2002-06-15 / 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

We congratulate the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg on reaching a tentative agreement on a contract. Teachers' minimum salaries will rise from $31,910 to $39,000 and the maximum from $70,000 to $81,231. There will be a no layoff clause. We hope that this contract will make it easier to recruit teachers to fill the thousands of vacancies expected in September.

The weather has been wonderful. Everybody seems to have a nice suntan. How about having a little luck and coming with us to Atlantic City's Trump Marina. Our bus leaves Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and returns 8 a.m. The cost is $25 and you get back $14 in coins. Get on the bus and have a good time. Call 945-1216. Tickets are still available.

On Tuesday evening the Chamber of Commerce had a business After Hours, which was sponsored by North Fork Bank. This was a special event that brought Mayor Bloomberg to speak and answer questions. The mayor spoke about the 9/11 and 11/12 disasters, the budget shortfall and unfortunate cuts and mayoral control of the Board of Education.

On Thursday, the mayor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reached a handshake deal. The agreement included plans for a 13 member Board of Education with 8 members appointed by the mayor and one by each of the 5 borough presidents. The mayor will name the chancellor, district superintendents and members of the School Construction Authority. The mayor guarantees classroom funding equal to this year unless city revenue drops. Community school boards will be replaced by a new forum for parental and community input in 2003.

We had the pleasure of asking Mayor Bloomberg the first question. We made it clear to the mayor that the transportation to Manhattan from Rockaway and southern Queens is horrendous. We invited him to take a trip on the A train during off peak hours. He responded that he rides the train every day.

Our question was about reopening the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR, not necessarily as the LIRR, but as a regular train under the MTA. It would take the old route directly through Queens to Penn Station in 35 minutes. This would benefit all my constituents in Rockaway, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park.

We presented the mayor with a copy of the Apple Corridor plan for transit through Queens, which involves reactivation of the line. His response was to agree to give the plan to Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw, the former head of the MTA. Shaw was head of the MTA when the study was done, but part of the report was never released. The mayor said reopening the line could not be accomplished overnight. We have every confidence the mayor understood our question and will look into this and make it a reality.

In response to a question from Councilman Sanders about a ferry coming to Rockaway, the mayor spoke about certain funding coming in from 9/11, but made no commitment. He thanked Councilman Sanders for spending the evening at his home.

The mayor was gracious in posing for pictures with persons attending. Accompanying the mayor was Robert W. Walsh, Commissioner of Business Services, who will be coming back to speak to us about a Business Improvement District.

The mayor received gifts of portraits of himself by members of the Hammels Senior Center and a beautiful picture of a flag on the beach presented by the Chamber of Commerce. It was quite an interesting evening. Our mayor proved to be extremely capable and intelligent in answering all questions. Many of the people were extremely impressed.

Saturday evening we attended the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, which is chaired by Joanne Shapiro, Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Pheffer. We spent a number of hours assisting in bringing the bags for the luminaries in which the people made a donation in memory or in honor of someone. I lit a candle in memory of my late mom, Jennie Simon, who died of cancer, and in memory of one of my best friends, who was my campaign treasurer, Stephen Lefkowitz, who was killed at The World Trade Center.

The event was held at the beautiful new track and field at Beach Channel H.S. It looks like a million dollars. It was donated by Take the Field, a charitable group.

After all the candles were lit at 10 p.m., they displayed the names of the individuals and families including people who died on 9/11 and 11/12, cancer survivors and people who lost their lives to cancer. It was quite a moving ceremony when all the lights were turned off and the bagpipes played. The moving ceremony reduced us all to tears. The goal of the American Cancer Society is to wipe out cancer in 20 years.

On Sunday evening, we attended the graduation party of Kimberly Kelly, daughter of Laura Kelly, and granddaughter of Beverly King, owner of Beverly Brokers. Kimberly graduated from Stella Maris High School. Congratulations, best wishes on your future success.

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