2008-05-02 / 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 It's quite interesting for people to come up and talk to me each day, whether I'm in my office or in the street, to thank me for the work I do. Some tell me I'm entitled to a raise from $80,000 a year.

I question where in God's name are they coming up with this information? As Democratic District Leader for the past 14 years, still loving it and enjoying it, receiving the same salary (absolutely nothing), not even a dollar to pay for our phone service etc., no staff, but we love what we do and are proud of what we do at all times.

If you would like to help us to continue with our work you can help by becoming a member or sending an additional donation. Membership dues for the Good Government Regular Democratic Club are $25 for a family, $18 single and $12 for seniors and Young Democrats. Larger donations are welcome. The money collected will be used to keep our office open and phones going, not for salary. On Wednesday morning our office received a call from Neponsit attorney Peter Sweeney, who stated that he and his neighbor Peter Link had visitors outside of 326 Beach 147 Street. We found that this was one of the first of many sites for cell phone towers on our peninsula, as well as throughout the five boroughs.

There is a mayor's initiative plan that was adopted in 2004 for a pole top franchise program where they can actually install cell phone antennas on top of all wooden light poles through the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, otherwise known as DOITT. Since this program has been put in place cell antennas have only been installed on commercial buildings. Why is it that Rockaway is the first residential community to be tested?

Immediately upon finding out about this I reached out to Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura Mc- Carthy to verify that there was an agreement for cell tower installation. After she stated that it was so, we reached out to the commissioner of DOITT, Paul Casgrove as well as their counsel Mitchel Ahlbaum who explained to us what the proposal was about and how it originated. The commissioner said that I had more information than he had. He had to reach out to Commissioner Maura McCarthy where he verified that the information I had was absolutely correct.

The two Peters in Neponsit said the company involved was NEXTG. DOITT counsel Ahlbaum contacted them, and I received a call from NEXTG's VP and counsel Robert Delsman. He told me that his company is the franchisee that would be installing cell towers in our community. I asked which of the known companies were involved. He stated we would be hearing about a new cellular network in the next few weeks.

I found it strange that he would not tell me what the name was or any other information. I made it clear that we would be prepared to bring an order to show cause or Article 78 to stop them. I then immediately reached out to Neponsit Property Owners President Peter Sammon who agreed that cell phone towers should not be put on poles in front of anyone's home in NYC. Local attorneys Joe Mure, Richard Lipsman, Lorraine Freehan and Jodi Orlow Mackoff have agreed to take this case.

After constant back and forth, on Thursday at 2 p.m. we held an informational press conference to alert everyone about this plan, as well as calling Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska who knew nothing about it. After the press conference The Wave received information from Jonathan Gaska that the Mayor's office nixed the plan. This was not true. Even DOITT said that it had not been pulled. We made an agreement on Friday afternoon with Delsman for him and his staff, as well as Ahlbaum, Sammon and our local attorneys to meet on Wednesday afternoon. As we get details we expect The Wave to post them on their website. With the cooperation of the editor of The Wave, accurate information will be available to all who are interested.

Everyone who would not want a cell antenna in front of his or her home should call 311 and make a complaint. Get a complaint number so that you can check back and get a response.

We had a wonderful Passover Seder with our great Democratic club counsel, Jodi Orlow Mackoff , her wonderful husband Peter and their 3 lovely children, Samantha, Jenna and Jake and their grandparents Peter and Bobbi Mackoff and Carole and Alexander Orlow, Esq.

The evening was fantastic. Little Jake and Jenna did a beautiful job leading us through the Passover ceremony. I was so impressed by Jodi and Peter's children who had attended or still attend the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor where they get an outstanding Hebrew and English education. When I'm invited to their home they make me feel like part of the family. They are just the best of the best and I look forward to once again putting Jodi Orlow Mackoff in nomination for Civil Court Judge.

We are deeply saddened by the death of William J. Sampol, former Republican State Senate staff member and president of the local Republican club. Bill was an outstanding individual. His love for our community and pride in the Rockaways made one of the best. His wisdom and knowledge in politics made him an expert in campaigns. My deepest sympathy to his lovely wife, Rosella, and his lovely daughter, Elizabeth. We know that Bill must be a special angel overseeing the politics in heaven. Bill was counsel to State Senate Majority Leader Warren Anderson and president of the Parents Association at J.H.S.180. He would bring ices to the children and play Santa.

Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 25 had a great Celi at St. Francis de Sales Friday evening where I assisted in the 50-50s sale. Division 25 Ladies unit will have its next meeting, open to all who would like to attend and possibly join, on Tuesday, May 13 at St. Camillus.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be to Bally's Claridge on Saturday, May 17. We leave at 5:30 and return at 7:30 a.m. We have 8 hours to enjoy. The cost is $38 with $30 returned. Seats must be paid for in advance and we have only a few left. Call 945-1216 for reservations now. Bagels and cream cheese by Beach Bagels and cold soda by Waldbaum's of Rockaway Park.

If you are a college student who can get credit for community work in our office or a high school student who needs community service credit, please call our office for an interview. Computer skills required. Learn first hand about your community. Hours are based on your availability. It is a wonderful thing to have on your resume and college application. Our own Rockaway's Maria of Breezy Dog will once again be selling beautiful flowers in Waldbaum's parking lot on Mother's Day weekend, May 9, 10 and 11. Maria is always there supporting our community. Remember to be there for her.

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