2008-08-29 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But … (Odds And Ends Edition)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Nobody asked me, but … 'Tis a puzzlement.

Ask the RMAC officials and other locals what they think about Lisa Eckert, the outgoing superintendent of the Breezy Point Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, and they will tell you stories of cancelled summer concerts and a dislike for the Rockaway community. Ask me about her, and I will tell you that she was often imperious and disingenuous when dealing with The Wave. Yet, more than 80 Breezy Point residents feted her with a cruise on August 7. According to the Pointer, the Breezy Point newsletter, a half-page photo unit ended with the words, "Thank you, National Park Service Superintendent Lisa Eckert. For a job well done."

… Brigitte Gabriel is a Muslim who has written a book entitled, "They Must Be Stopped," about radical Islam. She says that she is "bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people.

Moderate Muslims, at this point, are truly irrelevant. Because we refused to read the handwriting on the wall, we lost our country to Hezbollah and the radicals who are now controlling [Lebanon]."

In her book, she writes about Islamic day schools in America that prepare kids for Jihad. "Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures entitled, 'Preparation for Death,' and 'The Life in the Grave,' " she says.

… Speaking of Islam, Random House was set to publish a novel by Sherry Jones based on the life of Aisha, the child bride of Islam's prophet. The novel, entitled, "The Jewel of Medina," was all set to go until Denise Spellman, a professor of Islamic History at the University of Texas at Austin saw the proofs and told the publishers that the story "made fun of Muslims and their history" and told Random House that the publication of the book could set off widespread riots such as those in Europe over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed. The publishers caved, canceling the book "indefinitely." Such is what passes for freedom of speech in today's America.

… If you believe the reports of those who were there, it appears that State Senator Malcolm Smith, who represents Rockaway and is the Senate Minority Leader, came close to blackmailing a group of lobbyists last week. Since the Democrats are within one seat of gaining control of the Senate, it is a good possibility that Smith will become Majority Leader of the Senate after this November's elections. Speaking to the lobbyists, Smith reportedly said that he and the Democrats were like an IPO - an initial public offering of a stock, and that the lobbyists should get in early because it would cost them more to get in later on. "The whole thing was incredible," one long-time lobbyist said. "Malcolm just got up there and thanked everyone for coming and told them we should think of his fundraising event as being like an IPO." He added, "It was far more blatant a threat than anything we're used to hearing from our [political] leaders. It was inappropriate and offensive." I called Smith's office about the report, but I haven't heard back.

… Now that Chris (Mad Dog) Russo is gone from WFAN's Mike and the Mad Dog Show, having left for satellite radio, the show is going to be much duller and the pomposity level will grow by leaps and bounds. The show once made the news, but all of that news came from the pronouncements of Russo, who kept it lively and controversial. Mike Francesa, Russo's partner for nearly 20 years, certainly knows his sports, but he can be very pedantic and pompous, especially when faced with a caller who knows more than he does. In any case, local sports radio will never be quite the same. Whenever a big sports story broke, people often tuned to Mike and the Mad Dog to get their take on the story. That will no longer happen.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has been after the NYPD to provide information about the race of those shot by police officers. One statistician wrote to the New York Post to put that information in perspective. "To provide relevant data, the NYCLU must also release the race of the civilians who cops have confronted and not shot, plus a tally of the race of civilians that the cops protected," writes Elio Valenti, a college statistics professor. "The NYPD should also release a tally of the race of civilians who shoot other civilians and the race of their victims. Statistics will show that there is a direct relationship between the race of civilians shot by the cops and the race of civilians who do the shooting. I teach my statistics students to be aware of flawed and fragmented data used to support distorted views, and the NYCLU's request is a prime example."

… Had lunch with Congressman Anthony Weiner and several other representatives of Queens' weekly newspapers last week, and it was enlightening. Weiner, who is running actively for mayor in the 2009 election, has some downtime from his day job in the House of Representatives and is hot on the campaign trail with press conferences and emails galore.

The lunch, on your federal tax dime, was another of these press events. Weiner is carrying forward his campaign theme that the middle class has been disenfranchised in New York City, and he is right.

"The gilded age in Queens is over," he said. "Property values are down and taxes are up. This is a source for concern. We need middle class jobs and we need housing for middle class families.

Too often, our children cannot afford to live in the communities in which they were brought up." He admitted that the city is a "hostile regulatory environment" for both business and residents, and pledged to do something about it, should he become mayor.

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