2003-04-19 / Columnists

Simon Says...

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

Simon Says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

As I sat this morning watching the Iraqi people taking down the statue of Saddam Hussein, I thought of the 1989 Berlin Wall. Before I become so boisterous and screaming hurrah, I become cautiously optimistic thinking to myself what does this really mean. We're not really sure whether Hussein is really dead or alive. There are many people who support the Hussein regime.

Many thoughts went through my head. Did Bush do the right thing? Did we kill Hussein? Is George Bush a hero? Does this mean I'll have to vote Republican? This is not a nasty slap at anyone. If he has toppled a dictator and his regime, he will go down in history as a great hero.

Our gas prices will go down. The Iraqi people will be free. There will be no more ethnic cleansing. There will be no more unexplained murders. People in the US and Israel will be able to sleep again. We continue each day praying for our troops that are giving their lives for the freedom of all.

Hats off to City Comptroller William Thompson who has been going after the MTA for raising the fare but permitting crumbling subway stations. Parts of the Rockaway elevated train show concrete crumbling from the pillars. We brought this to the attention of Katie Lapp, Executive Director of the MTA when she toured local stations at the request of State Senator Malcolm Smith. We are proud to say the Beach 98 Street station was renovated after our visit.

Katie Lapp made a commitment to me and kept her word. Senator Malcolm Smith and I make a great team. I'm proud to say when people call, I respond.

This past week the major topic of discussion in my district was homeland security. Are we prepared to take immediate action if anything should happen. We attended a number of meetings, which included a slide presentation, on terrorism. After attending all the meetings we decided to give you the list of suggestions from the Red Cross and FEMA.

Have a predetermined meeting place away from your home. You may make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of emergency.

Prepare a disaster supply kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag. Include such items as infant formula, first aid supplies, prescription medications, a change of clothing for each family member, a sleeping bag, battery powered radio, extra batteries, food and bottled water. For a more detailed list, please visit www. fema.com. For your convenience, a company is selling survival backpacks filled with incidentals with room for added personal items. This company can be found on the web at http:// www.etamerica.com/survivalpaks.htm

If disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles. If you smell gas, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone out of the house quickly.

Anybody who is disabled or on oxygen, who uses a wheelchair or in on dialysis should alert the local precinct so their address is on file in an emergency. The phone number for the 100 Precinct is 318-4200. The number of the 101 Precinct is 868-3400

As many of you have heard, the Concorde will cease and desist. Back in the mid 70's community activists led by Bryan Levinson led the first protest rally against the Concorde coming into JFK. Through the years we have echoed his efforts by organizing letter writing campaigns and rallies. During my 2001 campaign for City Council I led a rally to oppose the return of the Concorde to JFK. We have continued to protest to the FAA and our Senators Charles Schumer and Hilly Rodham Clinton. No one alone can take credit for the elimination of the Concorde, but we all worked together as a team. I'd like to thank my great friend Bryan Levinson who started the fight and deserves the honor of being recognized as a hero.

Hats off to Dr. Kathleen Cashin, a lady of swift action. After her first meeting in Rockaway at the Good Government Regular Democratic club where she heard the outrage of parents and my echoing of them that current principal was stuck up and rude and didn't have the skills to deal with parents and pupils, a change was made quickly.

We have heard that Brian O'Connell will be taking over as interim acting principal after the spring break. The parents will be very pleased with their new principal. A local resident, Brian O'Connell is tough and strong with good interpersonal skills. He is dynamic, has a lot of charisma and will be a breath of fresh air.

The budget cuts proposed by Governor Pataki for education across New York State will cause overcrowded classes, massive layoffs and students shut out of college courses. Organizations from all over the state including the NYS Congress of Parents and Teachers, NYS School Boards Association, Professional Staff Congress, NYPIRG, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the New York State AFL-CIO as well as the UFT are all taking buses to Albany on Saturday May 3 for a huge rally.

In Rockaway, buses will leave from Beach Channel High School. To reserve a seat, send a $10 check with your name, home address, home phone, e-mail, or cell phone to UFT Queens Borough Office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park, NY 11374. Tell which location is best for you. The $10 will be returned if you actually attend. Box lunches will be provided. It is important that everybody have their say on this important issue.

The Good Government Regular Democratic Club will have our bus trip to Atlantic City on Saturday May 17. Reservations are necessary. If interested, please call my office for reservations.

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