2007-11-16 / Community

Beachcomber

Mayor Bloomberg argued last week that city workers should labor on Election Day. "It's a waste of taxpayers' money, and fundamentally it was a way for elected officials to have free help at the polls, which is an outrage," the mayor said. He added, however, that he wasn't about to pick that battle at this time. "I can only take on so many things [at one time]," the Mayor added. Election officials say that only six percent of those eligible to vote did so this year, during an off-year election in which only Queens District Attorney Richard Brown was in jeopardy. Well, not real jeopardy, since he had the backing of all the major parties and no opposition. Brown won by a large margin.

Faced with the prospect of not meeting increased recruiting goals, both the Army and the Marines are looking to people with criminal records to join up. In fact, the percentage of recruits who were taken in by the military with waivers has risen to 18 percent from 15 percent last year. Those waivers are given to recruits who have been convicted of such crimes as using drugs, stealing, carrying weapons on school grounds and assault. The Pentagon has recommended that the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000. Those new soldiers and Marines have to come from somewhere, and officials say that far fewer members of the armed forces are re-enlisting since the war in Iraq heated up.

Raging rumors to the contrary, there have been no permits requested or granted for a new building in the Surfside Houses complex between Beach 105 and Beach 108 Street. Those rumors resulted in many calls to The Wave over the past two weeks. While the Valiotis family, which owns the property, won't speak on the record, officials at the Department of Buildings say that the only permit requested and granted on that property was the recent approval for repaving the parking lots. The persistent rumors say that a new five-story building will be built to the west of 107-10 Shore Front Parkway, between the present building and Beach 108 Street, where a kid's playground once stood. Perhaps Valiotis should tell his present tenants if he has plans to build another apartment house on that piece of land.

A group of city religious, political and civil leaders have declared November 29 "A Day of Tolerance" to protest a rash of bias crimes across the city in recent months, including the two nooses found in a Rockaway Parks Department facility a few weeks ago. "The best way to fight this is for decent people of good will to stand up and say 'no' to these hate crimes," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Events are planned for each of the five boroughs, but it was unclear at press time as to where they would be held.

Cell phone numbers will soon be released to telemarketers, just as land-line numbers are, at the present time. The difference is, you will be charged for each call made to your cell phone by a person who you probably don't want to speak with in the first place. To prevent your number from being called, experts urge you to contact the national "Do Not Call" list, which blocks your phone number for five years. You can add your name and number to the list at 888-382-1222. You must call from your cell phone. You cannot call from a different phone number to get on the list. By the way, there is a similar list if you don't want to get any more catalogs. You need a computer for this one. Log onto www.catalogchoice.org. Then, indicate which catalogs you no longer wish to receive. Each time you get a catalog you don't want, go back to that website and add that catalog to your list. Eventually, you'll be getting far fewer catalogs, and those that you do get should be the ones you wanted in the first place.

There is great concern in Rockaway about the loss of marsh grass in Jamaica Bay. Lots of money is being spent to fix the problem, which is most likely caused by the nitrogen dumped into the bay from the water treatment plants that surround it. We always believed that it was an isolated incident, but a recent report in Newsday shows that a number of bodies of water in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are suffering the same fate. Since 1974, Jamaica Bay has lost 45.6 percent of its marshes, but other bodies of water fared worse. West Pond in Glen Cove lost 60.6 percent of its marshes in the same time period and Frost Creek in Lattingtown has lost 47.6 percent of its grass.

The school report cards issued by the Department of Education last week have caused some consternation among not only the parents of the kids who go to the schools that were given low grades, but to the real estate community as well. Property in the PS 114 zone (west of the center of Beach 122 Street) always sold for a premium above what homes on the east side of the street sold for, because PS 114, now a K-8 school, was ranked as one of the top-performing schools in the city. Both PS 114 and the Scholars'Academy, the district's gifted magnet school, received grades of B on their report cards, even though close to 100 percent of the students at Scholars' are achieving at or above grade level in both reading and math tests. PS 47 in Broad Channel, where test scores have traditionally been far lower than PS 114's, particularly in the elementary grades, received an A. At least two real estate people we spoke with this week believe that the report card grade might impact the home choice of those coming from outside the peninsula, but that locals know that the report cards do not reflect reality in terms of the schools.

In the November 2 issue of The Wave, a front-page story about a sleeping three-year-old who was abandoned on a school bus listed the name of one of the men who found him wandering around as Walter Smith. In fact, his name is Walter Schmidt. We apologize to Schmidt and hope that the mistake did not cause him any embarrassment.

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