The overnight closing of the Marine Parkway Bridge has been extended once again, this time to November 30. Originally, the bridge was to be closed for deck work until the end of October. The closings were then extended to mid-November. The MTA Bridges and Tunnels says that newest extension is due to inclement weather and heavy fog that kept them from doing the necessary work. The bridge is closed entirely (except for emergency vehicles) on weeknights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Remember that the Cross Bay Bridge lane and ramp closings will continue until Memorial Day, 2008.
The memorial services for those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001, once again went on without a hitch. After six years, everybody knows their part and the Mayor and his Office of Immigrant Affairs once again performed flawlessly to the ever-shrinking crowd. About 300 family members and friends showed up this year, far fewer than in years past. While Mayor Mike Bloomberg told reporters that there would always be a service at the Beach 116 Street site as long as he is mayor, it is clear that it is reaching the point of diminishing returns. The day is a disaster for those who have stores and restaurants on the shopping street because the city's Department of Transportation cuts off parking not only on the entire street from the boardwalk to Newport Avenue, but the municipal parking lot as well, which is reserved only for family members for several hours on that day.
Speaking of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, there are still full college scholarships available to spouses and children of those who died in the crash. Only 11 of the 150 people eligible for the scholarships have taken advantage of them, officials say.
The Time Warner Cable franchise agreement comes up for renewal for the first time in 10 years next month. At the same time, the City Council will be reviewing an application from Verizon to bring FIOS cable television to the five boroughs. This is the perfect time to bring a little competition to the cable industry and to perhaps improve service and cut the cost to consumers. As with many things in this city, our representatives on the Council have no power to authorize cable companies. They simply vote to empower the city to negotiate a contract and then Mayor Bloomberg's minions take over. You can bet that whatever happens, consumers will feel the pinch.
City Councilman James Sanders is term-limited the next time out, so he has to be looking for someplace to land. In a recent Daily News piece, he said, "The thrill of teaching at the university level really animates me - I would love to do this. There are those, however, who are insisting that I stay in government. It's whatever God wills and the people demand." It is pretty clear that our other Councilman, Joseph Addabbo, will try to stay in government when his term is over. He plans to run for the State Senate seat now held by Senator Serph Maltese, a mainland seat that would remove him from Rockaway politics. It's going to be interesting to see who comes forward to replace the two pols. Word is that Donovan Richards, Sander's chief of staff, is eyeing his seat, while Addabbo's seat will probably have several office-seekers eyeing it hungrily. Political insiders tell us that Frank Gulluscio, a mainland politician, has the inside track with the Democratic Party, although some local would-be officeholders tell us that is not true.
There has been some question both within the Rockaway peninsula and without about whether the racist screed left in the schoolyard at PS 225 two weeks ago (The Wave, November 9 edition) was actually a "hate crime." The Department of Education told us at the time that the police were investigating the flyer as a hate crime because it ended with the words, "White kids (and adults) will continue to be victimized by black kids (and adults) until white people UNITE and demand change by any means necessary." That old Malcolm X saw is what makes it a call to action and a hate crime, officials say. Others are not so sure. They say that there has to be some action taken to make it a hate crime and that action has to be initiated based on a race-based motive. Joel Levy, the New York Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) e-mailed us to say, "The distribution of the 'Black Racism' flyer throughout PS 225 in Rockaway Beach was an act of hate, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms. Racial targeting coupled with threats of violence has no place in any schools." Even the pros want to get into the act.
A New York State watchdog has charged that the Mitchell-Lama housing program is chock full of massive abuse and fraud. Many of the housing complexes in Rockaway Beach come under that middle class subsidized housing program. Inspector General Kristine Hamann said that the lapses allowed people who ran the program in individual complexes to forego waiting lists and put ineligible residents in apartments, while keeping out people who were qualified for the program, but had been kept out by cronyism and fraud. "Wherever we looked, we found evidence that the [division of housing] had failed in its responsibility to ensure that the Mitchell-Lama housing program operated fairly and efficiently." We have been hearing stories of favoritism and cronyism for years from people on waiting lists for several years, but have never been able to prove those contentions. Perhaps, the inspector general will prove it for us.
Mark your calendars for January 26, 2008, because Harry G and his Doo Wop Spectacular is coming back to Beach Channel High School that night. This is the fifteenth anniversary edition of the concert, and those who have attended in past years know that it begins at 7 p.m. and often goes late into the night. The headliners this year include local group, Kenny Vance and the Planotones ("Looking for an Echo"), Lenny Coco and the Chimes ("Once In a While") and Cleveland Still and the Dubs ("Could this be Magic").