2003-10-31 / 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

This has been an exciting week for the residents of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park who waited 26 years to get rid of the SST Concorde. This luxury plane that traveled at 1,350 mph at a cost of $9,000 a ticket was used by the rich and famous. It plagued us with loud, piercing noise, and vibration that caused windows, walls, ceilings and foundations to crack. Many people have been very upset over the dropping of fuel and the release of carcinogenic fumes. The planes brought levels of noise that
contributed to hearing loss and irritability.

Back in the late 70’s we participated in a motorcade that drove slowly through JFK airport. It was orchestrated by Howard Beach attorney Bryan Levinson. Through the years we testified at FAA hearings. In 2000 I organized a rally to protest the return of the Concorde after flights were suspended after that horrible crash outside of Paris. Rep. Anthony Weiner co-chaired the rally and led a delegation up to the doors of the British Airlines terminal to try to convince them to stop the flights.

We have always supported the flight to eliminate flights over our homes and require all flights to take off over Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. We are glad to see elimination of the Concorde. There is still more work ahead to stop the flights from going over our homes. At this time we urge everyone to contact their Congressman to urge them to stop the expansion of JFK airport or the number of flights at JFK. This expansion is not in the interest of the residents of communities surrounding JFK airport.

The Mitchell-Lama Council has notified us that the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption (SCHE) have been raised to $24,000. SCHE is available to cooperators 65 or older who are not eligible for SCRIE, with incomes up to $29,900 annually. You should contact your management if you think you are covered by this change.

All qualified co-op stockholders should be receiving School Tax Relief (STAR). If you are not getting this tax abatement you can get an application for the 2004-05 tax year by calling (212) 361-8215.

Our next bus trip to Atlantic City Trump Marina will be on Saturday, November 15. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. Reservations are a must and tickets must be paid in advance. Call 945-1216 now.

Our Annual Dinner Dance will be held on Wednesday, December 3 at The Beach Club. For a cost of $60 per person or $720 per table you will get a full sit-down dinner including beer, wine or soda. There will be live music and a DJ. Glatt Kosher food will be available. Among the honorees will be Alphonse Catanese Sr., John Norbury, John Socha, Barney Cassidy, Maxine Schack, Teresa Harris, Bryan Bernath, Barbara and Elizabeth Buffalino and Karen Nevirs.

We need your continued participation and support. Call for reservations at 945-1216. Send your checks to the Good Government Regular Democratic club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park, NY 11694.

This year Mayor Bloomberg is trying to take our right to vote in party primaries to pick our candidates for public office in NYC. It is time to send a clear message to Mayor Bloomberg that we are proud of the party we have enrolled in, be it Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families or Independence. We have chosen the party because this is the philosophy we believe in. Since the early 1900’s party members have had the right to choose their candidates. The mayor’s proposal would take away that right.

City Council Member Bill deBlasio of Brooklyn said, NYC has already made historic changes to its election system with the adoption of term limits and the best municipal campaign finance program in the country. In 2001, there were approximately 250 candidates who ran for office. In my primary race alone I faced five other challengers. Whatever is wrong with our politics will not be fixed by eliminating party primaries."

City Council Member Eric Gloia of Queens said, "This referendum will actually magnify the effect of big money in elections, turn voters away from the issues and toward candidates" ethnicities, and even increase the power of political parties. Today, ballots list candidates’ party affiliation. By eliminating primaries, there could be a long list of candidates to choose from, like the California fiasco, and with no requirement to list party affiliation, voters may rely more on the kind of last name candidates have rather than the issues they stand for. Non-partisan elections are a step backward for NYC.

The New York State Democratic committee says "This proposal would eliminate Democratic primary elections entirely and would deny 2.7 million Democrats a collective voice in city elections. Party primaries have long been our way of ensuring voters get to choose their own parties candidates. The elimination of party primaries would take power away from voters and return it to "party bosses." The elimination of party primaries would likely: favor millionaires and billionaires running for office; undermine the city’s landmark campaign finance program, which has helped hundreds of candidates, including minorities, women and immigrants, run for of-fice, create confusion, undermine the political impact of minorities; benefit extremist candidates; deprive voters of information gained from cross-endorsements; and limit voters’ choices in November to two candidates who may be from the same party."

The Mayor’s Commission also put up proposals on city purchasing and court administration. These ideas are too complex to be voted on in a referendum. They should have been sent to the City Council for discussion. Mayor Bloomberg has used his Charter commission to prevent New Yorkers to vote on a proposal to study limits on class size in NYC public schools.

We urge everyone to cast their vote for District Attorney Richard A. Brown who has fought to improve the quality of life in our communities. He has always been there and done the right thing. Justice and safety prevail under the watchful eye of Richard A. Brown.

Two weeks ago a Rockaway resident found flyers called the Hitler phenomenon on their doorsteps. It is an outrage that this type of trash would be found in our community. At no time should this type of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian propaganda be accepted in our community. We must never forget what Hitler had done to 6 million Jews and 30 million Christians during World War II. Those who are curious about this time can find good books in our local libraries.

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