2011-02-11 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The recent snow and ice has brought out the worst in some Rockaway residents who have dug themselves out of a street parking spot and now want to preserve that spot for their own use until summer. Unfortunately, it is illegal to block off a parking spot on a public street with cones, garbage cans or any other item. Section 4-408:8, Subsection 7 reads, “it shall be unlawful for any person to reserve a parking space, or prevent any vehicle from parking on a public street through his/her presence in the roadway, the use of hand signals, or by placing any box, crate, handcart, dolly, or any other device, including unauthorized pavement, curb or street markings or signs in the roadway…” So, as frustrated as you are in finding some stranger parked in the space you dug out an hour ago before you ran to the supermarket, there is not much you can legally do about the situation.

A number of organizations and individuals involved in the charter schools movement have kicked in more than $4 million to help the State Board of Regents fund its school reform movement. That raises questions from many school people about the influence of private money on educational reform. The money comes primarily from such business-minded contributors as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, large supporters of charter schools.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg got his way once again when the City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve a ban on smoking on both the beach and the boardwalk. Both of our City Councilmen, Eric Ulrich and James Sanders Jr., voted against the latest incident of mayoral nannyism. Violation of the ban will bring a $50 summons from parks enforcement police officers. NYPD officers will not be authorized to give those tickets, and Bloomberg has said that he hopes non-smokers who see somebody smoking on the beach or boardwalk will call 311 to report what they saw. Parks Enforcement Officers, however, will be tasked with scouring the beach, looking for those violating the new ban. The recent recommendation to build new runways into Jamaica Bay at JFK Airport has brought swift reaction from both environmentalists and residents of Bayswater and Edgemere. If you look closely at the maps published in last week’s Wave, you will see why. In two of the four proposals, the new runway ends about 200 yards from the Rockaway shoreline and there are homes all along that shoreline. Many homes on Norton Drive in Bayswater would be literally wingtip to siding with the giant aircraft. That’s a frightening thought for those who live along the bayfront – a giant Airbus A380 with 550 passengers aboard on approach to the new runway, barreling down on Bayswater just a few hundred yards away.

A City Councilman from Queens has introduced a bill that calls on the state to change the rules, allowing the city to enact a local law that would give extra points on the civil service exam to those taking the city’s firefighter exam if they attended or graduated from a New York City high school. Councilman Leroy Comrie, the man who introduced the bill, believes that it will allow for more diversity in hiring. The present rule allows for extra points for New York City residents, but Comrie thinks that his bill would be more pointed and would allow more minorities to pass the difficult exam.

At the same time that the city is cutting the number of firefighters in engine companies and contemplating firing 20,000 teachers, the Bloomberg administration has set a $200,000 program that would fly young fashion industry talent from around the world to New York City for job interviews. You’ve got to love the mayor’s priorities.

Ten years ago Rockaway had 17 elementary and middle schools and two high schools on the peninsula. To run those schools, there were 17 principals and 31 assistant principals. Today, there are 21 K-8 schools, two middle schools and nine high schools, with 31 principals and more than 60 assistant principals. When Bloomberg and Black say that the city has taken resources away from the central offices and placed them in the schools, the administrators – not teachers – are what they are talking about.

For the first time in recent memory, there is not one New York City public school student who is a finalist in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search, considered by many to be the most prestigious science competition in the nation. There was a time when a third of the finalists came from such schools as Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. Now, there are none. Local school officials blame it on the new school rules that mandate an inordinate amount of time be spent on test prep and practice tests as well as a cut in funding that deleted the extra time that teachers had to work with students contemplating entering the contest.

The parent association of PS 114 will once again be holding its Raffle Night Fundraiser on Friday, March 11 at the El Caribe in Brooklyn. All of the money raised from Raffle Night will go towards student activities at the school. Those interested in attending or in donating to the group should email to rafflenight@gmail.com.

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