2009-10-16 / Columnists

Beachcomber

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. who has one of the worst attendance records in the council over the past four years, did not even show up for a press conference announcing that he allocated money for gun cameras at Carleton Manor on Beach 72 Street. His excuse this time? A bill signing at City Hall. Sanders seems to believe that he is Teflon and nothing he does to aggravate his constituents will stick. Just a few weeks ago, he set up a meeting at City Hall with the Rockaway Beach and Bungalow Association and then blew them off. By the way, NYCHA head John Rhea, who was supposed to show for the press conference as well, never showed up and later sent word that the conference was "not on his schedule." He probably found out that Sanders wasn't going to show, so blew it off as well. It's amazing how badly Rockaway is sometimes treated.

While the Board of Elections won't say how many people in Rockaway voted in the run-off election held on Tuesday, September 29, it is clear from reports that the turnout was as low here as it was in most parts of the city. At one election district in Belle Harbor, a voter who went to the polls at 8:35 p.m., about 20 minutes before the polls closed, was voter number 16 at that district. In three city districts, not one voter showed up to cast a ballot. The turnout makes the case for doing away with runoff elections for city offices, now required when no candidate gets at least 40 percent of the vote.

As of last week, people who want to fish off Rockaway's beaches and jetties need a license. Recreational salt water anglers age 16 and over must pay the annual fee of $10, but they can also get a lifetime license for $150. The only exception to the licensing requirement is on party boats, where the captain of the boat pays the fee for everybody. For more information, log onto www.dec. ny.gov.

Those fans who mourn the loss of the Brooklyn Aces, an exciting team that played professional hockey at Aviator Sports at Floyd Bennett Field last season, take heart. A new team, called the Brooklyn Aviators (AKA Brooklyn A's), will soon start its season at the same venue. The team, coached by Rob Miller (who was an Aces player and assistant coach), held an open tryout at Aviator last Sunday and drew a crowd. Word is that fan favorites CJ Tuzzo and Tony Resendes have signed elsewhere, but that star Jesse Felton will be back in Brooklyn for the season. The team is scheduled to play its first New England Professional Hockey League (NEPHL) home game on November 6 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday games will be at 2:05 p.m., so you can take the kids. The league website is now up and running at www.nep hl.com.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent, at last count, a mere $64,756,118 to win reelection to a third term. Since it's all his own money, I guess the electorate should not complain, but many are complaining that they are tired of his incessant television ads, many of which, they believe, are nothing but hyperbole. That amount is about 16 times what his chief rival, City Comptroller William Thompson, has spent. Still, Bloomberg can't seem to shake Thompson in the polls. The most recent polls show that nearly half of the voters like Bloomberg, but won't vote for him again because of his ads and because of the term limits fiasco, in which Bloomberg bribed City Council members to vote his way by promising them to take care of pet projects in their districts. James Sanders Jr. was promised a trade school for Rockaway and he voted to extend term limits. Have you heard about our new trade school? It's not likely that you ever will.

More than a year ago, State Senator Malcolm Smith and a number of other politicians, including City Councilman James Sanders Jr., announced a bold new plan to fight gun violence in the black community - Operation SNUG. You probably read about it in The Wave. Now, Smith is finally funding the program by giving $500,000 to a group of ex-gangbangers, the King of Kings. The group promises to steer at risk locals away from the culture of gangs and illegal guns. The money is being awarded in honor of a St. Albans youth who was killed recently, and the program will run not in Rockaway, but on the mainland. Smith and Sanders seem to have forgotten their Rockaway roots and the fact that we have a small problem with guns and gang violence in Rockaway as well.

Political dirty tricks are always disconcerting, because they cheapen an issue-based campaign. The flyer announcing that Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich was planning to take funds away from the Rockaway commuter ferry is a local example of the lengths to which some hack politicians will go in order to discredit opponents. The Democratic hack who perpetrated this one probably thought that he was being pretty slick, when in fact, he was pretty dumb. Do we know anybody who fits that mold? It took about fifteen minutes to find out that the flyer was a lie and that the woman who was giving the flyers out had ties to one of our Democratic district leaders.

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