2012-01-13 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Rubbing Up The Old Crystal Ball (January to May)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

I finally found the old crystal ball, packed up with a box full of old Wave issues at the bottom of a carton I moved seven years ago and forgot about, in the back of the hall closet.

When I rubbed it up, however, it popped to life as if I had used it only yesterday.

Here’s what it told me about 2012. JANUARY

The federal government approved a plan to place two new runways at John F. Kennedy Airport. Both of those runways would push into Jamaica Bay, one touching the shoreline of Bayswater and the other the shoreline of Broad Channel. “That’s no problem,” the Secretary of the Interior said. “It won’t impact more than a couple of hundred homes.”

Iran, wanting to challenge “The Great Satan,” and angered by the fact that its nuclear plants keep blowing up and a computer virus is eating up its network, attacks the USS John Stennis, an aircraft carrier entering the Gulf of Hormuz. One hundred and sixtythree U.S. sailors are killed and 35 aircraft are destroyed when a French Exorcet missile shot from an old American F-4 Phantom II strikes the vessel. President Barack Obama promises to study the attack to make sure that Iran did it and says that “stern measures” would be taken against whomever ordered the missile attack. Progressives cheer Obama for his “restraint in the face of adversity.”

The first big primary of the election cycle was held in Florida on January 31 and the three-way race consisting of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul was only heightened when the three came in tied. The final debates were marked by acrimony over the acknowledged attack on the Stennis. Ron Paul said that the American ship had no business being there in the first place and promised to end all wars. He blamed “Israeli warmongers” for ordering the attack and making it look like Iran did it, even though Iran acknowledged that it made the attack. Rick Santorum prayed for the victims and said he believes in freedom, even for Iranians. Mitt Romney first said that he would support an attack on Iran, but soon after changed his minds and said that an attack would be “self-destructive.” FEBRUARY

The officials at Gateway National Recreation Area made public the plan for the future of the park. The plan said that it wanted the park to be “community friendly,” but that ongoing events such as little league games, musical performances and art shows were “not appropriate uses” of the park and that the Rockaway Little League, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Rockaway Theatre Company would have to find other places to go. They gave the groups until July 1 to move out because they are going to close Fort Tilden on that date to plant more marsh grass, which everybody wants.

When a senior citizen in Colorado challenges the three top candidates for the Republican nomination on the questions of Social Security and Medicare, Ron Paul said that nobody should depend on the government for anything and that the 80-year-old man should “go out and get a job.” Mitt Romney said he once favored some form of health insurance when he was governor, but now opposed it. We should repeal Obamacare and let each state decide for itself he said. Santorum urged the repeal of the health care bill and said that everything should be turned over to the stock market and the health care providers. “Private enterprise will take care of everybody’s problems,” he said. The three came within three points of each other, although Paul and Santorum challenged Romney for not being a real conservative and therefore unworthy of running the country.

The state’s Department of Health, winding up an investigation of Revival’s governance of Peninsula Hospital Center, ordered that the board of directors choose a new CEO, ruling that Todd Miller was put in place against state regulation. The board votes the next day to keep Miller in the job. MARCH

The Department of Education announces that it is closing all of Rockaway’s schools, with the exception of three, for “persistent educational failure.” Thousands of students find themselves without schools, but the new schools sited in the closing buildings can take on 1,000 of them. As for the rest, a DOE spokesperson says, “the train ride to the mainland will do them good and open their horizons to other communities.” At the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a horse-drawn cart carrying the Grand Marshal of the parade bolts and runs over four teen bicycle riders in the “shared bike lanes.” Mayor Bloomberg, who may have spiked the horses by yelling at residents who were booing him, immediately cancelled all further parades in Rockaway. APRIL

State Senator Shirley Huntley, Congressman Gregory Meeks and State Senator Malcolm Smith are all indicted by federal law enforcement agencies for wrongdoing in relation to dealing with public funds and their non-profit organizations. The next day, all three are indicted in state court as well. Then, the House Ethics Committee calls for Meeks’ ouster. Former Congressman Anthony Wiener takes his place in the House of Representatives.

Airbus Industries is found guilty in its involvement with an Air France Airbus A-320 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The court ruled that the tails on the A-300 series planes disbanded from the body and that Airbus knew about the problem at least since the crash of American Airlines Flight 586 in Rockaway in 2001. MAY

The Rockaway Ocean run comes to a halt when the boardwalk at Beach 112 Street crashed into the sand, injuring 85 runners.

The Rockaway Little League, unable to find sufficient fields on which to play its season, ends its run, promising to find some fields to play on for the 2013 season.

More in two weeks.

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