2004-02-27 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Simon says...

Good Government Dems Welcome Congressman Meeks. Pictured, from left Jimmy McCabe, Young Dems, Congressman Gregory Meeks representing Senator John Kerry, Democratic District Leader Lew M. Simon, Regine Lifranc Assistant Principal (Guidance) Beach Channel H.S. and Norman Silverman.Good Government Dems Welcome Congressman Meeks. Pictured, from left Jimmy McCabe, Young Dems, Congressman Gregory Meeks representing Senator John Kerry, Democratic District Leader Lew M. Simon, Regine Lifranc Assistant Principal (Guidance) Beach Channel H.S. and Norman Silverman.

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

This past week my phone rang off the hook constantly due to the new suspension program located at 115-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd. The New Be ginnings program will have 15 Far Rockaway High School and 15 Beach Channel High School problem youths who cannot be proved to be non-violent. These students were kicked out of school due to attendance, learning and behavioral problems. They will be assigned to the program for 90 days.

This at risk student program was housed right in front of the Q22 bus stop and in the heart of the business district. It is next to three nursing homes, and one health related facility with mental patients. PS 225, Stella Maris H.S., Maura Clarke J.H.S. and St. Johns Boys Home are nearby. This can become an inflammatory situation and a major problem in the making. We don’t understand the rationale of the Department of Education for placing these at risk students in this area.

Unfortunately, there are no zoning regulations that would prevent opening the school. We feel it would be hoove us if this type of student were put in an area that is zoned industrial. They should not be close to another school or local business establishment. There may be some buildings on Beach 77 or Beach 80 Streets near Beach Channel Drive that could be rehabbed for this purpose.

We also suggest that the students be picked up by a bus or van and transported to the program and returned home at the end of the day. They must make sure that each student is ac counted for and picked up if they are found loitering in the area. We realize this is not a jail but if these children are at risk, somebody better be able to account for them so they don’t get into more trouble.

One of the biggest questions raised is who is re sponsible for identifying the site at Beach 115 Street. How come community leaders, civic groups or at least this elected official were never notified. I’m outraged, appalled and extremely angered. While Rockaway is on an upswing, the city chooses to destroy neighborhoods. We urge everyone to contact the Mayor’s office and the Chancellor’s office to voice your outrage.

Does the owner of the property have to pay real estate taxes? We would like to know how long the lease is and what rent is paid.

Our next Atlantic City trip to Trump Marina will be on Saturday March 13. The cost is $30 with $17 returned. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return 8 a.m. Movies are shown on the bus. Bagels and cream cheese courtesy of Rock away Bagels. Call my office at 945-1216 for reservations.

As we wrote in the last column, there was a major street collapse on Beach 85 Street and RBB in front of Ham mels. Once again it has collapsed. We reached out to DOT and DEP. DEP has to fix water mains, which are undermining the street. They worked on Friday and will be back on Monday and Tuesday to complete the job.

We always complain about the lack of lifeguards and the lack of summer jobs for youth. I found a flyer in the Five Towns announcing a Lifeguard Qualifying Test to be held on 3/1 and 3/8 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The requirements are to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds and have a minimum vision of 20/30 in one eye and 20/40 in the other without corrective lenses.

On Monday morning we attended the HPD public hearing on a proposed 31% increase in maintenance for residents of Dayton Beach Park Cooper ative. Thank God the hearing was fill ed with hundreds of residents. Not only were the usual daytime senior citizens, but many working individuals deemed this a matter of life and death and took a day off. Although I was invited to attend an endorsement and photo op with Sen. John Kerry, I chose to support the residents of Dayton. The Queens County Democratic or gan ization is coming out united for Sen. Kerry.

The hearing was held by Gary Soloman, Director of Operations of HPD as hearing officer. Not one person who testified agreed with the increase.

As the first speaker, I spoke about the advantages of refinancing the mortgage at the low interest rates which we have now. A capital assessment with no amortization would bring in cash now since the HPD does not do equity increases any more. We suggested a capital assessment, which has no amortization. The cost will be very low and would be paid over 3 to 5 years. The money would be returned to the stockholder at the sale of the apartment.

If there was a need for a maintenance increase it should not be for more than 3% to 5%. In this day and age people who work do not get much of an increase and are lucky to have a job. We are urging everyone who has not spoken to put pen to paper and write to the HPD. Address your letter to Assistant Commissioner Julie Walpert HPD at 108 Gold Street NY 10038 Room 921. FAX (212) 863-5048. If you do not know how to explain cooperative financing just write that you can’t afford this increase. If you don’t write, don’t complain if you get the increase.

Have you taken a ride recently using the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel? Talk about being ripped off by the TBTA-MTA. It’s $4 each way or $3.50 with EZ-Pass. You literally have to pray when driving into Manhattan through the tunnel. I have never seen the condition of the tunnel this horrendous in the past 20 years.

They should close the tunnel down for major repairs immediately. All those who have traveled through this tunnel in the past weeks will have earned a refund for the damage to your car and tires. With all the money we pay they still can’t get it right. For shame on the TBTA.

We wish a speedy get well to a wonderful woman, Rosa Diaz, after knee surgery. We look forward to going dancing when you’re feeling better.

On Tuesday, March 2, New York will have the Democratic Primary for Pres ident of the U.S. If you agree that it is time to stop George W. Bush, you must cast your vote.

If you are a registered Democrat, we urge you to vote for John Kerry. If you live in the 9th C.D. (Congressman Anthony Weiner’s district) I hope that you will vote for me for delegate to the presidential nominating convention. We would like to be one of those delegates who could have influence on the Democratic platform. Please look for my name.

Last Thursday we heard from representatives of the Democratic presidential candidates. We heard that Senator Kerry has the experience to look after the security of the U.S. from the first day of his administration. He will help get health care and prescription drugs for more Americans. Senator Edwards will change tax laws that encourage American companies to move their jobs overseas. Edwards wants to make college education affordable for all Americans.

No matter who you vote for we predict a Kerry-Edwards ticket.

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