2008-06-27 / Columnists


The city's Department of Environmental Protection is the agency that has charge of the water bills that all homeowners must pay. At one time, some homeowners got away without paying the bills, because the agency had little ability to force collections. That is no longer true. Under its new rules, Any customer who owes more than $500 for six months or more, or $5,000 for three months or more are eligible for immediate water service termination. The agency points out, "This change will make our water and sewer system fairer by ensuring that customers who do pay on time are not compensating for those who do not."

Victoria Keller is a woman with a mission - to save the feral cats. She puts in her own money, time and emotional well-being into the project, but she says she needs help from other catlovers in Rockaway. Besides funds to pay for the care of the animals, she badly needs volunteers who will help with trapping and caring for the animals as well as some place out of the weather where cats can be treated and cared for until new homes are found. She is also looking for people who want to adopt feral cats that have been recovered from the wild. Anybody interested in helping Keller in her quest to save the feral cats may call her at 917-687-0769.

The daring New York Times photo-journalist Dith Pran, who died at age 65 in April was a frequent visitor on assignment to Rockaway. The Wave archives show that he came to Rockaway several years ago with reporter Joseph Robert Fried to do a story on the Cornell Cemetery in Far Rockaway, a landmark that dates to before the Revolutionary War. Pran was famous for living through the infamous Cambodian genocide and living to tell about it. His experiences were recounted in "The Killing Fields," a movie that detailed his time living under the Communist regime.

Mark your calendar for the Cancer Society's Relay For Life, which will be held this year at the Riis Park Mall rather than at Beach Channel High School. It is a moving ceremony honoring both those who have survived and those who have succumbed to the disease. The event will begin the evening of Saturday, June 28 and runs through the night until the morning of Sunday, June 29. The evening begins with the moving "Survivor's Lap," and then with each of the teams walking a lap around the mall. The highlight of the evening comes after dark, with the lighting of the "Luminaries," special bagged candles dedicated to the life and death of those touched by cancer.

Those who use mass transit each day to make the long trek into Manhattan should really be angered by the comment made by David Mack, the vice-chairman of the MTA Board. Like all of the board members, Mack gets a free ride, not that he probably uses it very often. When he was asked for comment on the possibility of the board losing the free transportation perk, he said, "Why should I ride [public transportation] and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car." Mack is the chair of two MTA committees: the LIRR committee and the bridge and tunnel oversight committee. That's one of the problems with Mayor Bloomberg's New York. Many of the people in charge have a great disdain for the people for whom they are supposed to be working.

To motorists who get a parking ticket on a hot summer day, it may seem that all of the resources of the traffic enforcement officers is focused on the peninsula. Statistics show, however, that's not true. In fact, the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Park was one of the areas in the city with the fewest parking tickets during 2007. All in all, 3,440 tickets were issued in the 100 Precinct last year, while nearly 18,000 were issued in the midtown south precinct. Motorists in the area covered by the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway were issued 3,891 parking tickets in 2007. Lowest on the parking ticket list was the 123 Precinct in Staten Island, where 2,965 tickets were issued. The most tickets in the city were issued in the 115 Precinct in eastern Queens, where motorists were issued 20,848 parking tickets.

Floyd Smith and his "Concerned Citizens For The Rockaways" have been busy in Riis Park, petitioning the federal government, which runs the park through the National Park Service (NPS) for improvements at the facility. Smith says that he has gathered 400 signatures on his petitions over the first two weekends of the beach season. Smith and his group demand more lifeguards, better restroom service and more entertainment. In addition, he wants to forestall a parking increase that is planned for next year.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr., may well be the key to the Democratic bid to take over the State Senate. Addabbo is abandoning Rockaway, probably with a sigh of relief, to take on State Senator Serph Maltese, a Republican who has won continually in a Democratic district for more than a decade. Should Addabbo win, something that political experts say is a strong possibility, that would give the Democrats the majority of seats in that body and make our State Senator Malcolm Smith the Majority Leader and the second most-powerful man in state government. Addabbo's new district would take in Howard Beach and communities to its north. Addabbo's father was the Representative for that area for many years, and he has the name recognition and pedigree to take the spot away from the incumbent.

NYPD Captain Thomas Barrett, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, is a hands-on leader. He was seen over the weekend in civilian clothes, riding a bicycle through the west end, which has seen a pattern of burglaries recently. Barrett was following the radio car calls, watching for suspicious activity and helping out his officers.

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