2008-09-05 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Next Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Rockaway will once again commemorate the lives of those who died that day, at Tribute Park on Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive. There will be two ceremonies, the first in the morning at the exact time that the first plane hit the South Tower and the second, a flag-lowering event, at sunset. Plan to be there.

The Rockaway Music and Arts Council (RMAC) will hold its annual Fall Festival at Riis Park on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14. This event is traditionally one of the major events of the year, featuring fine arts, crafts, food, games, music and lots of activities for kids of all ages. Both the parking and entrance to the festival are free. Last year, the Rockaway Kite Festival was held on the boardwalk at Riis Park on the same day, but it was cancelled this year due to lack of funds and personnel.

A large home in Hewlett, in nearby Nassau County, has morphed into a Mosque, the first in the areas surrounding Rockaway. The house, at the corner of Peninsula Boulevard and Hewlett Avenue, has caused some consternation among the town's population, which has a large segment of Orthodox Jews. The opposition so far has been to allowing street parking around the mosque, something that is not allowed in the general area.

Congressman Anthony Weiner knows how to play the game. You want to be mayor, you've got to play to all of your constituents. The Jewish Press made a big deal and a front page story about a meeting between Weiner, who wants to be mayor of New York, and Rabbi Meir Porush, who wants to be mayor of Jerusalem. They met in Tavern on the Green in Manhattan in mid- August. According to the story, the two politicians discussed issues of interest to both men and then each invited the other to visit when they take over their respective governments.

When State Senate Minority Leader (soon to be Majority Leader) Malcolm Smith, in an attempt to spin his speech to lobbyists, in which he likened the Democrats to an initial public offering of which they should take advantage quickly by throwing money at what might well become the majority party, he said that he was only joking. He told reporters that they were at a golf tournament and the rain had forced them inside. "You have to entertain them." Smith said. If it was a joke, it certainly was in poor taste. By the way, the Senate Republicans have called for a criminal probe of what Smith told the lobbyists, saying that his comments were meant as a threat to those who fail to contribute to Democratic campaigns. "I think it borders on criminality," the Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos said. "You cannot threaten people to give you contributions. That's thuggery." Way to go, Malcolm. By the way, Smith represents all of Rockaway in the State Senate.

City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. not only forgot to represent Rockaway in the council hearings on upzoning Beach 116 Street, he forgot to renew his registration as an attorney. According to published reports, Addabbo, who failed to attend a critical council committee meeting on the upzoning because he was holding a Manhattan fundraiser in his race against State Senator Serph Maltese, didn't renew his state registration when it lapsed in May of 2007. Addabbo says that he forgot and was never sent a renewal notice, something the state says is not true. In any case, Addabbo said that he no longer practices as an attorney, so that it's no big deal.

Speaking of Addabbo, who has not represented Rockaway well over the past two years, and who has now abandoned the peninsula completely in his run for a mainland State Senate seat, he has decided that the MTA is wrong to increase fares. We wonder where he was when Rockaway needed him to address the fact that we have some of the worst transportation facilities in the city. Addabbo told his would-be constituents on the mainland that he is starting a website at www.fightthehike. com to let the city know what people think of the fare hikes. Strange, but he never told The Wave about the new site, and the information appeared in the mainland papers and in the Queens section of the Daily News. Hey, Joe, we're still here and this is still your day job.

Speaking of spin, the mayor and his minions are the past presidents of the spin club. You can see it all the time when the city is presenting educational statistics, but now they're spinning the homeless problem as well. The mayor promised in 2004 that he'd reduce the homeless population by two-thirds in five years. That's next year, folks. A recent report from the city's Independent Budget Office, however, found only slight improvements over the past four years. What's happening is that the city is turning down teens and other homeless from shelters and then failing to count them as homeless. Families that turn up at homeless shelters after 5 p.m. are similarly turned away and then treated in the statistics as if they don't exist. It's a little like praising a graduation rate after you've dumbed down the tests and lowered the passing grade.

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