2007-05-11 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Beachcomber

Even the police have a sense of humor on occasion. A week ago, there was a report of a snake on the boardwalk in the Edgemere section of the peninsula. A patrol car responded, asking for a description. Central dispatch radioed back that it was reported a "very large snake." The police officers reached the scene and then radioed in that it had "one snake under," shorthand for under arrest. Everybody got a laugh out of that report.

The rumors run rampant that Republican State Senator Serphin Maltese, who represents the mainland area adjacent to Rockaway, will soon move on to take a position with the state government. Why would a Democratic Governor appoint a Republican to a state position? Because he wants his party to control the Senate in the next election and he needs five seats to gain control. Having Maltese in his government would mean he would only need four, because the Governor would then quickly appoint City Councilman Joseph Addabbo to the vacant seat until the next election. That would open up Addabbo's seat in the council and a special election would have to be called. Should that happen, and political insiders tell us that the deal is close to being done, then Frank Gulluscio, who was once our Democratic District leader and is now a community board district manager on the mainland, would be the party choice in that special election. Other rumors say that Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who wants badly to be Queens Borough President, figures somewhere in the deal as well, but we can't figure out where unless she wants to become a City Councilwoman and takes over Addabbo's seat.

Speaking of Addabbo, he continues to push for removing the tolls from the Cross Bay Bridge, which connects Rockaway to the rest of Queens, particularly in the non-summer months, when the great preponderance of motorists who use the bridge are Rockaway and Broad Channel residents. Even though the bridge is free for local residents who have an E-Z Pass device, Addabbo believes that the toll harms local businesses and stifles economic development. The MTA says that its bond covenants require that it keep the tolls on all of its bridges, but Addabbo plans to keep pushing. He intends to include the removal of the toll in his comprehensive "rational strategy" for mass transportation in the area.

The Rockaway Rotary Ocean Run, which is sponsored each year by Sweet 'N Low, was held at Riis Park for the first time in its 29 year history, and the change was good for the venerable run. The National Park Service boardwalk is in better physical shape than the Rockaway boardwalk and it was an easier run, participants say. The parking is also easier and the Riis Park venue lacks the participation of the residents of the Park Inn Hotel, who often toss objects at the runners as they pass by. The after-run party was held at the Pitch-N-Putt Course picnic area, a venue much more suited for the event than the parking lot of the Irish Circle. All in all, it was a very successful run and its organizers should be congratulated.

The front-page story in last week's Wave about the ranking of our two local hospitals was factual, but doesn't tell the whole story, just as the school rankings don't accurately tell the story of what is going on in individual buildings. Let's take a hypothetical. Hospital A takes every patient in its catchment area, a neighborhood that has more than its share of senior citizens and the indigent. Hospital B is in a fairly wealthy area and only admits those who it believes it can successfully treat and who have insurance, shuttling others to city facilities elsewhere. Which hospital will have the better ranking in a study that looks at mortality and survival rates? Hospital B, of course, because it takes in only low-risk patients. Hospital A, which takes in high-risk patients will get a much lower rating because more of its patients will die despite the treatment they get. In fact, Hospital A might well provide better health care services that Hospital B. That is also true of schools. School A is a neighborhood school in a low socio-economic neighborhood that takes in all local kids. School B is a magnet school who takes in students by application and high test scores. Which school is going to score better on the standardized teats? You know the answer to that one. Statistics often lie and liars often use statistics to prove their points.

The Straphangers Campaign recently held a poll that asked if people who visit its Website agree with the Mayor's Congestion Pricing plan to charge motorists coming into lower Manhattan. Of those who visited the Website and voted, 73.9 percent agreed with the Mayor while only 26.1 percent disagreed. Of course, those who visited the organization's Website and voted were all straphangers, those who ride the subway and buses anyway. They like the program because it would provide more money for mass transit and would not cost them a penny since they use transit in any case. Talk about preaching to the choir. By the way, Mayor Bloomberg admitted that if the program for charging motorists who access Manhattan is not begun during his time in office it will never be put in place. "If we don't get this done now, it will probably not be done for a long, long time," the mayor said in a recent statement.

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