2010-08-13 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That
Commentary By Howard Schwach

A little bit more than halfway through the summer, some things that have to be addressed, but don’t warrant a full column.

We don’t obey no stinkin’ legal rulings.

When the Department of Education proposed to move aside students in a Manhattan school for autistic students, PS 94, to make way for one of the mayor’s favored charter schools – the Girl’s Preparatory Charter School – to expand, the parents of the kids in the public school and some community activists decided to challenge the move in court. Last week, a judge ruled that the move was illegal because the DOE did not follow proper procedure. What does the DOE say?

Chancellor Joel Klein announced this week that he was going to use his “emergency powers under state law” to make the move despite the judge’s ruling. One of the lessons the DOE should be teaching is that, in a civilized society, one obeys legal rulings. The DOE and the mayor clearly believe that they are so right in what they do that they are above the law. They proved it in the BCHS closing and they proved it again this week in Manhattan.

Some Judges Just Don’t Balance Societal Rights With Community Rights.

Having said that we have to obey judicial rulings, it is clear that there are some rulings I personally think are anti-community. We have to thank Judge Nicholas Garaufis for some of the more left-wing, anti-community rulings made in recent years. That’s a shame, because as a federal judge, he can make his rulings stick no matter how strange they are.

I have always believed that, despite the Fourteenth Amendment, there are some individual rights that do not trump the rights of the community as a whole.

For example, the beginnings of the chaos in the city’s public school system can be traced back to Public Law 94- 142 and the ensuing judicial rulings about the law, which said that students must be placed in the least restrictive environment. That led to emotionallyhandicapped teenagers being placed in gymnasiums and in lunchrooms with mainstream students.

The EH students quickly saw the mainstream students as targets and many incidents followed.

Parents, fearing for the safety of their children, voted with their feet by leaving the system and, in many cases, leaving the city entirely.

Now we come to Garaufis, who recently ruled that the mentally ill must be taken out of the adult homes in which they now reside and scattered throughout the community. The basis of his ruling is that they were being denied their right to live without the rules established by their group homes. His ruling will destabilize entire communities as many of the mentally ill wander the streets, panhandling, threatening passersby and generally causing mayhem. If you don’t believe me, spend some time on Beach 116 Street with the residents of the Park Inn Hotel for Seniors and the new residents of the Rockaway Park Hotel.

His most recent ruling, that the NYC firefighter exam discriminates against minorities is just another in the long line of anti-community rulings. We need the most able corps of firefighters, not the most diverse. His ruling will stop a class of 300 probationary firefighters from entering the fire academy. Come January, we will be 300 firefighters short. Now, that is anti-community.

Tony Weiner makes hay for his mayoral run while Pete King fumes.

“I never vote for Democrats, especially now,” one of my friends said recenty. “But I am going to vote for Tony Weiner after he showed me that some people in congress still have a backbone and passion for what is right.”

Weiner was outraged that King had voted against a bill that he had himself sponsored, which would have provided money for medical treatment for those working at Ground Zero after 9/11, simply to cover his fellow Republicans, who voted against the bill because of a procedural move that kept the Republicans from placing amendments to the bill.

Weiner fairly screamed at King. When King tried to intercede, asking for the floor, Weiner pointed his finger at King, yelling “the gentleman will sit down. He will sit down right now. I will not yield. The gentleman needs to sit down, now!” Weiner added, “The gentleman gets up and yells like he’s going to intimidate people into believing he’s right. He is wrong. The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing. It’s Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather that doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes. It is a shame – a shame!

Local reaction to the video for the exchange, which quickly went viral, was swift—most of the people loved it and local Republican officials grumbled that he showed what an idiot he really is.

Most people I know, however, noted that we needed a mayor that would stand up like that.

Let’s have a little common sense.

I understand that everybody who works for a city that issues summonses has to issue as many as possible or face whatever Siberia the agency promises to those who do not. The cops and glorified meter maids who work for the NYPD, the sanitation police, the parks enforcement police and others who have the power to make us pay up should, however, use a little common sense.

That was reinforced again last week when a subway passenger was arrested for putting his foot on a seat while trying to give himself an insulin shot. He was taken to central booking and refused his insulin. He is now in the hospital.

What is wrong with that picture? Is a couple of bucks in revenue worth the life of a person? Mayor Bloomberg would probably say yes.

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