2002-07-20 / Columnists

Simon Says….

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

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

This week Rockaway made history after 40 years of neglect. On Thursday ground was broken for the first section of 2300 units of housing called Arverne by the Sea. This extravagant show by the Benjamin-Beechwood LLC brought people from all over the peninsula together.

HPD Commissioner Jerilyn Perine said many proposals for development had come forward since the area was planned for urban renewal in 1966. In the late 80’s, just before the Board of Estimate was eliminated by Charter reform, we spoke out against the plan to put 10,000 market rate units in Arverne. We warned about the impact of the community and the danger that they would not be able to sell them as intended.

With the sudden boom in the building industry in the Rockaway area our major concern is where the children will go to school. The proposal to put in an 800-seat charter school is insufficient. There is a need to build a minimum of four or five schools immediately on this peninsula.

As the ceremony was going on with speeches and a formal groundbreaking, Local 45 of the District Council of Carpenters stood outside the fence and demanded jobs for union members. As we stated in the past at the meeting with the Benjamin Co. at the Good Government Regular Democratic club, the builders should meet with the unions before breaking ground. Union workers must be hired. Unions have built the prosperity of our nation. We request that Benjamin-Beechwood and the unions work together and negotiate a plan to hire union workers.

We have been told by a number of local real estate brokers that the builders will use their own in-house sales reps. What happened to the jobs for Rockaway residents? Why do Rockaway residents always get the shaft? We are calling on our Borough President, Helen Marshall, to make sure everyone gets their fair share.

On Wednesday we attended the meeting of witnesses of the flight 587 crash sponsored by the WAVE. At this meeting a number of eyewitnesses presented their testimony that they saw the plane breaking up and saw fire and explosion before the crash. We were amazed when we heard them say that the F.B.I. and the National Transportation Safety Board had not followed up by interviewing them or in plain English not listening to these people.

My hat's off to Tom Lynch, one of the witnesses who spent tireless hours seeking other witnesses to compare notes. Congratulations to Howard Schwach, WAVE editor, for doing a great job in investigative journalism with the WAVE staff.

On Thursday evening we attended the event of the year, the 100th precinct council community cruise. On this cruise I did my usual begging, selling the 50's 50's and the raffle for Pat Clark's stained glass piece. Just think, is there ever an event where you don't see Lew Simon selling raffles for the organization, and always paying for my own ticket.

I had the pleasure once again of singing my theme song "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" joined by Janet Brady, Mary Woods, Debbie Horan and many others. On this cruise we stopped near the Statue of Liberty. DJ Timmy Tubridy provided us with fantastic music. We were on the beautiful Mystique yacht. It's available for booking your next party.

On Sunday evening we attended the Rockaway Music and Arts Council's Legends of rock and Roll concert, a tribute to the memory of the late, great Leon Locke. Leon, who was the owner and publisher of Rockaway's own WAVE, loved the 50's Rock n' Roll.

The Queens bus strike that has been going on for almost a month has been crippling our community. We thank our Borough President Helen Marshall for intervening and trying to help settle the strike. Originally the dispute seemed to be about obtaining full medical benefits. Then the mayor stated he would like to eliminate the private bus lines. Now the drivers are fighting for job security.

Right on to the drivers. These are hard working taxpaying neighbors who are fathers and mothers. Many have purchased homes in Queens and have large mortgages to pay and families to feed. Unless a major commitment is made to job security, what will happen if the MTA takes over? Will there be job security for the future?

I stand with my brothers at TWU Local 79. I support you and I'm willing to picket with you. It is time to settle the strike. Stop crippling the bus drivers and our community residents. We hope that this strike is settled by the time you read this column.

B.J.'s Warehouse is now open next to Starrett City off the Belt Parkway. They are doing on the spot interviews at 156-40E Crossbay Blvd. Suite 1 in Howard Beach. The salaries are $7 to $14 per hour. They have excellent advancement and flexible schedules. Full and part time positions are available at B.J.'s offers comprehensive benefits including medical, dental, life insurance, tuition assistance, 401k plans and more. They will also be opening a location in Maspeth. Please prepare a resume and mention that District Leader Lew Simon told you about the job.

On Wednesday afternoon we attended the St. Francis Seabreeze Golden Age Club annual Chinese auction and flea market. President Maureen McGee and her board members did a beautiful job of putting together 70 theme baskets along with other prizes. A good time was had by all.

We wish to invite everyone to the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor annual bazaar to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday July 23 and 24 from 7 to 10 P.M. at Beach 135 St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. (entrance on Beach 135 St.) Please stop by and say hello and purchase some of our outstanding new merchandise. We look forward to seeing you there.

On Friday evening we attended the annual St. Genevieve's card party. Thank God it was a cool night. Father Jack was very appreciative to all who attended. We had a great time and won several prizes. We always have a good time with the residents of Roxbury.

Have you noticed the LIPA site from Beach 108 to Beach 112 Streets? What a difference a beautiful planting of trees and flowers can make. If you noticed, a number of streets are being milled and paved. Have you noticed ugly graffiti on the new fence at the LIPA site? It is time now to put back our C-POP officers to stop the quality of life crimes in our community. We are working closely with John Chiesa of Keyspan to clean up the graffiti.

On the RMAC stage I stated that the sun was shining because Leon was looking down from heaven and smiling. Leon gave unselfishly for many great causes in the Rockaways. Leon, we all miss you and we thank you for all you have done for our community.

Special note to publisher Susan Locke. We appreciate all you have done since you became publisher. God bless you and thank you.

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