2011-06-03 / Columnists

Beachcomber

According to an April 1911 edition of the New York Times, two Broad Channel fishermen, Otto Schmidt and Fred Dieckman, out for a day of fishing for weakfish in the Jamaica Bay Silver Hole were taken for a ride around the bay when they hooked a shark instead. After being towed around the bay for some time, they managed to pull the large shark into the boat and killed it with an axe they had brought along.

With the City Council set to take up the mayor’s budget proposals, many groups are making noise about his cuts. There was a large protest on the boardwalk last week over the proposed library cuts. Senior citizens joined in northern Queens to decry the cuts to senior centers, and a number of firehouse demonstrations were held as well. City Councilman Eric Ulrich told The Wave last week that he and his colleagues are going to fight the mayor item by item. “There is something wrong when you have one road crew for all of Queens,” Ulrich said. “The budget includes the good, the bad and the ugly,” said the councilman. “It’s balanced and it includes no new taxes, but the mayor’s ‘do more with less’ philosophy just doesn’t work for cops, firefighters and teachers.”

There were four shooting incidents in Rockaway in the last two weeks – two in Far Rockaway, one in Ocean Bay Houses and the other in Hammels.

A quick and decidedly unempirical study of the mayor’s new smoking ban in public places such as the beach and boardwalk, which started on May 23, is being honored more in the breach. Bloomberg wants the public to police the new ban, but most of the locals we spoke to said that they would not want to order somebody to stop smoking because it might lead to violence against them. The Parks Enforcement Police (PEP) are tasked with giving out $50 tickets to anybody smoking on the beach or boardwalk, but we haven’t seen many of them around recently. Seems they only come to Rockaway during the summer months.

Insiders say that the special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Audrey Pheffer when she left to become the Queens County Clerk, will most likely be held on primary day, September 13. It seems that Breezy Point resident and ex-police officer Jane Deacy has the Republican nod all but locked up. As usual, the Democrats are in a dogfight for the party nod. The insider seems to be Jo Ann Shapiro, who has worked alongside Pheffer for more than two decades. Then, there’s Democratic District leader Lew Simon, who will take another try a an elected position after several past failures – most recently for Joe Addabbo’s seat in the City Council, which was wrested from Democratic control by Eric Ulrich a year ago. Another party regular who is reportedly seeking the seat is Y. Phillip Goldfeder, a former Bloomberg aide who now works for Senator Chuck Schumer. He might well be the favorite of the Orthodox community in Far Rockaway, a voting block that has put Pheffer over the top many times over the years. The last reported player, Paul Schubert, who bills himself as the “Rockaway Tiger,” has no chance for the party nod, but could probably get the 1,500 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. is once again complaining that, when it comes to lifeguards, the west end gets the gravy while the east end gets the beans. He held a meeting last week to complain that all of the beaches in the west end are open and patrolled on summer weekends, while the majority of the beaches in the east end are closed for lack of lifeguards. That is just not true, but Sanders uses the fiction to his political advantage.

The city’s Department of Education has dropped the ball again. The City of Long Beach, just to our east, was concerned about drownings on its beaches, so the city made a nine-minute public service announcement and distributed it to all of its schools. Soon, surrounding beach communities asked for copies for their own students. When the New York City BOE was offered free copies of the tape, however, the city agency turned them down. The film depicts teens at the beach when lifeguards are not on duty, something that has been a real problem in Rockaway over the past several years.

Deputy Inspector Thomas Barrett, the long-time commanding officer of the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Beach, retired from duty in the middle of May. The new commanding officer, named just this week is Captain Scott Olexa, who had never worked in Rockaway, but has extensive time in the Patrol Borough Queens South Command, the adminsitrative control unit for the eight preceincts in southers Queens. Perhaps Olexa is best-known, at lest within the NYPD itself, for investigating the Sean Bell incident in 2006 and then writing the depaqrtment’s report on the shooting incident in which Bell was shot and killed and his two companions were wounded. Olexa began work on June 1 and will attend his first Precinct Community Council meeting next week.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is looking for volunteers for its Floatables Beach Surveillance Program this summer. Floatables are waterborne waste materials that float up on to the beach, such as Styrofoam, balloons, fishing line, medical waste and raw sewage. Volunteers will not have pick up the waste, just record it. The DEP needs the volunteers in its effort to keep beaches clean. Those interested should contact the program at 917-658-2380.

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