2011-12-30 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The Wave management and staff want to wish our readers and our advertisers a very happy and healthy New Year. Remember to stay safe if you are going to be on the road for New Year’s Eve and that a designated driver is always a good idea.

Despite the fact that the media has reported that the 100 Precinct in Rockaway is the most crime-ridden in New York City, at least based on an incorrect interpretation of endof year statistics, it is clear to those who live in Rockaway that the real crime wave exists in the 101 Precinct, on the eastern end of the peninsula, with incidents of commercial robberies, shooting incidents and a rash of thefts of electronic equipment on the A Line. Employees in two Far Rockaway stores were busted last week in a police sting that netted dozens of people who were knowingly buying stolen high-end electronics such as iPads and iPhones and then selling them in their stores for $50 or $100. We’re sure that those arrested are going to argue that they did not know the goods were stolen, but when undercover officers went to the stores, they clearly told the workers that it was stolen property.

The polls for New York City mayor in 2013 have begun and the first findings are interesting. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly topped the list with 24 percent. Council Speaker Christine Quinn was tied for second with “Don’t Know” at 18 percent. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (13 percent), former City Comptroller William Thompson, who lost to Mayor Bloomberg last time (7 percent), present City Comptroller John Liu (9 percent), Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (6 percent) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (5 percent) follow. Of course, nobody knows whether Kelly wants to run or even for which party he would run.

The political differences between our two Congressmen was seen in the recent vote on renewing the tax credit and federal unemployment payments. All of the Democrats, including Gregory Meeks, voted against the bill, which called for the Senate to redo a bipartisan agreement that had already been worked out. Eight Republicans, embarrassed that they were going back on an agreement made by the party’s leaders, voted with the Democrats. All the other Republicans, including Bob Turner, voted in favor of the motion, which would have effectively ended unemployment benefits at six months and cost every worker about $1,000 in extra taxes over the next year. In addition, doctors seeing Medicare recipients would have seen a 27 percent cut in their reimbursement. The hue and cry over the fact that Congress could not get it done forced the Republicans to give President Barack

Obama a victory and the GOP quickly came into line and voted for the proposal two days later. The workers at the new Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, which has drawn thousands of Rockaway gamblers in its first months of operation, have voted to unionize. As part of the deal for getting the property, Genting New York had to agree to allow the workers to unionize should they choose to do so, and they did. The union and Genting will now have to sit down and knock out a contract, but it should be easy to do because the casino has raked in $70 million since opening last October.

We were surprised when we were shopping on Beach 129 Street that neither Plum Tomatoes nor its adjourning store, Bon Appetit, had signs designating their restaurant grade. The city’s Department of Health mandates that every restaurant place a sign in the front window. While some might designate “Grade Pending,” every restaurant has to have a sign. Wondering about the lack of any sign, we emailed the Department of Health and then followed the email with a call. The problem grew when we went onto the agency’s website and found that neither was in its database. It was as if they did not exist. We waited a week and then tried again to get some information from the DOH. At that point, we were asked if Plum

Tomatoes was really a restaurant. Perhaps it was a grocery store, which is regulated by a state agency? We told them that it was definitely a restaurant and that Bon Appetit sold both meat and fish dinners that it cooked on site, as well as side dishes. Last week, Plum Tomatoes popped up on the DIH database, and it turned out that it had not been inspected in at least ten years. Why was it not in the agency’s view all these years. No answer was forthcoming. The inspection pulled less than a week after our request for information turned up several critical problems that are now being addressed. The agency added that Bon Appetit was in fact a market, and therefore not under the purview of the DOH. ’Tis a puzzlement.

Three years ago, a group of four State Senators formed a group to take power from the Democratic majority and turn it over to the Republicans. They dubbed themselves the “Four Amigos” because three of the four were Latino. Now, three of the Four Amigos are gone from the scene. A year later, Pedro Espada was indicted for siphoning off $500,000 in funds from his non-profit. He is awaiting trial and recently lost his reelection bid. Hiram Monserrate was expelled from the Senate after a conviction for misdemeanor assault. Carl Kruger resigned last week after pleading guilty to massive bribery charges. The only one left is Reuben Diaz. Shows you what the Senate is made of.

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