There was good news and bad news on two Rockaway fronts last week. The MTA voted to modify the plan that allows Rockaway and Broad Channel to use the Cross Bay Bridge free of charge. Beginning in July, residents will have to pay for their first roundtrip over the bridge each day. Any other trips they make that same day will be rebated by the agency. Broad Channel residents who have to use the bridge multiple times each day to get to Rockaway schools and city agencies will still get a benefit from the new plan, but those who use the bridge one time each day back and forth to work or shopping will now have to pay the freight just like everybody else. In addition, the Rockaway ferry that runs from Riis Landing to Pier 11 in lower Manhattan got a reprieve to July 1, largely thanks to City Councilman Eric Ulrich and a few others, who gave up some of next year’s member item money to keep the boat running. The downside is that it will only make one run each way daily rather than the two it made in the past. Residents now have another three months to show that it can make the service work by using the boat for their daily commute and getting the number of riders up to 300 or so each way each day.
Some crazed man ran into the Jamaica office of Congressman Gregory Meeks last week, called him a “thief and a liar,” threatened to blow up the office and then fled before police could respond to the calls of shocked staffers. Meeks is involved in several federal and state probes and has been the object of many news stories of late.
Despite the fact that the reading scores of New York City public school students have skyrocketed on city and state tests, the same students remain flat on a major national benchmark test. In fact, the scores on the national test registered by our students have been flat since 2007. The same discrepancy has been found on math scores, records show. One New York State Education Department testing expert recently told the Daily News that “our tests have obviously not been rigorous enough.” State Education Commissioner David Steiner said, “The Board of Regents and I are committed to a reform agenda, which will raise the quality of our standards, assessments and curriculum, and strengthen teacher and principal preparation.”
The Seaside Library on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 116 Street has closed temporarily for an interior facelift that will include lots of new technology, library officials say. Beginning April 10, limited service to library customers will be provided by the Bookmobile every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. while the library is closed. Customers many renew books and DVDs online at www. queenslibrary.org or by phone at 718-990-8508. Those services will also be available at the other Queens Library facilities on the peninsula, including the Peninsula Branch at 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
Between now and June, there will be sporadic closings of the Rockaway Freeway to allow installation of new protection for the high voltage power line that spans the length of the north side of the elevated subway station. Closures will take place from Oceancrest Boulevard to Beach 35 Street; from Beach 41 to Beach 47 Street; from Beach 88 to Beach 90 Street; from Beach 97 to Beach 101 Street and from Beach 104 to Beach 108 Street. Detour routes will be clearly marked, the MTA says.
Every time we get a major power outage, as we did several weeks ago, people wonder why the electrical lines can’t be placed underground, where they are less vulnerable to stormy weather. The short answer to that question, experts say, is that people would not be able to afford electricity if the lines were put underground because that is such an expensive proposition. They say that an underground system costs five to ten times as much to install as the present lines do. Given that fact, unless the technology changes radically, those experts say, you’re not going to see many underground systems in the near future.
Newspaperman H.L. Mencken, who was the basis for the character portrayed by actor Gene Kelly in the movie “Inherit the Wind,” was an astute observer of the political scene despite the fact that he was a drunk and an anti-Semite. He once famously said, “Democracy is a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.” Since he died in 1956, he could not have known today’s political leaders, but it certainly seems as if he was speaking directly about them when he made that statement. We keep reelecting them and they keep doing what politicians have always done.
The city’s five-minute parking grace took hold last week. While Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the grace period, the City Council passed it over his veto, so motorists now have an extra five minutes of free time after their meter has expired to get back to their vehicle. The mayor says that the new rule will cause chaos, but we look forward to seeing how it does work out.
Some locals have called to tell us what a great experience it was to deal with the reps at the T-Mobile store on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. One senior citizen said that the young reps worked with him for more than an hour, getting his new phone up and running and explaining all the bells and whistles.