2009-01-02 / Columnists


As we move into 2009, The Wave's 116th year, we want to wish all of our readers and advertisers a happy and health New Year.

With the new year, Wave managing editor Howard Schwach has changed the name of his weekly column to "The Rockaway Beat," in order to further differentiate his commentary from The Wave's editorial, which can be found on page four of the paper each week. We'd like to remind everybody that the opinions found in his column are his alone and do not represent the opinions of the newspaper.

The year-end homicide rates for Rockaway police precincts are troubling, but mirror what is going on in the rest of the city. In 2007, there were 496 homicides in the city, way down from 1990, when there were 2,245. In 2008, there were 501 homicides, a small uptick, and statistically not very meaningful, but troubling nevertheless, because the rate has fallen each year since that 1990 high, except for 2007. In the 100 Precinct, homicides jumped from one in 2007 to five this year. The 101 Precinct saw a big rise, to ten in 2008 from four in 2007. The number of homicides in the 101 Precinct are particularly troubling because the number represents a lot of innocent victims. In past years, most of the homicides involved criminals on both sides of the gun. Last year, however, a number of innocent young people were killed. We can only wonder if the trend will continue in 2009, with fewer cops on the street and an increase of economy-driven crimes. We can only wait and hope for a less violent year.

A new report says that older Americans are taking too many pills, both prescription and over-the-counter, and that it may well be a dangerous practice. That finding does not bode well for Rockaway's growing senior citizen population. The report says that more than half of Americans between the ages of 57 and 85 are using five or more prescription or non-prescription drugs and that one-quarter are taking them in combinations that could cause dangerous drug reactions. "While prescriptions are often beneficial, they are not always safe," the report says. Anybody taking more than five prescription drugs that have been prescribed by different health providers is urged to have the drug interactions checked by a doctor or pharmacist.

While Geraldine Chapey, the younger, has not yet officially thrown her hat in the ring for the City Council seat that was vacated by Joe Addabbo this week when he was sworn in as a State Senator, she showed up at an interview for candidates hosted by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). A number of other candidates showed up as well, seeking the endorsement of the powerful union. Frank Gulluscio was there, and so was Lew Simon. We heard later on that Simon told a Rockaway meeting that the union had endorsed his candidacy, so we checked and it turns out that the UFT has not endorsed any candidate and may well not endorse anybody in the special election that will be held sometime next month. The election is expected to be a free-for-all, with about 5,000 votes being cast. The Wave plans to host a candidates' forum somewhere in Rockaway before the election.

Speaking of seniors, Rockaway residents who use the local senior centers can breathe a sigh of relief because the mayor has decided to put a hold on his plan to reorganize the centers and close many of the older centers citywide. In a victory for the City Council, which was fighting the changes, the city has killed the $20 million in financing it would have taken to make the change. Senior centers would have morphed into "wellness centers," whatever that means. Certainly, the change was meaningful to the mayor, who has been pushing hard for the plan for the past two years.

The American Legion's Daniel M. O'Connell Post 272 and its Ladies Auxiliary have been busy this holiday season, reaching out to veterans, children and youth, as well as to those local servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The organization recently hosted two holiday parties for the veterans. One was at the St. Albans hospital. The other, a tree-trimming party hosted by the women's auxiliary, took place at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The Post also purchased large quantities of toys that were given to needy kids throughout the peninsula.

It was a typical Mayor Bloomberg moment. Shortly after the City Council passed his seven percent property tax hike, he blasted the 18 councilmembers who voted against the plan, calling them "gutless" and arguing that they should not be returned to the council for voting the way they did. The mayor's message once again is "my way or the highway." The last thing the city needs in this time of turmoil is a mayor who is convinced that only he can lead, that he always knows best, and that anybody who crosses him should be instantly deleted.

The columnist who writes our "Health and Harmony" column, Dr. Nancy Gahles, can now be heard on computer radio. She was recently a guest on the "Inner Health Through Homeopathy" radio program, which can be found at www.homeopathyradio. com. Her show was called "Ode to the Winter Season: Homeopathy for Flu, Colds and Cough." We wish Gahles well in her new endeavor. She is the president of the National Center for Homeopathy.

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