2008-11-07 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The front-page story about Donovan Richards, in last week's edition once again points out how foolish it is to provide information to an email that happens to pop up on your screen. Richards provided information to a site that looked official, but was a phishing expedition that allowed all of the people on his contact list to get spammed by a bogus email that stated he needed money because he was trapped in Africa. We hope that nobody sent money to the site, but we understand that some came close. Be careful, there are a lot of bad people on the World Wide Web.

Part of the city's plan to reorganize senior centers was to centralize them, to close all the small centers such as the Rockaway venues, sending seniors instead to one giant, multi-service center in each borough. That plan was bad enough, but under the fiscal restraints now faced by the city, it seems that the plan has morphed into one that would close local centers without opening the larger, centralized centers in some boroughs. That would mean, for example, that seniors now using the small centers in Rockaway might have to travel to central Brooklyn for service. That is not acceptable to us, nor to City Comptroller William Thompson, who asked this week for a city moratorium on any changes in the way senior citizens are serviced. We agree with Thompson that many seniors would not be able to travel long distances and would therefore forgo using the services to the detriment of their quality of life.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has shown some class by refusing to take advantage of the new term limits extension scam perpetrated by the mayor and the city council by declining to run for a third term even though she can now legally do so. "It would be very hard for me to benefit from something that I fundamentally disagree with," Gotbaum said. Who will run for her position? Some of those who have already proclaimed their interest are Councilman Eric Gioia; former NYCLU head Norman Siegel; Councilman John Liu and councilman Bill de Blasio.

The city's Department of Education (DOE) is looking for "Learning Leaders," parents and grandparents who help out during the school day in their children's schools. Volunteers are vetted and trained by the DOE and provide library, lunchroom and classroom services. Those interested in getting more information or in volunteering, should go onto the DOE's Learning Leaders website at hwhyte@learningleaders. org.

Despite the fact that City Councilman James Sanders Jr. had the unused firehouse on Beach 59 Street pegged for a training center, the city now says that it wants requests for proposal from community and cultural groups to renovate and use the 7,200- square-foot firehouse. The city says that the space could be used for classrooms, offices, exhibitions and performances. RFP's are due by January 8.

There is now an Imax theater near Rockaway. The facility is now part of the Sheepshead Bay Stadium 14 movie complex just over the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge in Brooklyn. The theater opened on October 24 and will begin showing "Madagascar 2: Escape From Africa" on November 7.

Break out the pooper-scoopers. The citywide fine for failing to clean up your dog's poop has more than doubled to $250. The fine has been $100 ever since the law was passed in 1978. Governor David Paterson signed the local law into existence in July, but deadbeat scoopers were given 90 days before the new fines were put into effect. The Sanitation Department, which issues the environmental summonses, issued 763 tickets for violation of the law last year, and Mayor Bloomberg has reportedly ordered an increase in this year's yield in order to balance the budget.

Everybody wonders about what to tip wait service in restaurants. The Foodist Website seeks to set us straight. The basic rules: unless the server is rude, condescending, and/or completely absent, tip between 18 and 20 percent; never tip on tax. Tip based on the subtotal, because if you're calculating your tip simply by doubling the tax, you're being cheap; Unless you drink large quantities of alcoholic beverages or like very expensive wines, it's best to include booze when calculating the tip. Bartenders get a one dollar tip per drink and it's no different with wait staff.

The first of three juries in the case against three Rockaway thugs charged with killing Police Officer Russel Timoshenko and wounding his partner, Police Officer Herman Yan as the two approached their stolen car in Brooklyn in July of last year. The three accused men, Dexter Bostic, Lee Woods and Robert Ellis, all Rockaway residents, are on trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Three full juries are necessary because the three each pointed fingers at another of the men as the shooter. Each admits that he was there, but argues that he was just the driver, and the others did the shooting. Nine women and three men will hear the evidence against Bostic. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are now picking Woods' jury and the jury that will hear the case against Ellis will be chosen shortly thereafter. The trial is expected to begin sometime next week.

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