2006-12-15 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

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

Agnes Catanese, matriarch of the Catanese family, and her sons, Alphonse Jr. and Tommy presented the 1st  annual Al.phonse Catanese Sr. award to Anthony Allia, Region 3 Representative Citywide Council for High Schools at recent Good government Democratic Club Dinner.Agnes Catanese, matriarch of the Catanese family, and her sons, Alphonse Jr. and Tommy presented the 1st annual Al.phonse Catanese Sr. award to Anthony Allia, Region 3 Representative Citywide Council for High Schools at recent Good government Democratic Club Dinner. May the joyous holiday of Chanukah bring peace, love and happiness around the world. May the miracle of the lights create miracles for all.

At the same time I wish a joyous, merry Christmas and happy Kwanzaa. May this year’s holidays be peaceful and special for all.

On Thursday, November 30 we had an historic night at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made everyone in the room as happy as if they won the $50 million lottery.

Quinn is very aware of the major issues that affect the Rockaways, Broad Channel and Breezy Point communities. The Speaker announced that she will be holding a City Council Transportation Committee hearing with Committee Chair John Liu in Rockaway. We will discuss our transportation or lack of transportation. We expect that the other members of the Committee, interested Council members, committee staff, representatives of DOT, NYC Transit, MTA and the Port Authority to be present. Committee hearings are usually broadcast on NYCTV (74).

This will be our chance to challenge the system and speak out loud and proud for the reactivation of the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR which took 32 minutes from Beach 116 Street to Penn Station. It will be our chance to urge support of operating subsidies for an affordable ferry to lower and midtown Manhattan. We must demand new and improved MTA buses, not the old schlock, more Manhattan express buses running throughout the day and evening and weekend as they do in other parts of the borough.

This will be our chance to be counted and not forgotten. Council Speaker Quinn is a breath of fresh air. Her wisdom and knowledge will definitely be an asset to the residents of the Rockaway community. She has made a strong commitment to help us obtain lifeguards on our beaches until 8 p.m. and to get the Parks Department to adopt a fair and equitable system of testing and training new lifeguards.

In her statement Quinn covered a number of issues of interest to local and city residents. She told how the Council is trying to keep needed hospitals open, (it is basically a state issue), how they got the Mayor to include needed items like body armor for NYC police in his budget instead of having to add the money later, and money was put in to keep libraries open and provide summer jobs for youth.

Club and community members got a chance to ask questions and make the Speaker aware of the needs of our community. Joe Hartigan discussed the need for regular, subsidized ferry service. Hank Iori explained the difficulties the lifeguard trainees faced in getting Parks Department beach jobs. We found the Speaker concerned and responsive.

As it is the Christmas season, our own Maria, home of the “Breezy Dog,” the lady who sells hot dogs near Fort Tilden, is now selling beautiful Christmas trees and wreaths in Waldbaum’s shopping center. She is always donating back to the community. Go see her for your Christmas needs.

On Friday evening we attended the annual Christmas tree lighting on Beach 116 Street. With the cold weather and strong wind it felt like 15 below, but the community once again came together. John Lepore of Allstate, President of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, is a great friend to the Rockaways. Don’t forget our official Menorah lady, Noni Sigoretti of Brown’s Hardware, who proudly displays a menorah hat and gives chocolate to children and adults. Remember to shop locally at Brown’s. There was great entertainment from Peggy Page and the Rockaway Theatre Company. It was great to see our newly elected 100th Precinct Council President, Danny Ruscillo and his lovely wife, Linda. They are two hardworking community activists and great friends. It is always a pleasure to see our own Joan George from the public relations office of Peninsula Hospital and Doug McLeod, who got out of the hospital, as Rockaway’s own Santa Claus.

On Saturday evening we attended the annual Christmas tree lighting in Broad Channel. I was given the honor and pleasure of doing the official lighting of the tree. It was a joint effort of the Broad Channel Athletic Club and the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps. We saw the beautiful faces of the children as they told Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

It was great to see Republican district leader and President of the B.C. Volunteers, Eddie O’Hare and Rubin Wills, who represented State Senator –elect Shirley Huntley.

Senator Huntley was heartbroken that she could not attend, but sent her chief of staff. Huntley is a class act and we know she will make a difference and be there to represent all the people all the time.

We are going to Atlantic City this week. We leave on Saturday December 15 at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. Bagels, courtesy of Beach Bagels, and movies are served on the bus. Call 718-945-1216 now for reservations. The next trip is on Saturday January 13.

We would like to wish a happy 90th birthday to Eva Ford who recently celebrated with her loving family and friends. Although Eva is confined to a wheelchair, she lives life to the fullest. I have had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful, loving, outstanding mother, grandmother and great grandmother all of my life. She is truly a mother to all and a beautiful person. We wish you many, many more happy birthdays and look forward to being at your 100th birthday party.

Hospital Merger Not Imminent

Bob Levine, CEO of Peninsula Hospital, was a surprise guest speaker at our club meeting. Rumors of imminent closure of one of our local hospitals had many local residents in shock. The NYS Berger Commission would require merger of St. John’s Hospital with Peninsula Hospital.

However, this will not happen until a new larger hospital is build to serve the growing population on the peninsula.

Levine estimated that it could cost $400 million to build the new hospital. Since no one is ready to provide these funds at this time the two hospitals will continue to operate separately. The required reduction of beds has already been done.

If the merger does happen, Levine expects that it will be at the Beach 51 Street site as vacant land is available there.

Peninsula has 800 employees in the hospital, 225 in the nursing home and is the largest employer in the Rockaways.

Bob Levine is the best. He is a hands-on, outstanding individual who makes it his business to walk the halls and visit the patients and ask about their concerns.

After my recent bus accident, I went to the emergency room at Peninsula. They were caring and professional. Dr. Franks is an excellent doctor with love and compassion in her heart. Dr. Grossman is a mensch.

He and his lovely wife, Miriam, are very charity and community oriented. 

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