2012-02-17 / Columnists


Part of the charm of the New Year’s Day and Cystic Fibrosis dips are that they are in the winter and those who participate have to brave cold, wind and even snow to take the dip. Not so this year, where the events took place with the air temperatures in the 50s and the water temperatures in the 40s. Not balmy, but not too bad for January and February in New York City. The weather brought out record numbers of participants, and even if old-timers grumbled about the balmy weather, not many were listening.

The health department’s closure of the Last Stop restaurant on Beach 116 Street brought out a new reality. There are few places in the west end of Rockaway to sit down and have a bacon and eggs breakfast or a quick and inexpensive lunch plate. What the west end needs is a real diner, something that the area had for decades before first the Ram’s Horn and then the Rockaway Sunset Diner closed their doors. The new two-story diner and bakery on Beach 116 Street never caught on for reasons that had nothing to do with the lack of interest in a diner. Last Stop, roaches notwithstanding, is decent, but with only 20 seats or so, a real diner is desperately needed. Over the past few weeks, the outlook for the 9th Congressional District has improved to the point where it looks as if it will survive the cut when the reapportionment is completed by the state legislature. First, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver announced that, with the impending retirement of an upstate Democrat, he would rather see that person’s district cut than the 9th, which covers part of Rockaway. Then, Assemblyman Rory Lancman announced that he would seek the seat, now held by Republican Bob Turner. Silver and other Democratic officials think that Turner can be beat, and Lancman is the man to beat him. They thought the same thing about Dave Weprin and look what that got them.

Captain Scott Olexa, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Park, said that there has been an “uptick” in crimes involving debit and credit cards, and urges locals to be careful when using bank ATMs and gas station automated pumps. “Use one hand to cover the keypad when you are entering your PIN,” Olexa says. “That way, crooks using skimmers to read the magnetic strip on your card won’t be able to steal your money.” The crooks need both the information on your card (imbedded on the magnet strip read by the skimmer) and your PIN to access your account. Generally speaking, the thieves use a pinhole camera to record the PIN as you are entering it on the keypad.

Social media have become the quick disseminator of news in the modern era. Unfortunately, the news transmitted over Facebook and Twitter is not always factual, we have found of late. First, was the story of “the green car with no mirrors.” Social media reported with some gravity that the man driving the car had tried to entice several local kids walking home from school or sports practice to take a ride. The story reached the police, and officers stopped a green car with no mirrors. He was ticketed for the lack of mirrors, but there was nothing else the police could do because the driver had committed no crime that had been reported to the police. Then, there was the “thugs posing as LIPA workers” story. According to the social media, the two men posing as workers had pushed into several homes, stripping them of valuables. Once again, there were LIPA workers in the area, but there were no reported push-in robberies. Like the old game of “Telephone,” the story seems to be embellished with each retelling and the stories seem to frighten people who then fear for their safety. Rockaway residents have been clamoring to be allowed to ride their bikes on the boardwalk for many years. Now, that is coming to fruition with the parks department removing the benches on the boardwalk farthest from the beach and replacing them with a dedicated bike lane like the one on the Long Beach boardwalk. It’s a move that seems to have been approved by everybody except for those who liked to sit on the benches and contemplate the nature of the universe. The general population is finally realizing what a charlatan our mayor really is, especially when it comes to running the school system. While the mayor got high ratings when he announced in 2008 that more than 80 percent of the city’s public schools deserved an A or a B grade, his ratings have since fallen as people realize those reports were all smoke and mirrors. In a recent poll, only 24 percent of those polled said that the mayor’s control of the schools is a success. A full 57 percent called his control a failure. By 61 percent to 26 percent, voters said that they disapproved of the mayor’s handling of the schools. On the question of protecting the rights of students while educating them, 51 percent of the voters said that the UFT does it better, while 31 percent trust the mayor over the teachers union. The mayor credited the poll to the large number of “negative ads” about his administration and the way it runs the school system paid for and run by the union.

Scholars’ Academy will host a night at the Brooklyn Aviators game on March 2. The Aviators, a professional ice hockey team that plays at the Aviator Sport and Recreation Complex at Floyd Bennett Field, are fighting for a playoff slot in the Federal Hockey League. Tickets to the game will be sold at the school and at the door. In addition, team players will come to the school to speak with the students during their lunch periods.

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