2009-02-27 / Columnists


Thirty years ago this month, in February of 1979, our state legislators, Assemblywoman Gerdi Lipshcutz and State Senator Jeremy Weinstein, voted against setting a curfew on Rockaway's beaches. The proposal was to close the beaches from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. Weinstein said that he voted no to the proposal because "it would move the kids from the beach to the streets of Rockaway, and it is much easier for the police to watch them on the beach." The beach curfew today begins at 9 p.m. and runs until 6 a.m. the following morning.

Now that the special election to fill the City Council seat vacated by Joseph Addabbo Jr. is on the books, all of the candidates will have to take a look at what they want to do for the general election in November, when the seat will again be contested. While being elected in a special election to fill a seat usually gives the winning candidate a leg up on the next general election that might not be true this time, because there is such a short time span until November. Frank Gulluscio, who was tossed off the ballot, for example, has already indicated that he will run.

Many locals with ties to the peninsula's two hospitals are angered at our state legislators who don't seem to want to become involved in speaking out against the massive cuts planned by Governor David Paterson. Malcolm Smith, our State Senator who recently became the Senate Majority Leader, is a particular target. With his new-found power as one of the three most powerful people in the state, he should be out front in the fight to keep our healthcare facilities intact. So far, however, he has remained silent. As far as we know, neither of our Assemblywomen, Audrey Pheffer or Michelle Titus, has issued a statement on the cuts to date. We wonder what they are waiting for.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg won his battle to allow himself and his City Council allies a third term, he apparently believed that any of the major parties would be more than glad to have him as its candidate. It turns out that he is wrong. The Republicans turned him down, and so did the Democrats. The Independence Party didn't want anything to do with him or his candidacy. Now, he has turned to the liberal "Working Families Party" in an attempt to co-opt that party's line in the November election. While the party's director said that Bloomberg can apply to become its candidate, it would be "a long shot" for him to actually get the party's line. Poor Bloomberg might have to set up a new party of his own in order to get on the ballot.

When the Ambrose Light was off Rockaway's shores, it was struck a number of times by ships that apparently could not see it in the fog. We wonder what that means for the proposed LNG terminal that would be built on a large island in the same general vicinity. So, we have all this gas sitting in holding tanks, waiting to be piped to the mainland, and a large ship hits the island. What happens? Perhaps the Coast Guard will figure it all out prior to approving the plan.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has announced a new way for the city to make some money. The city will soon start selling Internet domain names ending with the extension ".nyc." With the city's blessing, a private group will sell the domain name for about $10 to residents, corporations and businesses who want to show that they have a connection to the "Big Apple." Quinn believes that the plan will generate millions of dollars each year for the city. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (ICANN) has to approve the plan, which could be online as soon as mid- 2010.

If you want to find out how the cuts proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will impact your commute, we have a website for you. City Comptroller William Thompson, who is running for mayor, wants residents to access his Website at www.comptroller.nyc.gov and then input their own zip code to find out how their neighborhood will be impacted by the cuts. A recent court decision upheld the city's position that landlords can't evict tenants already living in their apartments if those tenants begin receiving Section 8 vouchers. Landlord groups had argued that landlords had the right to evict tenants who then began to get the housing help. "The ruling is a victory in the effort to protect an individual's right to housing, regardless of their financial situation," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who had pushed a law through the council two years ago to outlaw the practice of evicting tenants who receive the public subsidy.

The city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) has made a number of recommendations on how the city can save some money, and those recommendations would have a large impact on Rockaway residents, particularly those who work for the city or are retired from city jobs. The first is for a four-day workweek for city workers beginning after the summer. The next is to defer health insurance for new city workers until he or she has worked for three months. Then, the IBO recommends reducing the Medicare Part B reimbursements for city retirees from 100 percent to 50 percent. The IBO says that the city will save $93 million in the Medicare cut alone. No word from the IBO on how many retirees would die because they could no longer afford healthcare.

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