2005-09-23 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

As we open our column this week, all of our hearts go out to the people affected by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. We have received a number of calls from people who used to live in the Rockaways. They moved to Louisiana and lost everything.

It is a shame that the federal government was aware of the need for the levees in Louisiana, which could have prevented the catastrophic damages, but brought the construction to a halt. It shouldn’t take a catastrophe to get our government to move and do something.

The poor planning for a major hurricane frightens me. The Rockaway peninsula is a barrier island, which would be submerged by a moderate hurricane. Howard Beach and JFK Airport would be submerged as well.

During the nor’easter of ‘92-‘93, we volunteered at the shelter site at Beach Channel High School. Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Beach Channel Drive, Newport Avenue, Rockaway Point Boulevard and Crossbay Boulevard were major disasters. In many places a boat was needed to get around.

Broad Channel and Breezy Point were hit very hard. 

It was a major effort for the Red Cross to bring cots and blankets to accommodate the people. At that time McDonald’s and a number of local merchants gave us food to feed people at the shelter. 

We now see coastal evacuation signs that make no sense. They direct residents from the West End to Brooklyn College, from the middle of the peninsula to Aqueduct and from the East end to Belmont Raceway. In 1994 we tried to coordinate with the Red Cross to assure that they would have a station headquarters in our community. Although we could get volunteers, it all boiled down to dollars and cents for the Red Cross.

Now is the time to demand that we are protected. The devastation and lack of response by the Governor of Louisiana, Mayor of New Orleans and President of the United States shows us that we are in trouble.

One of the things we are currently working on is the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. With proper notice of an approaching hurricane we could board the train for evacuation to higher ground. We are aware that tracks that cross Jamaica Bay would be under water. Need I say that a snowstorm or ice storm stops our trains and buses?

The city seems to say drop dead Rockaway instead of sending MTA buses to respond. OK, you are saying to yourself, the MTA is taking over the private buses. Good luck. What does this mean? Will the buses be here?   We are urging the city, mayor, governor and FEMA to come together on a viable plan. Then they have to educate all the people what they have to do in case of emergency.

We urge everyone to support the Graybeards Katrina Relief Fund. Send your donation to The Graybeards, Ltd. at 436 Beach 129 Street, Belle Harbor NY 11694. I tip my hat to the Graybeards on a job well done above and . God bless you.

Last Tuesday’s primary election had a dismal turnout throughout most of the city. Voters were apathetic because many are resigned to the fact that Mayor Bloomberg will be reelected with the use of close to $100 million dollars. We are not saying that he has done a good or a bad job. Basically many of the voters are saying they believe that he will win.

It was quite exciting to see our great Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is energetic and resilient. He is a hero who fights to bring home the bacon, yes the money, back to his district. It is a shame that Anthony could not have gotten more votes and gotten into the runoff with Freddy Ferrer. It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened.        

Our Democratic candidate has been chosen. It is Fred Ferrer who has pledged to reactivate the Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. He has also pledged to increase state and city funds for education to provide for smaller class sizes, less regimentation and a fair contract for teachers. We are expecting to bring our candidate back to speak at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club in the month of October to address issues near and dear to us and to answer our questions.

Because of the boom in real estate prices, real estate taxes have risen for most of us. While the mayor is claiming credit for a $400 rebate, the increase is usually much more. In the last four years tax bills of single-family homes have risen 62% according to an analysis in the NY Times. It includes a 4.3% tax rate increase set to be adopted by the City Council in the next few months.

Tax bills of individual coop and condo apartments have gone up about 43% including a 1.5% increase set to be adopted this fall.

It is now time to flood Mayor Michael Bloomberg with phone calls and letters about this quiet increase in real estate taxes. Also call your local Council members and call 311. Coop owners should contact their board members or management to find out how the increase will affect them. Send a copy of your letters to my office at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park NY 11694.

It is time for the city and state to crack down on price gouging on gasoline. Prices are slightly lower in Nassau.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday October 15.

We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at

a.m.

The cost is $33 and $20 or possibly $25 will be returned.

Bagels and cream cheese courtesy of Beach Bagels.

Call (718) 945-1216 for reservations.  

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