2012-07-27 / Columnists


The Wounded Warrior Weekend has become the premier event in Rockaway, far surpassing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in participation and patriotism. The only thing missing is beer drinking, but there was some of that on Saturday night at the block party hosted by Flip Mullen on Beach 134 Street. The streets were lined with locals on Thursday evening, most with flags and signs welcoming the warriors. The fact is that Rockaway is now the only community in the nation that is allowed to house warriors in private homes. In every other Wounded Warrior event, the participants are housed together in a local hotel. That speaks volumes about the Rockaway community.

The gun violence continues unabated. There was another homicide last week, the third of the year in the 101 Precinct and several more shooting incidents in which locals were wounded. It seems that some local politicians, spurred by their constituents to do something, are finally doing more than posturing and are actually getting to work to see what can be done. What should not be done is to blame the spate of shooting on local police precincts, because it is the community and its political leaders who have chosen to ignore the problem in hopes it would go away. When was the last time you heard a black leader call for more police protection in their community or even call for more aggressive policing to take guns off the street? You haven’t ever heard that. In fact, a few years ago, after more than seven young black men were shot by other black men, there was a march to call for “respect for black teens in Rockaway housing projects.” Wrong message, guys and gals.

The agreement between the city and the federal government, regarding possible joint projects in Fort Tilden that was announced last week has some interesting new ideas. However, we hope that those ideas, most of which will require large chunks of land at Fort Tilden, do not mean that the Rockaway community, specifically the little leagues, CYO, RAA and RTC, will not be thrown out of the park to make room. The community could use some assurances from NPS officials, but those assurances are not forthcoming.

Rockaway keeps getting “discovered” as a “Hipster Paradise.” Last week, the South Shore Standard, which serves the neighboring Five Towns in Nassau County, ran a full page about Rockaway Beach in its Avenue section. While the article contained factual errors about Rockaway and its past, it did a good job of describing all the Brooklyn-driven amenities now in place on the boardwalk and its environs. On Sunday, the New York Times had two stories about Rockaway – one about Rockaway Taco and the other about the new transportation connecting Brooklyn with the Rockaway peninsula. It’s good to see all the new people and business on the peninsula, but to believe that Rockaway did not exist or was somehow deficient until the hipsters showed up is sort of disingenuous.

Somebody really loves the Chase Bank branch at Arverne By The Sea. The same armed robber has hit the bank three times in the last two months. The bank says it would rather give up a couple of bucks than station an armed bank guard and risk a customer being shot in a confrontation. The cops have a photo of the perp and it is a sure bet that if he continues to hit the bank they will get him sooner or later.

The area around Beach 125 Street was abuzz early in the morning of July 14 with word that the cops were looking for a man with a weapon in the area. Emails and Facebook posts went viral, warning neighbors to keep everybody inside until the cops corralled the perp. In fact, there was a fake gun involved in the incident, and two teens were arrested, one at the scene and the other after a backyard search. One of the teens stole a bike from a nearby home and tried to ride it to freedom, but the cops got him as well. Those who attended the state Department of Health’s meeting on the closure of Peninsula Hospital Center in May came away convinced that the Commissioner and his lackeys did not listen to one word that was said by the hundred local residents and staff members. Now, with the final four-page report released last week, they know that they were right. Not one word in the report was in response to what was said at the meeting, reinforcing the belief that the closure was a foregone conclusion long before the hospital’s lab was inspected and the hospital was closed. Now, with the hospital stripped of everything that made it a health care facility, the peninsula can only look on in horror as St. John’s gets even more crowded and local patients are sent further into Nassau County and Brooklyn for emergency treatment.

After being beaten up in the press and by politicians throughout the city, the Board of Elections has finally come into the last century and will allow electronic counting from the voting machines in the city. Previously, even though the votes were counted digitally, the count had to be taken by hand and then driven to the local precinct. Under the new rules, memory sticks from the voting scanners will be used to get a much quicker count.

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