1999-10-16 / Columnists

Simon Says….

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

This week has been a week from hell! Being diagnosed with a viral infection and running a fever from 101 to 103 degrees, it was very difficult to accomplish all that was wanted.

We received numerous phone calls from the staff of St. John's Episcopal Hospital. People were outraged that they had lost their medical benefits. Last Wednesday they formed the Local 1199 St. John's crisis committee that is working diligently to find health care benefits for the workers.

Many of the workers also spoke about the Newsday article that the hospital may go into bankruptcy. The state has been urging St. John's to sell the Smithtown campus. We understand that the finances of the Smithtown campus, the nursing homes and the hospital in Far Rockaway are handled in one account. While the Far Rockaway operations have profited, other areas have been poorly managed.

Far Rockaway has been drained to support losses at the Smithtown facilities. I am calling for an immediate split in billing and payment and separate accounts for each facility. Doctors tell me billing stinks. Someone should step up and modernize billing.

We received a letter from Donna Willsen, president of the St. Virgilius Home School Association. She asked for assistance. Since the second day of school there has been no crossing guard at their school near Cross Bay boulevard in Broad Channel. The guard is apparently out ill. The 100 Precinct has not always been able to provide an officer. We immediately reached out to Captain Gary Scirica. We asked him about a substitute crossing guard like they have substitute teachers, aides and paras. It has come to our attention that there are no substitute crossing guards. He stated that he would make every effort to keep the post covered during the morning, lunch and afternoon periods provided no emergencies occur.

We question the city's infinite wisdom for not having substitute lists for crossing guards--who would be cheaper than putting a police officer on duty. We have also sent a letter to Commissioner Howard Safir urging him to start a program like this. We hope this problem is rectified ASAP.

We are saddened by the death of Sylvia Alexander, an Orthodox Jewish woman, who has been a close friend and Rockaway resident for many years. Sylvia was born in Ostrab, Poland and came to the U.S. at the age of 12 in 1916. She went to night school and married in 1929. She lived in Ocean Park in Far Rockaway for the past 27 years. She is survived by two daughters, Mildred Wadler and Florence Altschuler, grandchildren and great grand children.

Sylvia was a real haimisha woman. This adorable little woman always had something nice to say and a beautiful smile. We spent many a good night either talking on the phone or in person. We know she did a good job raising her children.

Grandma Sylvia was not only here to see her granddaughter Michelle get married and having nochis to see her great grandchildren born. Sylvia will definitely be missed but her legacy will live on.

On Thursday evening, October 21, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, will be giving applications and hiring census takers and crew leaders. A high school diploma is required. We are urging all residents of my district west of Beach 95 street, including Breezy Point and Broad Channel, to attend this job fair. Starting salary is about $13.75 per hour. The job is fun for many people in the past. The job fair will be held at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 112-20 Beach Channel drive (upstairs, opposite Waldbaum's) at 7:45 p.m.

It became apparent to us when we met with Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro in October 1997 that the Giuliani administration would attempt to seize Dayton-Seaside (Surfside Houses) for back taxes. Mastro made it clear he would crush the landlord. Many residents have been worried about the city taking over. We expect a long tiring court battle that will go on indefinitely.

We want to compliment Barbara Buffalino and the board of SHAFT for tireless efforts on behalf of tenants. We wish that all three buildings could be united and people would put down their political swords and fight for the cause and not for the power.

We had a long talk with David Zuckerman last Saturday evening. He suggested that the city might be motivated to help someone take over as management. He told us that he had tried to get assistance from several well known politicians. Construction was done under a tax abatement which expired for building one in 1988, building two in 1989 and building three in 1992.

According to Zuckerman there was supposed to be a nine year phase in to full taxes. He feels that the city brought foreclosure on phony tax claims. Zuckerman said he is not the "owner" but had to consult with others.

We are looking forward to this tax problem being resolved. Now it appears that the courts will have to step in where the city administration failed.

We are outraged to read that our city councilman now has become a transportation expert and supports the Metrolink for Manhattan residents. He first supported reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line, but then sold us out for the light rail line up the Van Wyck. You should be ashamed of yourself. While the Metrolink may benefit Manhattan residents it does not improve transportation for South Queens residents who have to get to work in midtown Manhattan. The MTA still has not completed their study on a one seat ride from midtown to JFK. The Rockaway Beach line is part of the study. Is it not time you got on the phone with the MTA and the mayor's office and get our Rockaway Beach line reopened?

Where is the ferry you promised would serve parts of our communities? The study you and Noach Dear got from the Port Authority in exchange for your support of the Van Wyck line didn't include Roxbury, Rockaway Point and Breezy Point, where support for a ferry is strongest. The report is bogus and the Port Authority is not offering any subsidy to make a ferry affordable to most working commuters. We have stood steadfast in vehemently opposing the Van Wyck line and supporting a real improvement in our mass transit by reopening the Rockaway Beach line.

As we are all well aware the U.S. Senate voted for additional flights to JFK. What does this mean for residents of the Rockaways, Broad Cha.nnel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park? Constant flights continuously overhead. If we think its bad now, what will it be like? We're looking forward to working with Rep. Anthony Weiner and the FAA to change flight patterns over our community. Why do we have to be JFK's runway? Why can't planes fly over Jamaica Bay?

Proceeds Nights to benefit community and religious groups at Wendy's are continuing. The next scheduled group will be the religious education program of St. Rose of Lima, Father Peter D. Gillen, pastor. It will be on Tuesday, October 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. Contact Evelyn Powell, manager, or Selwyn Khan, general manager, at Wendy's to set up your night.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday, October 16. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $23 and you receive $23 in cash. Call my office now for reservations.

I am always available to help with community problems. If you have a question or comment about this column, please call my office. I am listed in the Rockaway phone book.


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