All letters submitted to The Wave, including those sent via e-mail, must contain names, addresses and phone numbers. All letters are subject to editing and publication at the discretion of the editors. The Wave will no longer publish letters in which the name is withheld, unless, in the opinion of the editorial board, there is a compelling public interest to do so.
Editorial On Pollard Sparks Discussion
Regarding your editorial of June 8 about Jonathan Pollard: with respect to the subject editorial, I am in total agreement except for the last paragraph.
If a devout Muslim committed the same crime, in all probability the intelligence would have been used against this country. However, if the information had been used by any of our allies (Israel) it would have been to protect themselves from the Muslims.
As a World War II veteran, I was proud to serve my country and I feel that Pollard is less guilty than those who assert that this country faced weapons of mass destruction. This is a lie and it appears that there are more active terrorists than ever.
As a long-time resident of The Rockaways - and someone who lives in close proximity to our wonderful beach - I'm compelled to raise the question of how the Parks Department and/or the NYPD choose to enforce the rules and regulations designed to keep the beach both clean and safe.
It has been my observation - supported by reliable reports from friends and neighbors - that the only restrictions either agency concerns itself with are those relating to the presence of dogs (either leashed or off-leash) on the beach. I understand and respect the need for the close scrutiny regarding pets on the beach, although I believe this is really one of the less crucial issues we face.
Here's my beef: In the process of paying such close attention to the dog issue, the Parks Department and the NYPD are totally ignoring many more serious rules and regulations, including:
Littering (Number one on the posted signs). One only need look at the beach (especially in the vicinity of Beach 116 Street) at the end of the day to see how casually the "No Littering" rule seems to be enforced. Despite the presence of numerous litter baskets, and the constant patrolling of Parks Department sand vehicles, the results are both unsightly and unhealthy. (The attached photos were taken early on Monday morning, June 18, and show carelessly discarded trash in immediate proximity to nearly empty litter baskets). I must give credit to the clean-up crews who show up at the crack of dawn and have the mess cleared in short order (only to have the problem repeat itself by that night). But until the mess is cleared, the "invasion" of pigeons and seagulls attracted by the litter is unbelievable - not to mention unsanitary.
Other posted infractions routinely overlooked include feeding the birds, bicycling or roller-blading on the boardwalk, fishing in undesignated areas or after-hours use of the boardwalk. And where are the authorities when late night partying or clubbing spills out onto the beach, bringing with it boisterous and inebriated teenagers and young adults? And were the authorities too busy cracking down on Fido and Rover to see the couple "doing it" atop a lifeguard's chair early one morning this week?
I guess I'm looking for consistency. If we're going to hound our dog owners (pun intended), let's start applying the rules in a consistent and uniform manner so that we can preserve and protect our most precious resource. But if we're going to let the other, more serious, infractions slide, then let's lay off our responsible pet owners, who - for the most part - diligently clean up after their four-legged friends. They are far less responsible for unacceptable, unhealthy and unsafe conditions on the beach than the litterers, bird-feeders and after-hours drunks.
Some Drivers Are
There are some people in Rockaway who think that traffic lights are not for them. I have observed at least one person each week blow through red lights.
Just this morning, I waited at a red light at Beach 73 Street and the Freeway, and a lady in a green and black Honda Element came up on my left, and without even stopping to see if something was coming from the left, made a right turn, on the red light, cutting in front of me and proceeding under the Freeway. Not only was she a hazard to herself, but if there had been a driver coming up on her left, she would have hit the front of my car. Once I made the right under the Freeway, there she was driving on the striped lines and passing other vehicles. I'm just sorry a police officer was not present because I would have reported her. Lady, I have a bit of advice- if you can't observe the traffic laws, don't drive, because you are a hazard to everyone else on the road.
Heading For A
It seems like our mayor is looking to head onward and upward. With a likely interest in testing the political waters for a presidential run, is he traveling on our dime or his own? With so many politicians running for higher office it leads you to wonder- who is running theirs?
It should become mandatory that any federal official running for reelection or higher office must forfeit their salary for any day they campaign. That money should then be deposited in the Social Security system.
As for local politicians, we should do away with the matching campaign contributions. Whatever you collect in contributions is what you use towards your campaign. This would save our city millions.
The last step should be a complete overhauling of the pension system for our senators and congressmen. Let them receive Social Security like all the other retirees in the country. Do you think Social Security would be in such dire straits if they were collecting it?
Do you think your boss would let you run around with full pay if you were campaigning for his or her job? I doubt it, but we can dream can't we?
Sanders Says 'No'
To All Four Runways At JFK
The following letter was sent to Anthony Coscia, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Dear Chairman Coscia,
I am extremely concerned with the Port Authority's proposal to open two additional runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The increase of air traffic and the opening of all four runways would be a hazard to the safety of my constituents, both traveling in the air and on the ground.
In a recent New York Post article "Fright Flights Are Taking Off," Phil Barbello of the Air Traffic Controllers Union reported: "The margin of safety in the air is as low as I have ever seen it in my 23 years of experience with the Federal Aviation Administration." During January and May 2007, there were three near-collisions reported at Kennedy Airport. The most recent incident was on May 17, when a Chicago-bound flight came within 200 feet of a helicopter that was taking off.
Although we narrowly escaped disaster with only two runways open at a time, what will happen when four runways are in operation simultaneously? Nevertheless, it is up to the Federal Aviation Administration to assure the safety of my constituents and the system in place is worthy enough to prevent the near-misses that have occurred repeatedly. Thus far, the system has not proven it is reliable enough for us to depend on.
Therefore, I am urging the Port Authority not to open all four runways at JFK Airport to protect the safety of travelers and constituents of my district.
COUNCILMAN JAMES SANDERS JR.
Don't Knock The Lifeguards
I am writing in regard to your "Chief Lifeguard Wary of New Hires" headline in the Friday June 8, 2007 issue. In my opinion, Janet Fash's name has been in our local newspaper quite often as a spokesperson for defaming the NYC Parks Department's handling of the training and hiring of new lifeguards.
I can recall one incident a few years ago of a drowning man in Rockaway with lifeguards on duty on an extremely rough water day. I remember watching in awe (it was amazing to see how they orchestrate working together to locate someone lost in the vast ocean!) the professionalism and great teamwork of our lifeguards. I could see the sadness and disappointment on their faces when the man was not located after an exhausting struggle to find him. In my opinion, the lifeguards that day were incredibly well-trained and risked their own lives in very dangerous conditions to save another life. I was there to witness our lifeguards in an extreme situation and the efforts of NYC Parks /Police/Fire departments coordinating this lifesaving effort with complete competence.
It's not only the lack of ocean-trained lifeguards, but all of the men and women behind the scenes who are being criticized. I really don't know all the details, but it seems to me that there must be quite an extensive amount of effort and energy to provide training and to put a summer schedule together, sometimes with a lack of resources.
She may have her own gripes and I'm sure she has a legitimate concern regarding the safety of the beaches of which she is in charge. It would seem to me that she receives someone who has passed the Parks Department test with a strong enough skill to be sent to the ocean and not to a public pool. She deems them not to be ocean-trained. Well, why not use her valuable supervisory ability, take some quality time and spend it with the new lifeguards?
Maybe, at some time in the day when the beaches aren't too crowded, she could provide them with additional training for further open water skills to give them more confidence in the ocean that they patrol. She could ensure her newcomers receive regular exercises and drills in order for them to fit the performance expectations and standards she needs and demands! Shouldn't that be part of her job description anyway?
Does Fash have a personal agenda? Are there other city employees making the same claims? Has The Wave tried to interview any of the other chief lifeguards to give any credibility to her arguments, or is this yet another example of your irresponsible journalism? The only other concerns I have seen in your paper are from neighborhood residents upset over closed beaches and from parents who were unable to see their children get onto the local beach lifeguard staff due to their opinion of unfair testing.
Unfortunately, Rockaway always seems to be short of lifeguards. Janet Fash, I urge you now to continue your personal fight, but you may want to consider a new direction. Make it your business to reason with planners for the new Rockaway YMCA's pool to be built to professional training standards, as mentioned by Kevin Callaghan in a recent letter to The Wave. With the growing population, our community youth need to be encouraged to become strong swimmers and possibly local NYC lifeguards. Or maybe you could challenge the city to get better wages so that more people will be interested in applying for the job and help cover the understaffing problem.
Please don't let the opinion of one chief lifeguard skew your opinion of the rest of the Parks Departments attempts at hiring and training lifeguards to keep our beaches safe. I find Fash's negativity toward her new staff bothersome. Thank you, Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, for your optimistic viewpoint in mediating the issues at hand. My thanks to all those who put in their efforts so we can enjoy the ocean as safely as possible.
Remembering Sarah Colson
My friend Sarah Colson was compassionate and fearless. She taught many of us to be unselfish. I lived with her during her illness for a summer and learned how to accept everyone unconditionally, and to help build our community. It is time now to face the facts and put our children in the forefront for success.
Last Time In Rockaway
On Tuesday, I spent the day at Beach 108 Street.
To say the least, the beach was a disgrace. I have been coming to Rockaway Beach since 1963, and have never seen it like this.
There were condoms, tampon dispensers, dead seagulls and other birds, as well as other garbage, all washed up on the shore. It made me sick.
I saw various Parks Department employees around, but nobody was doing anything about the mess.
I hate to say it, but this may be the last time I will be visiting Rockaway if this is the way it is going to remain.
'Waste Of Money'
For Four-Lane Pool
Once again the good hardworking people of the Rockaways get the short end. The short end refers to the Arverne YMCA four-lane pool disaster. After years of being promised an Olympic-size pool, we the people of the sixth borough get a four lane lap pool. The four-lane lap pool cannot even be used for school swim meets because it takes six lanes for school swim meets. It's a total waste of money to build a four-lane lap pool.
For years, Senators Schumer and Clinton, Representative Weiner, Assemblywoman Pheffer and Councilman Addabbo all were in favor of a Rockaway Olympic pool….where are you now? For years all the good people of Rockaway heard there is NO money available for a pool.
For everyone's information, the city is building a $50 million dollar Olympic-size pool and indoor recreation center in Greenpoint. The complex is expected to be completed by 2009.
Once again, thanks for nothing.