2011-03-11 / Columnists


The announcement last week by Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner that they were attempting to restore the Rockaway resident toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge through a federal law that allows for such discounts and programs is good news for Rockaway residents. While there is never a guarantee that something such as the rebate program will pass muster, at least we know that somebody with some power is working on the problem.

The sentence handed down in family court last week against a 13-year-old Edgemere girl who was arrested in a drug sweep last year and charged with felony-weight drug sales has angered many locals, who see the sentence of one year supervised probation as much too lenient. “She acted like an adult, ran with a tough adult crowd and sold drugs to both kids and adults,” said one local court-watcher. “She should be in jail.”

The motor vehicle accident on Cross Bay Boulevard late last month highlights the fact that the road is still dangerous despite the fact that the city’s DOT cut down the number of usable lanes to make the road safer. The accident was clearly caused by a large pond of water on the edge of the

roadway. Once the car involved in the accident began to hydroplane in the water, the large trees that line the roadway sealed the deal that the car was going to be totaled. Something must be done to end the flooding on the road and perhaps the trees should be cut down or moved away from the road.

There is a battle developing over retaining the law that renews the tax surcharge on high-earning New Yorkers. Governor Andrew Cuomo, despite a large budget deficit, has promised to cut the surcharge. That has angered Assembly Democrats, who pledge to keep the surcharge as an offset against proposed cuts to Medicaid and schools. Even though Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are both Democrats, this fight could threaten to split the party and cause a long lasting rift between the governor and his legislators.

The Supreme Court has ruled that even vile hate speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Ruling in a case where members of a fundamentalist church held anti-gay demonstrations at military funerals, the court said that in a case of free speech versus privacy rights, that even hurtful picketing was protected, even if the speech was considered outrageous by the majority of Americans.

Those who attended Far Rockaway High School from 1953 to 1981 will remember teacher Earl Jagust, who both taught and ran the “Chat,” the school newspaper. He is remembered by all for his practical jokes, his animated teaching and his support of students during the era when civil rights and Vietnam were on everybody’s agenda. He will soon celebrate his 88th birthday, and would like to hear from former students. If you are one of his many students, you can email him at earljag@gmail.com. There is a tribute page on farrockaway.com as well.

Temple Beth-El on Beach 121 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard will host a three-part holiday workshop beginning on April 7 at 8 p.m. The first of the workshops, held that evening, will deal with Passover. On June 2, the workshop, same time, same place, will deal with Shabbat. The third workshop, which will deal with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will be held on September 15. The workshops are free, and all are invited. To register, call the temple office.

Bayswater residents have been complaining that the city has swarmed into the community, issuing dozens of summonses for broken and pitted sidewalks. On the single block on Bay 25 Street between Healy and Bayswater Avenues, a local organization says, six homeowners have been issued the summonses, demanding that the homeowners do immediate repairs or face the prospect of the city doing the repairs for them and then charging an exorbitant amount to do the work. The homeowners are trying to form a group to appeal to local city lawmakers for help.

In the wake of the city’s focus on reading and mathematics to the detriment of such other subjects as social studies, science, foreign language, art, music and technology, students in the fourth and eighth grades scored well below both state and national averages on last year’s nationwide science exams. Just 13 percent of eighth grade city students were deemed “proficient” on the federal test – the smallest percentage of any of the 17 large cities that participate in the test. In the fourth grade, only 18 percent of city students passed the test. DOE officials say that our students are doing just fine when measured against like school districts.

There are many local teachers who will be swept up in Mayor Bloomberg’s call for the layoffs of more than a thousand teachers citywide. Bloomberg says that every teacher with less than five years service will have to be laid off under the present last in, first out (LIFO) system mandated by seniority rules negotiated between the city and the teacher’s union. There are those who believe that Bloomberg’s recent announcement is a red herring designed to force the state legislature to change the rules, allowing him to lay off older, more expensive teachers. Not only are 100 teachers in Rockaway schools under the gun, but so are many more who teach off the peninsula and who have been teaching for less than five years.

A television show about NYPD Precinct Community Councils will be shown on March 16 on Q.P.T.V. AT 8:30 p.m., this time on Channel 34 .... Danny Ruscillo, president of our 100 Precinct Community Council, is featured on the program.

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