2005-10-07 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

L’Shana Tova, Happy New Year, to all our Jewish friends, neighbors and constituents.

This week has been very sad in Rockaway. The death of Donna Bain, an outstanding individual was followed by the loss of Andre F. Anderson, only 14 years old, who was killed on Shore Front Parkway while riding his bicycle. This death was followed by the death of a good friend Edwin Martinez, who lost his fight against cancer.  

You may remember that only a couple of years ago Edwin’s house on Beach 91 Street burned on Christmas eve. This death was followed by the death of John E. Otten, another gentleman and scholar, who left a large family, a lovely wife, children, grandchildren and a legacy in Rockaway. 

It has been quite sad. My heart goes out to the families. God must have needed a good crew of special angels. The death of little Andre was the hardest, bitter pill to swallow and accept. It is now time for the Department of Transportation to approve traffic lights on Shore Front parkway. How many more deaths do we need? We are also suggesting that on the eastbound side of Shorefront Parkway, which is wider than the westbound side due to the no parking rules, a lane for bikes and roller blades be designated.  

My heart also goes out to the driver who was involved in this unfortunate accident.

On Tuesday evening we attended a meeting called Ready New York in conjunction with the New York Office of Emergency Management and the Red Cross, hosted by Councilman Addabbo. We all thank the Red Cross for this important information.

Most of us came to the conclusion that we are once again the forgotten peninsula. Joe Bruno, the OEM Commissioner, tried to assure us that busses will be available for evacuation in case of a class 4 or 5 hurricane. Personally, I would have heeded the warning to leave at least 3 days before the hurricane struck.

Bruno said that people in Far Rockaway would drive to Belmont to park and lock and board busses. People from the middle of the peninsula are directed to Aqueduct, and people from the West End are directed to Brooklyn College. Many of us questioned the lack of specific places to go to.

I questioned whether we would really have buses. During the nor’easter and during a number of sudden rainstorms and snowstorms trains and buses stopped running in Rockaway. It is as if the city said “Drop Dead Rockaway”. The question of a ferry and the use of the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR was proposed by the Commissioner and his planner. They kept stating that we would have to leave 3 days before the hurricane arrived.

Ashe Mills asked whether the shelters would be pet friendly. She spoke with her heart about her loving pet Chihuahua that is part of her family. Bruno stated that in light of the events during hurricane Katrina they are looking at this matter. I personally feel it is extremely important that people be able to take their pets because they are your best friends and family members. It is quite obvious that there is no real plan

for the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Breezy Point or Howard Beach. It is good luck and every man, woman and family for themselves.

The Red Cross did provide a list of supplies to be kept in an emergency supply kit in your home. They include one gallon of drinking water per person per day, non-perishable ready-to-eat canned foods and a manual can opener, first aid kit, medications and prescriptions, flashlight, battery-operated AM-FM radio and extra batteries, whistle, iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach for disinfecting water, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and toothbrush, sturdy shoes, heavy gloves, warm clothes, a mylar blanket and lightweight raingear, fire extinguisher, smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, a phone does not rely on electricity, child care items, portable cooler with ice, plastic garbage bags, and plywood for shuttering windows.

Many of these items and copies of important documents, extra set of keys, credit and ATM cards and $50 to $100 in small bills, medication for at least one week and copies of prescriptions should be kept in a Go Bag in case of emergency.

A local attorney who is a resident of Arverne asked if there were funds available to assist persons who could not afford to buy these items. I suggested that Mayor Bloomberg mail everyone a radio like he did when he was running for his first term.

We will be forming a committee to put together a volunteer disaster team to be ready when needed. If interested call my office at 945-1216.

Thursday evening was a dream come true. We took part in an official ribbon cutting for Scholar’s Academy located in the MS 180 building. For most of the last two decades we have been fighting and working diligently to make a viable middle school for the residents of our district. For many years people chose to send their children to Districts 21 and 22 in Brooklyn or move from the community altogether if they could not get their child into the desired school.

A miracle happened and we were blessed to get Dr. Kathleen Cashin, a strong advocate for children with a heart of gold, compassion, education credentials and foresight to make a difference. When Dr. Cashin’s appointment was announced her first public speaking engagement was at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club where she heard the problems and concerns of local parents. She made a commitment that night to improve the ongoing quality of education and make sure that no parents would want their child in another district.

God bless Dr. Cashin. She kept her promise through Assistant Regional Superintendent Steve Mittman, Deputy Regional Superintendent Rita Geremita, Principal Brian O’connell and Assistant Principal Mr. Perry with the strong help of Laurie Shapiro, Principal of P.S. 105, Michelle Lloyd-Bey, Superintendent of District 27 and the great team that Dr.Cashin assembled.

We helped in cutting the ribbon for something we worked and fought so hard for. My prediction is that Dr. Kathleen Cashin will one day be Chancellor of the Department of Education. God bless you. Thank you. We love you.

LI Newsday reported that LIPA was planning to increase electric rates by 18%  on October 8 to pay for increased fuel costs. We are demanding a public hearing to address this major increase. As we are on the tail end of LIPA we are the only NYC residents to face this increase. We are calling upon our state elected officials, Assembly members Audrey Pheffer and Michelle Titus and State Senator Malcolm Smith to speak up for us. Their phone numbers are on the editorial page of this paper.

The cutoff date for our 18th Anniversary Dinner Dance is coming up on October 17. We hope you can join with us to honor Kevin Kelly, Michelle Lloyd-Bey, Patricia Tubridy, Regine LiFranc, Thomas O’Keefe, Louis and Mary Romas, Susan Bertolini and Jodi Orlow-Mackoff. All monies raised helps to keep our office and phone working to help you and improve  the quality of  life in our district. Call 945-1216 for information. send your check for $75 per person to Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park 11694.

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