2005-09-09 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

As District Leader of the 23 rd  A.D. Part B our area encompasses parts of Community Boards 9, 10 and 14. I regularly attend CB 14’s monthly meetings and the meetings at Boards 9 and 10 when there is an issue that affects us. On Thursday September 1, one of the agenda items on the agenda at CB 10 was a presentation on the Aqueduct Raceway Video Lottery Terminals. The speakers were Michael Puggi, Senior Vice President for MGM Mirage Development, William Crowell, Legislative Counsel and Patrick Kehoe, General Counsel representing the New York Racing Association. The VLT is an electronic slot machine.

According to Puggi MGM Grand intends to install 4,500 terminals on the second floor of Aqueduct. He promised a high class operation which would complement racing during the racing season. The terminals would operate 7 days a week all year. They would be in operation 12 to 14 months after final approval. Most of the tax revenue would go to the state lottery. We found it a very interesting presentation.

At the end of the presentation and question and answer period from the public and community board members we proceeded outside to show the visitors pictures and detailed maps of the old Rockaway Beach line. Another question I brought up representing one organization that runs Atlantic City bus trips to raise money is whether they would they consider offering package deals or cash back for people who run trips so we can run busses and make something at the same time.

At this time they were not interested in this type of operation but, if during the week volume was not there, they would look into it. Whatever is good for their business they would do. Since this is something new no one knows how this will affect our local organizations financially. We also don’t know whether crime, drugs or prostitution would increase in the area.

Will people in our community still want to travel to Atlantic City or will they choose to go to Aqueduct. In my own personal opinion, most people like to go to Atlantic City based on the good deal they get including coins back and compensation for food and hotels. We feel if Aqueduct does not do the same, many people will continue to go to Atlantic City. It would behoove MGM Mirage to offer money back, a card system for cash back, as well as free meals and other goodies.

At Aqueduct there will be no card games, only video terminals. Look for further developments and further information as it comes together.

  Tuesday is Primary Day. All registered Democrats can vote for Mayor and Public Advocate. The four choices for mayor are (1) former Bronx Borough President Fred Ferrer who has made a committment to reactivate the Rockaway Beach line. (2) Congressman Anthony Weiner who has become a hero in the Broad Channel community by securing $1.8 million for a new state of the art volunteer firehouse and $15 million for operation of a ferry from Rockaway to Manhattan and other funds for redoing intersections and infrastructure.

Congressman Weiner was the only elected official outside of myself who intervened to try to prevent the closing of Catholic schools by bringing Msgr. Hardiman to a meeting. While others kept their mouths shut, he took action.    (3) C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan Borough President, who snubbed the Good Government Regular Democratic club by not showing up or calling to reschedule a meeting with our membership, friends and neighbors and (4) A Gifford Miller, Speaker of the City Council, endorsed candidate of the Queens Democratic party who has made a commitment to improve transportation and put in traffic lights where needed and help us get our lifeguards. He is supported by Council members Joseph Addabbo and James Sanders.

For Public Advocate we are endorsing Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum for reelection. She returns phone calls and fights for what we care for.

Norman Siegel has been with us in numerous fights to improve the quality of life in our community. He was with us when we marched to eliminate the unfair tolls on the Crossbay Bridge for residents of Rockaway, Breezy Point and Broad Channel. He was there to protect our right to protest. He attended two rallies for beach access and getting back our lifeguards. Last year he tried to get us a meeting with the Parks Commissioner, but the best he could arrange was a meeting with the counsel to the Parks Department. We respect Norman a lot. The next time should be yours.  

Our next trip to Trump Marina will be on Saturday, September 17. The bus leaves at 5:30 a.m. and returns at 8 a.m. The cost is $33 with $20 cash back. Call 945-1216 for reservations.

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