2014-01-03 / Editorial/Opinion

Councilman Pushes A Myth

Seems like a rookie mistake to us so we’ll give him half a pass. City Councilman Donovan Richards took to social media to perpetuate a myth. He tweeted and posted on Facebook grievances with The Wave: “Why would I give an exclusive interview to a local paper that doesn't cover issues on the east end of the Rockaways? When I won my election they didn't even cover it.”

He used a lot of LOLs and a #NoComment hashtag (even though he commented) and sounded like, well, something other than an elected representative.

The Wave responded by posting the large headline we ran about his election: Donovan Wins In A Blowout. Poor Donovan, maybe we didn’t use a big enough font.

And then we posted numerous (numerous!) links with his name and the issues he is presumably talking about.

What prompted Richards to comment (#NoComment) was that The Wave had tweaked both him and his colleague Eric Ulrich for speaking to larger newspapers instead of The Wave in regards to whom they were supporting in the race for the City Council Speaker.

Richards responded by posting those comments online which, we note, are demonstrably untrue.

How untrue? Well, he gave The Wave an “exclusive interview” LAST WEEK! And it’s in this week’s paper. He spoke to a Wave reporter for a half an hour about issues important to him. He never mentioned any east end bias. He sure had the chance. Instead he goes on Facebook and posts nonsense.

Some of his Facebook followers then posted comments equally off the mark: “When we at war with each other ...we are on the front page….”

“This has been and will continue to be a biased paper.”

For those in Far Rockaway who think The Wave only puts crime or stories that reflect poorly on the east end community – we can only ask – have you actually read the paper recently? There has NOT BEEN A SINGLE CRIME on the front page in MORE THAN A YEAR.

The truth is, we have a small staff and cover what we can. Community newspapers rely, in part, on elected officials for news and tips. On the west end, elected representatives give us plenty of material. On the east end, Donovan Richards actually does a good job (and hello! A lot of it gets in The Wave). State Senator Sanders gives us some information. Assemblywoman Michelle Titus offers NOTHING. She is paid to represent the people of Far Rockaway. She is not earning her pay. She is Exhibit A why there should be term limits on the state level. Want more coverage, want more help in Far Rockaway? For those complaining about The Wave, you’re better off telling your representative in the State Assembly to do something. Who knows, maybe that’s one of the “issues” we’re not covering according to Richards.

Again, if Richards had specific issues he thought were getting overlooked or buried too deep in the paper, he had ample opportunity to air those gripes last week. What changed? Nothing, except he didn’t like being tweaked in the Beachcomber, we guess. Or maybe he was impatient. We didn’t publish the interview with him because with Christmas, it was a short week. (See this week’s Wave!)

For the past year The Wave has given prominent coverage to FEMA, flood maps, Build It Back, the ferry, beach protection, and other Sandy related issues. They are issues that impact all of Rockaway, from Far Rockaway to Breezy Point. Can we satisfy everyone’s interest and cover every issue? Not by a long shot. But we’re not gonna take Donovan’s bull without calling him on it.

Poverty, unemployment, housing, and, yes, crime are issues that plague Far Rockaway. If it’s not reported it might be asked how are we holding our elected officials and police accountable. If it is reported, we’re biased. We get it, damned if do, damned if we don’t.

The Wave tries to balance things with good news from Far Rockaway churches, schools, and sports programs. We often seek input and articles from community activists. Groups with a primarily east end focus such as the Rockaway Youth Task Force and the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance are featured regularly. A new Workforce 1 Center has opened, a positive sign that might really help ease the difficult challenges of the area. (Yes, reported in this week’s Wave). And, so on.

It so happens the east/west divide is starting to fade. Arverne By The Sea has been a huge boost to the mid-peninsula and now Ocean Village is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Local farms are popping up which indicate community dedication and involvement. Hey, even the new councilman is bringing energy. Maybe he’ll get City Council dollars to make a difference; maybe he’ll be instrumental in the development of Arverne East. Maybe he’ll get another ferry stop. And we’ll print it when he does.

Who knows, maybe Richards thinks he’s won something here because he got publicity. Frankly, we hope his aspirations are quite a bit higher.

Sometimes people only see what they want to see.

In this case, we’ve got our own perception, too. We see a rookie City Councilman trying to score cheap points by playing on unfounded perceptions.

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