2008-05-30 / 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 Rockaway has finally been put on the map. After many years of fighting for transportation improvements in our community, Rockaway has been recognized with great ferry service. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn attended a meeting of our Good Government Regular Democratic Club on November 30, 2006. I pleaded passionately for her to hold a public hearing of the City Council Transportation Committee in our community.

We requested that it be held at Beach Channel High School, but the powers that be put their two cents in and it was held at the Broad Channel American Legion. Yours truly wanted to be sure that it was a big success, so I reached out to the president of Varsity Bus Company who donated seven busses to bring people back and forth from the hearing.

Our constituents stood up and spoke their minds and let the committee and Speaker Quinn know the importance of better transportation.

We now have our community ferry and because of my persistence we are listed on the MTA five year capital plan for reopening the Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. We'd like to thank TWFM Ferry's Tom Paladino and Mary Sorrentino for sticking with our community and fighting diligently to make the ferry a reality. Many times doors were shut in their faces, but they continued on schedule.

We urge everyone to pick up the phone and call NY Water Taxi at (212) 742-1965 and ask them to put on additional ferries for mid-afternoon and evenings as well as a 10 a.m. boat for those who would like to go to the theatre. The current schedule has boats leaving Riis Landing, just past the Marine Park Bridge, at 5:45 a.m., 7:45 a.m., and 4:30 p.m. Boats leave Manhattan (Pier 11) at 7:45 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Education is a right and a priority. Shame on Mayor Bloomberg for trying to cut corners on our children's education. Mayor Bloomberg is reneging on his promise that the city would not cut funds for education. The NYC school budget was cut by $180 million during the middle of this school year. As part of the settlement of the lawsuit against unfair funding of New York City schools, it was agreed that both the city and state would increase education spending. The state provided an additional $600 million, but the mayor wants to cut $450 million.

Attempts to cut education funding will lead to a step backward in education. Instead of cutting funds, we should be getting a sizable increase each and every year. Programs such as science labs, school libraries, music, art and physical education must not be cut. Class size in New York City is still much larger than in other parts of the state. Every NYC school needs an after school program so that children are not on the streets without supervision until their parents return from work. This time can be used for physical training, enrichment and homework assistance.

The mayor and the City Council will negotiate the city budget in June. Local school boards and the NYC Board of Education, which used to speak up for our children's education, do not exist today. If you are concerned about the proper education of the children of our community you can call 311 and ask them to take a message for the mayor. You can call our council members, Joseph Addabbo Jr. (318-6411), and James Sanders Jr.(471-7014). Tell them that the City Council must put back the funds our schools need.

It has become more difficult to recruit NYC police officers, firefighters and school teachers as the salary schedule does not keep up with the increased cost of living. We cannot keep losing good young city workers to Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester. Salaries should start at $50,000 so that we can get the best of the best.

Just one year ago, NYC residents paid an 11.5 percent increase in water and sewer bills. Now the Water Board has increased our bills by 14.5 percent. Now council member Jim Gennaro is publicizing a recent report by the Independent Budget Office. They found that Mayor Bloomberg has taken $68 million from money paid in water bills this year and will take a further $122 million next year. Gennaro, who is chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, believes that most of the increase will go into the city's general revenue rather than be used for improving the water and sewer systems. Since the mayor appoints the members of the Water Board, you have to contact the mayor if you are as outraged as I am.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday, June 21. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. We have 8 hours to enjoy Bally's Claridge. The cost is $38 with $30 returned. Bagels and cream cheese are by Beach Bagels and soda is donated by Waldbaum's Rockaway Park. Paid reservations are required. Seats are limited. Call 945- 1216 now.

Tuesday, June 3 is the first day to sign nominating petitions for candidates for Congress, State Senate, Assembly, District Leader, State Committee and judicial candidates. We urge everyone to participate by signing a petition which allows a candidate's name to appear on the ballot. It is not a vote. If you would like to volunteer to carry a Democratic nominating petition please call us.

We'd like to thank everyone in advance for affixing his or her name on our petition for reelection. We are very happy and proud to have served for the last 14 years as Democratic District Leader and look forward to serving all. I would like to thank the St. Camillus Home School Association for inviting me as a guest speaker. We are always available to speak at any community meeting.

We expect a very exciting election for president of the United States on November 4. If you have not registered, you may make an appointment to come up to our office at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive.

If you are a registered Democrat and would like to work on Primary Day, September 9, and Election Day, November 4, call my office. The work is from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The pay is $200 per day.

This was a beautiful weekend for remembrance of our veterans. Sunday I was in Broad Channel and on Monday I had the honor of being the only elected official to join the parade.

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