State Education Commissioner David Steiner has granted a waiver to Cathie Black so that she can now serve as the public schools’ new chancellor. Her appointment was a compromise on the part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man who makes few compromises. Black’s appointment came after Bloomberg appointed a longtime educator as her Deputy Chancellor for Education. Several city and state politicians have indicated that they plan to sue to stop Black’s appointment, and a full 77 percent of those people who were questioned in a recent Marist poll said that they did not want to see Black in the job because she lacked the proper credentials. A number of those indicated that even appointing an educator to backstop her would not change their minds. “We know who is going to be making all the decisions, educational and otherwise,” the parent said. “This is just another way for Bloomberg to bypass the law.”
A state union has pointed out to Governor David Paterson that his vow to cut the state payroll should start with management positions. The CSEA says that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has added 36 toplevel management positions to the state payroll since July 1, despite an announced state hiring freeze. Eighteen of those 40 positions, the union says, have a base salary in excess of $100,000 a year. “Why not cut excess, high-priced management positions before cutting those who actually do the work?” the union asks.
At the same time the city is cutting the budget by laying off workers and closing firehouses, the city’s Department of Citywide Administration has put out a request for proposal telling potential bidders that it is willing to spend $15 million in professional development training. The RFP says the city will spend the money for one-on-one coaching of executives, team-building exercises and organized retreats. Sounds so much more important than teachers, cops and firefighters, doesn’t it?
“That’s no boardwalk, that’s a sidewalk.” That was a comment made by a Coney Island resident as he contemplated a small stretch of boardwalk that had been renovated not with the traditional rain-forest wood, but with a composite material that looks much like concrete. City officials hope to rehab the entire boardwalk, with the exception of the stretch of boards in front of the amusement area, with the new material. Activists in Coney Island have promised to demonstrate to stop the project. They want wood. Rockaway has had a long stretch of the concrete-like boardwalk since the spring, and there have been no protest rallies on the peninsula. Seems like most of the people like the new material and are not incensed by changing the tradition.
It’s all about whose ox is being gorged. While we in Rockaway complain that we don’t get our proper political props because we are tied to mainland districts in both our City Council and Assembly districts, it seems that the South Asian community on the mainland believes that the Rockaway peninsula gets everything it wants because it is made up of a minority population tied to an even larger minority community on the mainland. A spokesperson for the South Asian community urges that the City Council district seat now held by Eric Ulrich should be changed to make a district that can elect an Asian. Similarly, they want the state Senatorial district held by Shirley Huntley and Joseph Addabbo changed, as well as the Assembly seats held by Michele Titus and Audrey Pheffer. Like everybody else, the community wants political representation for the ethnic community. That would be great for us if Rockaway were given one Assembly member and one City Council member to represent us rather than two.
Among the budget builders and cuts proposed by Mayor Bloomberg are several that will impact the quality of life as well as the pocketbooks of Rockaway residents. Rates at both the single-space parking meters and the Muni-meters will increase from the present seventy-five cents an hour to one dollar for an hour. The singlespace and Muni-meters are set to go up from the present seventy-five cents an hour to $1.00 an hour. Meters in commercial areas are to go to $3.00 an hour from the present $2.50 and hour. The proposal is confusing, because there is some discussion that areas such as the Rockaway shopping streets will now get the “commercial” designation, but it might just be Manhattan that will get the commercial increased cost. One of the 20 fire companies slated to shut down in the evening hours is reportedly Engine 328, stationed in the Big House in Far Rockaway. There will be major cuts to the Parks Department budget, meaning fewer lifeguards next summer and fewer beach cleaners. The library budget will be reduced as well, meaning that a number of the libraries on the peninsula and in Broad Channel will close one extra day each week. And, 59 311 operators will be cut, meaning an even longer wait time to talk with city agencies.