2010-10-15 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Bob Turner Thinks I’m Unfair; I May Cry
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Congressional candidate Bob Turner thinks that I and The Wave are unfair to him and his Republican candidacy.

I may cry. Have I been unfair to him and his candidacy? Have I been unfair to the Republican Party?

Let’s see. In June, when nobody else had ever heard of him, because he has never been civically active in Rockaway or even in Breezy Point, where he now lives, we gave him a page 2 interview – a favored spot in the newspapers for candidates to present their views and become known to the wider community.

If you look it up, you will find that his opponent, Congressman Anthony Weiner never got a page 2 story, although he did get an occasional “It’s My Turn:” column.

Then, when Weiner made national news and his vidio went viral on both television and on You Tube for his rant about the Republican’s obstinacy on the 9-11 responders bill, I gave Turner an “It’s My Turn” column to answer Weiner’s regular column, “Weiner Writes from Capitol Hill.” If you read The Wave regularly, then you know that many of our elected officials regularly get a monthly column to talk about their office and what they do for the community.

In addition, I believe that I have been more than fair to those of the Republican persuasion.

I actively sought Republican columnists, and came up with Stu Mirsky, who wrote “The Rockaway Irregular” for many years and then Pete Stubben.

In fact, in the last election, we even endorsed Eric Ulrich, the Republican who won the race for our City Council seat, the first time The Wave endorsed a Republican in recent memory.

We certainly are not unfair to Republicans.

About Turner, his claim that we are unfair is based on his campaign’s per- ception of our political coverage in general and how we treat his campaign in particular.

In an email to me at The Wave, his son, Matt, who runs his campaign, said that The newspaper “ignored him” at the Broad Channel Labor Day Parade this year, that we did not mention him in our coverage of the MTA hearing on the cessation of the Rockaway rebate program, that we mishandled one of Mirsky’s columns and that we were planning to write about the fact that he did not show up for the massive protest against the Cross Bay Bridge tolls that was held last week.

When I asked Matt Turner why his father did not show up for the demonstration, he wrote, “Even if you saw him, you wouldn’t acknowledge he was there in The Wave anyway, just like you ignored him at the Broad Channel Parade.”

That really didn’t answer the question, so I put it to him again on the telephone.

Matt said that his father was busy on his listening tour, which had been previously scheduled.

When I pointed out that his listening tour did not include any stops in Rockaway, he said, rather lamely I thought, “He spends a lot of time in Rockaway.”

As for the Broad Channel Parade, I pointed out that the parade was all about kids and flags, not about politicians.

The two-page photo spread did include a caption that mentioned that Dr. Harold Paez (a Republican) and Shirley Huntley (a Democrat) were there, but did not include any photos of politicians. The photos were shot by a freelancer, and he did not mention that Turner was there – probably did not recognize him, which is clearly understandable.

Turner’s son thinks that the snub was purposeful, but it was not. He is entitled to his opinion, however, no matter how wrong it might be.

As for Mirsky’s column, there was a problem on the jump page, something I failed to catch. It happens, and it only happened that once in the more than a hundred columns that Mirsky wrote for us.

By the way, Mirsky emailed me last week to complain that I did not get Republican Pete Stubben’s column into the paper as scheduled, intimating that I somehow left it out on purpose. If he would have looked at page 70, he would have seen the column. Perhaps reading is not a Republican strength.

As for the page 2, written by reporter Nick Briano, the article accurately portrayed what Turner had to say. I really thought it was a positive representation of what Turner told Briano, but Turner’s son obviously thought it was some sort of hatchet job.

Matt Turner yelled at me for supporting Weiner. He said that Weiner has not supported Rockaway and pointed to Floyd Bennett Field as an example of how other venues in Gateway National Recreation Area get more funds than the local park units.

When asked by Briano about the park in June, however, Turner was not even sure of the units that made up the park.

When Briano asked him for his ideas in improving the park, Turner said, “We need to tell them what we want to do there. National Park Service needs to stop fighting and to start encouraging different uses of the park because it is our park, and they need to know that.”

Not exactly a detailed, comprehensive plan for the national park, and the fact is that Weiner and Chuck Schumer recently sponsored a series of community meetings to discuss the future of the park, one of which I attended and was documented in The Wave two weeks ago.

In fact, it seems to me that Turner has very few of his own ideas and that most of his statements come right out of Fox Five News and the Tea Party movement.

On his website, Turner says that he is a businessman who spent his 40- year career building and running business enterprises in the television industry.

What he does not seem to mention is that he was responsible for the “Jerry Springer Show.” I can understand his reluctance in mentioning that show to attract middle of the road or conservative voters, many of whom consider that show as the worst that television offers.

His website, I believe, could have been cut and pasted from the Republican National Committee website. There are no new ideas there, nore is there anything that I consider remotely local.

Is The Wave fairly reporting the campaign, giving both him and Weiner a voice?

Of course we are, and we will continue to do so. As we have done for the past decade, we will continue to investigate and consider all of the candidates who come before the public to seek their vote.

And, we will continue to discuss their position on issues important to Rockaway residents and we will base our coverage decisions on fairness, not on whether we like what the candidate stands for or has to say.

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