2009-06-26 / Columnists


It is certainly good news that the Rockaway Music and Arts Council will once again run a Summer Sunset Picnic Concert Series at Riis Park this summer, albeit a shorter season than in the past. The first concert at Riis Park will feature the music and drama of the Rockaway Theatre Company's production of "Oklahoma," as well as presenting other old musical favorites. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 12.

This warning cannot be given too often. Do not go into the ocean when the lifeguards are not on duty. The urgency of that warning was seen once again two weeks ago when a man and a woman swimming in Reynold's Channel in Far Rockaway early in the morning were pulled out to sea. The woman remains in critical condition while the man's body was recovered two days later. Do not go in the water when the lifeguards are not on duty. The life you save may be your own.

Longtime Rockaway resident Neil McNelis Sr. is appearing in "Self- Portrait," at the Jewel Box Theater on West 36 Street in Manhattan. The presentation will run from July 16 through August 1. A retired post office worker, Mc- Neilis went back to his original love - acting. He has worked in a number of movie productions and got rave reviews for his performance in "12 Angry Men."

The shooting of a Breezy Point man on Beach 129 Street and Newport Avenue on June 14 touched off a wave of rumors that came close to causing other problems for the community. The word spread quickly that the shooter was part of a Hispanic gang that had come to Rockaway targeting Irish men for murder as part of a gang initiation. The rumor got traction, and all Hispanic men, including those who live in the Belle Harbor community, were looked at askance. Another story said that the shooter and the victim had a fight in a local bar and that fight carried over into the street, leading to the shooting. That, too, was false. We hope that our story put an end to some of the more virulent rumors.

The telephone pole on the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 90 Street was leaning to the left for several weeks, threatening to fall down at any time. Several people called the 311 citywide number and received no satisfaction. Callers to that number were told to call 911 instead. After each call to 911, either a fire apparatus or a LIPA truck came and inspected the pole and then left, doing nothing. On Thursday, June 18, two fire engines began to place yellow tape around the pole. After a minute or so, the pole fell over, knocking out the electrical service along Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 84 Street to Beach 95 Street. It took more than eight hours to restore the power. We have to wonder why authorities waited for the pole to fall over before something was done, especially since there were several weeks of warning that the pole was about to fall.

The strange results of a recent poll will not be comforting for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Despite generally broad approval for the job that he has done for the past eight years, a majority of New York City residents say that he does not deserve another term. Sixty percent of poll respondents said that the mayor was doing a good job, while 34 percent disapprove. On the other hand, 40 percent of the same respondents say he deserves reelection, while 56 percent say that it is time for a new person in City Hall. Perhaps many remain angered that the mayor bought a sufficient number of city council members by promising them pet projects for their district so that they would vote for an extension of term limits.

There are many who say that the position of borough president is mostly ceremonial and very expensive. They believe that the position should be done away with completely, especially in a city with fiscal problems. That does not stop people from coveting the position. Until the City Council extended the term limits for another three years, our own Audrey Pheffer was slated to move into the Queens borough president slot, but the Bloomberg express brought Helen Marshall aboard for another three years. This time, however, she has a challenger. Mark Levitt, a Sunnyside attorney will challenge Marshall in a Democratic primary in September. Pheffer says she will not run as long as Marshall wants the job.

There is a new sting in town. A person calls you and says that he or she is a "jury coordinator." The caller says that you missed answering your jury summons and may be arrested. When you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the caller asks for your social security number and date of birth in order to verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Once you do that, your identity is as good as gone.

The Daily News recently did a fullpage spread on the New York City restaurants frequented by what is left of the Italian Mafia (as opposed to the Russian Mafia and the Dominican Mafia). A number of those restaurants are frequented by Rockaway locals as well. For example, Russo's On the Bay in Howard Beach "is a reputed Gambino associate hangout where the family takes $1 for every patron who walks into the catering hall. Another is Don Peppe on Lefferts Boulevard, where the Genovese Family holds sway.

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