2012-01-20 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Most of the city’s municipal unions backed Andrew Cuomo in his race for the governor’s seat. Now, many of them are unhappy that they did so. While every city worker wants the best for his or her city, it seems to many that Cuomo has gone to war with them and their unions, particularly the embattled teachers’ union. Cuomo said this week that he wants to be an advocate for students, and he should be. If he truly wants to be that advocate, however, he should take a closer look at what he is advocating and that is relying even more on the highly-suspect standardized test scores not only to close schools, but to hire, fire and pay teachers as well. Real education is not based on test-taking skills and test prep, but on what teachers have been doing for generations – dialoguing with students and giving them the skills to function in the real world. When Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his State of the City speech at Morris High School, he used that school as an example of rising graduation rate. What he did not say is that state evaluations show that only nine percent of those graduates are prepared for the world of work or for a higher education. That is the true price of Cuomo’s advocacy.

It has been hard not to notice the plethora of cops that flooded the peninsula right after the first of the year and remain on duty as this is written. Local police sources told The Wave that the increased police activity is due to two things: the increased crime statistics detailed in last week’s paper and the need to train the new officers who recently graduated from the police academy. While some complain that the police are an “occupying army” and should go elsewhere, most peninsula residents welcome the increased attention and hope that they will stay around for a while. Traditionally, the increased troops in Operation Impact stay in an area for a month or two at the most.

There are not many who still live on the peninsula who remember Mal Bodenlos, who passed away in 2000. But there is a generation of men of a certain age scattered around the country, as well as in Rockaway, who remember “Mr. Baseball,” the man who brought them into adulthood, taught them about sportsmanship, fair play and life. When he died, a number of Rockaway sports luminaries, including Dickie Webb and Jakie Miller, held a ceremony at the Beach 17 Street O’Donohue Park. There, they planted a plaque in his name and the city was supposed to name the park in his honor. That never happened. Now, with the renovation of the park, that plaque and all mention of Bodenlos are gone. Perhaps it would be fitting for the Department of Parks and Recreation to name the park, or at least the baseball field portion of the park, after the Rockaway icon.

The plan for the restoration and renovation of the old Courthouse on Beach Channel Drive at Beach 92 Street was approved by Community Board 14 last week, allowing it to move forward in a long process of permissions needed for the plan to come to fruition. The plan calls for the courthouse to become a medical center of sorts in conjunction with the new operators of the Peninsula Hospital Center. There are those who are angry that the unused and dilapidated building won’t be used for a community college or town hall, but we are glad that something is finally being done to address the eyesore. Part of the deal that Governor Andrew Cuomo cut with Genting America, the operator of the Aqueduct Racino, is that the MTA will run “dedicated express trains” from the Ozone Park facility to Manhattan for the high-rollers and conventioneers who will use the facility but want to party in Manhattan. That could bode well for Rockaway commuters, who might be able to hook up with the new line for a direct ride to Manhattan. By the way, forget the White Pot Junction line as an option for the new casino line. The mayor wants a park and more bike lanes, and that’s what the unused rail line will become, especially since the governor did not talk to the mayor about the new facility or what it will bring to his city.

Speaking of the mayor, he has taken on smoking, trans-fat, salt and won. Now, he wants to take on alcohol. Bloomberg, known for sipping wine with his friends in city parks and downing a beer on occasion, wants to cut down on the number of establishments in the city that sell alcoholic beverages – bars, wine stores, liquor stores and the like. He plans to use the money from President Obama’s “Community Transformation Grants” to fund the project. His plan will probably not be welcomed with open arms on the Rockaway peninsula.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has started a campaign to bring a full-scale casino to Coney Island rather than to Ozone Park. “Coney Island would be a perfect place for a casino, with its beach and entertainment area,” he said. Why not Rockaway and the Arverne East area from Beach 35 Street to Beach 56 Street? We have the beach, we have the boardwalk and we have the land, especially since the old plan for the area has collapsed due to fiscal considerations.

In last week’s issue, we ran a story about a bus that transports shoppers to the Stop and Shop supermarket on Beach 73 Street from Dayton Towers. We mistakenly said that it runs twice a week when, in fact, it only runs once a week, on Fridays. The service began on December 9.

When does a food store become a restaurant? That question is important because the New York City Department of Health controls and rates restaurants, while the State Department of Agriculture and Markets licenses the supermarkets and food stores. Nobody is sure, including those two agencies, why a place that makes and serves full dinners with side dishes is officially a market, while others that do the same is considered a restaurant.

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