2009-12-25 / 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 This past Saturday a hell of a nor’easter blanketed us with over a foot of snow in some parts of our community. We have quite a snow removal service to recommend. Chris Kelly will assist in clearing walkways, driveways or just digging your car out very reasonably. Call 347-252-2814. He is dependable and reliable.

The Sanitation Department did a great job in cleaning Rockaway’s streets despite the 13 inches of snow that fell here.

We are extremely proud of a local lawyer, who has served as counsel to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club for the last nine years. Jodi Orlow was sworn in as a Civil Court Judge for Queens County. In private practice for 19 years, she prosecuted and defended all stages of litigation in State Court including trial and appeal of claims involving sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, race, age, gender and disability discrimination, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and personal injuries.

In recent years, Jodi Orlow Mack off has served as a referee for foreclosure matters, an arbitrator for the Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program and as General Counsel to Yeshiva of Belle Harbor. We extend our gratitude to our Coun ty Leader, Joseph Crowley, Michael Reich, Gerry Sweeney, and Frank Bolz, and two special ladies in Queens County, Jamie and Mary Lu Plunkett. To Jodi and her family: congratulations and Mazel Tov.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the MTA revived their doomsday proposal to cancel the Rockaway rebate program for the Crossbay Bridge toll. I find it hard to swallow that Jay Walder, who was born and raised in Rockaway, would put this back on the table so that we would have to fight again.

Just one year ago, we had to take on the MTA through a group effort. God bless State Senator Malcolm Smith, who was Senate Majority Leader, and Assemblywoman Aud rey Pheffer who made sure that the toll wouldn’t return.

Now, once again, we are back to square one. After New Years, we will be holding a community meeting to prepare for the MTA public hearing and, if necessary, to march over the bridge and for me to get arrested again in our fight to stop the only intra-borough toll in the U.S.A. This unfair burden divides the communities of Rockaway and Broad Channel that are one.

If you feel the way we do, that the toll should remain free for the residents of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point, call us at 718-945-1216 and volunteer to work as a team. United we stand, divided we fall. We look forward to getting a great team to win this once again.

We were appalled to hear that Beach Channel High School will be closing. As a graduate, I have good memories of the school that offered special courses on oceanography, marine biology, auto mechanics, and a great TV studio. When I went there, our zoned local school was like a country club. Anybody who did not live in the area had to apply and be selected for one of the special programs offered.

With the closing of Far Rockaway High School, BCHS became a dumping ground for problem and special education students who were not admitted to the programs in Far Rock away. No assistance or special services to serve these students were provided.

On Tuesday evening there was an emergency meeting held at the school for parents, community residents and staff. The NYC Department of Education gave us a brush-off. They did not send the Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor or Superintendent of High Schools. Instead they sent out our great local District 27 Superintendent, Michelle Lloyd-Bay, as a sacrificial lamb. This school is not her responsibility. She did not make this decision and does not have the power to change it. There will be a follow-up meeting in the auditorium at BCHS on January 6 at 6 p.m. We hope that they will have the proper people at this meeting. The formal decision will be made at a public meet ing of the Educational Priorities Panel in Staten Island on Jan uary 26.

It is quite obvious that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein are putting up a great barrier by asking parents, concerned citizens and staff to go from our peninsula to the ends of the earth in Staten Island, paying a Verrazano Bridge toll and gas, to speak out on such an important local issue. We are demanding that another meeting will be held at BCHS so that those most affected by the closing can attend. It is very sad that staff members who have given their all to BCHS and its students are not guaranteed a job and don’t know what the future holds.

On Wednesday evening we attended the St. Genevieve Roxbury Christmas show showcasing the beautiful children of Roxbury. On Saturday evening, during the blizzard of 2009, we attended the Bay Towers original Tenants Association 36th Anniversary Christmas party. President Dolores Floyd and her board, Katherine Brent, Bridget Cameron, John Hayes, Warren Bass and Lenora Bowen worked diligently on having an outstanding Christmas party for the residents and children of Bay Towers. John Taylor of NYKids time, who entertains every year at Bay Towers Day, did a wonderful magic show. The kids enjoyed Elmo and Santa Claus. For a full service children’s entertainment pro gram go to www.nykidstime.com or 917-514- 3051. It was great to watch beautiful children enjoy themselves. Our hats are off to Dolores and her team.

After Bay Towers we attended the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps Annual Christmas party and awards dinner at Breezy Point’s Town Hall catering facility. At this event they recognized all of the many volunteers, including many young residents in Rockaway Point, who give endless hours volunteering to help in fire, disaster or medical emergencies. Chief Edward Valentine and his wonderful crew make a major difference, not only for Rockaway Point, but also assist in disasters and emergencies throughout the state including 9/11 and 11/13. At the end of this wonderful event, Chief Eddie Valentine drove me home in white-out conditions. When we were coming around the circle near the Neponsit home, we saw two cars stuck in snow drifts. Chief Valentine got out of his vehicle and assisted and made sure these two women were able to go. He returned to the car entirely frozen and wet and did not accept a penny of gratuities. Also assisting were Deputy Chiefs of Administration Jimmy Morton and Michael Valentine.

Thursday evening we went to the Board of Elections to see the new machines they are expected to purchase. To use these machines you mark spaces next to names of candidates on a special ballot. These ballots are then scanned by an optical reading device. The ballots fall into a bin beneath if needed for a recount. We wonder why they don’t get an ATM type with a pin number for each voter.

Our next bus trip to Bally’s in Atlantic City will be on Saturday, January 16. The cost is $45 with $30 returned. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 p.m. Call 718-945-1216 for reservations.

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