2008-08-15 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Both Queens College and St. John's University have made the cut, being among "The Best 368 Colleges," in America, as announced by the Princeton Review in its annual college issue. Both schools, in fact, score in the high range for social and ethnic diversity.

If you disagree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, you are "spineless." At least, that's what our businessman mayor believes. Bloomberg said this week that New York would eventually pass a version of his infamous congestion pricing program, but not until "the spineless state legislature gets past the November election." The legislature, acting on the will of the people, failed to enact his elitist program in the government body's last session. By the way, Governor David Paterson said this week that he wanted to renew the call for congestion pricing in New York City as a way of getting more revenue for the MTA. Sure, the service gets worse and then more expensive, so the answer is to force people out of their cars and into an antiquated public transportation system that can't even handle the riders that it now has. The latest MTA brainstorm that would take all of the seats out of subway cars during rush hour so that more riders could be crammed onto the cars is just another manifestation of how little the agency knows or cares about New Yorkers.

If you have eight or nine hundred dollars lying around, you can have two seats from your favorite New York City baseball stadium. The Mets announced earlier this week that two seats from the old ballpark, which will be torn down after the new park right next door is completed will run $869 dollars a pair. Not to be undone, the Yankees then announced on Wednesday that two seats from their ballpark, which will similarly be torn down, will cost more than $900. Lockers from Shea will cost $869 dollars pair, while some dirt from Yankee Stadium with two souvenir baseballs will go for a measly $99.95.

The Wave's Newcomer's Guide, which was distributed with last week's edition and can now be found in many local stores and institutions, has already become a favorite. Chock full of valuable information about the events and people who make the peninsula what it is both for newcomers and those with "sand in their shoes."

It's amazing how Rockaway homicides that were committed far in the past continue to make news today. Witness the murder of Bruce Gotterup, who was shot multiple times on the boardwalk at Beach 115 Street on November 20, 1991. Turns out that the murder allegedly was ordered by John Gotti, Jr., making it national news. Then, we have the slashing murder of James Abbott in the street on Beach 40 Street on April 16, 1994. A Rockaway man named Kareem Bellamy was arrested and tried for the murder. He was found guilty, largely on the testimony of a clerk at the nearby CTown Supermarket. That would have been the end of the story had not an attorney taken up the case a few years ago, hiring private detectives to go over the case. In July, a state Supreme Court judge threw out the conviction after reading the transcript of an undercover conversation recorded in February, in which another man confessed to the murder because Abbott was bothering his girlfriend. Like old soldiers, homicide stories never die; they just fade away - until they come back.

If you ride the A Train, you probably don't need anybody to tell you this, but the worst subway stop in the entire city is the stop at Beach 90 Street in Rockaway. Although the station is ranked 411 out of 422 stations in usage, it is ranked number one in the station rankings, when you go from worst to best. Ranked at 13 on the worst station list is the Beach 98 Street station. The stations were ranked based on a check of three areas: the entrance, the control area and the platform itself. The entire report is available on the New York City Subway Riders Council website.

There is reportedly a new email virus that will infect your computer should you open it and it revolves around an alleged message from the United Parcel Service (UPS). According to a warning issued last week, the user gets a message from what looks to be the official UPS site with an attachment that supposedly claims to have information about a package that cannot be delivered. When the user opens the attachment, the zip file begins to download Trojans and Spyware to your computer. Beware!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks a good line about fiscal responsibility and cost cutting, but newly-released information shows that on his watch, City Hall's budget soared by 44 percent, from $43 billion in 2002 to $62 billion this year. Most of the money is spent on new program coordinators and high-priced outside consultants.

The State Senate Democraticsponsored task force on school governance is holding hearings to see whether or not they want to renew the state law giving control of the schools to the mayor, which is set to expire in June of 2009. The Queens hearing will be held at the Queens Borough Hall, 120- 55 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on October 6. If you are concerned about the present governance system and want to see it change, sign up to speak or provide a statement to the commission.

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