2006-10-06 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B We wish all our Jewish readers a happy, joyous New Year. L'Shana Tova. May your name be inscribed in the Book of Life.

On Thursday October 12 at 7:45 p.m. sharp the Good Government Regular Democratic Club will have an educational forum. Regional Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Cashin will update us on Region 5 elementary, middle and high schools. She and her staff will be available to answer all questions concerning your children and grandchildren. This should prove to be a fantastic meeting.

All are welcome. Bagels and cream cheese are by Beach Bagels and cakes by Key Food. Come get involved in your children's education. The club is located at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive upstairs opposite Waldbaum's parking lot.

The Good Government Regular Democratic Club is holding our 19th Annual Dinner Dance at Brooklyn's finest catering hall, El Caribe, 5945 Strickland Avenue on Thursday November 16, from 7 p.m. to Midnight.

The 2006 distinguished honorees are Edward Watt, Treasurer Local 100, Transport Workers Union of America, John O'Connell, Queens Business Agent, Steamfitters Local 638 U.A., Anthony Allia, Region 3 and 5, Representative for High Schools, Sister Francis Marie, Principal of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr School, Hank Iori, Educational Specialist and Community Leader, Marina Callaghan, Education Program Coordinator of the Rockaway Artists Alliance and Co-Director of Camp KidSmart, Janice (Twozie) Selleck, Breezy Point Community and Church Leader, Margaret Wagner, Executive Director of the Athletic club of Broad Channel and Arthur (A.J.) Smith Esq., Treasurer of the Breezy Point Cooperative and Community Leader.

Tickets are $75.00 per person/$1,200 Table of 16. Glatt Kosher food is available. Please make check payable to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park 11694. For information call 718- 945-1216. R.S.V.P. by October 10. Ads are available for our commemorative dinner journal.

I enjoyed a Jewish New Year dinner with Joe and Roberta DiCanio and family. After all they are my family. They always make me feel welcome, loved and appreciated. Roberta is a dynamite cook. Thank you for always welcoming me into your family.

On this past Wednesday evening the hot issue of the night at the 100th Precinct Community Council was the parking and traffic rules on Shorefront Parkway and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Captain Neacy made it clear that the Police Department had nothing to do with the city's decision on striping and reducing traffic lanes. I felt it was a miracle that Mathew Gorton, Queens Director of the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit showed up and spoke to the audience. Yours truly sunk his teeth in like the pit bull I am about Shorefront Parkway, Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. I questioned why the city gave us one lane instead of giving us traffic lights. Now it is our reader's opportunity to keep the pressure on Mathew Gorton by calling (212) 788-7448. His fax number is (212) 788 7819. At the same time continue to call NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall at (212) 676-0868, Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy at (718) 391-2705 as well as 311. Your voice will be counted if we all keep calling over and over.

As many of you are aware we have been involved with Community Board 14's committee on lifeguards. The committee and its chair are demanding that Helen Foster, Chairperson of the Parks and Recreation of the City Council hold a public hearing in Rockaway on the failure of the city to hire enough lifeguards to cover all the beaches. Councilman Joseph Addabbo is the former chairperson and is still on the committee. My demand since 2002 for a committee hearing has fallen on deaf ears.

Maybe now with all united we may have enough clout. I'm urging everyone to attend the Community Board 14 meeting on Tuesday October 10. Sign up to speak or support those who do and make a real public hearing happen. It is too long now that we have been left without lifeguard coverage on all of Rockaway's beaches as well as keeping lifeguards on duty to protect swimmers until 8 PM. They must find a way to hire experienced lifeguards on a part time basis and allow outside observers to watch the testing of future lifeguards.

It came to our attention by accident that the Health and Hospitals Corporation is holding a public hearing on a proposal to relinquish their control of city owned property at the Neponsit Home. The hearing will be held on Wednesday October 18 at 4 PM at Queens Hospital Center N Building. Anyone wishing to speak must register by calling Patricia Lockhart, Secretary of HHC, at (212) 788-3360. The Neponsit Home provided an excellent residential and day program for seniors and others in need of assistance in a beautiful setting. In 1998 after a tropical storm the Building Department claimed that the Neponsit buildings faced imminent collapse and had to be demolished immediately. The residents were evacuated in the middle of the night and shipped to inadequate facilities all over the city.

Employees, many of them local residents, were also scattered around the city. The buildings are still standing, but the Queens Building Commissioner who personally ordered the demolition of the buildings lost his job and was indicted.

This property is obviously very valuable and has a special status. By state law it can only be used for hospital purposes. If the hospital relinquishes it, it can only be used for park land. A 1955 NYS Supreme Court decision, Alduck v, City of New York upheld this law. Thank God for the late great Terry Flynn Esq. who located and gave me a copy of this decision. Terry explained that only the State Legislature could change the status of this land.

We believed at that time that Mayor Giuliani thought he had a cash cow and thought they could sell the property at a profit. We must stay vigilant and watch that the city does not give away valuable city property. We called Dr. Luis Marcos, the former President of the HHC, a goniff and a rat because he took part in this abrupt closing and did not protect the patients he was supposed to protect. Patient's relatives, employees, Legal Aid and even some patients themselves spoke out and won some legal victories, but we never got them to reopen the facilities. We urge as many as possible to please speak out. Some HHC staff have tried on their own to help us win this fight. Dr. Benjamin Chu, a former HHC President, was a gentleman and a scholar who helped to relocate the Neponsit Adult Day Care program and said that his long term goal was to reopen the Neponsit Home. Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday October 21. We leave at 5:30 PM and return at 8 AM. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. Call my office for reservations. We are saddened by the loss of Pat Rubin's mom. Pat is chief of staff for state senator Malcolm Smith.

It is quite obvious that she instilled the right values in her daughter. We are sure that she will be a special angel in God's heaven.

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