2008-08-22 / Columnists


Where was City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., when the community he presently represents was in crisis and fighting a zoning plan that would place eight-story buildings on one of its major shopping streets? He certainly was not at city hall for the hearings and the vote. According to the New York Times, Addabbo was in Manhattan at a restaurant called Campanile for a fundraiser and support rally that featured Manhattan heavy hitters. As you know, Addabbo, who is term-limited, is running against Republican Serphan Maltese for a State Senate seat and that run obviously takes precedence to doing what his community needs done. Addabbo did send a letter to the council committee hearing, stating that he was in favor of the taller buildings. So much for his support of the community. It's interesting, because the election is the seminal race that the Democrats need to take the Senate away from the Republican majority and both parties are pulling out all the stops. When asked how he would compete with the money being poured into the Maltese campaign, Addabbo said, "We're going to meet the money difference with people power." I hope that he does not mean the people of Rockaway, because he has been gone from Rockaway for many months now, if he was ever really here. Most of the lights on the boardwalk on the west end of the peninsula no longer work. That's not the fault of the city, but of eBay. Let us explain. Copper wiring, which is used in the light stanchions, is worth a lot of money. The lights were safeguarded by the fact that a special screwdriver was needed to remove the faceplates on the stanchions and get at the wiring. Now, however, a criminal can buy the screwdriver for a couple of bucks on the web auction site. That has led to a proliferation of theft of the wiring, mostly during the day, so that officials cannot see the light go out. The city is going to have to come up with a new gimmick to safeguard the wiring, because it is removed almost as fast as it is replaced.

Speaking of the City Council, James Sanders, Jr., has done it again. He was named as one of the two council members with the worst attendance. This is not the first time that Sanders has headed that particular list, and now that he is term-limited and looking for a job in academia, you can bet we'll see even less of him. Sanders was present for only 66 percent of last year's council meetings. Not really a passing grade. If he were a student, he would have been left back just based on his poor attendance.

The City Council can now get back to its real business - renaming streets. Council Speaker Christine Quinn has drawn up some new rules that mandate a review process among councilmembers to vet names that are put into the hopper. In addition, streetnaming bills will only be addressed four times each year and those not on board will have to wait until the next go-around. You can bet that each of those four bills will include hundreds of names, some of them from Rockaway.

The Department of Transportation has found another way to mess up the west end traffic. Beginning in October, the city agency that really fouled up Shore Front Parkway with ridiculous bike lanes will do the same for Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 126 Street and Riis Park. The bike lane will take up the curbside lane on both the eastbound and westbound roadways, eliminating it as a passing lane. First, the ridiculous malls, then the equally stupid no parking regulations, particularly around St. Francis de Sales, and now bike lanes. What will the DOT think of next?

You have to love New York City government. It doesn't even trust the state. The city's Board of Elections is violating a law that mandates that it access the state's voter database to make sure there is no duplication of names or dead people on the city rolls. The city refuses to use the state's database. Why? A city official says that there are no assurances that the information on the state's database is correct. Identity thieves are using the United States Post Office to help them steal personal identities. What they do is file a change of address form for their intended victim, having all of that person's mail sent to a letter drop that they control instead. Think about that. Somebody else with all of your bills, your bank statements, your insurance information. Congressman Anthony Weiner wants the postal service to mandate identification with an address change so that the post office can be sure that it is actually the individual involved who is asking for the change of address. The postal service is resistant to change, however, stating that their present system is perfectly fine and needs no changing. So, if you don't get your mail for a few days, pop over to the post office and make sure that nobody is stealing your identity.

The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance will host an after-school program during the school year that is being conducted in conjunction with PS 43 and FEGS. The program will introduce 15 grade 6 to 8 students attending any Rockaway public school to issues involving environmental justice. Families interested in registering their child for the program should request an application at the orientation seminar being held at the school on September 4. Students will be interviewed to ascertain their interest in the program.

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