2011-09-09 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

It’s quite an exciting time to see Peninsula Hospital open for business after the long days and nights standing out with my bullhorn leading the community in chants – What do we want? Keep the hospital open. When do we want it? Now.

Through many rainy days and nights we stood proudly with many community residents and staff members to fight for what we believe in. So many people laughed at us and told us to pick our battles and that this was going to be a loss. This old pitbull never gives up. The best night of the rallies was when one of the NY1 reporters egged us on to go to the emergency room where we all were screaming, “Hell no. We won’t go.” Our community stood up for their convictions. Those who marched with us believed in the importance of keeping our community hospital open.

We’d like to give special thanks to our partner in crime, Freddy Lewis, who stood there every night telling us to continue. His positive attitude sure made a difference. Our other partner in crime, Kathy Mallon, spent oh so many hours out with the PA system telling everyone what was going on during the day.

John Baxter came every night to bring Kathy and used his bullhorn to warm the crowd with his haunting music and chants. Richard Berger came with his van equipped as a sound truck to lead our protests. We would like to thank the youngest member of our crowd, Judy Bradley, 88 years strong, who was out there every night with her cane and family. One of the staff members, Helen Mallazzo, stopped traffic and gave fliers to passing cars urging people to call their elected officials. Helen, we love you. We must never forget to thank Susan Green and Rita Handelman Closky who started the first rally. We were told it was a done deal. We say nothing can be gained by sitting there and doing nothing. We thank Barbara Reiche who is undergoing chemo and radiation, but never missed a night, and her sister Terri Haubrick who actually passed out when we were there. At one point we were called the gang of 30. Every night the group grew larger and stronger. It was beautiful to work as part of a team. Mary Bridget Burke stood up and told the truth about the patients being taken out of the hospital. Although there were a few staff members who were totally obnoxious, our team felt we were working for one common goal. A million thank yous to attorney Joe Mure, a Peninsula board member, who worked diligently on the negotiations. His brilliance, wisdom and calm demeanor made the settlement possible. Thanks to all the board members who believed in keeping our community hospital. George Greco, Louis Caucig, Nancy Vardakis and Steve Greenberg were among the hardest working board members but we have to thank the entire board that worked together to keep the hospital open. We include John Macron, the attorney who filed bankruptcy. Dr. Hershel Kessler started Save Peninsula Hospital on Facebook. Attorney Howie Fensterman of Abrams, Fensterman was an outstanding health care attorney. Finally we thank all the doctors, nurses and staff who supported the fight by going to work, not taking days off even though they didn’t know if they would get their paycheck or even if they would have a job. It goes to show you that if people work, anything can be accomplished. United we stand. Divided we fall.

A big thanks to the group that are in the process of buying the hospital. They are Orthodox Jews who have saved a number of hospitals. They have agreed to work closely with Local 1199, the union representing most of the workers. We look forward to the great big party to celebrate Rockaway’s miracle.

Next Tuesday is a special election for two important positions, the 23rd A.D. Assembly seat held for 24 years by Audrey Pheffer and the 9th C.D. seat held by Congressman Anthony Weiner. We are supporting Phillip Goldfeder, a young, energetic gentleman who worked for Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Schumer. One of his first priorities is passing a bill to end the Crossbay Bridge toll as well as making sure that we have express bus service 18 hours a day. We support David Weprin who has years of legislative experience particularly in government finance as Congress battles over cutting the deficit. We need a Representative who will fight to maintain Social Security, Medicare and the environmental protections that keep gas pipelines and airport runways from cutting up our peninsula. We need to keep and develop American jobs with good wages and benefits so that our children will have a future in this country. We urge everyone to vote for these two on September 13.

We are deeply saddened by the death of three outstanding individuals. Drew T. Keane was a wonderful and kind husband, great father and a loving individual. My mom, God rest her soul, loved him. For many years he used to drive her for the car service.

Herman Bringe was an outstanding gentleman with a heart of gold. He looked out for his sons, daughters and grandchildren. He was one of the nicest gentlemen you could meet. Bridie McCue was a class act, a wonderful, kind person. She was always smiling. She was a member of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club for over 20 years. We know that God has a special plan for these three angels in heaven. My deepest sympathies to the families. The Good Government Regular Democratic Club is open every Thursday evening from 7:30 to 10 p.m. to serve our community’s needs. Please drop in to say hello and find out what is happening in our community. We are the only active Democratic club in the Rockaway, Breezy Point and Broad Channel communities. Please help us to keep our doors open. We use our office to help everyone in need. Send your dues of $25 to the club at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. You are welcome even if you are not a registered Democrat. We have additional good news. Kate’s Market will be the new satellite post office instead of the Fort Tilden office. Since Hurricane Irene, the Rockaway Park P.O. has been unable to accept packages because of a failure of the underground Verizon cable. Postmaster Dermot Tuohy said they cannot accept packages unless they have a label produced through the cable. We urge them to solve the problem .

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