2006-11-24 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Joanie Omeste, the Executive Director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce has tendered her resignation to the organization as of December 31. Omeste's letter gave no reason for leaving. She has been a columnist for The Wave, writing "Chamber Chat," for the past three years. We wish her well in her future endeavors.

It's amazing how the city can waste your money. Last year, city officials decided that tow trucks had to have a city business license even if they were not doing business in the city, just driving through it. The city began seizing tow trucks that transversed our streets without that license. The American Automobile Association (AAA) filed a suit against the city on behalf of all of those who were punished for driving on city streets without a license. This week, a judge ruled that the city had to pay those companies $658,149 because it was illegal to seize vehicles simply for driving on our streets.

Aviator Sports at Floyd Bennett Field is quickly becoming the destination of choice for Rockaway residents intent on participating or watching sports. Now, you can add those who want a taste of the best that Brooklyn restaurants have to offer. Included in the complex's food court are Junior's Cheesecake, Gramaldi's Pizza, Michael's Pastry Shop, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Brooklyn Brewery.

Those who have an interest in the future of Neponsit should attend the November 28 meeting concerning the future of the Neponsit Health Facility property abutting Gateway National Park. The city wants to take over the land from the Health and Hospital Corporation and turn it into single-family homes. In order to do that, the State Legislature must approve the change. Right now, the property can only be used for either a health care facility or a park and the city does not like either of those ideas. The meeting will be held at the DSSM-Neponsit Health Care facility in the Sand's Point building on Beach 102 Street at 6 p.m.

Those who said that Arverne By The Sea would be a failure and that the proposed YMCA would never be built will now have to eat a little crow. The project is now full speed ahead and city officials broke ground for the Y last week with great fanfare. Next will come the stores and restaurants between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the subway's elevated structure. The anchor for now will be a Super Stop and Shop Supermarket.

Three years after the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor, the state legislature passed a law setting up free college scholarships for family members who lost their relatives in the crash. The fund guarantees free tuition at any City University or State University of New York institution. They can also attend any private college or university in New York State for an equivalent cost. To date, only 11 of the hundreds of people eligible for the scholarships has taken advantage of the state program. The law is retroactive to April 1, 2001.

The Daily News reported with glee last week that many students are successfully defying the ban of cell phones in schools by smuggling them into their schools in such places as their shoes, belts and bras, as well as stuffing them into the scaffolding around the schools and then taking them back once they are in the building. That a daily newspaper would support student's who break school rules is troubling. Just because the News does not support the chancellor's ban does not mean that the paper should tell students how to get around them.

For a long time now, local school officials have not been able to speak with the press without permission from the Department of Education (DOE). Now, the DOE is taking that one step forward, becoming even more restrictive with the information about our schools that gets out to the public. From now on, local schools officials such as principals and Local Instructional Superintendents will have to confer with a new "external communication team" before speaking to community groups or public officials. That ban includes speaking with parent groups, unions, elected parent council members and groups of local business people. The DOE says that it just wants the "right hand to know what the left hand is doing," We think that the DOE simply does not want the public to know what is going on in its schools.

Many of the family members of those who perished in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 stopped on their way home from the ceremony at Beach 116 street and a quick visit to the crash site at Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue to stop and pick up a copy of The Wave with the two-page spread of photographs from the crash. A number of them told us that the paper would be a keepsake of the crash, which killed 265 people, including five Rockaway residents.

Those who were surprised that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and UFT President Randi Weingarten got together in advance to finalize a new teacher's contract should not have been. Bloomberg sees mayoral control of the school system as one of his major legacies. He wants the school governance law to be made permanent by the State Legislature when it comes up for renewal in 2009 and he would do almost anything to insure that. There is some question of the wording in the clause concerning health care, however, that needs to be resolved. There are many teachers who tell us that they won't vote for the contract.

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