2009-01-02 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Sometimes, The Diamond; Sometimes, The Coal
Commentary By Howard Schwach

An entire coalmine to City Councilman James Sanders Jr., for voting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the term limits issue, thereby showing complete disregard for the two previous votes by his constituents. May he never be reelected.

A large bag of diamonds to our first responders - the cops, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who serve and protect, including those volunteer first responders who toil for little more than emotional gratification.

Diamonds as well to all of the volunteers who work with our young people, both boys and girls, in sports, in youth organizations as well as in other endeavors.

A large ton of coal for Joel Klein, our city Schools Chancellor, who has turned an educational system into a testing and measurement system where little education on the part of the teachers is allowed or valued.

Two trainloads of coal to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. One for his handling of the term limits controversy and the other for refusing to attend the Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade for the first time in years, just because some locals were angry at him over the issue of a larger pool for the YMCA. A mixed bag of diamonds and coal to the operators of the Rockaway ferry service. It was great to get it started this year, but the service really needs a second boat and both boats should be high-speed catamarans rather than an old and tired fishing boat.

Diamonds to all the new residents of the Rockaways, the 30,000 that have come here to live since 2000. We welcome you to our little hidden jewel of a peninsula.

Lots and lots of coal to City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who, by the time you read this, will be a State Senator. Addabbo did not leave us this week, however. He left us two years ago when he walked away from the chair of the council's Parks Committee and never looked back. We have been operating largely without a councilman since that time.

Diamonds to attorney Tom Hoffman, private detective Ed "Blackcloud" Hensen and former FBI agent Joe O'Brien, who believe that Kareem Bellamy was not guilty of the murder for which he was convicted fourteen years ago. They have worked tirelessly to free him, despite the roadblocks thrown in their way by Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal and a myriad of what seem to be local bad actors and liars. A bag of coal to the former board of directors at Dayton Beach Park, who ran the cooperative into a large debt by not paying the corporation's water bills for years. The cooperators are now paying for their mistake with much heavier carrying charges.

A million or so bags of coal to Geraldine Chapey, the younger, whose non-profit corporation took more than $1 million in city contracts and another unspecified large sum in member item money from other politicians to run her single van senior transportation service, and for charging some seniors for the service on top of that. And, to add to the shame, she now wants to run for City Council.

Coal as well to Lew Simon for being Lew Simon and for coveting once again an elected office. Lew has not told the truth in 20 years, and he continues unabated today, telling people that the UFT has endorsed his candidacy when, in fact, it has not.

Diamonds to all the wounded warriors and those in Rockaway who support them each year.

Diamonds as well to all of the men and women who protect us on the frontiers of freedom. They are indeed heroes.

Coal to all of those who believe that using a knife or a gun to settle a grievance is the true man's way. Too many young, black people have died in Rockaway this year and we truly hope that the number will decrease to zero next year.

Diamonds to the Graybeards, who typify the name "volunteers." Their family run has quickly become the premier event in Rockaway each year.

More coal than you can load to the Department of Transportation for its ridiculous shared bike lanes that make no sense at all and that will one day lead to the death of some poor teen who believed that he or she was safe riding a bike in those lanes.

Coal as well to Arverne By The Sea for failing in its promise to begin construction on the promised YMCA and the Super Stop and Shop supermarket. We get excuses after excuses, but it is time for that partnership to get a shovel in the ground.

Coal for the three Rockaway thugs who were involved in the murder of Police Officer Russel Timoshenko and the wounding of Police Officer Herman Yan. They deserved far worse than they got.

Diamonds to the Beach Channel High School football team, a team that pulled off the biggest upset of the decade earlier this year.

Coal to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for failing to recognize the stupidity of a toll on a bridge between two communities in the same zip code. The rebate must be retained.

A bag of diamonds for Judge Phyllis Orlikoff Flug, who ruled that the Broad Channel land om Cros Bay Boulevard so badly needed by the community's youth should go to The athletic club rather than to the American Legion for a parking lot and ramp.

And, finally, coal to Congressman Gregory Meeks, the world traveler, for being at a fundraiser in Las Vegas while his committee colleagues in the House of Representatives were busy debating the automobile bail out.

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