2010-03-05 / Columnists

Simon Says...

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

The nor’easter of 2010 that dumped a record snowfall has given a lot of us cabin fever. As we write this column on Monday most of it seems to be melting. We hope the forecast for more snow on Wednesday is not true.

We’d like to invite everyone to this Saturday’s Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicking off at 1 p.m. on Beach 129 Street. We proceed east on Newport Avenue, then down Beach 116 Street to the Boulevard, then down to Beach 94 Street. The awards ceremony will be at the First Congregational Church. We look forward to seeing everyone wearing the green.

Last Tuesday evening, February 23, I had an extensive conversation with MTA Executive Director Jay Walder. He is a former classmate, and a fellow Boy Scout in Troop 409. I reiterated my congratulations that he was named Chair of the MTA by the Governor.

I asked him how he looked at the doomsday plan that included elimination of the Rockaway, Broad Channel Bridge Toll program and not taken a pen and done a line item veto to remove it.

If his father Bernie were alive, he probably would have given him a good swift kick as well as a knock in the head. He agreed wholeheartedly. We had a nice discussion about the proposal to cancel Metrocards for our children and to eliminate Access-A-Ride. We have reiterated to him that the top heavy agency should eliminate some of its high paid administrators, as well as open their books so that we can see what is going on. He urged us to keep on fighting.

We discussed the reopening of the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. He said he remembered his father always talking about it. He also stated he would make himself available in the near future to speak at one of our meetings.

Our meeting to prepare for the toll fight was very successful. 31st A.D. Democratic District Leader Valerie West and Jerry Sullivan, representing Councilman Eric Ulrich, were the only two elected officials or reps who attended.

We are deeply saddened and appalled to see that, effective on March 19, the plug has been pulled on Rockaway’s own ferry. It’s disgraceful to see City Council funding was never renewed for this extremely important transportation alternative for our community. One step forward and ten steps back; is as usual for our community.

We are calling on our Councilman Eric Ulrich to get his good friend Mayor Bloomberg to do the right thing. Why does Staten Island have a free ferry and we get nothing. Transportation in and to our community is an abomination. We must not allow the city to step on us and take away this outstanding alternative to Manhattan. With the loss of express busses running regularly, daily, without weekend service the only way off the island is by way of the crappy A train.

We would like to thank The Wave and Rockaway Point News for donating ads and running front page stories to help spread the word on the fight. Thanks to Carolina Cohen of The Wave for preparing and laying out the flyer. For shame on the MTA for holding an illegal hearing because there was no written notification of this public hearing or MTA ads in either local newspaper or any other publication in Queens. We feel the MTA is attempting to shove this down our throats. We are now looking into the possibility of bringing a lawsuit demanding that the public hearing be reopened and held in the Rockaways.

A MILLION SPECIAL THANKYOUS TO VARSITY BUS CO. FOR NEVER LETTING US DOWN AND DONATING BUSSES FOR THE TOLL FIGHT AND ONE FOR THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE ON SATURDAY.

We would like to give you a phone number for Chris Kelly who does an outstanding job removing snow from your driveway and steps. For professional service at reasonable prices call 347-252-2814.

We would like to take this opportunity, on the first anniversary of the passing of Jack King, to remember his accomplishments in our community. When he passed, my column was suspended due to my candidacy in the special City Council election.

Jack King was one of the most tireless, hardworking professional individuals who gave his all to the Rockaway Broad Channel community. Jack was like a father to me. He served as president of the 100th Precinct Community Council, co-chair of the National Night Out Against Crime, president of the Belle Harbor Property Owners and chair of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 14. He gave consistent leadership on the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line.

He and his lovely bride Eleanor were married almost 60 years. He was a good husband, father and grandfather who instilled the proper values in his wonderful son, Paul. Jack is definitely a major player as an extra special angel in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Remember to save the date for our annual Dinner Dance on April 15.

We participated in the MTA hearing on their service cuts on Tuesday evening with two busloads of enthusiastic residents from Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy. We spread our message on TV. We thanked all the residents who gave up their evening to be there. We are proud of our community for turning out the largest group in Queens. We were happy to hear Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and our own Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer support our cause. A majority of Queens Councilmembers came in person or sent a rep to speak up for public transportation. Shame on our two local Councilmembers for taking a fat check from the city and not even sending a rep. Geraldine Chapey, a local Democratic District Leader, didn’t show up. Is that because she is not running for Council this year?

Jay Walder gave us a warm greeting. He is a gentleman and a scholar. We hope that he does the right thing. The whole hearing is supposed to be available on www.mta.info next week.

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