2002-07-06 / Columnists

Simon Says…. From the Desk of Lew M. Simon

Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon Saysâ026.
From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

The weather has been extremely hot, humid and muggy. But we're still out there chugging away. The first thing we would like to do is correct the number that appeared incorrectly in our column. For all those people aggravated by the constant flights overhead, Congressman Anthony Weiner's phone number is 332-9001. We apologize for any inconvenience but I wish to thank the people who called my office with the correct number.

On Monday evening, Mayor Mike Bloomberg had a Town Hall Meeting in Junior High School 210, which is located in the Ozone Park part of my district. At this meeting we questioned why our community police officers on the beat known as C-POP are not out on their post in the 102nd and 106th precinct in my district.

I reminded the Mayor that as a young child I knew a Police Officer named Mike who walked my community. He knew me and all the people in the community. In the Safe Streets Safe City legislation passed during the Dinkins administration, money was specifically allocated for community police officers. They were to walk a specific beat and familiarize themselves with the people and their problems.

Since 1994 there has been a major decrease in crime. We owe that to our police officers that we know and know us. This is important to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Problems with drugs, prostitution, graffiti and gang violence still occur. The community officer would know where and how to handle it.

Police Commissioner Kelly responded that they are out there working but many people answer back that they have been redeployed to other duties.

Another issue that came up was the bus strike in Queens. The drivers of Triborough Coach, Jamaica Bus and Queens Surface are fighting for medical benefits equal to those given by the MTA. The Mayor said he would not intervene because they are private companies and the dispute should be settled through collective bargaining.

The Mayor said his future goal was to eliminate the private bus companies and go with the MTA. He said the bus drivers are in the same union and would be able to work for the MTA. We have found out that they are in a different local. Many people are on the waiting list for city bus driver positions. It is quite important to sign the petitions supporting the bus drivers' effort to get their major medical.

We spent some time talking to some merchants on Beach 116 Street who said that since the Q53 bus has been on strike, it has killed their business. Thousands of people come each day to our beaches as well as spend money in our local stores and restaurants. Without this bus many of the merchants would not survive.

Other topics that came up at the town hall meeting include the opening of the homeless shelter at the Best Western Motel near JFK Airport. This sent shivers down my spine. Deja vu 1994. The Lawrence Hotel, the hotel from hell, on Beach 116th Street was used as a homeless shelter. We spent long days and nights protesting and speaking out in the courts of Manhattan to close this dump. We were promised the closing of this hotel after two years of non-compliance use.

Joel Biele, then the Building Commissioner, promised they would take apart the illegal porch, the illegal rooms and declassify it. Yet this monstrosity is still standing. It is now time to make sure this building is leveled to the ground. I spoke to Borough President Helen Marshall at the meeting. After a phone call on Tuesday morning she gave me her complete commitment that she would do everything in her power to level this building.

Since November of 2001 we have been very active in lobbying for the Volunteer Firefighters Association in making sure that their insurance is paid by the City of New York. During the major disasters of 9/11 and 11/12, they came to the aid of the City as they have always done in the past. Upon the election of Mayor Bloomberg, we have been lobbying the Mayor's office to make sure their insurance would be paid.

We are proud to announce that it will be paid for the next year. We will continue to work diligently to make this coverage permanent. If each firehouse had to insure them their cost would be astronomical. Going through a city blanket policy is more cost effective.

Friday afternoon we attended the dedication at Roy Gwirtzman Memorial Triangle at Beach 145 Street on Beach Channel Drive. Queens Park Commissioner Richard Murphy was on hand to make it official. Joe Addabbo Chair of the Parks Committee, Jerry La Mura representing Borough President Helen Marshall, Congressman Anthony Weiner, Assembly Woman Audrey Pheffer, District Manager Jonathan Gaska, Mike O'Connor President of the Neponsit Property Owners, Rabbi Blaine of Temple Bethel, Rabbi May of West End Temple, Larry Eichler of the Jewish War Veterans and Sarah Berger Commander of Queens County Jewish War Veterans were on hand to pay tribute to a great community leader and veteran.

We had the distinct pleasure of working with Roy to stop the commercialization of Riis Park in the late 80's and early 90's. Roy was a gentleman, scholar and mensch. His wonderful personality and generosity made him a special community leader. We know Roy is smiling down from heaven on us. Roy's lovely widow Sally greatly appreciated the wonderful tribute in memory of her husband and the wonderful people who showed up. God Bless you Sally, we all love you.

Many people have contacted my office regarding trees in front of their homes. The roots have broken the sidewalks and have created a hazardous trip condition. Here is the answer: Call the Queens Department of Forestry at 718-699-4700 and ask for Rose. Set a date to cut the roots, secure a concrete person who can rip up the sidewalk and replace flagstones.

The concrete person should be registered with the City. We suggest calling Two Brothers Construction. Ask for Tommy at 718-967-2026. They will secure the proper permit, which costs $70. It must be filed five days prior to the work. They will break up the sidewalk and place a barricade for safety. Queens Forestry will cut the roots between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Toni will pour concrete after the roots are cut.

To be reimbursed you must call the NYC Controller at 212-669-8750. Talk to the tape. In ten days they will send you an application. You must also write a complaint letter, return receipt requested. Claims must be in duplicate and notarized. I will be available to notarize your application. Feel free to call us at 945-1216.

We have received many calls regarding the Atlantic City bus trips. Please note our next trip will be Saturday, September 21 to Trump Marina. The cost will be $28.00 with $15 returned. Due to the high cost of insurance we have had to raise the price. To make reservations, please call my office.

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