Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Happy, healthy New Year to all of you: my loyal family, constituents and readers. We are now calling upon you to help us continue the great work we do for our community. We are going into our 13th year as Democratic District Leader and 19½ years with the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. We have been in the forefront of all major issues affecting our community.
As I've stated in the past, Democratic District leaders do not get paid, get a paid staff or an office budget and paid telephone. Our office is located at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive. Our Democratic Club is open every Thursday evening from 7:30 to 11 PM. Most importantly we are available 24-7.
In November 2006, as we were starting on our way to Atlantic City, our bus driver had a massive coronary at the wheel and died instantly. My heart goes out to the driver and his family. Some of our frequent riders did not join our December trip, leaving us with many empty seats.
Our next trip is Saturday February 10 which is Free Slot Day. If you spend $50 of your money you will receive a $50 check back for the month of March to use at Trump Marina. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. We leave at 5:30 PM and return at 8 AM and have 8½ hours to enjoy. Bagels by Beach Bagels. Call 945-1216 for reservations.
We need your help. Don't be scared. We have our regular bus company and driver, Eartholem, who drove us last year during the blizzard with 28 inches of snow. We made it back from Atlantic City in whiteout conditions, safe and sound. He was so kind that he dropped people off at their blocks.
The bus trips have been our means of raising funds to keep our office open. You can help by sending in your dues to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Yearly dues for a family is $25, $18 individual and $12 for Seniors and Young Dems. Send your check to the GGDRC at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park NY 111694.
Please join us at the Queens inaugural for our new State Senator, Shirley Huntley. It will be held on Saturday January 20 at 2 PM at York College at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica. She is the State Senator for the 10th S.D. replacing Ada Smith. She represents Broad Channel, parts of Lindenwood, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens and parts of Forest Hills as well as Rosedale, Laurelton, Jamaica and other parts of Queens. The Senator has asked me to personally invite all to meet and greet her that day. Her staff will be available to discuss constituent problems, set up appointments and schedule Senator Huntley to speak at community meetings and events. All welcome.
A special happy birthday to Pat Kantor, community activist, who has made it big. Happy Sweet 16.
Many people who may be eligible for HEAP grants to help pay their winter oil, gas or electric heating bills have not signed up. If you call 800-692-0557 the recording will give you very clear instructions. Income guidelines this year are $1,764 monthly for a household of one to $5,475 monthly for a household of 11. When all the allotted money is distributed it is too late to get a grant, so call now.
Friday January 12, 2007 was an historic day for the Borough of Queens. Our own State Senator from the 14th District, Malcolm Smith, became the new State Senate Democratic Leader. Senator Malcolm Smith and I have been good friends for over 25 years. Each and every election that he had, we proudly supported him because of his leadership and integrity. Malcolm worked for former Mayor Ed Koch and former Congressman Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake. Malcolm also played a part in the revitalization of Rockaway in the home construction business.
On Friday evening Dr. Marcia V. Keisz, President of York College, welcomed us by speaking of her pride in the graduates of the class of 2006. She then introduced Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake who was master of ceremonies. Rev. Flake was extremely proud of his protégé, Malcolm, for reaching the milestone of Senate Minority Leader.
The presentation of the colors was by the Proctor Hobson VFW. The invocation was given by the Rev. Dr. Edward Davis, Senior Pastor Presbyterian Church of St. Albans. The Pledge of allegiance was led by Malcolm's proud nephew, Gene Von Montague, who is a Specialist in the U.S. Army. He just returned from Iraq fighting for our freedom. The National Anthem was sung by Charles Lisby. The Negro national anthem was sung by Ed'Rena Miller who has the voice of an angel. She electrified the audience and moved your heart.
The Honorable Joseph Crowley, a Queens Congressman, who is also Queens Democratic County Leader, read congratulations from Mayor Michael Bloomberg who declared Friday January 12 as Malcolm Smith Day. He also read letters from a number of prominent rabbis and religious Jewish organizations who were not present because of the Sabbath. The speakers included a who's who of politics. Congressman Charles Rangel, new Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senator Charles Schumer returned from Washington. Schumer gave an electrifying and dynamic speech. Rev. Al Sharpton brought Nicole Paultre Bell, fiancé of the late Sean Bell. She came to personally thank Malcolm for his support and understanding during this terrible tragedy that affected her and her family.
Lt. Governor David Patterson gave a dynamic speech and made us realize that we put the right man in the capital. Patterson is a capable, brilliant and charismatic individual. Also on stage were Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Kevin Sheehy, representing Mayor Bloomberg, a delegation of Democratic State Senators, many City Council members led by Speaker Christine Quinn, State Assembly members, District Leaders and State Committee members.
Congressman Gregory Meeks gave a warm and heartfelt speech about Malcolm and recent events in Washington. The Leadership Team for the Senate Minority leader ws sworn in by Judge Leslie G. Leach. The ceremonial swearing in of Senator Malcolm Smith was done by the Hon. George Bundy Smith, the recently retired State Court of Appeals Judge.
Michelle Lisby Smith, proud wife of Senator Minority Leader Malcolm Smith and proud parent of Amanda and Julian (a spitting image of his father) gave a speech that was overwhelming. Her charisma, energy, brilliance and warmth made her breathtaking speech electrifying. Michelle has been married to Malcolm for over 21 years. I too have known her for over 21 years. She is class personified. She is a loving, kind and strong woman who believes in and supports her husband in all of his political endeavors. She is a loving and caring mother as well as a career woman. She and her children brought Malcolm to the podium where he gave the best speech I ever heard him deliver.
I was sitting in the audience with tears running down my face with pride, enthusiasm and happiness that our Malcolm had reached this plateau. Malcolm made us all extremely proud by not forgetting where he came from. In the background behind him during the whole ceremony was a picture of his deceased mom and dad who he loved so much. Malcolm also talked about reform, revival and results. His motto is "We don't sleep."
I will be representing the Senator at community meetings and will act as the "eyes and ears" for Senator Smith in Rockaway.
On Monday evening January 8 we were very proud to install the Board of the Rockaway Beach Towers Tenants Association, which I assisted in forming and preparing by-laws. This new, hardworking board includes Stanley Shannon, President, Ruth Percy, Vice President, Treasurer Virginia Roundtree, Assistant Treasurer Yvette Hall, Recording and Corresponding Secretary Margaret Spratt and Board Members Annie Connor, Desiree Jones and Eileen Workman. These outstanding individuals have committed to give their volunteer time in this model apartment building at 214 Beach 96 Street.