2009-11-13 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Some Trenchant Comments On The Passing Scene
Commentary By Howard Schwach

I love New Yorkers.

Nearly a majority (47 percent) of the city's voters apparently believe that Mayor Mike Bloomberg does not deserve a third term despite the fact that he spent more than $100 million on his campaign - an obscene amount of money no matter how you count it.

Figure that as $20 million for each point by which he won.

He bought the election, pure and simple, spending eighteen times more than his challenger.

Now that he has won, but no long er has a mandate, I wonder what the city has in store — outlawing hot dogs? Banning smoking on the beach? Millions of trees instead of school personnel? A high-line park that cost $50 million, but not a cent for Rockaway's YMCA?

Schools that do not actually educate? Shared bike lanes that lead to disaster? What a wonderful mayor he has been.

The new movie, "2012," posits a disaster that may well end the world during that year, and many well-known landmarks are destroyed by director Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "Godzilla").

A number of those landmarks are religious sites - St. Pet er's Basilica in the Vatican and Christ the Redeemer Church in Rio are only two. One that does not get destroyed is the Kabba, the Muslim shrine in the center of Mecca.

Why not?

"You can blow up all the Christian symbols you want," he said. "If you do anything to a Moslem symbol, however, they'll put out a Fatwa on you and you know what that means.

I'm not going to put myself in danger for making a movie."

The Brooklyn Diocese should lose its tax exempt status and be made to pay taxes on all of its properties in New York City because once again it failed to play by the rules. Those rules say you don't have to pay taxes like everybody else, but in return you have to refrain from political activity. Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio did not. Robocalls with his voice went out to Catholic voters in Brooklyn, urging them to vote for Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic boss, whose handpicked candidate was in a tough City Council race. Di Marzio said that Lopez is a big supporter of the church and helped it in many ways. One of those ways was defeating a bill that would have allowed adults to file suits over childhood sexual abuse that happened long before the statute of limitations expired. A spokesperson for Di Marzio said that he did it to help Lopez, who had taken great grief for helping us."

I know the election is over and Bloom berg has won a third term, albeit by a much smaller margin than expected, but I can't resist taking another look at how he bribed all those people to endorse him.

First, we have the Jewish leaders who met with Bloomberg in a private meeting in October. Bloomberg told the meeting that he was going to restore $8 million in day care vouchers that the administration had pulled just two months before.

Those vouchers are especially useful to large Orthodox Jewish families. A week later, the group endorsed his reelection. By the way, he was playing with your money, not his. Then, we have the case of the Reverend Calvin Butts, the pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Manhattan. Butts was one of William Thompson's good friends and political allies. Butts endorsed Bloomberg, saying, "What could I say to a man who was mayor and was supportive of a lot of programs that are important to me?"

Just weeks earlier, Bloomberg had given a $1 million donation (his own money this time) to the church's development corporation - roughly ten percent of its budget - with more to come. His church and the Allen AME Church in Jamaica (run by Floyd Flake, who also endorsed Bloomberg rather than his friend Thompson) also received millions in contracts to provide city services as well as zoning concessions that allowed them to bypass city regulations.

More than 1,700 mentally ill residents live in adult homes on the Rockaway peninsula. A recent federal court decision said that the homes were "even more restrictive" than the psychiatric institutions that were closed down many years ago.

The judge's ruling said that the adult homes must either be made less restrictive or the residents must be moved into homes and apartments in the community. Personally, I think that would be a major mistake.

I care more for the rights of the community than I do for the rights of the mentally ill, but that's just the way I am.

I be lieve that the public school system began its fall from grace on the part of white, middle-class fam ilies on the day that Public Law 94-142, often called the "Least Restrictive Environment Law," was passed by Congress in 1994.

That law mandated that handicapped kids, even those too emotionally unstable to be with other kids, had to be placed with mainstream (read, normal) kids in such activities as lunch and gym. When the mentally disturbed kids began to beat up the mainstream kids in those venues, families sold their homes and ran for Nassau County, the beginning of the white flight exodus that destroyed both our schools and a large chunk of the peninsula.

That could well happen again should groups of mentally ill men and women be sprinkled around the community in random private housing units.

I shudder at the thought.

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