2001-11-17 / Columnists

Simon Says…. From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon Says….
From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Monday, November 12 is another day that will live infamy for residents of Rockaway. An American Airlines A300 Airbus crashed killing all of its passengers and crew as well as destroying seven to nine homes and damaging 14 others. Five of our local residents are missing.

How ironic that this was the day they were burying my treasurer Stephen Lefkowitz, who was lost in the World Trade Center. The plane crashed within a block of where his widow and son live in beautiful Belle Harbor.

For many years we have spoken out at FAA hearings and asked in my column why we are the runway for Kennedy airport? Why do the planes pass over our homes instead of going directly over the bay where no one lives?

After all these years we decided on August 24 to hold a rally to stop the SST and so many flights over our homes. The rally was held at JFK in front of British Airways. Only 18 people showed.

It is now time for everyone to unite. Stop complaining about the noise and get busy. Let’s get together and plan a major rally and take back the air rights over our homes. Enough is enough. If you agree with us please pick up your phone and call my office at (718) 945-1216 and say count me in.

We wish to commend the fantastic community of the Rockaways for doing what they usually do and uniting as a team in times of crises. We thank New York’s finest and bravest, our police, fire and EMS workers who did a fantastic job. We thank our volunteer ambulance and fire corps from Broad Channel, Breezy Point, Point Breeze, Roxbury and Hatzolah and all the others from all over the tri-state area who came to offer their services.

Senator Charles Schumer made us proud when he noted for national TV that our St. Patrick’s Day parade begins on the block where the crash occurred. Chuck really remembers his Rockaway roots. Mayor Giuliani, Mayor-elect Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, Congressman Weiner, State Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer were there in our time of crisis. Republican District Leader Joanne Ariola and her mother Terry brought food and served volunteers.

We’d like to thank District Superintendent Matt Bromme, Deputy Superintendent Marty Weinstein, P.S. 114 Principal Gerard McCarthy, the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Rabbi Levi Dicker and his son and other clergy who participated.

Special thanks to Nick DiBlasi, owner of Brothers Deli of Howard Beach, who singlehandedly coordinated the food drive for the volunteers and victims of this horrendous incident. Others providing food were Lenny’s Pizza, New Park Pizza and Gino’s of Howard Beach, Joe D Pizza, Brothers Ravioli, Ragtime (Angelo), and 101 Deli which provided sandwiches, and Terry Flynn Jr. If I missed anyone, God bless you all.

One of the fallen heroes lost on 9/11 was a wonderful young man, Stephen Russell. I knew Stephen because he had gone with my sister when they were teenagers. Stephen was a firefighter who worked in Little Italy. He was investigating a gas leak nearby. He rushed over to the WTC. Although he was lost, his mother wanted to keep hope alive.

About two weeks ago when they found the bodies of six firefighters, Stephen was among them. Unfortunately Stephen was chosen by God to be a special angel. At 40 years of age, I personally question God and ask why. My heart goes out to parents Cliff Sr. and Marie. If you would like to make a donation, make it payable to the Engine 55 Fund and send it to Clifford Russell, 234 Beach 129 Street, Belle harbor, N.Y. 11694.

At Stephen’s memorial I had an opportunity to speak to Mayor Giuliani. I told him Rockaway should not be the stepchild of the city. We should get a subsidized free ferry like Bay Ridge. All we ask for is our fair share of the pie.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday November 17. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $25 with $14 returned. Call (718) 945-1216 for reservations.

Pictured left to right: Yechiel Schachner, Senator Charles Schumer, and Lew Simon near the site of the crash.


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