2009-07-10 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Have we had enough rain yet? On Wednesday, June 24, which would have been my mom's birthday, we had the distinct honor of being part of the team which opened the new home of the JASA Rockaway Park Senior Center.

We were recognized in appreciation for our ongoing support and assistance for facilitation of the new home. We also received a letter from New York City Commissioner for the Aging Lillian Barrios-Paoli thanking me for making this center a reality. She stated the center was full of life and had great ocean views with the boardwalk across the street.

During my speech at the center, I thanked Marian Mainieri, who was not able to attend that day and has since passed away, for getting me involved in solving the red tape that existed with the various city agencies signing off on their permits. She certainly deserves a plaque on the wall for her work.

We also thanked John Alvarez from the Department for the Aging and Director Nancy Fine for doing great team work. We also thanked Steve Valiotis, owner of Surfside, who referred to me when he sat next to me, as a ball buster. I proudly accept that title. We will always advocate and fight for our rights.

On Thursday, July 2, the four Democratic candidates for Public Advocate addressed the Good Government Regular Democratic Club and asked for our votes and support. The Public Advocate is an independently elected public official who represents the consumers of City services. He or she reviews and investigates complaints about City services, assesses whether agencies are responsive to the public and recommends improvements in agency programs and complaint handling procedures. The Public Advocate succeeds the Mayor in the event that the Mayor resigns, is removed, dies or is otherwise unable to discharge his powers and duties.

Former Consumer Affairs Commissioner and Public Advocate Mark Green was the first to be introduced. He said that he wanted a chance to serve the community again and his record of public service would speak for his ability to get things done. He charged that Mayor Bloomberg had cut the budget of the Public Advocate 40 percent because he didn't like anyone talking back. On issues familiar to local leaders, Green recalled his efforts to assist Neponsit home residents and employees who had been removed from their residences in the middle of the night by the previous administration. He also called for the construction of a swimming pool which could be used for lifeguard training.

Civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel called himself the People's Lawyer. He said that he doesn't want to go to Albany or Washington and talked about his growing up in Brooklyn. He said that he would fight for anyone who didn't get equal justice under law. He promised to open a Public Advocate office in Rockaway. He plans to recruit and train hundreds of volunteers to intake and try to solve individual complaints. Siegel denounced the City Council for appropriating millions of dollars for fictitious organizations including the Magic Mountain Foundation. He would fight the city policy which allows drinking of wine at Central Park concerts, but arrests persons who drink beer on the beach. You can fight City Hall and sometimes win.

City Council member Bill de Blasio referred to his long experience in city government. He observed the Koch administration, worked for David Dinkins and observed the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations. He was one of the leaders of the fight in the City Council which came within four votes of retaining term limits. As a public school parent, he feels that the mayor has concentrated too much power over education in City Hall. He referred to a time when his wife managed to tell the mayor how she felt their 13-year-old daughter needed to use her cell phone in case of emergency in school. de Blasio said the mayor just said, you're wrong, and walked away. Councilmember de Blasio said the city has no plan to help small business.

We introduced Councilmember Eric Gioia by recalling that we had become friends when working for the election of Al Gore as president in 2000. Gioia was born and raised in Queens. He told how he helped open the first bank near the huge Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City. Now residents don't have to cash checks at check cashing stores. Gioia told how he got a food stamp application reduced from 28 pages to 2 pages and eligibility for food stamps increased by 13 percent. A staff member in the Clinton White House, Gioia wants to be able to look every boy and girl in the eye and know he or she will have as good a chance to succeed as he does.

Frank Gulluscio, candidate for City Council, said that we did the right thing by endorsing him. Because the City Council is run by Democrats, Gulluscio believes that Councilmember Eric Ulrich will not be able to bring back the funds needed for our community. Gulluscio believes our district is one and he comes from the northern part of the district. He is now District Manager of Community Board 6 in Forest Hills.

Also introduced was Jodi Orlow Mackoff of Belle Harbor who is running for the Civil Court for all of Queens. Mackoff is a graduate of P.S. 114, JHS 180 and BCHS. I told how she helped defend me when I was threatened with a lawsuit because I was fighting an illegal use of a private house. Jodi is honest, trustworthy and not biased.

We expect that repaving of the Waldbaum's parking lot was started on Monday.

We are proud to have been part of the two year fight to get a traffic light at Beach 84 Street and Shorefront Parkway. It started with a rally and I kept after Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy, demanding they reopen the study until they finally said yes.

Our next Atlantic City trip to Resorts will be on Saturday, July 18. The cost is $45 with $30 returned. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. Bagels and cream cheese are provided by Beach Bagels. Call 945-1216 for paid reservations.

We have definitely confirmed that the first RMAC concert will take place this Sunday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. near the Riis Park bathhouse.

We are saddened by the death of three outstanding women. Marian Mainieri, who recently lost her son Guy, worked diligently to reopen her beloved Rockaway Park Senior Center in its new home. Marian's love for her family, fellow seniors and senior center showed she was a lady of class. She put her heart and soul into whatever project she was involved with. God must have needed a special angel for one of his projects in heaven.

Helen Alessi was another outstanding lady of class who worked as a school teacher at St. Camillus. Helen advocated for her fellow seniors at Sea Breeze Golden Age Club at St. Francis. She loved her family and friends and had a kind word for all.

Joan Briody was also a former teacher and girls basketball coach. She was involved in the church and fought for the quality of life. She was preceded in death by her husband, James, who was a local lawyer. I know that James is waiting at the gates of heaven for his loving wife.

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