2009-08-14 / Editorial/Opinion

Post, Parks Team Up To Sandbag Lifeguard

Like most newspapers, the New York Post is always looking for a good story. It became the story, however, on August 2, a stormy Sunday, by sneaking up behind a Rockaway lifeguard on Beach 108 Street and photographing him wearing earphones, a violation of Parks Department rules. We agree, of course, that rules should be followed, and had people been in the water, or even sitting on the sand, we might agree that what the lifeguard was doing was wrong. Under the conditions, however, we believe that the paper sandbagged the young man simply to smirk at the city agency and at lifeguards in general. Mayor Mike Bloomberg chimed in immediately, without knowing the facts, by demanding that the young man be fired. Parks immediately suspended him and talked about "formal charges." Everybody should take a step back. Formal action taken against the still-unidentified lifeguard could follow him for life, keep him from getting a civil service job or even from earning a state license in a professional field - all for listening to music on a day when nobody would need his services. Sure, he broke the rules, but those who know him tell us that he has made dozens of good, dangerous rescues over the past nine years. Shouldn't there be some rational balance involved in his case? A short suspension without pay, followed by reinstatement should do.

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