2007-08-17 / Columnists

Beachcomber

City Councilman James Sanders says that one of the major problems faced by police area toy guns that look real, especially to police officers facing the gun-toting teen. "Some poor kid is going to be shot because he points a toy at a police officer," Sanders said. "I thought I could do something to help out the cops in this regard." There is a New York City law that restricts the sale of authentic-looking toy guns, but there is no such law in Nassau County. Sanders says that he went to a number of the major toy retailers in nearby Nassau and asked them to stop selling the authentic-looking guns. At least one of the big-box stores in Lawrence has agreed to take those toys off the shelves, he reports. That is a win for Sanders and for the Rockaway community.

The city's Department of Transportation has revised once again the date it plans to reopen Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 69 Street and Beach 73 Street. First, the date was set at "early July." Then, the date was changed to "late July." This week, the newest date was promulgated. If we can believe it, that stretch of boulevard will reopen sometime at the "end of October."

Police Officer Juan Nunez has been appointed as a Community Affairs Officer for the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway, joining Police Officer George Torres in that slot. We welcome him and wish him good luck in his new post.

We have received many complaints over the past year from locals who received what they perceived as undeserved parking tickets. When they complained, they were told to pay the ticket or fight it in court with proof that they were indeed innocent, something that is not always easy to do. Last week, however, they got a measure of vindication. Four NYPD traffic enforcement agents were arrested and charged with falsifying dozens of tickets. The probability is high that there are more TEA's out there doing the same thing and that some of them, at least, are in Rockaway. That's what happens when the city agencies set a work quota. Of course, the NYPD would never admit that it has set quotas for tickets. Rather, it says, it sets "productivity goals" for each employee that are then used in the employee's yearly evaluations. Should an officer drop below their quota (excuse me, productivity goal) they might find themselves with fewer vacation days.

Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff are working on a plan that would preserve the amusement area in Coney Island, while, at the same time, providing land for a developer to build luxury condos a few blocks west of the designated amusement area. The problem is, the land the mayor wants to give away is the parking lot for Keyspan Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, as well as the Abe Stark Skating Rink that abuts the parking lot. That would be a mistake. Many people love going to Keyspan Park because the parking is so handy. What does the mayor and his deputy care where we park when we go to a game? After all, there's plenty of on-street, safe parking in Coney Island, right? Wrong! Closing the parking lot and the skating rink is asking too much.

Home fans in many of America's ballparks make it a point to throw back homerun balls hit by visiting players. It's an old American tradition that is not generally honored in the New York parks except when the homer is hit by a Boston Red Sox player. Met's fan Chris Innace, a New York City cop, was in Chicago's Wrigley Field watching a Mets-Cub game two weeks ago when Cub's slugger Derrek Lee hit a homer that was caught by the cop. Innace promptly threw the ball back on the field. And, just as promptly, he was ejected from the field by security agents. Some of the people sitting near him in the stands protested and told him that he was the first person in the 93-year history of the field to throw back a home team homerun. Security told him that he was being thrown out because he waited too long to throw the ball back, then that he had no local identification, then, because he could not produce his bleacher tickets. We guess the security guys were just angry that he would do that to a Cubby.

Republicans are hoping that the recent charges against Governor Eliot Spitzer will insure that they keep control over the State Senate, where they have a slim twoseat edge. Before the scandals, it looked like a lock for Spitzerbacked Democratic candidates, but that is no longer certain. The next election is set for November of 2008, now only 15 months away. Alot can happen in 15 months, but the state Democratic Party has targeted a number of Republicans that it believes are vulnerable. One of those is Senator Serph Maltese, who will most likely be challenged by City Councilman Joe Addabbo. Should Addabbo win, we would be looking at an interesting election for his vacant seat.

"Stop and frisks" by NYPD officers are down 12 percent, according to a recent statistical report, and those stops have led to a higher percentage of arrests than in the past. Officers stopped 113,945 people from April to June, the report says. Arrests were made on six percent of those stops, up from four percent in the same period last year. One organization still does not like the numbers. "An extraordinary number of New Yorkers are still being stopped, most of whom are not engaged in any wrongdoing whatsoever," said Chris Dunn of the NYCLU. Peter Vallone, the chair of the City Council Public Safety Committee, disagrees. "That shows good police work, and evidence that officers are not stopping people based on race." Dunn, however, says that stopping more people in highcrime areas amounts to "racial profiling." We wonder what world Dunn lives in?

We would be remiss in not commenting on the recent passing of Sylvester Carl Ferras, who served Rockaway in many ways over his years. First, he served with the armed forces during World War II and then again in Korea. Then, he served as an auxiliary police officer with the 100 Precinct, rising to Captain in the auxiliary force. Then, finally, he served as a crossing guard on Beach 108 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard for many years. He will be missed.

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