2008-11-28 / 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 I almost fell off the chair when I heard that my good friend Lee Sander, executive director of the MTA, has proposed to eliminate the Cross Bay Bridge rebate program. This program entitles Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point residents with E-Z Pass free access to the bridge.

To jog everyone's memory, back in 1989 we formed the Rockaway Broad Channel Bridge Toll Committee with the major purpose of eliminating tolls for the residents of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point. We worked together as a group, collecting petitions, going to public hearings and protesting by marching over the Cross Bay Bridge approximately eight times. In 1996 I was arrested after leading a march over the bridge to the Broad Channel tollbooths. I was charged with blocking traffic, handcuffed and taken to the 100 Precinct and held in a cell, although we had been accompanied by 100 Precinct officers. We are prepared once again to get arrested for our community.

In 1997 we were invited to a meeting in Mayor Giuliani's office at City Hall. Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington set up this meeting with Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro. I was accompanied by Norman Silverman, a member of the Toll Committee. As instructed we came with a list of 14 items needed by our community. We made removal of the unfair bridge toll the top priority. Mastro agreed to consider our request.

At a ceremony at the Broad Channel tollbooths we showed up with Deputy Borough President Peter Magnani, Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. I was acknowledged for leadership in fighting for no tolls for our residents. We were given the opportunity to speak and I publicly thanked Mayor Rudy Giuliani for keeping his commitment prior to his reelection. Thank God for his foresight.

We are now preparing to organize local residents to attend the open public meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday, December 10 at which they will consider their new budget. Bridges and Tunnels are scheduled for 10:30 p.m. We are getting ready to order buses and to rally in cold weather. We are committed to doing whatever we have to do, including handcuffing ourselves to the tollbooths to win this one.

Many people participated in our successful effort to eliminate the toll, including local residents Lew Kargman and Abe Mintz, State Senator Jeremy Weinstein, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, and the late, great Councilman Walter Ward. I was interviewed by the late Joseph Queen of Newsday. Unity and history were created in this fight. Everybody agreed on this issue. The late, great Mae Fetcher worked tirelessly with us. The late Florence Krakauer, who we called the Firecracker, stood with her protest signs and gave hell.

In the next couple of weeks our great Senate Minority Leader, soon to be

Majority Leader, Malcolm Smith and our Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer will be meeting with the MTA to work diligently to find funds to keep the Cross Bay Bridge refund program. On Thursday, November 13 the Good Government Regular Democratic Club celebrated

their 21st Annual Dinner Dance honoring 13 distinguished leaders. They include Al Baldeo, a distinguished attorney, who is a leader in the Ozone Park community; Captain Phylis Byrne of District 23 NYC Transit Police, who received the Barbara Eisenstadt Memorial Award; Dr. Stephanie Cooper, a noted surgeon, who received the Steve Lefkowitz Memorial Award; Msgr. Michael Curran, pastor, Blessed Trinity Parish; Gregory Floyd, president International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237; Brendan Gallagher, member of the board of directors of the Breezy Point Cooperative; Christopher Mc- Cabe, inspirational leader; Daniel Mundy, chair of the Environmental and Lifeguard Committees of Community Board 14; Anthony Pugliese, business agent, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, Local 157, who received the Al Catanese Sr. Memorial Award; Erin M. Rippe, president of the St. Camillus Home School Association; Edward K. Valentine, chief, Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps; and Timothy Warrington, director and coordinator of the Apprentice Program of the Mason Tenders, Local 79, who received the Dominick Mickey Cincotta Memorial Award.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely at the Rockaway Point Association Senior Citizen Thanksgiving party. President Tom MacLellan and Chairperson Terri Cassidy and the board worked tirelessly as a team to put on this great event. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and fine dancing.

On Saturday night we attended the St. Camillus Home School Association Spaghetti Dinner. As usual we assisted with selling the raffles. The children and parents really enjoyed themselves. This event was put together by Anne Keane and Claire Amster and their hardworking committee. The children enjoyed dancing and everyone enjoyed the fine food made by the children and parents. Mike Greenstein assisted in selling 50-50s. We also served as one of the judges of the best pasta dish. Principal Sister Agnes was very pleased with the outstanding turnout of the children, parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors. Father Richie and Father Dunn also enjoyed this great evening.

Our next Atlantic City bus trip is Saturday, December 13. The cost is $40 with $30 returned. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. with 8 hours to enjoy. We serve extra large bagels with cream cheese courtesy of Beach Bagels and soda by Waldbaum's. To enjoy this exciting evening for only $10, call 718-945-1216 for reservations. Win your holiday money in Atlantic City.

The next local election will be a special election for City Council due to the election of Joseph Addabbo to the state Senate. The mayor is expected to announce the date in the beginning of January. Sources say Tuesday, February 10 is likely. All registered voters will have the right to cast their vote. Candidates will not run on a party line. Each candidate chooses a name (not Democrat or Republican) for his or her line. Anyone wishing to register to vote still has time to do so. We have voter registration forms available. Call my office to make an appointment.

If I can be of any help, call my office at 718-945-1216.

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