2011-04-08 / Columnists


Although officials of the National Park Service say that the three “alternative concepts” are more global than practical and that the words in each of the three concepts, “Limited organized recreation,” is meaningless at this point, local residents continue to worry that those words spell the beginning of the end for local recreational and cultural use of Fort Tilden and Riis Park. They question why such priorities as “limited organized recreation” and “activities appropriate for a federal park” are used if they don’t mean anything at all.

There were a number of people who looked at the picture on the front page of our March 25 issue and wondered if the Department of Education had made a giant typo on the championship banner. In the photograph of the championship Scholars’ Academy team, it looks as if the word “basketball” was spelled with an “H” in the middle, rather than a “K.” Turns out, however, that the font the DOE used for the banner happens to have a capital K that looks more like a capital H. The DOE says that it will use a different font next time.

For the first time ever, two local politicians have been given the “New York Knucklehead Award” by the Daily News in the same month. First came City Councilman James Sanders Jr., for being tricked – “practically forced” – into taking a huge mortgage that he could not, or did not want to, pay off. Sanders, who has been fighting against predatory lending for years, took a $588,000 mortgage on a Far Rockaway home. He paid no down payment (only if you’re a powerful politician) and then could not make the $3,000 a month payments. He’s blaming the bank that gave him the mortgage. Then, just this week, a Washington, D.C insider publication printed the story that Congressman Anthony Weiner, who regularly riles against United Nations members who do not pay their city parking tickets, had amassed $2,180 in Washington parking tickets, which have since been paid.

A parent whose daughter was on the 2010 girls volleyball team at the Scholars’ Academy, a team that won a city championship, called to say that our headline, “Scholars’ Wins First Championship,” was incorrect because of the 2010 win. Technically, she’s correct, although we were talking about basketball, not volleyball.

For a guy who claims not to care about his poll numbers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pouring lots of his own money into a television and mail campaign to raise his sagging poll numbers. Sources say that Bloomberg will pour up to $2 million to tell New Yorkers how great he is and how much he has done for them over the past 10 years. The census data for Rockaway is curious. Until a few years ago, the Long Island Power Authority provided data based on the number of electrical connections made on the peninsula. That data showed that Rockaway had approximately 120,000 residents, giving some hope to the idea that Rockaway would one day not have to share a City Council member or an assemblyperson with the mainland. The 2010 census data, however, says that we have only 115,000 people living on the peninsula. With Arverne by the Sea and other large-scale development, one would think that we would be much higher. Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, who has been around for more than two decades, thinks that we’ve been undercounted by 5,000 to 10,000 residents, and we’d have to agree.

State Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel and large chunks of Brooklyn, has quit the Senate’s ethics panel in the wake of a probe that she has directed public money into a non-profit charity that she founded. A Senate spokesperson said, “Senator Huntley asked to come off the committee so that its work wouldn’t be overshadowed and she could focus on the needs of her community.”

Talk about bad taste and a lack of understanding for the dignity of those who gave their all for the city. Just minutes before a wake was set to begin for an ex-NYPD police officer, who died of cancer last week, the medical examiner’s office showed up and grabbed the body. Seems that the attending physician wrote on the cop’s death certificate that he had died of gastric cancer that was related to his work at Ground Zero in the months after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who does not want city money going to 9/11 heroes, would like to expunge any mention of 9/11 on the death certificates of those who die of toxic illnesses, so he has ordered the ME’s office to do its own autopsies in such cases. The family was horrified that the city showed up and snatched the body right from the funeral home, but Bloomberg said that it was the right thing to do. “I’m sorry that anybody felt upset about it,” the mayor said, once again showing that he has no understanding of what the majority of residents in this city are thinking and feeling.

Most of those who attended the town hall meeting that brought Congressman Anthony Weiner to Rockaway went away with a good feeling about our Representative. He promised unequivocally to fight for community access to Gateway National Recreation Area, where negotiations are already underway by a number of the local groups; against the extension of JFK runways in Jamaica Bay; for the renewal of a toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge; as well as addressing a number of other local issues.

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