2010-02-19 / Columnists


The answers to last week’s Black History Quiz are: 1. W.E.B. Dubois; 2. Frederick Douglass; 3. Carter Woodson; 4. Bill Cosby; 5. Barbara Jordan; 6. Mary McLoed Bethune; 7. A. Philip Randolph; 8. Booker T. Washington; 9. Benjamin Bannekar and 10. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance is teaming up with the Riverhead Foundation to form a marine mammal rescue program. The members of the patrol will walk the beaches looking for beached seals, whales, dolphins and sea lions. Any adults who want to join the patrol should contact the organization‘s website, info@rwalliance.org. A training session will be scheduled for April.

There is a new veteran’s organization serving Queens. Called “Vets Helping Vets,” the new group was set up by Stephen Smith, a veteran activist with ties to Rockaway. Those interested in joining the new organization can contact Smith at smith65544@yahoo.com.

John Baxter, the Belle Harbor gadfly who owns the major single room occupancy hotel on Beach 116 Street has angered many locals by telling Corey Kilgannon of the New York Times that the summer weekend parking restrictions on west end streets are racist in nature. “The restrictions are racist and illegal,” Baxter told the Times reporter. He says that the restrictions are illegal and points to the fact that a city referee recently dismissed a ticket he got last summer. He says the ticket was dismissed because there is no record of any law backing up the parking signs. He says that in the late 1950s locals with some political clout got the DOT to bypass its own rules to put up the signs. Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska termed Baxter’s contentions as “silly” and said that the rules were put in by the city to protect the local’s quality of life.

Although the snow season has apparently not yet ended, it’s almost time for the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This year’s parade will step off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 from Beach 129 Street and Newport Avenue in Belle Harbor. The parade route moves east on Newport Avenue to Beach 116 Street, where it will turn south towards the beach. At Beach 116 Street, the parade will turn once more to the east and to the end of the parade and the reviewing stand at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 95 St.

The snowstorm that hit Rockaway on February 12 tested the Department of Sanitation with up to a foot of snow in some places. The city agency, however, did a yeoman job. By Wednesday morning, even the beach blocks on the west end, which are traditionally not plowed for days, had at least one pass, pushing the snow down to blacktop.

It looks as if the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) concerning the proposed man-made island of the Rockaway shoreline, an island that will house a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal will be out within the next two weeks. That news came from Congressman Anthony Weiner at a town hall meeting he held at PS 114 in Belle Harbor on February 16. Weiner has not declared whether or not he is in favor of the proposed LNG terminal 15 miles off Far Rockaway, but he did say that he hopes that the DEIS will answer his questions – and those of Rockaway residents as well. “So far, after viewing the presentations of those opposed to the plan and those who proposed it, I have more questions that answers,” Weiner said this week. He added that the current plans are to hold a hearing on the DEIS in Long Beach (Nassau County), but he hopes to persuade the Coast Guard to hold one in Rockaway as well. The law requires the government agency to hold one hearing in each state impacted by the proposed facility.

Local law enforcement officials have long credited the city’s summer job program for minority youth as one of the reasons we have had fewer “long, hot summers of late.” Now, however, because of budget cuts, that state is cutting its entire $19 million subsidy for the program and it might end. The program provides 52,000 summer jobs throughout the city, with a good number coming to Rockaway under the able administration of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC). With the state funding gone, the city can still fund about 15,000 jobs. A former deputy chief of staff to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who most-recently served as a top campaign aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been appointed to a new slot at the Department of Education despite the fact that she was fined $2,500 by the Campaign Ethics Board for working for Quinn’s re-election during the time she was being paid by the city. In addition, she was given a $150,000 bonus for her campaign work by Bloomberg. Rather than being fired for breaking campaign finance rules, Bloomberg made a new, $143,000 a year job for the woman, Maura Keaney. She will oversee the DOE’s legislative and government affairs and the media relations. It is hard to understand, however, why the DOE needs more managers when it plans to cut classroom positions.

The city’s plan to cut two of Rockaway’s day care centers has many locals up in arms. They view the cuts as just one more attack on the most at-risk population in the city – single parents. The closings will place more of a burden on those parents, many of whom work menial jobs or are unemployed and spend their days looking for work. In addition, the city plans to cut three centers citywide, and locals wonder why two of the three that were closed are in Rockaway.

The city’s Department of Emergency Management (OEM) will host Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training for all those interested in becoming team-certified. The weekly meetings will be held at the Peninsula Hospital Meditation Room beginning on March 3. The training will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through May 12. The team concept prepares local residents to respond to emergencies and disasters,

including hurricanes and tgerrorist attacks.

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