2008-08-29 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Several people who saw our story on Geraldine Chapey's appointment as a Commissioner of the State Workers' Compensation Board called to say that Chapey's van service, for which she gets tens of thousands of dollars in public funds, runs a regular service to the casino at Yonkers Raceway, for which she collects $15 per person for the round trip. We have to wonder whether or not your tax money is funding those casino trips.

Kara Lynn Joyce, whose grandparents live in Breezy Point, won a silver medal at the Olympic games last week. Joyce, who spends lots of time in the waters around the west end community, was part of the United States' 4 X 100 Woman's relay team. This is the second time that Joyce has brought home a medal, winning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic games at Athens, Greece.

There are four piping plover nesting grounds in Rockaway, and federal law protects them all, because the small birds are on the endangered species list. There are 19 nesting pairs and five fledgling offspring this summer, down from 25 nesting pairs and 10 fledglings last year. That has officials concerned, but most locals would rather see the birds go elsewhere because beaches where the birds nest are completely closed to beachgoers. "Once the birds are there, we don't allow any traffic through that site. There's no bathing, and no walking on the sand," said one official. Don Riepe, who leads the local Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group, blames the drop on the development of homes along the beachfront. "With people come stray cats, dog, trash, and everything that will negatively impact the piping plovers," Riepe says. So, it's welcome to the birds, and people go home.

There are 10 Orthodox Jews in the class now at the NYPD academy in Manhattan. That number is something of a record for the NYPD, which prizes diversity but has had trouble recruiting the orthodox. One of the rookie cops is Chaim Goldgrab, from Far Rockaway. Goldgrab, who is also studying to become a funeral director, said that he was working as a manager for one of the Kosher food emporiums in Lawrence and would often daydream about another career. Since he could not decide whether he wanted to be a mortician or a cop, he decided to do both. Now, he told a New York Post reporter, he'd rather save lives than deal with the dead.

The Daily News did a story last week about ten schools that parents should look at for their middle school children. One of the schools that came out high on the list was the Scholars' Academy in Rockaway. The article said, "Kids in District 27 need not flee to Mark Twain any longer. Scholars' Academy, which will eventually grow to grades 6-12, is racially diverse and filled with enthusiastic staff. Teachers often align their lesson plans along a unified theme, such as ancient Egypt. And students can work on documentaries in the school's revitalized television studio."

On August 8, 1933, 75 years ago this month, about 100 boys from the Pride of Judea program, a Jewish orphanage, came to an outing on the beach at Far Rockaway. Approximately 30 or 40 of the boys walked out onto a sandbar, holding hands as they went. The sand bar dipped and climbed, and the boys seemed to be having a great time, reports at the time said. At the edge of the sandbar, however was a 12-foot drop and none of the boys could swim. Arip tide hit the boys just as they got to the edge of the sandbar and ripped them into the deeper ocean, pulling them out to sea. Lifeguards and chaperones plunged into the water to save the boys, but seven of them died. We have not been able to find a beach drowning that took more victims than the 1933 event.

The Daily News is calling for an end to all member item money in the wake of the scandals that have wracked the City Council. The News editorial pointed to a $5,000 gift to an Elks Lodge on Long Island that was going to be used for a walk-in freezer for their hall. Of course, that is an improper use of public money. Think, however, of the money that goes to the little league for renovating the fields so that the kids have a safe place to play; the money that goes to the RMAC so that locals can enjoy summer concerts; the money that goes to schools for computers and supplies and the money that goes to the local theater company so that it can put on heavily-attended shows. Are any of those grants an inappropriate use of public money? We don't think so, and we urge the council to keep on funding the groups that increase the quality of life in Rockaway.

Brett Morgen is a filmmaker who is new to Rockaway. Married to the Eisenstadt family, Morgen has made a big splash with "The Kid Stays in the Picture," has made a new documentary entitled, "Drive and Deliver," about the hardships of those who pursue their fortunes in long-haul trucking. Gawk er.com, however, says that the documentary is bought and paid for by truck maker Navistar International. "The entire thing is a $5 million marketing scheme by the truck maker," the website argues. "While there's a rich history of companies sponsoring their own shows, and a rich history of product placement in movies, the idea of bankrolling an entire documentary starring your own company's product gives it twice the impact in a more subtle fashion. First, we got previews at the movies. Then, we got ads in the movies. Now, we have movies that are ads."

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