From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Thursday, August 17, State Senator Malcolm Smith will speak at a Town Hall meeting to be held at the Ellen Connolly Dance Studio, 114-03 Beach Channel Drive on the ground floor. It is across the street from our office and next to the Post Office and Waldbaum's parking lot.
Senator Smith will discuss issues concerning MTA buses and trains, renovation of subway stations, lifeguard hiring and hours, school funding and home insurance. You must be there to ask your question. Bagels courtesy of Beach bagels and cake courtesy of Key Food will be served.
As you are well aware, we are not paid for our position. We get no funding. Our Democratic club runs on donations, membership ($25 family, $18 single, $12 Senior and Young Dems), and our Atlantic City bus trips. Our next Trump Marina trip will be this Saturday, August 12 at 5:30 p.m. We return at 8 a.m. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. Call (718) 945-1216 for reservations.
On Sunday evening we attended the Rockaway Music and Arts Council Sunset Picnic Series. This concert presented the one and only Andy Cooney.
The audience was overflowing in the 98-degree heat. People from all over the community as well as other parts of the city and Long Island really enjoyed themselves.
Andy has the voice of an angel. His traditional Irish songs as well as American songs had everyone singing and dancing with him. His 9-year-old son Ryan stole the show when he sang. He sounded like an adult with a beautiful, trained voice. I walked around and heard the audience say what a lovely, young man with a fantastic voice and beautiful red hair. He not only sang, but treated us to some step dancing.
It was quite touching and tearful when Andy brought up his little daughter and sang to her that one day she would be married. This fantastic concert was the best. If you did not get a chance to see Andy, there will be a beautiful Christmas concert at St. Rose of Lima.
At the same time we'd like to mention that Gateway National Park is becoming user non-friendly. Our Gateway Superintendent, Lisa Eckert, otherwise known as Ms. By the Book, is starting to destroy the quality of life for the Rockaway Music and Arts Council, Rockaway Artists Alliance and Rockaway Theatre Company. She has put a stop to all 50-50's, door prizes or raffles. She stated that collecting funds this way is illegal.
For at least 10 years I have personally been taking donations on the field at the RMAC concerts and giving tickets for door prizes. The door prizes are always donated and the moneys collected go for additional concerts. We have never had a problem. Now they asked us to use a donation box and not give prizes. They expect me to stand in one place or to affix the box to the ground. Hell no. I went around with the can and was waiting to be arrested. For shame on Gateway National Park for going after great organizations that give back to the Rockaway community and all those who visit Fort Tilden.
Only a few years ago the park was in shambles with old broken down buildings. The RTC and RAA put a lot of donated money and labor into improving them. It is disgraceful that Ms. Eckert seems to think or wants to get rid of everyone because the park is so over-utilized. She has even refused to provide bathrooms or staff to clean the garbage at the RMAC festival.
All of a sudden major rules are changing to be unfriendly to users. She said she wants to review all contracts. She seems to be looking for any loophole to dump us out of the park. We have two words. Good riddance. Go back to Wyoming where you came from. We will not allow ourselves to be bullied.
Tuesday night was National Night Out Against Crime. At approximately 9:10 p.m. Rockaway's boardwalk was crowded with tens of thousands of residents, friends, neighbors, family and visitors. We enjoyed the best fireworks ever. It brought back memories of Wednesday nights at Playland.
We question once again the DOT's infinite wisdom in having traffic lights on Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Beach 79, Beach 80 and Beach 81 Streets. We are well aware that the only main street that goes straight through to Shorefront Parkway is Beach 81 Street. It is amazing how lights can appear there but not on Shorefront Parkway where they are needed at Beach 73 or Beach 74 Streets, Beach 77 and Beach 84 Streets. Instead the morons gave us one lane each way which allows jackasses to pass illegally on the right. We must keep up the pressure and keep dialing. Call Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy at (718) 391-2705 and say Simon Says give us traffic lights and give us back our two lanes each way. Call DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Senator Schumer's wife, at (212) 676-0868. If we keep the pressure up about Shorefront Parkway, Beach Channel Drive and parts of Rockaway Beach Boulevard we will break through.
On Wednesday we presented a check to Ellen Connelly of Connelly Dance Studios for Dancing Under the Stars 2006. Each year I receive a grant check from Sweet 'N Low for the great intergenerational program. A personal note of thanks to Ellen Connelly for the use of her dance studio. Her wonderful A/C and well-cooled ballroom helped us to hold a successful meeting during the heat wave. Ellen is a real trooper and a big supporter of the Rockaways. If you have children or would like to take dancing lessons go see Ellen at 114-03 Beach Channel Drive and tell her Simon Says.
Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer was our honored guest speaker at our Town Hall meeting on Thursday evening. We haven't always been on the same side but now we work as a team for the community. Audrey thanked us and members of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club for helping collect the petitions that are required to put her and the other candidates on the ballot. Audrey reviewed the busy year in Albany. They passed laws on identity theft, expanding the DNA data base, eliminating the statute of limitations on rape and increased the penalties for fleeing from a police officer. There is new money for school construction and public libraries. The state removed its share of the sales tax on clothing and now gives parents a tax credit for their children. Victims of identity theft can put a security freeze on all new credit.
The Assemblywoman responded to questions about reopening the Rockaway Beach branch of the LIRR, express bus stops, abusive ticketing of cars stopping on Shorefront Parkway, ethics reform which failed to pass the State Senate, overcrowding on Beach 116 Street, alleged sludge dumping off Rockaway Beach, destruction of the Neponsit Home for the Aged and traffic safety for students leaving Beach Channel High School. It was an exciting meeting that we cannot do justice to in this space. Make sure that you come to future meetings to learn what is happening and letting your representatives know what is needed by our community.
I want to thank the hundreds of people who sent me happy birthday cards. I will be celebrating on August 11. Thanks for loving and caring.