2008-11-14 / Columnists


Mayor Mike Bloomberg has found an even more insidious way of getting your hard-earned money. His administration is working on a plan to charge customers a nickel for every plastic bag they use to pack up in any store - from supermarkets to bodegas - beginning next year. Better not double-bag, or it will cost you a dime. Bloomberg says that the plan will both conserve resources and fill the city's coffers. It certainly will, and just draw muchneeded money away from consumers, money that will be sorely needed for food, gasoline and home heating costs. What will he come up with next? Give the mayor a third term, and you will find out.

In our article "Meeks: Buonocore Gone; Postal Services Improving" in the October 24 issue of The Wave we identified Mike Williams, the new customer relations coordinator at the Far Rockaway post office as the consumer affairs representative. We also said Katherine Cassidy was the new marketing manager and Williams' assistant. Cassidy is, in fact, the customer relations manager for the Triboro District. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

There were a number of complaints about problems at the polling places in Rockaway on Election Day but, by-andlarge, there was nothing that couldn't be fixed within a half-hour or so. There was one complaint about Democratic District Leader Lew Simon expelling a local who was a poll reporter for the Associated Press and then giving orders to poll watchers not to allow him back in the room although the police had vetted his credentials with the Board of Elections. Then, there was Republican Assembly candidate Gerry Sullivan, who walked into the polling place at PS 225 and started to introduce himself to voters, something that is strictly out of line. Some who where there said that he had lots of campaign literature pouring from his jacket pocket, another breach of election laws. And, those who were present say, he began to hand out cookies to stunned poll workers who had to know that he was in violation of the law. We wonder why poll workers didn't invite him to leave. As a Breezy Point resident, he had no reason to be inside the polling place in the first place.

The Department of Education's vaunted program that would provide enough seats for all the city's schoolchildren during this decade has gone out the window with the current economic recession. The DOE issued a new, revised plan this week, and it calls for a fifty percent slash in the construction budget over the next five years. That decision will harm Rockaway in a very real way, as new residents with children continue to pour into the homes and condominiums that are being completed this year and next. In fact, while the DOE refused to discuss specifics, insiders say that no new Rockaway construction is now planned.

We were conflicted by City Councilman Joseph Addabbo's race for the state Senate in a mainland district. We were hoping that he would win, if only for the fact that we didn't have to worry anymore about his representation of Rockaway, which has been nonexistent the past two years. On the other hand, we worried that Addabbo would then do the same thing to the people in his new Senate district that he did to us, because we believe that he has bigger game in mind - the House of Representatives, where his father once served. We figure that one scenario would have Congressman Anthony Weiner winning the mayoral race in 2009 and Addabbo, who will begin his Senate service in January, moving right up to take Weiner's seat.

Addabbo's state Senate win sets up some exciting possibilities for Rockaway, because the City Charter requires that the mayor call a special election within 30 days of the vacancy date. Addabbo will be sworn in as a senator on January 1, so the office becomes vacant on that day. The election will, therefore, probably be held some time in February. By law, the election is non-partisan, which means there are no party affiliations on the ballot. Anybody who wants to run must gather the requisite number of petition signatures and submit them to the Board of Elections by a date certain, which has not yet been set, and probably will not be set until after Addabbo is sworn in and the mayor declares the vacancy. Who will run for Addabbo's seat? We can expect the usual suspects, such as Lew Simon (who, we understand, is chomping at the bit) and Geraldine Chapey, the younger, who recently turned down a big-ticket job with the state. Of course, the party choice will be Frank Gulluscio, Addabbo's ex-aide, who is earmarked to follow him into office. And, the Republicans will put up Eric Ulrich, a mainlander who has coveted the slot for some time. We understand, however, that there are some newcomers, who might make attractive candidates, trying to decide if this is the right time to run. It is. Rockaway needs some real representation after seven years of Joe Addabbo, and we would rather see a local resident in the spot than a mainlander.

This past summer, Gateway National Recreation Area approved the construction of the Gateway Bike and Bathhouse at Riis Landing in Breezy Point. That will give Rockaway residents a place to store and launch their canoes, kayaks, rowing shells and small boats into Jamaica Bay, according to the locals who are involved in the project. Those locals have planned a fundraiser on Saturday, November 22 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the home of two locals, Nancy and Bill Hanson, located at 138 Beach 133 Street. Those who are interested in further information should contact 718-634-1144 or log on to the group's website: www.gatewayboathouse. org.

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank by market value, said last week that none of its customers would face foreclosure for the next 90 days while the bank works with lenders to find a way they can modify their mortgages in such a way that they could be handled without the customers losing their homes. The massive bank plans to open 24 regional counseling centers and hire 300 additional mortgage counselors to work with homeowners who are close to default. Sounds like an idea that all of the local banks should follow.

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