2011-03-18 / Columnists


Deputy Inspector Tommy Barrett and his troops from the 100 Precinct, assisted by units from all over Queens, did a good job on keeping the lid on after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. There were no fewer teenage revelers out on the street, particularly at the St. Francis de Sales playground and on the beachfront at Beach 129 Street, but there were fewer medical emergencies and calls for police assistance.

Congressman Anthony Weiner got lots of attention last week after telling Mayor Michael Bloomberg that should Weiner be elected mayor, he would rip out many of the [expletive] bike lanes that Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn put in place without community input.

The federal arraignment of two MS-13 gang members in last year’s murder on the beach in Far Rockaway is good news and bad news. The good news is that the murderers will be going to jail for their crime. The bad news is that the South American gang is becoming more active in Rockaway. The FBI has called MS-13 the “most vicious gang in the nation.” The killing on the beach was only one manifestation of the gang in Rockaway. Last year, police reported finding MS-13 gang signs on several streets in Rockaway Beach and in 2008, several local gang members were shot in Far Rockaway by MS-13 members

who, the feds say, were trying to muscle in on the drug trade in Far Rockaway.

The Scholars’ Academy, formerly Junior High School 180 in Rockaway Park, is trying to get President Barack Obama to be its graduation speaker this year. The school has entered a contest called “The 2011 Commencement Challenge, in which the school has to show how teachers have helped prepare students for college and careers. In pursuit of the prize, three high school students have written essays and produced a video. If the school makes the finals, officials say, they will need community support to win the top prize.

Rockaway Rotary will once again sponsor its “Sweet’N Low Rockaway Rotary Run on the boardwalk in Rockaway Park. This 33rd annual run will once again be held on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 1. There will be a kids run before the main event. The post race party will be held at the Irish Circle on Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard following the race.

The Accuweather long-range forecasting team says that we can expect a “active weather pattern” into April, and that we may well have a snowstorm early next month.

It seems that even the state legislature, which passed the no smoking ban, was aware that the ban includes those standing at a bus stop or subway station awaiting transportation. The ban also includes people waiting to buy movie tickets or buy a hot dog from a street vendor.

Wave editorial cartoonist Bob Sarnoff recently received the First Filmaker’s Spirit of Queens Award for his highlyacclaimed short movie, “The Romeows (Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays).” The award was given to those filmmakers and community members who display an independent spirit and vision inherent in the Borough of Queens.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has urged President Barack Obama to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who was sent to prison 24 years ago for sending classified information to Israel. In the past, there has been a lot of opposition to freeing Pollard from local civic and veterans groups.

Some frightening data was recently released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s mental health findings. That report says that 45.1 million adults (19.9 percent) have mental illness to one degree or another. Of those 20 percent also have a substance use disorder. The stunning report adds that an estimated 18.4 million people 18 years of age or older had serious thoughts of suicide – 3.5 percent of men and 3.9 percent of women. What the report says about the American people remains to be seen.

In the wake of a recent announcement that the city would soon lay off thousands of teachers, the education department is quietly increasing computer consultant contracts for the coming school year. According to published reports in the Daily News, hightech consultants, who track the data that flows from all the standardized testing done by the city and state, are slated to rake in $52 million in taxpayer funds next fiscal year, up from $12.3 million this year.

Rockaway residents getting a new phone number will soon have a new area code – 929. That area code, the phone company says, will overlay the area now served by the 718, 347 and parts of 917 area codes. The new numbers will go into service on April 16. Those who already have a number will not be impacted by the new area code.

A new report says that people in the Ninth Congressional District of New York, which includes Rockaway, face severe food hardships. According to the report, the worst area in the city is the South Bronx, with 32 percent of the residents facing a food hardship. The Ninth District ranks thirteenth in the city, with 9.0 percent of the residents facing food hardship.

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