2011-05-27 / Columnists

Beachcomber

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Audrey Pheffer recently left the State Assembly to become the Queens County Clerk, the person responsible for the court’s paperwork, as well as for lining up people for jury duty. She joked recently that she has lots of new friends who would like her to take them off the jury duty rolls. “I ask them why they don’t want to do their civic duty,” she says with a laugh. That usually ends the conversation.

The word that the Brooklyn Diocese is closing the St. Mary Star of the Sea School in Far Rockaway came as a shock to many of those who graduated from the school, which has been in operation for more than 100 years. The story is a familiar one, not enough students and too many expenses. The diocese has promised that it will find space for the remaining students in other parochial schools throughout the peninsula, but it will be a long trip for the Far Rockaway youngsters to travel each day to St. Rose of Lima School on Beach 84 Street and St. Camillus School on Beach 100 Street. In addition, both of those schools are near the limit because of the demise of the St. Virgilius School two years ago.

The battle between the board of directors and the union that represents the workers at Dayton Beach Park continues unabated. One union source told us recently that there might well be a strike against the complex in the coming weeks, something that neither the union nor the directors really want. A union representative told The Wave, “Even in hard times, the cost of living is rising. Instead of treating their workers with respect and dignity, the board president is trying to cut costs on the backs of the hard-working people who keep the buildings running and the residents safe.” On the other hand, board members say they can no longer afford the high pay and benefits the workers demand.

Geraldine D. Chapey, the mother of Democratic District Leader Geraldine M. Chapey, and a member of the State Board of Regents, has angered many of the peninsula’s teachers by voting in favor of a plan that would tightly tie their salary and their access to tenure to student achievement test scores. The new ruling says that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation each year will be based on student improvement in the two standardized high-stake tests in reading and math. The newest Regent, Kathleen Cashin, who once ran Rockaway’s schools as the head of Region Five, and a long-time educator, voted against the plan, arguing that the more you count tests for rating teachers, the more those teachers will eschew real education and teach to the test.

There are rumors bouncing around that the shopping center on Beach 112 Street and Beach Channel Drive that is anchored by Waldbaum’s will soon be closing down. When the rumor finally got to The Wave, we checked with both the A&P Company, which owns Waldbaum’s and with the union that represents the workers at the supermarket and both tell us that there is no truth to the rumor. In addition, both Ciro’s Pizza and the Citibank in the strip mall tell us they are going nowhere.

The Belle Harbor Steak House on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Park, has filed with the State Liquor Board for an alteration of its license so that it can build a sidewalk café in front of the premises. Should be a nice amenity for the coming summer months. The public has a chance to comment on the application by contacting either the liquor board or Community Board 14 in Far Rockaway.

Those who enjoyed the professional hockey played at the Aviator Sports complex on Flatbush Avenue last season will be glad to know that the New York Aviators will be back at the arena and that the Federal Hockey League now has eight teams. Joining last year’s teams in Akwesasne (Canada), Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Danbury (Connecticut), Brooklyn and 1000 Islands (upstate New York) will be the New Jersey Outlaws, Green Mountain (Vermont), and Danville (Illinois). The word is that most of last year’s players will be coming back for the next season, which starts in October.

Even as the mayor talks about laying off thousands of teachers, the DOE is preparing to hire 500 new teachers for September, 400 of them from the New York Teaching Fellows and 100 from Teach for America. Teachers who are about to lose their jobs consider the move “mind-boggling.” One young teacher in danger of being laid off from a local school asked why the DOE can’t switch the laid off teachers to the slots they are trying to fill with the new hires. “With some retraining, I can teach anything,” the local teacher said. She and others believe that the move is all part of Bloomberg’s attempt to break the union in New York City.

In last week’s edition we erred by saying that the Parks Department renovated the roller hockey rink at Beach 108 Street and Shore Front Parkway. In fact, it was the Rockaway Rockies that did the work.

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