2007-12-28 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon We'd like to wish everyone a happy, joyous and healthy new year. May 2008 bring peace throughout the world.

As we are getting close to the presidential primary on Tuesday, February 5, everyone seems to be noticing who the candidates are. It's quite amazing how the candidates change their place in the polls. If you need to register to vote because you are a new resident, have not registered or because you are 18 years old, call my office for an appointment. Don't complain about our government if you don't register and vote.

We need registered Democrats to work the polls on Primary Election Day, from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. You receive $200 for the day as an Inspector or Spanish interpreter in Rockaway or Ozone Park. If you are interested, call us immediately.

We've attended a great number of holiday events in the last few weeks and had a great time at all. It was very sad that we had no official Christmas tree on Beach 116 Street. It is always beautiful to gather around the tree and sing Christmas carols.

Congratulations to the new and reelected members of the Board at Dayton Towers; Gerry D'Albora, Ginny Kuhn, Frank Dean, Robert Sullivan, and newly reelected after a few years' absence, Pat Kantor, who is currently celebrating her 21st birthday. Happy birthday, and many more.

We look forward to continuing our close working relationship with the Dayton Towers Board.

Last Saturday evening, we attended the annual Christmas party of the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue. At this party, they actually surprised me and put me at a loss for words by presenting me with a plaque in appreciation for always being there. They are an outstanding group who always make you feel welcome and they have my full commitment that I will always be there for them.

A special "thank you" to the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. Last week during the heavy wind, a section of an old sign from my 2001 campaign for the City Council was falling off the building.

Thanks to the great assistance of former Chief Ed Wilmarth, Chief Tom Larkin and Firefighters Fabian and Grey, the damage was repaired. Thank you guys. You are the best. I will always be there for you.

Congratulations to my fellow columnist, Erin Baumann, who has recently been accepted to the Fordham University Graduate Social Work program. Baumann has given many long hours as Co-Chair of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in the Rockaways. She served as Deputy Grand Marshal of the 2006 St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Rockaways. She is beautiful, intelligent, loving, kind, outgoing and wonderful. We know with her big heart she will make a difference in the world. We know you will make us proud.

Congratulations to Capt. Phylis Byrne, District 23 Transit Police, for being chosen Honorary Female Grand Marshal of the 2008 Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade. Captain Byrne is not only beautiful and charming, but her love and commitment to our community definitely made her the right choice for this honor.

We urge everyone to come out and support her at the Hearts and Shamrocks fundraiser, as well as at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

The work at the Neponsit Home to protect the buildings from squatters has been completed. The razor wire fence that looked horrible has been removed from Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the rear of the Beach 149 Street houses.

The fence is now an acceptable size. HHC has installed closed circuit cameras so security can watch for intruders and other problems.

Special thanks to Senate Minority Leader Malcolm A. Smith for standing up and actively fighting for reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line. His strong and firm commitment will make this a reality in the near future. Those interested can go to the website rockawaybeachline.org and watch the testimony I gave on April 24, 2007 to the City Council Transportation Committee and Speaker Christine Quinn. That's the committee I would like to chair.

What's wrong with the NYC Department of Education? They announced the closing of Far Rockaway High School. Will Beach Channel be next? It is important to make Beach Channel the shining star that it was in the '70s when I attended. Where are the courses in oceanography, marine biology, auto shop, TV production, nursing and other medical fields. It was great to see a miracle in the making at the Scholar's Academy. Let's have a zoned high school with special programs requiring competitive testing for applicants from outside the district.

At the same time, let's make Far Rockaway High School what it once was. Adolescents with major problems should be sent to special programs. Some students will find success in learning carpentry, cabinet-making, furniture repair, auto mechanics, air conditioner and refrigerator repair, and many other skills. Those who have complained should form a committee of parents, grandparents and concerned citizens to repair our broken schools.

Our next Atlantic City bus trip will be on Saturday, January 12, 2008. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. The cost is $35 with $20 returned. You have eight hours to enjoy. Bagels and cream cheese by Beach Bagels. Call 718-945-1216 for required reservations.

Winners of 2007. With the potential of a real YMCA recreation center, we have been offered three-fourths of a loaf without a real state-of-the-art pool and a desperately needed, enclosed gym. Mike Tubridy, Kevin Callaghan and Al Moorer are among the winners who have been leading the fight.

Winner of the Year is State Senator Malcolm Smith, who was elected as Minority Leader and has been bringing the bacon back to our community. He is a man of integrity, honor and a man of his word.

Another winner is Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, a tireless worker and advocate for all, for becoming a candidate for Borough President of Queens. We know we finally will not be forgotten and she will be there for us all.

Other winners are Dan Mundy, Janet Fash and Hank Iori, who have been fighting for the selection of lifeguards on merit and the training and hiring of enough lifeguards to cover all of our beaches.

Special thanks to Fash, who may have put her job on the line, as she fights for the safety of Rockaway swimmers and bathers.

Adefinite winner is 15-year-old Chris McCabe, who has had over 40 surgeries for spina bifida. He keeps smiling and fighting like a real trooper.

Definitely a winner is Marie (Breezy Dog), the lady with the food truck in Breezy and Christmas trees at Waldbaum's. She works long hours to support her family and also gives back to the community. Marie has already made a commitment to donate the 2008 Christmas tree for Beach 116 Street. Thank you.

We love you for stepping up.

Rockaway is a loser with the death of well-known philanthropist and icon, Barbara Eisenstadt, who dedicated her life to music, arts and the beautification of the Rockaway peninsula. She was a precious gem who can never be replaced.

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