2012-02-03 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Those of you who like icy water should mark your calendar for this Saturday, February 4 and the annual Plunge for Cystic Fibrosis. The plunge will again take place on the beachfront at Beach 99 Street at 1 p.m. Registration and the after-dip party will take place at St. Camillus Church.

The first homicide of the year in Rockaway took place in the 101 Precinct, on Seagirt Boulevard and Beach 31 Street on January 23. Police sources say that the murder looks like an execution, with the victim taking one shot to the back of the head. Since the victim had a drug record, sources say they are looking at drug rivals for the hit.

The announcement that a deal has been inked that will keep the Rockaway Artists Alliance in Fort Tilden for five years shows some promise for the other groups that use that venue – the Rockaway Little League and the Rockaway Theatre Company. While neither the RAA nor Gateway officials have been forthcoming on the details of the deal, we will file a Freedom of Information Law request this week with the feds to get a look at the contract.

It’s good to see that the city has put out a Request for Proposals for the aging and deteriorating Rockaway Courthouse on Beach Channel Drive at Beach 92 Street. When these RFPs were issued in the past, we often shook our heads, convinced that nothing would ever come of the effort. With the development of Arverne By the Sea and a new Y, and with Stop and Shop in Arverne, we now believe that Rockaway is on an uptick and that the group interested in the courthouse for an outpatient surgery medical building might well have the goods to get the job done.

With our own New York Giants in the Super Bowl hunt this Sunday, February 5, we think that things in Rockaway might come to a standstill as locals watch the big game. Bars and restaurants, however, will see a big day no matter who wins the game. Go Giants!

Parents and staff at both PS 215 in Wavecrest and the Peninsula Preparatory Academy in Rockaway Park are already fighting for their schools, with meetings, protest demonstrations and entreaties to the Department of Education. With Bloomberg in charge, however, there may well be nothing they can do to stop the schools from closing in June. A few weeks ago we wondered what had happened to the plaque memorializing Rockaway Icon Mal Bodenlos when the reconstruction of the park on Seagirt Boulevard was undertaken. The Parks Department called this week to say that the plaque had been put into safekeeping and was now back in place at the park. That spokesperson said that the family had been involved in resetting the plaque, so we reached out to his daughter and will do a story about Bodenlos, who mentored a generation of young men in the PAL sports program and is beloved by men of a certain age.

The maps showing the new legislative district lines mandated by the census were to be released before the last issue went to bed but, like everything else in government, the maps did not show up as promised. We did hear from solid sources, however, that the new lines do not impact Rockaway very much in either the Senate or Assembly. Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said that he picked up a couple of blocks in Rockaway and lost a couple on the mainland. We are all still stuck with one Senate district and that means Malcolm Smith – at least for now.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will go to any length to keep city workers from disputing his view of the city and what it should be like. With the controversy raging over the FDNY lawsuit and the city calling for Judge Nicholas Garaufis to be removed from the case, Bloomberg wants to make sure that “materials presenting opinions or viewpoints” other than his own do not enter our firehouses and he had his hand-picked commissioner send out the order. Now, firefighters virtually live in the firehouse during tours, and all sorts of material that can be read at home infiltrates the firehouse as well, so the union immediately disputed the order and told its members to simply ignore it and go about their business. “They cannot tell my members that they cannot bring material into the firehouse that has an opinion,” the union head said. “That is incredibly chilling, and what will it be next?” A few hours later, the city sent out a new memo, saying that it only meant opinionated material that was posted on firehouse walls, but that got the shoulder from the union as well.

A study released late last week shows that a growing number of New Yorkers don’t have enough money to retire, meaning that over one-third of those who reach retirement age will have to subsist on Social Security or not retire at all. Between 2000 and 2009, the study shows, the percentage of workers who had access to employer-sponsored retirement plans declined to 40 percent from 48 percent, one of the lowest percentages in the nation, and that only 35 percent of all city workers participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2009. The study pointed out that many city workers were staying on the job well into their 70s and that some were retiring and then founding their own business shortly thereafter.

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