The news that Dunkin Donuts has taken over two adjacent storefronts on Beach 129 Street generated lots of excitement and some ire. There are those who believe that the donut store will be an evil force on the small shopping block, bottlenecking traffic further and putting the "ma and pa" stores on the block out of business. Both groups are entitled to their opinions, but we have received some complaints that Barbara Larkin, the president of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association (no renters need apply) sent out a letter to her members urging them to contact their elected officials in order to stop the donut shop from opening its doors. There was some anger from members of her association that she had no right to send out that letter without first polling her membership. They contend that no leader has the right to go off and speak for the entire membership without first finding out their thoughts on the matter. In any case, the donut shop is a done deal and Barbara and others who want to keep the donut shop off the block might as well wake up and smell the coffee - - metaphorically, of course.
A man who once spoke for President George Bush has come out into the open with the claim that he was ordered to lie to the press, and there fore to the public, about the Valerie Plame case. Scott McClellan said that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney urged him to deny that top aides Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby revealed the identity of the CIA spy to the press. "There was one problem with that," McClellan wrote. "It was not true." He added, "I had unknowingly passed along false information and five of the highestranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff (Andrew Card) and the president himself." Bush's new press secretary, Dana Perino, denied that Bush told anybody to lie. Who do we believe?
The findings are in. Whites and minorities have roughly an equal chance of being stopped by police officers and questioned on the streets of New York City, but officers are more likely to frisk, search, arrest or give summonses to blacks or Hispanics. That is according to the Rand Corporation study that was paid for by the city and released recently. The study also found some interesting statistics. Slightly more than half of the 508,540 stops by police last year were made by 2,756 officers, about 100 each. Fifteen of those officers - six of whom are assigned to precincts in southern Queens (but not in Rockaway), were more likely to stop blacks and Hispanics than whites, while nine were more likely to stop whites than minorities. The NYCLU, of course, calls the entire report a "whitewash." That group will probably never believe that cops can do something right or that offenders have done something wrong.
Airlines are in the business to make money. While they are forced to worry about safety, it's the money, honey, that drives the industry. When Congress removed decades-old limits on how many planes could land during peak afternoon and evening hours at JFK Airport earlier this year, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and others immediately added dozens of flights (and lots of revenue), creating huge delays at the airports. Adding flight corridors on the east coast is a little like adding several lanes to the Long Island Expressway. Adding those lanes might increase capacity, but if they all end at the Midtown Tunnel, you're going to be in for a long wait to get through that toll. One long-time pilot summed it up best. "You can't put ten pounds of s- - in a five pound bag," he said. The numbers of landings and takeoffs at Kennedy surged more than 20 percent, limiting the ability of controllers to handle flights at JFK as well as at the two other local airports, experts say. The answer is to limit the number of flights arriving at and departing from all of the local airports in order to allow for safe and sane travel periods.
You have to love Vince Castellano, who bills himself as the largest Section 8 real estate broker in Rockaway. The Community Board 14 member was quoted in a piece in the N.Y. Daily News by Brendan Brosh (who was once a Wave staffer) as calling Beach 116 Street "a slum." According to the article, Castellano suggested he wouldn't mind if Beach 116 Street fell into the ocean. "The entire block has to be, in effect, demolished and rebuilt," he is quoted as saying. In reality, it is only the eastern side of the beach block that is the problem. The remainder of the street provides much-needed services to the west end residents. The comments came during a City Planning Commission report on how it plans to rezone Rockaway. One of the city's plans calls for Beach 116 Street and adjoining streets to become an R7A zone, which would allow for eight-story buildings such as the Ocean Grande. Those plans, however, are presently largely illusory. We won't know what the real plans are until sometime in March or April of next year. Then, those plans have to go through a review process that typically takes several months. Don't start jumping out the eighth story window just yet if you don't like tall buildings. We have a long time to go before any rezoning plan becomes a reality.
Rockaway dodged a bullet over the weekend when an oil spill dumped globs of heavy, black oil onto beaches in neighboring Long Beach and Atlantic Beach. The Coast Guard suspects that the spill came from an oil tanker passing through the area. The Wave did a quick check of east end beaches on Sunday, but could find no oil.
For only the fourth time in history, the Flushing Remonstrance returns to Queens as the borough celebrates the document's 350th anniversary. The petition is considered to be the first recorded defense of religious freedom in the new world. Written in 1657, it predated the Bill of Rights by more than 100 years. It will be exhibited at the Flushing branch of the library through January 7.