2011-08-19 / Columnists


Early on the morning of September 11, the Friends of Tribute Park will unveil the park’s latest feature – a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. The steel has been housed at JFK Airport since shortly after the 2001 terrorist attack. Tribute Park, on Beach 116 Street, will be the first city park in New York to host a piece of the WTC steel.

The new Far Rockaway East Park on Seagirt Boulevard between Beach 11 Street and Beach 17 Street is taking shape and portions of the new park will open in October. It is a beautiful facility, with playgrounds, a skate park, a concert venue and lots of basketball courts. It will be a welcome addition to the Far Rockaway community.

We believed that now that Audrey Pheffer is the Queens County Clerk, supposedly a non-political position, that she could not endorse candidates. We found, however, that there is no law stating that she can’t get involved in partisan politics. There have been some complaints that her explicit endorsements of candidate Y. Phillip Goldfeder for her Assembly seat might somehow be illegal, so we’re just clarifying the issue.

After reading an editorial in The Wave a few weeks ago urging that the city bring back technical-vocational high schools, we got a call from Grady High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, saying that the school is alive and well and looking for Rockaway students that would like to pursue a vocational career. The high school offers many career-oriented, hands-on programs, such as auto shop, culinary arts, computer technology and construction/ electrical, and heating/cooling, programs that lead to good jobs and much-needed skills.

After eight years as the acting chief of staff for City Councilman James Sanders Jr., Donovan Richards has been promoted to the chief of staff position. It is widely believed that Richards will inherit the Council spot once Sanders is term-limited in two years.

The bedbug problem at the Surfside complex in Rockaway Park may be far more widespread than we first believed. Ever since the story about the bedbug infestation broke in last week’s paper, we have been told of several more cases. Judging by the poll results, it looks as if the Democratic Party bosses might have shot themselves in the foot once again by giving the nod to David Weprin to run for Tony Weiner’s seat. Those polls show a statistical dead heat between Weprin, the political insider, and Bob Turner, the Breezy Point businessman, who is pointedly a political outsider.

Now that the House Ethics Committee has found that Congressman Gregory Meeks broke House rules by taking a $40,000 loan from a supporter and not reporting it on his financial disclosure papers for three years, the House will take up the question of punishment. That’s just another problem for Meeks, who is under investigation by both state and federal authorities for several other transgressions.

When a team of officials from a number of city agencies went into the Rockaway Park Hotel on Beach 116 Street for a long inspection, they found more than a dozen violations, we were told by a person on the team, but not enough to close it down. The problems are not in the building, but on the street, where residents of the facility have taken to aggressive panhandling and even crime, making shoppers very uncomfortable and keeping them from coming to the vital shopping street.

In a recent Marist Poll, more than 70 percent of American voters say that the government – the President and Congress – are incapable of leading the nation out of the financial crisis that it faces. “There is a crisis of confidence,” one of the poll officials said. A large percentage of those polled believed that it would be best to clean house of all of our federal leaders and start all over again. If that’s not a ringing indictment, we’ve never heard one.

John Cori, the head of the new “Friends of Rockaway Beach” group says that he would like to clarify his opinion about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “They have been very helpful and accommodating to the group,” Cori says. “They have answered all of my questions and have passed along as much information as possible. Their help has allowed us to pass up-to-date information to the people of Rockaway.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered that city agencies not ask about a criminal background on the initial application for city jobs. The applicants, the mayor has ordered, cannot be asked about a criminal record until they have made it through the interview process. “I believe that as long as you served your time and stayed clean, and the crime is not related to the job you’re seeking or a threat to public safety, you deserve a second chance just like everyone else,” the mayor said in announcing the new procedure. The move was part of the mayor’s initiative to boost the prospects of unemployed black and Latino men, including those who have had a brush with the law.

The Board of Regents has hired 13 research fellows at $180,000 each to insure that the federal regs are followed. Six of the 11 have never taught; five others have a total of 10 years classroom experience. Why not some experienced people?

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