2012-05-11 / Columnists


There are many in Rockaway who believe, no matter the outcome of the meeting that was held yesterday, May 10, that the Department of Health scheduled the meeing in such a way that it would discourage attendance. It is hard to disagree. Community organizations never hold a meeting during work hours during the week because they know that few people can get out of work to attend. When the DOH announced that the vital meeting about PHC’s closure would be held on a Thursday, between 3 and 7 p.m., our first thought was that the state agency did not want people to attend. The next thought was that it is only one more indignity that the state agency has perpetrated on Rockaway residents since last summer. The word from the DOH is that it had to be held during a weekday because that is the only time the Commissioner could attend. Perhaps it would have been better to forget about the commissioner and make sure the meeting was held at a reasonable time for the majority of Rockaway residents.

Some locals have been trying for years to get the White Pot Junction railroad line reopened so that commuters would have a shorter ride to Manhattan. We have always said that the line would never reopen, but now there is a new joker in the deck. If, and it is a big If, the Governor gets his way and brings a new massive convention center to the Aqueduct site in South Ozone Park, the chance of the line being reopened to get the high rollers and conventioneers to Manhattan goes up like the Freedom Tower. If that does not happen, however, the chances of the line being revisited drop to lower than zero.

While the Democratic powers-thatbe are putting inordinate pressure on City Councilman James Sanders Jr. to refrain from running for the State Senate against incumbent Shirley Huntley, Sanders seems determined to make the run. First of all, he has no place to go, being term limited out of the City Council in 2013 and no other political prospects in view. Second, Huntley has just been redistricted so that her new district coincides with much of Sanders’ council district. Third, Huntley is vulnerable, being under investigation for setting up and funding a non-profit that is run by her relatives and seems to have done little to fulfill its mission. Several years ago, the Democratic Party ran David Hooks against Sanders, even though he was an incumbent. Sanders decided to run and beat Hooks handily.

Congratulations to Rabbi Marjorie Slome of West End Temple who recently earned an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College after 25 years in the rabbinate. In order to save money, the city’s Department of Education has come up with a plan that would place the great majority of special education students in regular education classrooms. The plan calls for every school to put local special ed kids into regular education classrooms beginning in September. Advocates say that moving kids into the least restrictive environment will help both the special ed kids to learn better and the general ed kids to understand the disabilities of the others. Those who oppose the plan say that, in many cases, the special ed kids, who have long been in restricted classes with fewer students, will disrupt the general ed classes, keeping everybody from learning.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently hired Rahul Merchant to become the city’s new information czar. He touted Merchant’s past slots in business and finance, but failed to mention that he runs a firm that owes $500,000 in unpaid franchise fees to the city and seems disinterested in paying it. It proves once again that you can do anything you want as long as you are one of Bloomberg’s business pals.

The city has given the go-ahead for a private company named Pay- Lock to place tire boots on any car whose owner has accumulated $350 or more in unpaid parking tickets. The city figures it will save money by leaving the cars in place with a boot rather than towing them to a locked pound. The program works like this: A marshal will verify for the company that a car owner owes the city more than $350. The boot will be put in place. The car owner can then call a tollfree number and pay his or her bill with a credit card. In return, the owner will get a computer code that allows the boot to be released. The boot must be returned to a city payment center within two days. Should the owner not call for several days, the car will then be towed. By the way, the owner will have to pay a $180 booting fee above whatever is owed to the city.

The Rockaway Rotary Ocean Run, sponsored by Sweet’N Low, was once again a big success. Under beautiful skies, more than 125 runners showed up for the 5K race. It reminds us once again what Rockaway can be like when residents get together for a positive event. The Rockaway Rotary Club deserves some kudos for continuing the tradition when so many other positive events have gone by the wayside.

Rockaway residents were treated to a spectacular scene when the Space Shuttle Enterprise flew around the peninsula on April 27, carried by its special NASA 747. Hundreds crowded the beach and bayfronts awaiting the landing at JFK Airport.

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