2011-03-04 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Don’t forget to get out Saturday morning for Rockaway’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, traditionally one of the best-attended events during the year. The parade will be shorter by several blocks this year, thanks to an edict by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that all parades had to be cut 25 percent in duration in order to save employee overtime costs. Remember that a number of streets will be shut down to traffic for the parade, including Newport Avenue, from Beach 135 Street to Beach 116 Street; Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 116 Street to Beach 102 Street and many cross-streets that are closed as the parade passes.

The news from Peninsula Hospital Center is not good – not good for the community, not good for the hospital and not good for the hundreds of locals who work for the hospital. From speaking with employees, The Wave has learned that the hospital has been drawing down employee paychecks to pay such amenities as annuities, insurance, AFLAC and others, and then not paying the money to those companies, rather using the employee deductions to pay hospital bills and buy supplies. In addition, the employees’ union tells us that the hospital has reneged on a deal made late last year to pay back some of the millions owed to the union in the form of health care premiums. We do not want to see the vital community institution go, but it cannot continue to operate as it has been operating over the past several months.

Potholes are one thing, but sinkholes and deteriorating roadways are entirely another thing. They are downright dangerous. The city has known for more than two years about the deteriorating condition of Rockaway’s major eastwest road, Beach Channel Drive. Part of the problem is that nobody, including the city agencies themselves, has any idea who has responsibility for fixing the problem. While it is clear that the city’s DOT has responsibility for the roadway, the deteriorating bay wall is another question. Some of it is “owned” by the DOT, some by the federal National Park Service, some (the area around BCHS) by the Department of Education, some by the Environmental Protection Agency and some by the city’s business agencies. Eventually, somebody’s going to have to take responsibility and fix the ailing road. Can you imagine a summer in Rockaway with BCD closed from Beach 73 Street to Breezy Point?

It’s hard for many of the civil servants who live in Rockaway to understand why they are under attack. While the Mayor and his friends believe that there is nothing wrong with the $100,000 plus bonuses earned each year by financial workers, the city continues to denigrate both active and retired city workers for getting a living pension and health benefits. It’s as if the city worker has become public enemy number one, while the financial sector, which sold bad mortgages and then earned billions by betting those mortgages would fail, have become the city’s heroes. Talk about “The World Turned Upside Down.”

If you believe that there is a new transparent government in Albany under Andrew Cuomo, take a look at the published reports that surfaced last week that one of Cuomo’s most trusted advisors, a man he appointed to the vital Medicaid Redesign Team, is actually a lobbyist for the health care industry, albeit not a registered lobbyist. Is the advisor, Jeffrey Sachs, working on behalf of the public, seeking genuine solutions to the massive problem, or is he earning a salary representing those interests that have created the health care problem?

There was a human interest story in all the daily papers last week about a New York Times staffer who had his wallet stolen at the Times’ building 40 years ago. Recently, the wallet, minus the cash, was found tucked away in a void at the building and it was returned to the man, identified in the stories as Rudolph Resta. Turns out that Resta is a Belle Harbor resident.

The New York League of Conservationist Voters has come out with its annual rating of local politicians and how they voted on issues considered to be vital to conservationists. Both of our senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, got 100 percent ratings. In the House, Anthony Weiner got a 90 percent rating, while Gregory Meeks earned a 100 percent rating.

For more than a dozen years, there has been a Rockaway team in the annual EIF Revlon Walk/Run for Women. The local team, named the “Neighborly Bunch,” will participate in the 5K event on Saturday, April 30 in Manhattan. The team raised more than $10,000 last year and hopes to do better this year. Those who want to join the team can contact Fern Liberman at 917-821-8521 or can go online to register at www.revlonrunwalk.org. Be sure to mention the team name at registration.

If you need any further reason why unions are necessary to protect the rights of workers, the stories about the March 26, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire should convince you. There were 146 victims, 129 of them women and the great majority 16 to 23 years of age. They died because the owners of the factory had blocked off all the emergency exits and the stairwells and locked the doors to keep workers at their sewing machines. That fire touched off the first of the city’s building safety rules.

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