2007-02-09 / Columnists


When the police said that the three homicides at the end of last year were all related and part of a war between drug gangs at the Hammels Houses and the Ocean Bay Houses, they knew what they were talking about. Follow the bouncing ball: On September 17, Jerome Sanders, a reputed gang member was shot in the ankle and wounded. Police suspect that Cedric Smalls, a Blood, was the shooter. In late November, Beach Channel High School student Christopher Glenn is shot and killed in front of a building in the Hammel Houses. On December 15, Cedric Smalls is shot and killed in front of a building in the Hammels Houses. On December 19, Laton Spurgeon, a gang member is shot and killed in front of his brother's house on Fernside Place in Wavecrest. Last week, Andrew Smalls, Cedric's brother, is arrested and charged with Spurgeon's death. Glenn was Spurgeon's neighbor. Police say they are still looking for at least five additional suspects in the Spurgeon homicide and the local precincts have been put on alert to watch for further retaliation in the wake of the arrest of Andrew Smalls.

Mark your calendars for tomorrow's (Saturday, February 10) Plunge for Cystic Fibrosis. The day will start at noon with a pre-plunge party at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club at Beach 126 Street and Beach Channel Drive and then will move to the beach for a 1 p.m. dip in the cold ocean.

A decade ago, the State Board of Regents decided to replace the traditional high school mathematics sequence of algebra, geometry and algebra 2 with Math A and Math B, a sequence that started in Junior High School. Now, the state has decided to go back to the old sequence. We guess they take their clues from Mayor Bloomberg, who can't seem to make up his mind what he wants for the schools. The problem is, the tests the students will take at the end of the year will be graded on a curve and none of them will know when they leave school in June whether they have to go to summer school or not, or what math to take when they come back in September. The procedure for the change-over may well jeopardize the possibility of students obtaining a Regents Diploma for the next two years.

The question of a dog park for the west end of Rockaway is being revisited by the Parks Department. Jill Weber the Queens Commissioner for the city agency, recently said that it won't initiate a dog run without an established group to assist in the management of the run. Officials from the agency will be at an upcoming meeting to speak with locals interested in filling that role. The meeting is scheduled for the lifeguard shack on Beach 106 Street on Sunday, February 11 at noon.

The Department of Education gave a no-bid $10 million contract to a consultant to come up with a way of saving $14 million on school transportation and the best they could come up with is putting eight-year-olds on the subway and public buses and making five-year-olds wait in the dark to drive more than an hour to go four miles. The Mayor defends the plan, urging parents who have a problem to "call 311 rather than their nearest reporter," but the people who complained to the newspapers are right. The Mayor thinks that there is nothing wrong with the plan because he believes that only a few people are "inconvenienced" and that most of the complainers are those who "had no right to use the buses in the first place and are now angry that they lost their buses." I have to wonder what world the two officials live in. One parent who lives in Rockaway and whose third grade child attends PS 47 was told to put the child on the subway to Broad Channel and then let him walk to the Power Road school. Parents in Breezy Point were issued MetroCards for their kids in place of the yellow school bus when there is no public transportation in the vicinity of the point. So much for credibility.

The most comprehensive survey of black youth in years has found that many of them believe that they are being treated as third-class citizens, ignored by the government. The University of Chicago survey found that most young black people believe racial discrimination stands in the way of their success in life, that they get an inferior education to whites and that they found rap music violent, sexist and degrading, but they continued to listen to it nevertheless. Only 11 percent of those 1,590 young people questioned believed that they would see the end of racism in their lifetimes.

There have been lots of stories of late in the daily papers about State Senator Malcolm Smith, who represents Rockaway in the senate. Smith has a stake in the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, a charter school that has been running out of MS 53 in Far Rockaway. Now, the school has moved to its own building and there are lots of questions about how that building got funded and who paid for the renovations. Also, Flora Krind, an NYPD Community Affairs Officer for the 113 Precinct was put on modified duty after Pathmark security officers reportedly caught her shoplifting cosmetics from a Springfield Gardens supermarket in January. A recent story in the Daily News says that she was not suspended or arrested because one of Smith's staffers called on the precinct and asked that she be protected. Smith has denied the charges.

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