2009-02-20 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

No Old-Line Political Hacks Wanted

I have been writing for years that I wanted a city councilperson who truly represents Rockaway and who would not bend to the will of the mainland majority when deciding on programs and allocations.

I always added, however, that I did not want any of the old-line Democratic political hacks such as Lew Simon or Geraldine M. Chapey to take the seat, something that would be a disaster for Rockaway.

My worst fears have been realized. Both Simon and Chapey are in the race and there is a good chance that one of them will win.

What do I have against Chapey and Simon?

Do you have a couple of weeks to listen to my tale?

If you had been at the candidate's forum hosted by The Wave on February 9, you would understand.

One local at the forum described the candidates as "a bad Saturday Night Live" skit.

A young person at the forum said of Simon, "He was really funny, but I don't think he can do the job."

Chapey steadfastly refused to tell the overflow audience what she does with the $100,000 a year she gets from the city's Department For The Aging and our local politicians, saying only that she had to spend one year's money before she got the next.

Finally, she blurted out that none of her relatives get money from her nonprofit, but she would not say how much she gets in salary, or even who gets a salary.

At another forum, this one in Howard Beach last week, she reportedly told questioners to "shut up and sit down," when she refused to answer the same question.

Not much information, and we are getting close to election day.

Actually, we have only until February 24, four days from now, to sort this out. Not nearly enough time for the entire story, but certainly enough for the bare bones.

First, let me say once again that the ramblings in this column are my own, and in no way represent those of the publisher or the newspaper.

Having said that, let's take a look at these two candidates and why I believe they should not serve us in the City Council.


Chapey the younger has not spoken with me in nearly a year even though she was once one of our columnists. Not only did she stop speaking with me, she ordered her high-priced political consultant not to speak with me.


Because I asked some uncomfortable questions about how she has spent the $1.5 million that her non-profit organization, Chapey's Trinity Services, has received from the Department for the Aging and our local politicians have given her over the past dozen years.

Not only did she refuse to answer my questions, but she twice refused to answer similar questions from the audience at our recent candidate forum. All she would say is that the city would not give her more money until she spent the money that she already has. That does not answer the question.

Chapey runs one van on a part time basis and she charges seniors to use it (she says she has to as part of the deal with the city).

For example, a small advertisement in the St. Francis de Sales parish bulletin for October 12, 2008, says, "Dr. Geraldine Chapey announces that Trinity Services has tickets for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show. The price is $80 per person and includes round trip transportation."

For this we have to give her more than a million dollars of our tax money?

Why does she need all that public money to run that one van?

Perhaps she'll tell you. She won't tell me, and neither will the city or state government.

She did say angrily that none of her relatives gets a salary, but the city tells me that five people do get salaries, yet she won't say who gets the money and how much they get.

People at the forum were laughing at Chapey, not only because she steadfastly refused to say how the money from her non-profit was spent, but because she answered each question, no matter the topic, with information about Kingsborough Community College, where she is a full professor and a union delegate.

As a retired teacher myself, I wanted to find out what kind of teacher she is, so I Googled her and came up with student comments about her psychology course and her teaching methods.

One 2007 student said, "If you want to actually learn and be in the field of psychology, don't take this class. Chapey was always late and her teaching skills were boring, yet she is caring and understanding. EASY A. She even let me retake a test [three] times once!"

Another comment.

"She is very sweet and I got an A+ in her class, but I didn't learn a thing. All her tests are directly out of the study guide. Just memorize the multiple choice and you'll do great."

And, "I must say her class is boring. Didn't learn anything from this course and if you don't want to learn and get a good grade, take her."

You get the point. Of the dozens of comments on line, the great majority praise her as a nice person and then go on to say that she teaches nothing and gives everybody an A.

So much for her teaching expertise.

On Tuesday of this week, the Daily News broke a story that said Chapey received a donation from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, whose diocese includes Rockaway, and who badly wants four of his parochial schools to morph into public charter schools so he doesn't have to close them down. Chapey's mother, who is a New York State Regent, gets to decide whether or not that will happen. The story, by local reporter Brendan Brosh, says that this is the first time the bishop ever made a political donation. By the way, Chapey the elder became a Regent after Chapey the younger voted to appoint Gregory Meeks to the House of Representatives after Floyd Flake vacated the seat. Chapey the younger made a deal with Tom Manton, then the Queens Democratic Leader, and it was the elder for Meeks. Some politics, huh?


Lew Simon, who calls himself a person with "pit bull teeth," says that everybody in Rockaway knows him. That is probably true.

What they know, however, is that he is a joke, somebody that will get no respect from the other councilmembers or city agencies.

Should he win, he will quickly become known as the "Rockaway laughingstock."

I have covered Lew for more than 20 years, so I know him and the way he does business fairly well.

He gets a lot done in terms of getting individuals what they need from city government - a traffic light fixed, a pothole filled. He can do that because he has no visible means of support except for the small amount he gets from local elected officials to represent them at civic meetings.

He has lots of time on his hands.

During those 20 years, Simon has told me many untruths and even tried to sue the paper for telling the truth about him.

The entire incident of his phony teaching license is instructive in that regard.

A long time ago, I wrote in my then-column, "Rockaway Short Takes," that Simon had signs for his tutoring service posted around the west end, each stating that he was a "licensed NYC and NYS teacher. When I wrote that I did not believe that he was a licensed teacher, never having graduated from college, he came in with a phony, Xerox copy of somebody else's license with his name and address typed in.

We quickly proved that he did not have a license.

The last time he ran for the City Council, it came to light that he had lied under oath before a state unemployment referee by stating that he had been a longtime New York City teacher.

It doesn't end.

Now, he admits that he was wrong for saying that he was a teacher, but has never, at least to my knowledge, apologized for his charade.

I could go on like this all month, but I don't have the space.

Suffice it to say that neither Chapey nor Simon belongs in the City Council.

Who, then, will I vote for? Probably Glenn DiResto.

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