2002-04-20 / 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

On Sunday evening, on Beach 97th Street, we were made aware of the fact that Captain Keith Fairchild and firefighter Glenn Ott saved one of the children’s lives while risking their own. Firefighter Glenn Ott was rushed to Jamaica Hospital with chest pains. We are glad to report that he is doing fine.

My heart goes out to the O’Brien family after losing their two-year-old. We wish them family well and thank the firefighters for doing their usual good job.

This week marked the remembrance of the holocaust. Yom Hashoah Tzachor! Remembrance!

This year the holocaust was even more special in light of the anti-Semitism and suicide bombings in Israel. Many synagogues have been burned in France and other European countries in recent weeks. Six million Jews were tortured, left to rot and die or to be gassed and cremated.

It is appalling to think in the 21st century that it could happen again. On 9/11/01 in the United States, we got the shock of our lives with the tragic events led by Osama Bin Laden. We were not prepared for this horrific attack of terrorism.

As Jewish people, we were taught never to forget the holocaust and to remind our children and grandchildren. As we remember, we are once again horrified about the bombing in Israel, the bombing of the Shul and attacks on Jews around Europe.

This week we attended a memorial meeting held at Rockwood Park in conjunction with the Ozone Park Jewish Center where the Griners told of their struggle for life. Jack Griner told of how he came to this country. He asked the audience if they had seen the movie Schindler’s List. Compared to his experience, that was like a fairy tale. Mrs. Griner spoke of the Polish Catholic family who saved her life and how both family’s lives were put in danger. One of the sons said he would come back and kill her to keep out of trouble with the Nazis. Thank God he could not find it in himself to kill her and she survived to tell the story.

On Tuesday evening, we attended two more holocaust remembrances. One in Temple Beth-El in Rockaway Park and the other in the Howard Beach Judea Center.

The audience was glad when Borough President Helen Marshall finally arrived at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club on Thursday at 9:08 p.m. She told us it was her third meeting of the evening including a meeting with all the city and state legislators from Queens at Borough Hall.

After the Borough President praised me for being a hard working district leader, she told of her eight years experience in the state assembly and ten years in the city council. Helen told us how her staff surprised her with a cake to celebrate her first 100 days in office.

She told us how Queens has the most diverse population in the United States, of her parent’s background as immigrants from British Guiana and her early life in the Bronx.

Marshall discussed many Queens issues lasting over one hour. Among the points she made included: support of the education budget proposed by City Council. Terry Thomson, the Queens member of the Board of Education, did a fine job in working with the Parent Association President and high school students to explain the impact of proposed budget cuts. She is expanding the "War Room" developed by former Borough President Clare Shulman to track new school construction and to track progress on other education problems.

Despite the budget situation, Queens is getting four new schools based on our severe overcrowding. Rockaway is the site of two new housing developments, Arverne-By-The Sea and Edgemere Redevelopment projects.

We must enforce the laws against illegal tenancies to prevent dangerous overcrowding and give parents a strong role in school governance.

Marshall is organizing an institute for parents to give them the information and skills they need to be effective. We want to leave a good quality public education system when we leave office. We support "College Now," give high school juniors and seniors college credit and smooth transition to college and the Vallone scholarship which pays half the tuition for CUNY students who maintain a ‘B’ average.

Marshall said that improved transportation is essential to the Rockaways development. She has discussed ferries with Imperatory, Audrey Pheffer and Malcolm Smith. Tom Paladino and Mary Sorentino told her that they obtained the catamaran ferry, which could reach Manhattan in 30 minutes.

Service starts by May 1, but they need a subsidy to keep fares down. The Borough President took their business card and agreed to meet with them. In response to a question about the Long Island Railroad, Marshall said she favors improvements of Long Island Railroad stations, more frequent service with lower fares.

I explained the importance of reopening the Rockaway lines and giving residents of Queens access to mid-town Manhattan in 32 minutes or less. I gave the Borough President a copy of the Apple Corridor Plan for the Rockaways and told her we would continue to pursue this matter.

Our audience continued to discuss community issues with Marshall. Some expressed support for her plan to create a Rockaway Task Force and urged that Lew Simon be appointed to the Task Force.

Our next Atlantic City trip to the Trump Marina will be on Saturday, April 18th. We will leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8:00 a.m. The cost is $25 with $15 returned. Call my office, 945-1216, for reservations.

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