their jobs. This jerk was actually caught on a store video camera breaking some fluorescent bulbs on the street and scattering them around in front of the three Brooklyn shops. Then, he wrote $300 summonses to the three and waited around while a DOS street sweeper came and swept up the evidence. Sweet scam, isn't it? We have to wonder how many times this supervisor has pulled that same scam on others. Perhaps the city had best just void all the summonses the guy ever gave and give the money back to those who got the summonses. It's only fair.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 7. We hate to push the issue, but it is your duty as a citizen to choose those who will make the laws for you in our Representative Democracy. If you don't vote, don't complain later on about what our politicians do (or don't do) about the things that impact your life. If you don't know where to vote, call 311 and give them your address. The operators at the Board of Elections will set you straight.

Those of you who live in the 23rd Assembly District have a chance to vote in the one major contested local election this year. The incumbent, Democratic Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, is being challenged by Stuart Mirsky, a retired city Department of Health official who is running on the Republican and Conservative lines. In last week's issue, we ran a three-page special election section detailing all of the candidates who are running this year along with specific questions and answers to important campaign questions that we asked both Pheffer and Mirsky to answer. The second part of that special issue can be found this week. We hope that the special section will focus voters on the issues and give them the wherewithal to make a valid choice.

We have been chiding City Councilman Joseph Addabbo for being absent from a number of Rockaway events of late. He was at the Rockaway Halloween Parade on Beach 116 Street last Sunday and he apologized for missing some events because of conflicts in scheduling. He did say that he attended the Columbus Day Parade in Howard Beach rather than the street renaming for Monsignor William Burke at St. Camillus two weeks ago because the parade was held in honor of his late father, Congressman Joseph Addabbo.

The renewed Waldbaum's on Beach 112 Street opened with grand fanfare, including a DJ and food giveaways. The store is clean and exciting and those who stopped using the supermarket might want to try it again.

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