2009-01-09 / Columnists


There were many Rockaway residents at the Orthodox Jewish Hanukkah Wonderland party at the former Baker's Hardware in Woodmere when an elderly man lost control of his car and crashed into the crowd, injuring a number of people, including seven children. Luckily, nobody died in the accident. The Town of Hempstead said that the gathering was illegal under the town's public assembly law, which limits the building to general retail sales and that a special permit was needed for a gathering of more than 13 people. The police say that more than 100 people were at the Hanukkah party given by the Chabad Center of the Five Towns. Police add that it is unlikely that anybody will be charged in the incident, and an announcement was made on Friday that no sanctions would be taken against the owners.

Lew Simon has officially entered the race to fill the seat vacated by City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. Addabbo has just been sworn in as the new State Senator for the mainland seat formerly held by Republican Serph Maltese. The Mayor has set February 24 as the date for the special election, and there are at least six candidates for the winner-take-all election. There will be no run-offs. Whoever gets the most votes the first time around wins. Political insiders say that there may be a total of 5,000 or 6,000 votes tallied and that the winner might well take only 30 percent, winning with a plurality but not a majority. The winner will have to do it all over again in November, when the regular election will again address City Council seats. The Wave will hold a candidate forum at the West End Temple, 147-02 Newport Avenue, on the evening of February 9, and we have invited all of the candidates who have so far indicated their interest in the seat to attend. We urge you to attend as well to hear what they have to say about the major issues facing our peninsula. The Mariner's Burying Ground in the Rockville Cemetery in Lynbrook hosts an obelisk that memorializes two shipwrecks that took place during the winter of 1836-1837. One of those was the wreck of the Bristol on November 21, 1836, an American ship that went down off the coast of Rockaway. The ship's 100 crewmembers and passengers all perished. Most of them were emigrants from Ireland and England who had sailed from Liverpool to reach New York City and were just short of the entry to the harbor when the ship went down in a storm. Only seven weeks later, another ship, the Mexico, went down off the coast of Long Island.

The Far Rockaway High School class of 1959 is planning a gala celebration for its 50th reunion on April 25. The reunion will take place at the Marriott Hotel near LaGuardia Airport. The event coordinators, Karen Klein Lutzker and Carole Waxman are hoping for a large turnout. Those interested can contact either of the two at kla1160@aol.com or carole- 414@verizon.net.

New Yorkers can now find out how healthy their neighborhood is by clicking on a new website and typing in their zip code. The site, hosted by the New York State Department of Health, lets users get a snapshot of the prevalence of 12 medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, neighborhood by neighborhood. The website can be found at www.nyhealth.gov.

There are lots of city employees living in Rockaway, and those who are nearing retirement may soon get a New Year's present from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. There are reports that the mayor has his aides studying a buyout plan in a effort to get rid of experienced, highly-paid workers. Reports say that city accountants have begun crunching the numbers to see if it can shed lots of salary in light of the growing fiscal crisis. City teachers, for example, got buyouts in 1991, 1995 and 1996, during the last fiscal crisis.

There has been a firestorm of opinion arising from the fact that the city's fire department put the skids on a new firehouse for the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. It was disingenuous for the FDNY to say that it adequately covers the island community, when its apparatus in Howard Beach and Rockaway, the nearest firehouses to Broad Channel, have to travel a few miles and over bridges to get to the community. We have covered Broad Channel for 20 years and have responded to many emergencies there and, in more than 90 percent of the events the volies are the first on scene. That goes for fires, medical emergencies and the numerous car accidents on Cross Bay Boulevard. We wonder why Senator (soon to be Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton and Representative Anthony Weiner (who will run for mayor against Bloomberg), who provided the money through federal sources, do not go to battle with the city over the issue. It is imperative that the under-protected community has its own first responders.

For a while, it was the battle of the titans, with all the little tots in Rockaway (and some adults as well) caught in the middle. Viacom, the corporate giant that owns such cable channels as Nickelodeon, MTV, Noggin, Spike and TV Land wanted more money to allow Time Warner Cable, another corporate giant, to run its programming. Time Warner resisted, and it looked as if kiddie fixtures such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Max and Ruby and the Wonder Pets may have been history. Now, if you don't have kids or grandchildren, you might not understand the significance of the threat to adults all over Rockaway who count on those top shows to keep the kids pacified, but it would have been a minor disaster. At the last minute, just before midnight on New Year's Eve, a deal was made and our kids woke up Friday morning without even understanding that they were on the brink of that disaster.

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