2010-03-26 / Columnists


The great majority of Rockaway residents received their primary Census documents in the last week, and we are urging everybody to complete the questionnaire and return it in a timely manner. The Census is important to Rockaway in many ways, not the least being that the peninsula is striving to reach the population numbers that will make it possible for us to have our own representatives in the City Council, State Senate and State Assembly. Every single resident counts, and we want every resident to be counted.

Want to know what the Department of Education spends on consultants? Want to know how much a garbage truck costs? How about what it costs to keep our beaches clean? Comptroller John Liu says that he wants you to know the answers to vital questions such as those, so he is ramping up a website that will reveal every check the city writes. The site, which can be accessed at www.mymoneynyc.com, will be fully up and running by summer, although there are some interesting tidbits there already.

Dunbar Street in Bayswater finally got its electricity back late Wednesday night, nearly four days after the big storm knicked out electricity to thousands of customers in Rockaway. One Bayswater resident whose home was on the front page of last week’s paper, called to praise both Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska and the Parks Department for their work in helping to dismantle the large tree that assaulted his house and took down power lines and for getting power restored.

The MTA continues the fiction that all is right with the subway elevated structure that runs along the spine of the peninsula. There is massive work going on to rehab the stations, but the elevated structure itself continues to shed concrete unabated. Last week, a few large chunks came down at Beach 73 Street. Luckily, nobody was driving underneath at the time. That was the fifth incident of crashing concrete in the past year. We fear that one day that a large chunk of the elevated structure will come down on top of some cars, injuring some motorists. Perhaps the smart thing is not to drive along the Rockaway Freeway, the road that runs under the el.

The 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway was hit with two homicides last week, both within a few blocks of each other. On Wednesday morning, an Hispanic man was stabbed to death on the beach at Beach 12 Street in what police are calling a gang-related murder. It appears that all of the men belonged to MS 13, the violent Honduran gang that has been making inroads into Far Rockaway. Then, just about 28 hours later another man was shot to death by a man riding with him in an automobile at Beach 6 Street and Seagirt Boulevard. We hope this is not the beginning of a long, hot summer full of murders in the 101 Precinct.

You’ve got to give City Councilman James Sanders Jr. credit for creative press releases. Last week, Sanders sent a letter to MTA chair Jay Walder urging him to put up signs in each subway station that warn people that going on the tracks is dangerous. Duh! We can’t wait until Sanders makes this into a law, forcing the cash-strapped agency tens of thousands of dollars to put up signs that tell riders what is already obvious to everybody who uses the system.

A new poll shows that the vast majority of Americans doesn’t approve of Congress. The poll shows that Congress’ approval rate is at 17 percent and that 77 percent disapprove of what Congress is doing. The rest don’t care. Half of those responding said that they would replace every single member of Congress if they were given the chance. That’s a pretty strong indictment of what is going on in Washington.

If you watch voting records closely, as we often do, you spot some glaring anomalies. Take Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who has been representing Rockaway in Albany for more than two decades. First, she voted in favor of the MTA plan to kill student MetroCards and then she signed a letter attacking the MTA for doing so. Tiz a puzzlement. She was not alone. There were fourteen legislators that did likewise.

Although Memorial Day is still months away, the local American Legion Post is planning for its annual parade. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the Legion is looking for surviving local members of the armed forces who fought in that war to be grand marshals for the parade. Those veterans, or their families, are asked to contact parade coordinator Mike Honan at 917-685-4974.

Experts at the National Weather Service are warning that five hurricanes, three of them major storms, will strike the East Coast in what might well be an above-average Atlantic hurricane season.

Congressman Anthony Weiner is still working with the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department on a plan to provide a new firehouse for the organization. Both Weiner and Hillary Clinton (when she was Senator Clinton) earmarked money for the new and much-needed facility, but the New York City Fire Department put the kibosh on the plan for the city to host the new house. Weiner is now looking for a federal agency to take over as host of the project. Weiner assures us that the money is still available.

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