2010-09-17 / Columnists


When City Councilman James Sanders Jr. appointed Ed Williams to the newly-formed Rockaway Task Force, we all assumed that it was the same Ed Williams who heads the Far Rockaway Branch of the NAACP. To our surprise, we were wrong. The Ed Williams who Sanders appointed is another Ed Williams, the president of one of the homeowner’s associations at Arverne By The Sea. At the task force’s first meeting, held last week, most of the talk was about jobs and transportation problems – the same issues that have been plaguing Rockaway for more than 50 years. By the way, it seems that Community Board 14 District Manager John Gaska has joined the Task Force, which is a good thing. Although he does not live in Rockaway, he has been working with its residents for 20 years and knows more about the politics of the community than most residents do. The only Task Force member who did not show up for the meeting was Sender Schwartz, who represents the Orthodox Jewish community in “West Lawrence.”

Now that the 9-11 memorial ceremonies have come and gone, the city is focusing on the memorial ceremony for the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001. Word is that, on its ninth anniversary, there will once again be a large service of remembrance at the Flight 587 Memorial site at the south end of Beach 116 Street. Mayor Bloomberg is once again expected to attend the service. Just a month ago, the National Transportation Safety Board admitted that there are problems with the rudder controls in the Airbus A300 series aircraft and that the company shares responsibility along with the first officer who was flying the departure from JFK Airport that fateful morning in an Airbus A- 300-600 aircraft.

With the primary elections behind us, there will be a push by those who are on the ballot on November 2 to get local votes. This will be an important election, and we urge all Rockaway residents to get to the polls and vote for the candidate they like best.

The news that the mayor plans to sign the waiver that will allow the construction of the new Y at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 73 Street to proceed is good news for Rockaway residents who have been waiting decades for a recreational facility. While the community did not get the Olympic-size swimming pool it wanted, it will get an enclosed gymnasium, a large swimming pool and an aquatic center for kids and seniors. All in all, it is a win for Rockaway that has been long in coming. Gerard Romski, the CEO for Arverne By The Sea, promises that if the mayor’s waiver comes in the next few weeks, the foundation will be put in place prior to the first snow. Then, in the spring, work can begin in earnest. The results are in, and the hamburgers at Five Guys Burgers and Fries wins first place for the best hamburgers. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the top), Consumer Reports gave Five Guys 7.9 points. Fuddruckers got 7.7, White Castle 6.7, Wendy’s 6.6, Burger King 6.3 and McDonald’s (last in the rating) 5.6. Unfortunately, there are no Five Guys restaurants in Rockaway, but there are two in the local area – one in Woodhaven on Cross Bay Boulevard and the other in Long Beach, on West Park Avenue, right across from the train station.

Sometimes, it’s hard to understand our Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. First, he said that the 70 percent of city residents who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque “should be ashamed of themselves.” He basically called them all bigots and said they had no right to be opposed to the mosque. Then, the says that the Florida pastor who planned to burn a Quran on 9-11 has a First Amendment right to do so. How about the free speech right to be against the Mosque? That apparently does not count. With all of the seats in the House of Representative up for grabs this election year, it is interesting to take a look at some statistics about the members of both houses of Congress, compiled by the American Legion magazine. The average age of the members of Congress is 58.2 years old. There are 93 women in Congress. Of all the members, 16 are physicians, two are dentists, 3 are nurses, 2 are veterinarians and 4 are ministers. There are 13 former governors, 38 former mayors and 268 former state legislators. There are 4 former sheriffs, 4 former police officers and 2 former state troopers. There is 1 former major league baseball player, one former NFL player, 1 former pilot of Air Force One, 1 former astronaut, 1 former Naval aviator and 1 former commander of a carrier battle group. All told, 122 members of Congress have served in the military. Twenty-seven of them have no degree above a high school diploma.

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