2010-08-06 / Columnists


The announcement that the permit request from the developers of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) man-made island that was slated for the coast of Rockaway has been pulled, at least for now, has cheered many locals. There was a real grass-roots opposition to the plan not only from environmental groups, but from many civic associations throughout the peninsula as well. While the developers say they may reactive the request when the financial climate improves and the fall-out from the Gulf oil spill decreases, there are some experts who say that its time has passed and the plan will probably never be resurrected.

We want to add our condolences to those of others throughout the tri-state area who wish Beach Channel basketball coach Jim Malone well after the tragic deaths of his two daughters in a horrendous car crash on Long Island. Malone has coached basketball at BCHS for more than two decades and has added much to the Rockaway community. We join in his sorrow and that of his family.

The reading and mathematics scores posted recently by the city’s Department of Education show once and for all that the scores have been inflated over the past few years. The state, which controls the tests and the way they are normed, has reduced the cut score, the line between levels of achievement every year for the past several years. Now, the cut score is back where it was in 2003 and test scores have fallen precipitously in almost every District 27 school, especially those in Rockaway. For example, at PS 42 in Arverne, 36.1 percent of the students were reading at Level 4, the highest level in 2007. In 2008, that percentage increased to 41.5 percent. In 2009, it increased once again to 54.4 percent. This year, however, when the state admitted that it had inflated the grades and readjusted them to more rational levels, the percentage of students at Level 4 is 19.7 percent, a fall of 34.7 percent. See the story on the front page and the chart in this issue to see how your school fared.

New York City’s beaches are among the dirtiest in the nation. That’s the word from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which studies such things. The two dirtiest beaches, according to the recent report, are Orchard Beach in the Bronx and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, but the Rockaway beaches are not far behind. The city, of course, says everything is great, and we should just plunge in.

Lots of transportation activists are taking a shot at MTA chair Jay Walder, an ex-Rockaway resident who seems to have forgotten his routes as a regular commuter from the peninsula to Manhattan. It seems that, amid all the cuts in service and fare increases, Walder plans to keep his $350,000 yearly salary intact. Walder told reporters, “The position of the chairman of the MTA has been compensated historically in the manner in which I’m being compensated. I think that’s the way it will remain.” He has to remember, however, that historically-speaking, Rockaway had a resident rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge and that residents had more frequent service at a lesser cost. Those are gone now, but Walder’s salary remains.

A recent study by ESPN shows that many of the vendors in New York City sports venues are not exactly clean and green. Madison Square Garden fared worst in the city, but not in the nation, with 61 percent of its vendors being cited for major health violations. Yankee Stadium and Citifield did slightly better, with 48 and 45 percent of its vendors being cited for violation. The worst stadium in the nation? The Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., where 100 percent of the vendors were cited. The best, Wrigley Field in Chicago, which was tested, the report says, on a day when there were no games being played.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seething over a recent federal court rule that cuts his plan to place “green” taxicabs on the streets of the city. The court ruled that only the federal government can set fuel standards for vehicles, and that the city does not have to power to enforce its new law, recently passed by the City Council, setting local standards.

The city has issued statistics on how many summonses were given out in 2009. According to the arrest statistics, the most summonses, 46,491 were issued by the NYPD for criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree (non- sale weight of the drug). Second came assault in the third degree (29,281 summonses), criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (28,968), petty larceny (23,237), and theft of services such as fare-beating (22,372). In the non-arrest category, the most summonses, 132,225 were issued for drinking alcohol on the street. Following public drinking were disorderly conduct (87,788), motor vehicle equipment and permit violations (23,176), riding a bicycle on the sidewalk (21,136) and failure to comply with a Parks Department sign (16,693). We would bet that most of the summonses in the latter category came from Rockaway.

A recent study tacking the mood of Twitter users shows that people are angriest on Thursdays. Nobody is sure why, but the study shows that people begin being happier on Friday and are happy over the weekend, but begin being angrier on Monday and that reaches a peak on Thursday.

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