Congressman Anthony Weiner tour ed Rockaway's scourged beach - es last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see for himself the damage caused by the Nor'easter three weeks ago. Wei - ner promised that they each would be in good shape for next year's summer opening, but he didn't say how he was going to do that. The fact is, you can't fool with Mother Nature and any sand you put on the beach will soon be gone as winter storms and normal tides move it westward. What Rockaway needs is not more replenishment, but offshore groins that keep the sand on the beach in the first place. The unofficial word is that some of the beaches are so eroded that they might well not be opened for next summer's season.
The West End Temple on Beach 147 Street in Neponsit will soon host "The Smoke Free Project of NYC," a program to promote smoking cessation. The program begins with a free 2 ½ hour workshop called "Not Quite Ready to Quit," on Sunday, January 10, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. That free workshop is followed up by a six-week "Commit to Quit" series of meetings that require a fee and will begin on January 17. For information, contact the temple office.
Guns are a continuing problem in Rockaway, primarily on the eastern end of the peninsula, but elsewhere as well. The latest proof that we need some sort of national gun control program was last week's incident at Bayswater Park in which an 18-year-old man carrying a loaded 9 mm automatic decided to point it at cops who were chasing him and was killed by the cops. His family said he was carrying it in his book bag for protection, but it is clear that he had access to it while he was running away. Per - haps he believed that he had to carry a pistol to be safe in Bays - water Park at 11:30 p.m., but then why was he there? The fact is that guns in the hands of young men who are prepared to use them to settle petty grievances or for protection is the problem. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congress - woman Carolyn McCarthy have teamed up for a new bill that would give federal law enforcement agencies the critical tools they need to crack down on illegal guns and illegal gun trafficking. Chances are, however, the bill will be squashed by the powerful Na tional Rifle Association (NRA). It is time for all of us to tell our elected federal officials that we support the bill.
Far Rockaway resident Ilyassha Shi - vers says that his community is still dealing with the issue of excessive force even three years after the shooting death of Sean Bell. He adds that it also suffers from illegal guns and a disregard for the lives of young black men. Because of that, his church, The Wings of Faith Outreach Ministry will celebrate "Men's Day" on Saturday, Decem - ber 18 at 8:30 a.m. at 360 Bayview Ave - nue. The topic under discussion will be the Willie Lynch Letter, which Shivers says "has lingering effects in our community today," and how to reverse the cycle that letter has brought.
The city's Department of Traffic has released the "Gridlock Alert Days" for this holiday season. They are the good days to stay away from midtown Manhattan unless you take public transportation (even then, expect delays). The gridlock days are December 4, Dec - ember 11, December 16, Dec em ber 17, December 18 and Dec ember 23. On those days, large crowds are expected to check out the holiday amenities, and travel on a number of streets and ave nues will be limited.
Be Warned! The city is working on a plan that would stop motorists from paying cash for travel on its bridges and tunnels. That would do away with tolltakers completely and save the city lots of money. Those with EZ-Pass de vices would see no change in how they pay tolls. Those who pay cash will find themselves being billed for their travel choices. The plan calls for cameras that would photograph the license plates of those cars that go through the tolls without the EZ-Pass and then bill them once a month. The cameras would work much like the red light cameras, and there is no escaping their ever-seeing eye. Civil rights activists are calling the plan a "privacy nightmare." The Republican Party has targeted Queens for an all-out blitz to bring the State Senate back under GOP control. One of the keys to achieving that is knocking out Senator Joseph Addabbo, who once represented Rockaway in the City Coun - cil and then went on to take a Sen - ate seat away from the Republican incumbent, Serf Malt ese. The GOP wants that seat back and the ru - mors are that the party will enlist newly-elected City Councilman Eric Ulrich to do it. Democrats currently have a slim majority at 32-30 and both parties are focused on who will have control after the next election, be cause redistricting will take place in 2010 to 2011, and the party in control gets to draw the lines. Ul rich was asked about the possibility and he said that he was only focused on serving his City Coun cil district, which includes the west end of Rock - away. Should Ul rich decide to run against Addab bo for the Sen ate seat, it would be a slap in the face to those local residents who supported him for City Council, but politics is politics.
Deputy Inspector Thomas Barrett, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct warns that some crooks are going around the community trying car doors in an attempt to rob whatever is in the car. This warning is especially important during the holiday season, when people keep lots of presents inside the car while they shop elsewhere.