2011-09-30 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The Kareem Bellamy story ended in the quiet K-27 Courtroom in Kew Gardens on Friday, September 16 when Judge Joel Blumenfeld dismissed all charges against the Rockaway man, who was convicted in 1995 of depraved indifference murder in the Arverne stabbing death of James Abbott Jr. While it was a long and winding road for Bellamy, his fortunes touched off the longest-running series of stories in Wave history. We first picked up the story in April of 2008, when a call from a detective at the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway spurred a call to ex-NYPD detective Ed Henson, who had retired and was living in Florida. All in all, The Wave did 23 stories about Bellamy and his search for freedom. This paper was cited by both New York Magazine and The Village Voice for following the story. Now, it is over, with only Bellamy’s story about his journey to be told and Bellamy is attempting to pick up his life where it was left off in 1994, with his conviction for a murder he still says he did not commit.

We lost one of our Congressmen, Anthony Weiner because he texted lewd messages and photographs of himself to several women. While he broke no laws, he was forced by his fellow Democrats to resign. Just last week, our other Congressman, Gregory Meeks, was named by a prestigious watchdog group to the list of “Most Corrupt Congress Members.”

He is embroiled in several controversies, any one of which could get him sanctioned or thrown out of Congress. Those transgressions have been detailed in these pages on many occasions. He is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, by the feds and by New York State. Yet, he continues on. It makes one wonder why sexually based transgressions are worse than outright abuse of power and theft. Perhaps Meeks should retire as well.

It might be hard for those who live in Rockaway to believe, but a website that has been tracking crime throughout the city says that Rockaway is the tenth safest neighborhood in New York City. DNAinfo.com places the Rockaways just behind Flushing and Whitestone and just ahead of Fresh Meadows. Great Kills and Tottenville in Staten Island rank at number one. The site’s advisor, by the way, is Murray Weiss, the great former New York Post crime reporter.

The workers at Dayton Beach Park are moving into their fourth month on strike at the Mitchell-Lama project. In a massive demonstration that brought union workers from other parts of the city, workers said that they are willing to make concessions, but that Board President Jennifer Grady, who grew up in a union home, refuses to give an inch and is determined to break the union. The workers were supported by more than 150 residents, who lined the median on Shore Front Parkway in front of the building complex to show their support. Grady says that the residents can no longer pay the union wages and that the largely-middle class residents are being squeezed out of their homes by costs. There is an election in October, but many residents fear that Grady and her manager will manipulate the ballots to insure that she wins another term. They call for a “free and open election,” where the ballots are counted by an impartial outsider, but it looks like that is not going to happen.

Congressman Anthony Weiner was always active on the beach erosion issue, coming up with federal money to replenish the beaches on several occasions. Now, beach activist John Cori hopes that Bob Turner will do the same. Cori said that he spoke with Turner during the campaign and that the new Congressman promised his support. “We wanted to keep the pressure on.” Cori said. “The sand was withering away even before [Hurricane] Irene.

The city is looking at a plan to raise money by allowing city public housing buildings to be used as billboards for beer, fast food and other products. NYCHA quietly circulated notice last week that it is looking to hire a consultant to advise them on selling advertising space on the public buildings that house more than 400,000 people. The proposal has sparked anger among project residents. “I have a young grandchild, and I don’t want him walking past a McDonald’s ad or a beer ad every day on the way to school. It’s not a good idea,” said one local resident. In response to the complaints, Bloomberg said that all of the billboards would be tasteful and that the city would work hard to get input from residents prior to placing a billboard on the side of a building. Residents, however, remain skeptical. “If it brings in money, the mayor is going to be for it,” the resident said.

With the Aqueduct Racino due to open sometime in October and with full casino gambling once again on the table in the State Legislature, the majority of city residents say they want to roll the dice and allow full casino games at the state’s gambling facilities. The percentage of those who want Las Vegas style casinos has reached majority status, with 56 percent of those polled in a recent Quinnipiac University poll saying they are ready for local gambling. Thirtyseven percent were opposed, a drop of 20 percent in opposition from the last poll, completed two years ago. The Aqueduct facility announced this week that it plans to run shuttle buses from nearby JFK Airport to the facility to pluck those who have to wait a few hours for connecting flights and might like to spend the time gambling instead of sitting in an airport terminal. Many of the jobs at the new facility will be filled by local workers, officials say.

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