2011-08-26 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

On Tuesday at 8 p.m., there was breaking news. With hundreds of demonstrators we took the emergency room by storm while members of the Peninsula Board of Directors were meeting with State Department of Health officials. Although threatened with arrest, we said that we were willing to be arrested to show our resolve to stop the closing of our community hospital, the loss of essential services for our residents and the jobs of a thousand dedicated hospital workers.

As we write this on Monday evening at 11:15 p.m., a Peninsula Hospital board member gave me an update. There is a slim chance tomorrow to turn the New York State Department of Health decision around. The buyers are definitely interested but there needs to be a reorganization plan and the bankruptcy must be completed, which will take some time. We are in desperate need of a time out of at least 90 days for the proper reorganization and bankruptcy to go through.

We are still outside rallying to try to save our hospital. We need everyone to call Richard Cook at the New York State Department of Health at 518- 474-7028. Call all of our elected officials. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s phone in NYC is 212-681-4580. The Governor’s Albany phone number is 518-474-8390. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s NYC phone number is 212-416-8000. Ask for healthcare.

Congressman Gregory Meeks has a Rockaway office at 1931 Mott Avenue, phone 718-327-979. Assemblywoman Michele Titus’ office is at the same address and her phone is 718-327-1845. Our U.S. Senators are Charles Schumer (who used to represent Rockaway) at 212-486-4430 and Kirsten Gillibrand at 202-224-4451 or NYC 212-688-6262. Our State Senator is Malcolm Smith 718-454-0162 (whole Rockaway peninsula) and Shirley Huntley (Broad Channel) 718-523- 3069. Borough President Helen Marshall 718-286-3000. Our City Council members are (west end) Eric Ulrich 718-318-6411 and James Sanders Jr. 718-471-7391. Call and give them a piece of your mind.

A crime is being committed against the Rockaway community and our neighbors. This is the time we can find who our friends really are. Ask each of the elected officials what he or she has done to help us. Tell all of them you won’t stop until the hospital is functioning normally and all threats to close have ended. See us at the rallies or call my office at (718-945-1216) to tell us what is happening in the hospital and what our elected officials are doing to help us.

One of the best rallies we have seen was held at the St. Francis de Sales parking lot on Monday evening. It was run by a group of extraordinary PGH nurses. Councilman Eric Ulrich spoke about Governor Cuomo. Why hasn’t he reached out to Mayor Bloomberg? Why hasn’t Borough President Marshall or the Council Speaker shown up at our rallies? Where is Governor Cuomo? We helped put him in office. His father was a saint. Where is Andrew Cuomo when we need him?

We’d like to thank Deputy Inspector Lipetri and the officers of the 101 Precinct for their outstanding work in protecting our right to protest. Thanks to all who passed by and honked their horns in support of Peninsula. United we stand. Divided we fall. If God forbid we have an emergency (heart attack, stroke) seconds count.

Thanks to my partner in crime Freddy Lewis who has been reaching out to the media each day and marching with us in every rally. Special thanks to Richard Berger who has been kind enough to come with his sound truck and John Baxter who came with his bullhorn and beautiful songs. Kathy Mallon has been just superb in leading us with chants, marching and doing many of the posters. John Cori, Rockaway Beach, has been there every day taking pictures, pasting them on Facebook and marching in rallies. Thanks to Barbara Reiche who, with her husband Walter, is undergoing her own battle. Barbara and her sister Terry Hausbrick have not missed one day, A million thanks to Jeremiah Gaffney who lent us a beautiful hearse and a white and gold coffin. Please God if I have to go, I want to go that way, but not until I’m 120. The coffin was to symbolize the many unnecessary deaths that will occur due to the closing of our hospital.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Mary McClennon, beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, aunt and sister. Mary was considered the outstanding matriarch of her family. Her loving daughter Kathy was there to care for her mom during the last few years when Mary was not in the best of health. Kathy was always by her side. We know God must have needed a very tough angel to make a difference in heaven. My deepest sympathy goes to the family.

There are still some positions available to work on the election board. The job is on Primary and Special Election Day September 13 and Election Day November 8. The pay is $200 a day for 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There is an extra $100 for attending a training class and a $75 bonus for working both days. Democrats living in the 23 AD Part B are eligible. We have openings in Ozone Park. No positions are open in Rockaway. Call 718-945- 1216 for information.

The Post Office has announced plans to close the Arverne (11692) and Rockaway Beach (11693) Post Offices. We found that when the Breezy Point office was closed, overcrowding in Rockaway Park became worse. These closings will make the situation worse. Those who use the Arverne and Rockaway Beach offices should call Rep. Meeks’ office.

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