2010-09-24 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Arverne By The Sea will once again host its “Taste of the Rockaways” event, featuring some of the peninsula’s finest restaurants. The event, which will run September 25 and 26 and October 2 and 3, will highlight O’Sake Japanese Restaurant, the 101 Deli, Elegante and Plum Tomatoes over the weekend. The event, which runs from noon to 3 pm on each of those weekend days, is open to all residents and will be held at the ABTS sales office at Beach 73 Street and Shore Front Parkway.

Everybody says that spring training baseball games are not a predictor of what the regular season will bring, and we hope that the problems that many faced during the primary election are not a harbinger of what will come on November 2, when the turnout will be much heavier and the lines much longer. Locals found only minor problems in most precincts – scanning machines that did not work; special marking pens missing; no envelopes to use to hide a marked ballot while walking from the marking station to the scanner. To many, the latter was the biggest problem. While you moved around the room, almost anybody could see who you voted for. That’s not good. Another worry: that somehow a hacker can get into the system and change the tally to insure that one candidate wins. It’s a brave new world, but will it work when the chips are down?

There was an immediate reaction to the mayor’s proposed smoking ban in parks and on beaches. While most people have given up smoking as much because of the cost as health risks, even the non-smokers don’t understand why the habit has to be banned at outdoor venues. People go to the beach to spend a relaxing day, and for many that means a cool beer and a hot cigarette. Those adults who want to partake in those delights without bothering anybody else certainly should have the right to do so.

We don’t see how a ferry service that failed at $6 a ride can be a success at $10 or $15 a ride. That’s probably what people will have to pay if the sought for private ferry service ever materializes. Ferry advocates say they have found a boat owner who will provide the daily commuter service on a “pay as you go” basis, meaning that the riders will have to divide the cost each day. That could really get expensive if few riders show up. If a ride costs the owner $1,000 and 100 people show up, that ten bucks each. If only ten people show up, however, it comes to $100 a rider. That’s not going to last long.

There was some levity at the first meeting of the Rockaway Task Force two weeks ago, but City Councilman James Sanders Jr. obviously did not think the comments were very funny. The talk was of the wind farm proposed for the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Breezy Point. Ferry maven Joe Hartigan, ever the jokester, commented loud enough for everyone to hear about “windmills and windbags,” referring to the wind farm and the local politicians. Sanders said, “That’s not funny. We’re here for serious business.” C’mon, Jimmy, lighten up. You have two more years to go before you have to find a real job.

As if we needed more evidence that New York City public school students are learning less under the stewardship of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, new results from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) show that the scores for our students have fallen once again, continuing a five-year drop. Since 2005, reading scores have dropped to 484 on an 800-point scale, down 13 points. Math scores over the same period have dropped 12 points. The drop last year was more than a point in reading and 3 in math.

When city officials came to Broad Channel prior to the summer to report that a plan had been developed to remediate the flooding problems that hits the west side of the island community every time the tide comes in and it rains. The locals were promised that construction that would end their problems would soon commence. Last week, however, they were told that the city had decided that the flooding was not an emergency situation and that construction would not start until the summer of 2012. Bet it would have been considered a dire emergency if it happened in a Manhattan neighborhood.

School officials aim for at least 90 percent attendance each day. On the first day of school this year, a Wednesday, attendance citywide was at 77 percent and for district 27, it was even two percentage points lower. That’s because the following two days were part of the Jewish holiday and school was closed. Many local parents just granted their kids a one-day vacation extension rather than facing the hassle of fouled-up bus schedules for a day, treating the following Monday as the first real day of school.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich has endorsed Republican candidate Asher Taub in his race against incumbent Congressman Gregory Meeks. Ulrich pointed out that Meeks had received $1 million in funds to restore Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach, but that the money has somehow gone missing.

The New York City’s Department of Health recently did a study that shows that city women live, on the average, six years longer than city men. Men now live to an average of 76 years as compared with women, who live on the average to 82 years of age. The report said that while homicides have decreased over the past two decades, it remains a leading cause of death for city men in the 18-34 year old category. The report adds that Rockaway has the highest percentage of men aged 18 to 34 whose cause of death is homicide.

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