2010-12-24 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The Department of Education has quietly placed a fourth school inside the Beach Channel High School building. The new high school, which has not been named as yet, is designated only as 27Q234. When the DOE last placed a new school in the Rockaway building, it did so with great fanfare and the school was announced full-blown, with a name and a theme – the Rockaway Park High School of Environmental Sustainability. This new school, however, seems to be sneaking in the back door, with only scant mention in the Educational Impact Statement for Beach Channel High School and with an EIS of its own that you have to dig deeply into the DOE’s website to find. A DOE spokesperson said that a name would be forthcoming and that the school would be a public school, not a charter. The announcement says that the new school, which will open with 100 students next September, will not be zoned for Rockaway students, but that Queens students would have first choice in admissions. There will be a hearing on co-locating the new school with the other schools already in Beach Channel High School on February 3 at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn. The meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy will begin at 6 p.m.

A Brooklyn City Councilman is pushing a bill that would make it much easier for city drivers to park nearby fire hydrants without getting a ticket. The new law would require that the city paint hydrant zones in red. Councilman David Greenfield said that motorists should not have to carry tape measures to insure that they are not within the 15-foot exclusion zone. The second half of the bill changes that exclusion zone to 10 feet from 15, opening up lots of curb space for parkers without endangering firefighters.

A mother in California has sued McDonald’s for advertising its Happy Meals on television. The mother, termed a “self-style nutrition expert” in the suit, says that the food giant is enticing her young son to continually ask for a Happy Meal when she knows that they are no good for him. “I tell him no all day, and then television convinces him that he has to have one,” she told reporters. “I object that McDonald’s is getting into my kid’s head without my permission and actually changing what my kid wants to eat.” You can’t make up this stuff.

Remember those nice Wave stories about the new park along the beachfront in Far Rockaway and the new playground for PS 114 in Belle Harbor? They might well now be as outdated as buggy whips due to the city’s budget cuts. While no list of those projects that will be put on the back burner yet exists, the city says, officials are working on a list of projects that can be postponed or cancelled. Mayor Bloomberg has ordered a 20 percent cut in spending for all agencies, including the city’s ten-year construction plan. You can bet that several Rockaway projects will be on the list when it is finally promulgated early next year.

When federal judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled last year that the fire department hiring practices are unconstitutional because too few minorities make the grade, city lawyers warned him that an inability to hire new firefighters would lead to budgetary problems and massive overtime costs. The judge then said the city could hire, but only under a quota system. The city turned him down. Now, the city’s predictions have come true. Overtime costs at the fire department are already $30 million more than budgeted and are expected to balloon an additional $20 million before the end of the fiscal year on July 1. Officials now project that total overtime costs will rise to $187 million, 40 percent more than last year.

Proving once again that everybody has some connection to Rockaway, porn pioneer Al Goldstein will soon leave a Manhattan hospital for a “subsidized” apartment in Far Rockaway, sources say. Goldstein was the publisher of “Screw” magazine and had been arrested more than 20 times on obscenity charges. Today, the 74-yearold Goldstein has diabetes and assorted other ailments.

There are still a few old-timers who remember the school wars following the suspension of our entire local school board on charges of cronyism, racism and coercion. Then school board president James Sanders Jr., now our City Councilman, brought in Beverly Hall as a candidate and there was lots of conjecture about Hall and her relationship to Sanders. Eventually, she became our district school superintendent in the days when superintendents had some power. She left to take a citywide Board of Education job, then moved on to Newark and, finally, to head the Atlanta (Georgia) schools. Now, under fire for all sorts of chicanery, including cooking the reading score books, Hall is retiring from the Atlanta slot.

There has never been any doubt that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a welldeveloped ego. He proved that by using his billions to force a change of the term-limits law to give himself and others a third term in office, using the argument that only he could bring us out of the financial crisis in which the city is embroiled. He also used his billions to insure that the legislature renew mayor control of the school system. Now, however, he has solidified his slot as the most egoistical mayor we ever had by saying, “I’ve got a great job. I want to go out having the reputation as a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever.” Historians, however, say that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia has a lock on that spot. “Bloomberg doesn’t hold a candle to LaGuardia, one historian told the Daily News.

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