2003-05-02 / Columnists

Simon Says...

Simon Says...

Simon Says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday, May 17. We have a brand new bus with large screen TV. We leave for Trump Marina at 5:30 P.M. and return at 8 A.M. The cost is $28 with $17 returned,

Help support the Democratic Club that works for the community and makes a difference in the lives of people.

Last week was indeed interesting. We congratulate State Comptroller Alan Hevesi and City Comptroller William Thompson for their persistence and stamina in demanding that the MTA open their books.

The MTA and the comptrollers differ sharply over the agency’s complicated finances, which both comptrollers examined over the past three months as the agency adopted the largest fare hike in its history.

The board, largely controlled by Gov. George Pataki, on March 6 raised the base subway fare and bus fare from $1.50 to $2, increased the bridge tolls from $3.50 to $4 and approved an average 25% increase for the LIRR and Metro-North. In a conversation with Rockaway Park resident, Ginger Smith, she informs me that further to the increase, a $.50 additional charge will be added to all transfers, which until now was for free. This infuriates me and takes me back in time when the Rockaways had a "double-fare" zone. Now my constituents are faced with an even greater increase to and from their homes.

The comptrollers studied the financial records for the MTA and Transit Authority for three months. The Comptroller had to subpoena some of them. Hevesi and Thompson determined that more than $500 million in funds had been secretly moved to future budgets. This money could have been used to prevent or reduce the fare increase that begins this week. Thompson found that NYC Transit twice overstated its operating expenses by more than $850 million.

We are urging the comptrollers and City Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller to go to court to get an injunction against the fare increase. They should be joined by the Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum whose job it is to fight for justice for the people. No increase should be given until the true state of MTA finances is determined.

We urge everyone to pick up the phone and call the public officials who can help us. Our local elected officials are listed on the editorial page of this newspaper.

Since shortly after 9/11 a free ferry has been operating from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Manhattan with funds from FEMA. They basically stuck it to Rockaway which lost most on 9/11. The ferry cost $290,000 per month, but few Rockaway residents were able to make use of it.

Many of us laugh when we hear that the City Council has funded a Rockaway ferry with $300,000. That would last only one month. It is time for the Rockaway community to get their fair share. We have been dumped on, spit on and abused over and over again.

We understand that the Brooklyn ferry may cease and desist. It is time the subsidized ferry is brought to our community.

We are saddened by the death of a wonderful, outstanding lady. She was a public school teacher who educated many children on the peninsula as well as raising her own children. Alma Hutton of Belle Harbor passed away on April 19 after a bout with cancer.

Parents of her former students at PS 43 say Alma was a wonderful teacher who will be deeply missed. Many of you may remember her through her husband, Jack Hutton. Jack was the president of the Peninsula Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Alma and Jack did fundraising to keep PVAC on the road.

This wonderful woman should be recognized for sainthood. She is definitely an angel in God’s kingdom. My heart goes out to the family.

It’s a damn shame the Department of Education and the School Con- struction Authority can’t get their act together and fix the boat ramp at Beach Channel High School ramp is used by thousands of boaters and fishermen from Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Brooklyn and many other communities. Visitors from other states have used this ramp to launch their boats in local waters.

When the problem was brought to our attention, thousands of signatures were collected in protest, but they fell on deaf ears. The owner of Buster’s Marine has been outraged and angered. He is afraid that many boaters will take their boats to Long Island where there are plenty of ramps. Other boaters may try to launch boats from unsafe spots along the bay.

We have been hearing from experienced construction people and boat owners. They say that the School Construction Authority’s figures are inflated. They believe that repairs could be done more cheaply. Others believe funds could be collected locally for the repairs.

Faye Cohen, chairperson of Rockaway Park Hadassah’s Heart Luncheon has announced that reservations for the May 13 event have been significant.

With only two weeks to go before reservations will be curtailed, Cohen urged all who wish to attend this luncheon to quickly call her to be assured of attendance.

The honorees this year are Rabbi Alan Blaine of Temple Beth-El and Marilyn Blicksilver, Program Chairperson of the Chapter.

The Lawrence Country Club is the site of this extraordinary afternoon.

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