2012-03-02 / Columnists


Don’t forget that tomorrow, March 3, the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off at 1 p.m. from Beach 129 Street and Newport Avenue. The parade will move east to Beach 116 Street, turn south to Rockaway Beach Boulevard and then east again to Beach 105 Street. Remember that there will be a number of brief street closings as the parade passes by.

The cost of the decision by Judge Nicholas Garaufis that the fire department recruitment process was racist because too few minorities passed the test, is causing the city millions of dollars in fire department overtime, and now it might cost up to $65 million more in awards to applicants who were “victims” of the testing process. Thousands of applicants might be in line for a large chunk of public money under the federal court ruling, which is being challenged by the city.

Peninsula Hospital Center has been working hard to regain its credibility after its near-closure in August. That mission was sidetracked last week when the vital hospital was once again closed by the state’s Department of Health for draconian problems in the hospital laboratory – blood mistyped; outdated blood and reagents, insufficient staff with poor training, the list went on for a dozen pages. The problem was so bad that state officials did not give PHC the normal 15 days to fix the problem. It closed the hospital down and moved its patients to other facilities. Now, it has 30 days to fix the problem. Hospital officials say it will not take that long for the hospital to reopen.

When you have a statistical report that has an error of plus or minus nearly 30 points, you laugh and move on. That is true of the Department of Education’s recent release of teacher grades based largely on the discredited test scores of the past two years. For example, a teacher who received a grade of 60 on the test could, in reality, have a score of anywhere from 30 to 90. The grades make no sense, using them to rate teachers makes no sense, and releasing them to the newspapers, even under court order, makes the least sense of all. The city could have gone into court and admitted that the scores were worthless in advising parents about their children’s teachers, but it did not. Every teacher in the city should sue the Board of Education. Think that 60,000 lawsuits would do to the court system and the city.

Yahoo news did a piece entitled “Five nabes where you don’t have to live on the edge,” online recently. One of those nabes was Rockaway Beach. It said, “The surfing Mecca in Queens is the largest urban beach in the U.S. with a seven mile-long boardwalk. Known as the ‘anti-Hamptons,’ it is becoming a hotspot for young, creative types – one of the first signs of a property boom. It’s a trek to Manhattan on the A-Train, but the Water Taxi to Pier 11 at Wall Street is faster.” They’re only a year or so behind the news that the ferry no longer runs. Senator Charles Schumer and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder have provided a large service for Rockaway by bringing 24 new residents to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway. They will be funded under a federal program that allows Medicare to fund doctor positions in areas where there are too few primary care doctors for the elderly. The extra positions were available because several Queens hospitals had been closed down and their slots reverted back to the government, officials say. For 50 years, local Tom Mulligan has been running the two beach clubs on federal park property at the western end of the Rockaway peninsula. No longer. Three years ago, the National Park Service decided that all concessions such as the beach clubs had to come under a new set of rules that included open bidding. The NPS recently awarded the lucrative businesses to a New Mexico-based group that probably had to look at a map to find Rockaway. The new concessionaires, who have a few other businesses on parks property, will probably do a good job. That is not the question. Even though the park is national, should not local people get first shot at doing business with the park? That is the question at hand and that extends to all the Rockaway groups that use Fort Tilden and Riis Park.

Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s contention that the public schools are no longer dangerous due to his policies, records show that cops arrest an average of five students a day in city schools and that nearly all of those students are black and Hispanic. “Kids are being sent to the police precinct rather than to the principal’s office,” an ACLU official said in regard to the new report. DOE officials said that all of the arrests were “appropriate.”

It is hard to understand why some markets fall under the control of the city and get grades while others fall under the control of the state and do not. For example, Bon Appetite on Beach 129 Street makes and sells hot entrees and even has some tables for customers and is considered to be a market, under the control of the New York State Department of Markets, while Boardwalk Bagel on Beach 108 Street does the same and has no tables and is considered a restaurant by New York City. At least, the process should be consistent.

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