2009-05-01 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon As your elected representative, I made it my business to publicly come and speak out against the LNG island off the shore of the Rockaway beaches. We made sure to rally the troops and were very pleased with the large turnout at P.S. 114. Thanks to Congressman Anthony Weiner we were able to have a public hearing in our community. Previously, hearings were only scheduled by the Coast Guard for Long Beach and New Jersey.

It was quite obvious that the audience, with one exception, opposed the LNG. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg, who came to Rockaway to support our efforts, were opposed. We found out that former Senator Al D'Amato has been hired as the lobbyist for the LNG developer.

Originally I was to return from my monthly Atlantic City trip on this day. We had reservations for a full bus, but I had to cancel to attend this meeting. My community always comes first.

We urge everyone to reach out to our Congressman Anthony Weiner to tell him to oppose this project and we must continue to call on Governor David Paterson to veto this project. In case of a nor'easter or hurricane, explosion or possible terrorism our community would be in danger. This meeting was covered on Channels 1, 2, 41 and 47. We will continue to speak out loudly against this proposal until we kill it.

Shelly Ginis of Temple Beth-El told us about a book and author lunch on Sunday, May 3 at 10 a.m. Author Lilly Koppel has published a diary kept in the early part of the 20th century by a young girl living in an Edgemere bungalow. The Red Letter diary was kept by Florence Wolfson, who is now in her 90s. Temple Beth-El is on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 121 Street.

We are proud of two young girls who are students at P.S. 47 in Broad Channel. They came up with the idea of donating their hair to Locks for Love. Regina McManus has been a great influence on her children to encourage them to find ways to help others in need. We are proud of their decision to share and care. We look forward to presenting them with a recognition award for their efforts.

On Friday, May 8 Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith's Mobile Outreach bus will be in the Waldbaum's shopping center lot. Staff will be available to hear your complaints and requests.

As our nation has slipped into a recession or worse, the Obama administration and Congress adopted a stimulus package to start the effort to get our economy going and to help some of those who have been hurt by the recession. Senator Smith's staff has put together a booklet describing how some of these programs will help New York residents. Knowledge of these benefits may help you or your neighbors.

The first $2,400 in unemployment benefits will be exempt from federal income taxes in 2009. A tax credit will cover up to $2,500 toward college tuition and books and supplies per year for a student's first year of college. A tax credit for firsttime home buyers of $8,000 will be available until December 1, 2009. There will be a one-time payment of $250 to retirees, disabled individuals and SSI recipients receiving benefits from Social Security. The bill extends benefits by at least 20 weeks and temporarily increases benefits by $25 ($100 a month).

New York State will receive $431.6 million for current local clean water projects and $404 million for largescale investments in home weatherization and green jobs.

As health coverage will continue to be discussed $60 million has been designated for NYS for immunizations, prevention and wellness programs and infection control. NYS will get a share of $19 billion to support implementation of electronic health records. There will be $25 billion nationwide to help laid-off workers extend their health insurance coverage via COBRA. The federal government pays 65 percent of COBRA premiums for up to 9 months after job termination from September 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009.

There will be $107 million for NYS for grants to state and local law enforcement agencies for projects that prevent, fight and prosecute crime. There will be $39.5 billion for education to restore K-12 and postsecondary education budgets. The average food stamp benefit will increase by 13.6 percent.

These are a few examples of the funds that will be spent to bring an end to the recession.

We will follow the progress of these programs and hope the funds are used wisely. It is time to stop the cutbacks and getting rid of train and bus lines.

If you want to have a voice in your community and state, you can become a member of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Dues are $25 for a family, and $18 single. Send your check to the club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park 11694. It will soon be time to appoint election inspectors for the primary and general elections. If you are a registered Democrat in the 23 A.D. Part B you may qualify. We have openings in the Howard Beach and Ozone Park areas. Call 945-1216 if you are interested. In the near future we will be holding our public meetings to meet with the candidates for Democratic nomination for mayor, comptroller and public advocate.

Saturday, May 16 we will have our next Atlantic City trip to the Taj Mahal. The cost is $42 with $30 and a $5 food voucher back. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. Bagels and cream cheese are courtesy of Beach Bagels. Come and have a good time. Call 945-1216 for paid reservations now.

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