2007-07-06 / Columnists


Now that the school year is over, everybody who is involved with the public school system, and that includes parents, teachers, administrators and students can take a deep breath and wonder what next year will bring. Whatever it is it promises to be exciting with all the changes in school governance and funding. Some things never change, however. At the same time the Department of Education is seeking to promote a principal who changed student grades and denigrated teachers, it seeks to punish a teacher who blew the whistle on a grade-fixing scandal in his school.

The death of a young man on Cross Bay Boulevard near the Wildlife Sanctuary highlights once again the danger on that stretch of road. While the dead youth was a pedestrian rather than a motorist, the fact is that death lurks on the stretch of road between the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge (the North Channel Bridge to you old-timers) and West 1 Road, where the village of Broad Channel officially begins. Increased traffic enforcement hasn't worked. Perhaps speed bumps or more traffic lights on that stretch of road would do some good.

The Rockaway Music and Arts Council held its first Sunset Picnic Concert for the summer season last Sunday and it was a big hit, drawing a few hundred people to Fort Tilden to listen to comedian Jack Fontana and singer Jerry Cardone, who channels Frank Sinatra. The next concert will be held at 6 p.m. on July 8. That concert will feature the Celtic music of Mactalla Mor. The July 22 concert will spotlight the Road House Band, a country-western group. Sunday, August 5 will find the Long Island Pops Orchestra, conducted by Dean Karahalis and August 19 will feature the Leon S. Locke Memorial Rock 'n Roll concert with Kenny Vance and the Planatones. Bring a picnic dinner, a blanket or some beach chairs and enjoy.

The two Rockaway precincts will once again hold national Night Out Against Crime separately, rather as a unified community activity, as it should be held. The 100 Precinct Community Council will host the west end festivities on Tuesday, August 7, at the Beach Channel High School athletic field. For the past several years, the event has been held at the Beach Club, which is no longer in operation. The event will begin at 4 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. There will be no fireworks associated with the event this year, which means that there will be no fireworks in Rockaway at all this summer season, a poor state of affairs. The east end festivities will be held at the same time at Middle School 53 on Nameoke Street in Far Rockaway.

For the third weekend in a row, there was violence on Beach 116 Street and the beachfront. On June 26, a youth reportedly took a photograph of another teen's girlfriend. That led to an altercation in which a Brooklyn teen cut a Queens teen with a box cutter. Notice that there were reportedly no Rockaway residents involved in this altercation, nor in any of the past two incidents. This has led some people to call for charging people to access Beach 116 Street and surrounding beaches, but that is not an idea that will get any political traction anytime soon. In the latest incident, both police and EMS personnel were standing by and responded quickly, getting the injured teen to the hospital and putting his assailant under arrest. The assailant, who police say belongs to the Latin Kings, was spotted by two off-duty police recruits, who identified the teen to the police and told them where he stashed the weapon. He was quickly arrested and the cutter was found right where the cadets said it would be. The two rookies graduated from the academy on Tuesday. It's too bad they won't be assigned to the 100 Precinct.

Anybody who reads The Wave knows that there was a spate of shootings in Rockaway late last year, all of them connected to gang activity in the city. Although there were some shootings in the first six months of this year, there has been nothing to compare with last year, and that is due in good part to the NYPD's Operation Impact program, which floods troubled areas like the east end of Rockaway with extra police officers, especially in tense times. Those impact zones shifted as the crime pattern shifted. Now, however, that program is in trouble because so few new cops are coming into the department. Whose fault is that? The police union made a tactical error in trying to bypass the city's negotiating process and going to the state. A state mediator ordered that salaries for experienced cops be raised at the expense of new cops coming on the job. Now, few people are willing to suffer those lower salaries and are looking elsewhere, including the Nassau and Suffolk County departments, which pay much higher salaries for far less dangerous and arduous work. The city, however, has to share the blame because it insists on "pattern bargaining" in which all of the city's workers get basically the same contracts. Both the union and the city should get off their high-horses and address the problem.

The Wave recently reported on the new Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Comfort Station, (New Station Is Friend To Nature And Visitors, The Wave, June 15, 2007, By Brian Magoolaghan). The station has several "green" features designed to increase the station's energy efficiency and decrease its dependence on resources such as electricity and water. What we didn't report, because we didn't know it at the time, is that the electric work was done by none other than a Belle Harbor resident and member of the Graybeards. Kevin J. Breen's, president of Breen Electrical Contractors Inc., proudly informed us of his contribution to "this rather intriguing facility," which we encourage members of the public to see for themselves. It's located in the heart of the refuge in Broad Channel, just off Cross Bay Boulevard.

Danny Ruscillo of the 100 Precinct Community Council wants to know if the public has any questions for Assistant Chief Thomas Dale, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens South. As council president, Ruscillo has the opportunity to meet with Dale quarterly and is encouraged to bring questions from the community. The next meeting is scheduled for August 20. Questions can be emailed to Ruscillo at FXPro@aol.com. Put "Questions For The President" in the subject line.

We have been calling for term limits for state offices similar to the limits now set for city offices. Recently, the Republican-controlled State Senate voted for state term limits. Some political observers think that the Senate acted to get rid of the Governor and the strong Democratic prescence in the Assembly, but others think that is like cutting of your nose to spite your face. There is very little chance, however, that the entrenched Assembly will pass a similar bill.

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