2011-02-25 / Columnists


Bipartisan votes are few and far between in the House of Representatives, but Democrats and Republicans got together last week to vote to restore $298 million in funding for the vital Community Oriented Police Services program (COPS) that keeps cops on the streets of the nation’s largest cities, including New York. The amendment to restore the funding was put into the hopper by Congressman Anthony Weiner and approved by 158 Democrats and 70 Republicans.

City Councilman James Sanders and Congressman Gregory Meeks celebrated Valentine’s Eve in Springfield Gardens for a “night of free entertainment and free food.” Notice that it was held in Springfield Gardens, not in Rockaway, where Sanders happens to live. At the same time, Sanders, who promised us a new trade school for Rockaway several years ago when he backed Mayor Bloomberg’s move to get them both third terms, now wants instead to bring us a program that would work with those on parole, bringing even more former criminals to the peninsula a few times a week. It’s no wonder that many of his east end constituents are tiring of his lack of respect and his focus on the mainland portion of his district.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes to point to the failure of the public schools and the success of his favored charters. A new study, however, shows that most city charter schools, like the Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Rockaway Park, get funded to the tune of $649 more per student than do public schools. That gives lie, many say, to the mayor’s contention that charter schools do better with far less funding. In addition to public funding, charter schools also get money from private foundations and individuals, making the funding disparity even deeper.

Two Rockaway educators have been honored by the Department of Education Emerald Society. Daniel Rayder, from Rockaway Beach, has been named the Irish Administrator of the Year. He is an assistant principal for the Home Instruction Bureau. The Irish Principal of the Year is Belle Harbor resident Brian O’Connell, the principal of the Scholars’ Academy, the gifted magnet school in Rockaway.

Those who illegally talk on their cell phones while driving without a hands-free device will now get a fine plus two points on their driver license, something that is sure to raise their insurance premiums.

First, it’s open. Then, it’s closed. Then, it’s open once again. Despite the flipflopping, it’s clear that the end of the post office at Fort Tilden is near. The seriously dilapidated building that now houses the contract post office in Fort Tilden is owned by the National Park Service and that agency recently ordered postmistress Dorothy Farrell to shut down. A day later, however, they told her she could remain open

until a new location is found. Some have called for the post office to be moved to the cooperative, but that would mean the public would have to be allowed free access, and cooperative officials have always resisted that.

Rockaway residents have a stake in how the controversy over a Walmart in Brooklyn plays out. The new superstore is slated for a large piece of property just west of the Gateway Mall, right off the Belt Parkway between Flatbush Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard. The construction unions favor the project, but the retail unions and their political allies do not. Recently, the retail unions told the Related Companies, the development giants that are looking to do the construction, that they would be in trouble with other projects in the city, including the massive Willets Point project, if they keep pushing for a Walmart store in south Brooklyn. That’s the way

business is done in New York City.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer is funding an AARP tax assistance program at the Broad Channel Library (16-26 Cross Bay Boulevard). It will be open on Wednesdays, from 1 to 5 p.m. For questions regarding eligibility, contact the library.

Only one-third of the restaurants on the Rockaway peninsula have been assigned a letter grade under the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOH) new inspection system that started last July. Out of the 105 restaurants in Rockaway currently listed by the DOH, only 35 have been assigned a letter grade to date with another 14 currently assigned a “grade pending” status. This means the restaurant has been inspected and is awaiting a hearing to challenge their inspection grades, a right the restaurant owner has if he or she disagrees with the inspection score, according to a spokesperson for DOH. That leaves 56 restaurants along the peninsula with a “not yet graded” status. The 11694 zip code has seen the highest percentage of letter grades assigned to its establishments with 15 out of 35 restaurants receiving letter grades. Meanwhile 13 out of 42 restaurants in Far Rockaway (11691) have been graded.

The City’s Economic Development Corporation has released details of a new, expanded East River ferry service that will launch this spring. The city says that the new service will “provide a new transportation option to the residents of emerging Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods and will provide a link to some of the city’s most exciting entertainment venues.” What about Rockaway? Did they take our money away to give it to those who live around the East River in Manhattan? We wouldn’t be surprised.

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