2011-11-18 / Columnists


The story about the Peninsula Hospital Center that ran in Crain’s New York Business two weeks ago is troubling in several ways. First of all, the story makes clear that Steven Zakheim, the husband of Faye Zakheim, the new owner of the troubled hospital, has been involved in the hospital’s affairs. Even though he is legally bound to an agreement he signed in the wake of both local and federal charges of sexual harassment and Medicare fraud, he continues to be involved in the affairs of the hospital, attending board meetings and advising his wife. In addition, the story talks of changing the status of the hospital and taking it into the for-profit realm. There is also local talk of the hospital laying off workers on the grounds that the hospital is cutting back, but then hiring workers from the Brooklyn Orthodox community to replace them at an even higher salary. Last of all, it turns out that Todd Miller, the new CEO of the hospital, and an old crony of Steven Zakheim, is earning $30,000 a month – $360,000 a year. That’s a tidy sum to pay a person for running a bankrupt hospital that is laying off staff and moving paying programs out of the building. The whole thing gives the community bad vibes.

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is offering a new plate for veterans. The updated version features the U.S. flag in the background and the word “Veteran” appears to the left of the plate number. Applicants are required to submit their DD-214 as proof of service.

When Barry Goldwater was running for president in 1964, he made a statement that today sounds prescient. “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them,” he said.

Sten Molin was the young first officer flying the departure of American Airlines Flight 587 from John F. Kennedy Airport to the Dominican Republic early on the morning of November 12, 2001. When the tail fell off over Jamaica Bay, the plane, with 260 crew and passengers aboard, crashed into Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, killing those aboard, including Molin, and five locals on the ground. There is a memorial fund in Molin’s name that provides money for Oneida Community Mansion House in Connecticut and for Experience Aviation, a non-profit that provides students a chance to work in the field of aviation. Those interested in donating can reach the fund through Jan Gisholt at 115 West 74 Street, NY, NY 10023.

Just as 55 million Social Security recipients are about to get the first benefit increase in three years, Congress is looking at a plan that would reduce future raises by adopting a new definition of inflation that would also increase taxes for most families – the biggest impact coming on the oldest and poorest of Americans.

The fire department is reminding residents that it is time to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, if they hadn’t already done so when they changed their clocks last week. In addition, FDNY officials say, the carbon monoxide detectors are good only for seven or eight years, and once their time has run out, the entire detector has to be replaced, not just the batteries.

The decade-long flawed and criminal process to get a gambling Racino at the aging Aqueduct Racetrack is over. The process left State Senator Malcolm Smith under investigation and several other local pols tainted. Now, however, the facility is up and running and a major success by any indicator you can look for. In the first three days alone, more than 65,000 patrons anted up at the new South Ozone Park attraction. There have been hours-long lines and the traffic jams on the major access roads – the Belt Parkway, Rockaway Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard – were monumental. The owners, Genting New York, will soon begin to run shuttle buses between the facility and JFK Airport.

In the wake of all the complaining throughout the city about bicycle lanes, the city has finally promulgated a new policy mandating community board approval before new bike lanes can be dropped on the board’s streets. The Department of Transportation will have to make a presentation for each proposed bike lane and be required to provide 90 days notice before construction. We wonder if Community Board 14 can request a do-over for our bike lanes in the light of the fact that the DOT commissioner, Janette Sadik- Kahn, lied when she said that the community knew about our bike lanes well before they were installed.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, who represents Rockaway, is running a gun buyback program in Brooklyn. It makes you wonder what’s going on. Doesn’t Rockaway have enough guns to warrant Smith’s sponsorship of a gun buyback program here? Just this week, a livery car driver was killed for $200. The thug who did the shooting could have gotten as much by selling back his gun and he would not now be sought for murder.

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