2007-06-22 / Columnists

Beachcomber

There were three shooting incidents in the past two weeks at New York City Housing Authority complexes in Rockaway - two in Redfern and one at Edgemere. That makes an early start to the summer shooting season when more teens and young men are hanging around outside, looking for something to do. At the end of last year, after a spate of killings, local black leaders took to the streets and promised to do something to end the shooting spree. Well, the gun violence is back and it's past time for Ed Williams, James Sanders, Michelle Titus, Gregory Meeks and others in the black leadership to take the point on this disaster for the black community and see that it is addressed before we have another spate of killing and even more murdered black men on the peninsula.

We have received several e-mails and letters, many of them anonymous, complaining about The Wave's coverage of the Edward Bain case. For those of you who have not been following the story on the front page of this paper, Edward Bain was driving drunk in September of 2005 when his car slammed into a telephone pole, killing his wife, Donna, who was in the passenger seat. He was offered a plea deal for a two-year sentence and turned it down. His fourteen-year-old son is estranged from his maternal grandparents because of his belief that they are seeking vengeance by demanding that Bain go to jail for killing their daughter. His paternal grandmother died recently of cancer. It is a tragic and sad story. Bain was found guilty in Queens Supreme Court two weeks ago and was remanded. His son, Thomas, is living with friends of the family. A bail request was turned down last week and his sentencing is set for mid-July. His detractors have said that he is using his son's condition to convince the court to sentence him to probation rather than to a jail sentence that could run up to fifteen years. Some of the letters we received say that we are wrong in calling for a jail sentence for Bain. There are others who say that a community paper should refrain from covering stories such as this one, out of respect for the family. Still others have called The Wave a "rag" and refuse to ever again read the paper because we reported this story. In any case, Bain's trial and conviction are news, and we will always continue to report all the news.

The Parks Department had some good news for Rockaway, for a change. There will soon be a dog run in the Freeway Park, north of Beach Channel Drive at Beach 83 Street. That site has been approved by both the community board and the ARF ARF group. Parks said that it would start a three-month trial run for the site shortly. Plans for a dog park on one of the Shore Front Parkway sites was abandoned because of community opposition. In addition, a second surfing beach is in the works - this one between Beach 67 Street and Beach 69 Street in the Arverne section of the peninsula.

Congressman Anthony Weiner is in attack mode once again. This time, his target is United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour. Speaking about a proposed boycott of Israel's economic and academic life by British academics, Arbour said, that the boycott was a "good thing" to consider and carry out. Under the British proposal, the 1.6 million members of the British Union of Colleges and Universities, the largest labor union in that nation, would boycott Israeli's goods and academics. "The UN should be a force to fight discrimination and the rise of anti-Semitism," Weiner said, adding that the organization should not be facilitating that anti-Semitism.

If you are wondering how the fee connected to the Mayor's plan to charge for driving in Manhattan south of 86 Street, here's the answer. EZ-Pass readers would charge vehicles entering the zone, subtracting any fees they already paid to get over a bridge or through a tunnel to get there. Drivers without EZ-Passes would have their license plates read by one of 1,000 special cameras, and can set up a special account from the city from which that fee will be deducted. Those who don't pay promptly will receive summonses. The plan is expected to cost the city about $240 million a year to set up and administer and is expected to bring in $380 million a year. That's great, if the cameras work and the people pay their bills. What they found in London, where a similar program has been operating for a few years is that the city is losing money on the deal each year. We're surprised that our businessman mayor and his highly-paid consultants couldn't come up with something even more complicated.

As the New York Post put it, "Frankly speaking, Hebrew National hot dogs are the best of the wurst." Consumer Reports magazine recently fed its testers 620 hot dogs representing 23 brands. When they were finished stuffing their faces with hot dogs, they voted on their favorites. Nathan's Famous Skinless Franks came in second and Boar's Head Skinless came in third. Reduced fat franks did well, with Hebrew National Kosher Reduced Fat Franks coming in fourth and Boar's Head Lite Skinless Franks coming in fifth. The top seven were rounded out with Ball Park Beef Franks and Sabrett Skinless Beef Franks. Where else but Consumer Reports and Nathan's can you get a job that requires you to eat hog dogs?

On May 18, the lead story in The Wave was about the problems with air traffic control at JFK Airport across Jamaica Bay from Rockaway. We presented a frightening scenario, with increased flights, an increase in the number of runways used at the same time and a 30 percent reduction in the number of air traffic controllers to handle those flights. Recently, there have been several reports of near misses in the skies over our airports. Senator Charles Schumer recently called for an overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency that oversees the airlines and airways. We agree. The FAA's contention that it was alright to cut 30 percent of the controllers because the tower was overstaffed to begin with, is disingenuous at best.

The meeting sponsored by the Queens Civic Congress at PS 114 last week to discuss the problems Rockaway has with the Parks Department was poorly attended, and that is too bad.

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