1999-06-11 / Columnists

Simon Says….

by Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Anna Gibbons. Anne was a fine, strong lady, religious, caring and loving. Her daughter, Nancy O’Con-nor, is as special as special can be. The love and care that she shared with her mom is very special. Nancy, Anne and myself spent many good times together going to Atlantic City and many other events.

Nancy’s children, her sons and their girls and friends are what family is all about. The family always is sharing and caring together. Special message to the O’Connor family: Grandma is definitely a special angel in heaven because here on earth she was one of the classiest women. She was prim and proper from the old school and that impressed us all. May she rest in peace. The family should be proud of their closeness.

On Memorial Day, Monday May 31, we got a pleasant surprise to find out their is a new band in town. After 25 years Beach Channel High School has a beautiful, wonderful marching band. Under the directorship of their music teacher, Jack Domfort, the son of Jack and Phyllis Domfort whom we remember from the American Irish band and the American Legion. Barry is blessed with a lovely wife, Valerie. His wife and children assisted the band on Memorial Day Congratulations to Barry Domfort who started the band from scratch in his first year in the school. You are definitely a winner of the week.

To the students of the B.C.H.S. band: You should be very proud of the job you did. We look forward to seeing you at parades in Rockaway and the city and state. At the recent anniversary of D.A. Brown’s election, I sat with Bernard Gassaway. The B.C.H.S. principal is trying to raise funds to redo the B.C.H.S. athletic fields. Anyone interested in this worthy endeavor should contact the principal. We would like to commend Mr. Gassaway on the good things he is doing in the school. We wish them continued success.

Last Tuesday we spent the day at the Land Use hearings of the City Council speaking against the Van Wyck light rail and for the Rockaway line. We were interviewed by 1010 WINS, channels (2) , (4), (7), and NY1. WE stood steadfast that our Rockaway line must be reopened.

After most of the testimony Council member Karen Koslowitz shook her head is dismay and made a speech that her constituents were opposed to the Rockaway line. Council member Sabini, who was chairing the meeting, had said people should not discuss Rockaway as this was a land use matter concerning the Van Wyck only.

I want to point out that 45 of the 51 City council members are lame ducks, that is they cannot be reelected in 2001, due to term limits. The Land Use Committee approved the land transfer by a vote of 18 in favor to one against. The negative vote was cast by Herbert Berman, Chair of the Finance committee which wrote a report called Train to the Plane or Money Down the Drain, Berman may be seeking the office of City Comptroller in 2001.

We have heard that the Port Authority is funding a study about ferries. This appears to be what the Port Authority offered council member Stabile to get him to oppose the Rockaway line. Stabile said all the local boards were supporting the light rail over the Van Wyck. We remember Stabile’s speech a few years ago when he told Board 14 how worthless the boards were.

Those of us who are supporting Qrail also support ferries. We do not believe that ferries can take the place of good rapid rail and subway service. We will continue to fight for our railroad along with Assemblywoman Pheffer and Qrail. Rockaway is booming economically with homes being built in the in-fill section of Arverne, Playland and Bayswater. With the reality of Destination Technodome, we desperately need more and better transportation.

Tenants from 107-10 Shorefront parkway (Surfside) have told me about a recent rash of burglaries. The burglars have apparently used the roof to get down to the terraces as well as entering other apartments. We are hoping that everyone working together with the 100 precinct will be able to nip this in the bud.

On Saturday June 5 at 9:45 a.m. there was a rally led by Mary Scheleske on Beach 112 street. This rally was called because many of our beaches have been closed on weekends as well as during the week. Parks representatives tell us that more lifeguards have been hired. Every other beach is closed. Many residents of Beach 108 to Beach 115 streets as well as Dayton East and West have called to voice their outrage.

We are urging everyone to call First Deputy Commissioner Alan M. Moss at (212) 360-1307 as well as calling your council member whose number appears on the editorial page of this newspaper. It has come to my attention that many of the beaches on the west end may be closed this week. They have stated that by July 4 all beaches will be opened. This is the same old story we heard last year. We must demand that all of our beaches be opened as we are aware that Rockaway beaches serve all of N.Y.C. and many other area visitors.

On Thursday June 17 we will be having an open public meeting which all Rockaway residents are invited to attend. Our guest speakers will be Richard Murphy, Queens commissioner of Parks and Namshik Yoon who is the parks manager for Rockaway Beach. Murphy has been a friend of our community and has gone out of his way to help us. The meeting will be held at our headquarters, 112-20 Beach Channel drive at 7:45 p.m.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday June 19. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $23 and $14 is returned. Call my office for reservations.

This week our great friend and my employer Senator Al Waldon received a call from the Governor’s office with an offer of an appointment to the Court of Claims. We expect him to be confirmed by the Senate rapidly, perhaps even by the time you read this.

The Senator would have 30 days to wrap up his local work. The Governor is required to call a special election within 90 days. The district encompasses all of Rockaway, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton, St. Albans and Rochdale Village. On Friday morning I received a call from Joann Shapiro, Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Pheffer, asking if I would support her. During the past few days numerous people including civic leaders, political leaders and clergy have asked me if I have any interest in the race.

The Rockaways are always in my heart and we know the importance of having a good Senator to help maintain the quality of life in our community. We are looking at the reality of this race. We want to make sure the candidate has the ability and track record to represent Rockaway.

Congratulations to the winners of the School Board election. Shalom Becker, Art Beroff, Donna Clatabiano, Steve Greenberg, Jim Adams, James Sanders, Dolores Bevilaqua, Ernest Brown and Ronnie Schwab. We hope you will improve educational standards in District 27 with improved math and reading scores. Help us make District 27 Number 1.

On Saturday at about 11;15 p.m. while writing this column in my office, we heard screams from Waldbaum’s. We saw Mary the manager running out screaming robbery. We immediately called 911. After what seemed to be a long wait we were answered by a recording. We hung up and called the 100 precinct. They said they would send a sector car, but we should call 911. A park police car gave chase and Mary told us that groceries were stolen. We are thankful that Mary and her staff were not injured. 911 calls must be answered immediately by a live operator.

There are three heroes in the City Council who did the right thing for the city. They are Herbert Berman, Finance Chair, Stephen DiBrienza, General Welfare Chair and Julia Harrison, Chair of the Committee on Aging. We understand the pressures brought on members who opposed the Port Authority. We bless all of them and will not forget them in 2001. We congratulate Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer who was the only public official to stand up to the big guns. You are definitely a winner.

We hope to see you all at our meeting next Thursday June 17. You can call me at any time if you have a question about this column or have any community problem. I am listed in the Rockaway phone book.

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