2008-10-24 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Many Rockaway residents are angered at Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his failure to supply the $6 million that would have made our local YMCA on Beach 73 Street a state-of-the-art facility with a six-lane swimming pool and an enclosed gymnasium. For the city, the money would have been chump change. The same day that the ad-hoc committee was told that the money was not forthcoming and that Arverne By The Sea was going ahead with a four-lane pool and an outdoor basketball court, the city paid $11 million for one sandy acre of land in Coney Island in an attempt to force bidders on another parcel of land to deal with the city as well. If the city can dump that much money on a gamble that developers will then do the mayor's bidding, why not half that for a sure thing in Rockaway? Locals say that they will fight the mayor's plan to grab four more years from the voters by changing the term limit law because he is not responsive to Rockaway's needs.

The Daily News blasted City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. last week for coming out against the back-door attack on term limits. Addabbo, who is running for a mainland State Senate seat, was one of the 19 council members who told the paper that they oppose the mayor's plan to change the rules without going back to the voters. Once again, the daily paper has it wrong. The great majority of voters we have spoken to on the issue, many of whom like Bloomberg as mayor, are opposed to the plan to change the term limits without going back to the people.

There is a new website dedicated to Far Rockaway High School graduates, an auspicious move now that the school's name has become history, morphed into the Far Rockaway Educational Campus that houses four separate schools. The site can be found at www.myfarrockawayhighschool.com. The site was launched this week by Paul Lieberman, class of 1981, and everybody who graduated from The Rock should take a look. Don't forget, however, that there is also a site that has been serving FRHS grads for a decade at www. farrockaway.com.

You have to love a Supreme Court justice with a sense of humor who reads pulp crime fiction. Justice John Roberts, in a dissent from a decision to not take up an interesting criminal case, described the crime scene in words that would have made John. D. McDonald or Robert Parker proud. The case involved the question of whether the hand-to-hand passing of an object in a crime-ridden area gives police officers probable cause to make an arrest. Roberts put his thoughts this way: "The neighborhood? Tough as a three-dollar steak. Devlin knew this guy wasn't buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough; three bags of crack in the guy's pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office." Roberts added that there was no explanation for what was going on there on the street that was "as remotely possible as the drug transaction that Devlin believed he had witnessed." The majority ruled, however, that witnessing a hand-to-hand pass of an unseen object does not give the police cause for a search or an arrest.

Rockaway residents may soon have access to a state-of-the-art gambling facility without driving to Atlantic City or Connecticut. Governor David Paterson has approved the development of a 333.000 square-foot "Racino" at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park that would house 4,500 video slot machines, restaurants and an entertainment venue. The developers say that food will be a main draw, with a buffet that will seat 600 people, several bars, a large food court, a steakhouse as well as an Asian and an Italian restaurant. We wonder whether the facility will host a Weight Watchers meeting as well.

Residents in Hunts Point are suing the city over a horrid smell coming from the local wastewater treatment plan. Locals in the Bronx say that the smell makes them sick and reduces the value of their homes. Sound familiar? A group got together and funded the suit, which is being brought by 10 residents. Perhaps somebody in Rockaway should get a group together and begin a similar lawsuit in Rockaway.

Bill Hammond, writing in his Daily News column last week, set up what might well be a nightmare scenario of everybody who lives in New York State, and it has nothing to do with the recent economic meltdown, but with the State Senate. That scenario posits that the Democrats and Republicans split the 62 Senatorial seats down the middle; 31 seats each. Ordinarily, that would allow the lieutenant governor to cast the deciding vote, but we don't have a lieutenant governor. He became the governor when our last governor decided that it was more important to have sex than it was to govern. Right now, the Republicans, who have a two-seat majority, say that they have the right to break a tie by deciding on who shall be the acting lieutenant governor, a Senator to be designated by the the Republican Senate Majority Leader, but if the seats are split, there is no majority and no minority, and all bets are off. If you think that nothing is getting done now in what has been described as the most dysfunctional state legislature, take a long look at the possibilities of chaos that exists if the Senate seats are split down the middle.

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