2011-04-15 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The forces opposed to extending the runways at John F. Kennedy Airport into Jamaica Bay have been marshalling to fight the plan. The plan is based largely on the belief that the bay is “dead” at that point and that extending the runways would do no harm. Local environmentalists and fishermen say the bay is teeming with life, even in the borrow pits where sand was removed to build the original runways at JFK. A few years ago, an environmental group put Scuba divers in the borrow pits and proved that there were fish and other life in that area.

Pictures of the tail surface from the Air France Airbus A330 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil are eerily reminiscent of the photos of the NYPD taking the tail of American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, out of Jamaica Bay in November of 2001. Two years ago, the NTSB added to the report of the crash of AA 587, stating that Airbus had to take some of the blame for the crash because of flaws in its system that controls the rudder. Last month, a French court ruled that Airbus could be tried for murder in the case of the Air France crash. There have been more than a dozen “upsets” involving the tail surface of the Airbus A300 Series Aircraft, and the chickens are apparently finally coming home to roost. Only American Airlines flies A 300 series planes on passenger routes , but several cargo airlines, including FedEx and UPS, use the planes.

Rockaway once again got wide recognition for a stupid act. When Jason Maloney saw general aviation pilots landing on the beach in Alaska, he thought it would be cool to try that himself. A medical student and licensed pilot, Maloney was flying over the Rockaway beachfront on Monday evening with two friends, when the thought apparently struck him that it was a good time to try a beach landing. He called the tower at JFK and told them that he had a sick passenger on board and wanted to land on the beach. When a controller told him that it was illegal to land on the public beach, he asked if there were a private beach nearby. When the controller told him he could only land if he declared an emergency, he said that his engine was running rough. He would not, however, declare an emergency, so he was refused permission to land. He landed anyway, drawing a massive emergency response. When one of the detectives from the 101 Precinct told him that they were taking him to the police station, he said, “They do it all the time in Alaska.” The detective’s response? “Welcome to New York City.”

The good news is that construction on the Rockaway Y on Beach 73 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard will begin next month. The bad news is that it will take 18 months to complete. We have been waiting for a recreational facility in Rockaway for so long, we can probably wait another year or so.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg still doesn’t get it. Cathie Black is gone and she took her 17 percent likeability rating with her. It was clear from the beginning that the great majority of parents understand that the chancellor’s position should be filled by a professional educator. So, he chose Douglas Walcott, another political hack, whose only educational credential was as Bloomberg’s Board of Education president. He said that he deserves the job because he went to public schools and was the fourth generation in his family to do so.

The mayor talks of closing 20 firehouses and laying off more than 3,000 teachers, but his administration continues to paint crazy white lines all over the peninsula. A week ago, we saw crews repainting the bicycle lanes, and the company that was doing the painting was from New Jersey. He can’t even find a New York company to do the “vital” work the city needs.

The Department of Education has extended the deadline for those parents who want to apply to serve on the district Community Education Councils (CEC). The DOE spin is that the agency wants to give the “widest possible cross-section of parents” a chance to apply, but the sad fact is that the DOE gave a party and nobody showed up. Sources say that there were not enough applicants to fill the vacancies on the nine-member boards for each district, and that the extension was a way to seek new applicants and erase the embarrassment of failure. When the school boards were still in place, they held elections for the board seats, and dozens of people wanted the job. Now, with no power and little to do but rubberstamp the decisions of the district superintendent, very few parents want a job that they consider to be a joke and a rubber stamp.

In last week’s paper, we identified as a passenger of the small aircraft that landed on the beach in Rockaway a woman sitting in an ambulance at the scene. In fact, the woman in the ambulance was Rockaway Point EMT Kaitlin Doyle, not Chelsea Protter. We apologize for the error and any embarrassment we caused Doyle.

Nanny York City continues to grow. Last week, City Councilman Leroy Comrie introduced a bill that would ban restaurants from giving away toys with meals containing more than 500 calories. That would effectively do away with the “Happy Meals” that McDonald’s sells by the millions and other kid-friendly packages. Comrie, who is grossly overweight himself, thinks that touting the toys with unhealthy foods will lead to a life of obesity.

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