2011-11-11 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Since our last column, there was an election for the Board of Directors in Dayton Beach Park on Thursday, October 20. Prior to the election I responded to questions that shareholders had about watching the voting count to prevent irregularities. Working with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder we attempted to get local attorney Joe Mure to work with the Honest Ballot Association to verify the count.

I personally spoke with HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua and Jeff Gold of Wentworth Management on Friday, October 14 with follow-up letters from both of us on October 17. We asked the Commissioner to appoint Joe Mure as an outside independent inspector.

Deputy Commissioner Julie Wolpert, who returned my call, said the Honest Ballot Association was very honest and HPD had dealt with them before. I reminded her that there were election irregularities at Dayton Beach when James Carmen and Joanne Smith were candidates. I urged the Deputy Commissioner to avoid any similar incidents. She asked whether I was accusing her or the Commissioner of being dishonest.

I said I didn’t accuse anyone but an HPD Commissioner had been indicted and they didn’t need any more bad publicity. Wolpert told me that she had no authority to allow a fourth party and the Honest Ballot Association was the third party. She told me an outside monitor could be admitted if the management company requested it.

When I attempted to reach Jeff Goldstein of Wentworth Management, I found that he was out of the country. They directed me to Jeff Gold who told me to put my request in writing and Mr. Goldstein would be consulted when he returned. Two hours later I received an e-mail telling me that Dayton Beach was now managed by Cooper Square which has acquired Wentworth Management which now had little or no involvement.

When I reached David Kuperberg, president of Cooper Square, at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, we realized that we knew each other from Kuperberg’s previous employment as a fundraiser for Rep. Anthony Weiner. After giving Kuperberg the rundown, I requested the appointment of Mure as a fourth party. Kuperberg agreed that it would be a great idea that would set everyone’s mind at ease.

Kuperberg tried to call Wolpert the next morning, but she did not return his calls. I again called Commissioner Wambua who connected me with an HPD Deputy Commissioner. He said that Julie Wolpert was out of the office due to a religious holiday. I recounted my discussion with Wolpert and that we had obtained the management request. When I told him I had a tape of my discussion with Wolpert he became indignant.

As we know, the election was held without the observer we requested and the incumbent board members claimed victory. There are a number of serious charges about the conduct of the election. Some residents received two ballots. A candidate who owes over $10,000 to the coop was announced as a winner in violation of the rules. The challenging candidates were denied a list of stockholders entitled to vote.

Election meeting notices were not posted 10 days before the meeting as required. Some shareholders never received a ballot package. The management company designed, printed and distributed flyers for the election but did not include the names of the challenging candidates. Incumbent board members were allowed to watch the opening of the ballots, but challenging candidates were not. No signatures were allowed on the ballots so there was no proof they were genuine. During counting there were open ballots all over the table.

We really feel that this election should be set aside because, based on the information we have, elementary rules of fairness were not followed. We shall continue to do whatever we can to assist all the shareholders of Dayton Beach.

Congratulations to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder who had a beautiful ceremonial swearing-in on Sunday. Senator Charles Schumer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli as well as local officials including County Clerk Audrey Pheffer. District Leader Frank Gulluscio, State Senator Malcolm Smith, District Leader Jo Ann Shapiro, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Councilman James Sanders Jr., Councilman Jim Gennaro and District Leader Archie Spigner participated. In the audience were Congressman Bob Turner, Assemblyman David Weprin, Justice Augie Agate and District Leader Geraldine Chapey.

The marching band from Beach Channel High School provided the music.

I was not able to attend because I was not feeling well, but I work closely with Phil Goldfeder. We discuss local issues regularly. We expect to make an appointment with the new MTA head Joe Lhota to discuss the removal of the Crossbay Bridge toll and other transportation needs of our district.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of an outstanding lady of class, Betty Burke. She was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt. A resident of Rockaway for 47 years, she worked as a registrar at Peninsula Hospital for many years. She was one of the nicest people you could ask to meet. Her smile lit up the whole room.

She loved her community, church, Irish cultural heritage and instilled the proper values in her family. Despite her battle with lung cancer she always managed to smile and be happy.

Betty was a good friend of my mom, Jennie, as a friend and supporter of mine. When you speak of elegance, class, heart of gold, loving and caring for all and doing for her family, friends and neighbors you think of Betty. God must have needed an extra special angel. My deepest sympathy to the family.

You are invited to become a member of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. You can meet active residents from all over the peninsula, Broad Channel and the mainland. You will be able to meet and question local and New York City officials. You will find out what is happening in different parts of our community. Dues are $25 a year. Our beautiful new handicapped accessible office is located at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Please include your phone and e-mail with your check. We try to give a personal invitation for our special meetings. We are open to talk with our community every Thursday evening. You may call 718-945-1216 if you want help with any community problem or want to find out if a special meeting is scheduled. Our local newspapers usually carry our meeting announcements.

It has recently come to our attention that there is an attempt to break the zoning rules that protect the residential character of one of our finest areas. Zoning rules were put in place after much work by local civic associations, our community board, the City Planning Commission, Borough President and with the approval of the City Council. The character of our residential areas has been threatened by a proliferation of adult homes and poorly constructed barracks style multiple dwellings masquerading as individual houses.

The zoning rules are designed to prevent anymore of these situations. There is room for new facilities in several parts of our community where the residential character would not be threatened.

Those planning these facilities should work with local civic associations, elected officials and the community board before trying to begin construction.

The Board of Standards and Appeals exists to rectify minor injustices. If they are asked to make changes that change the character of a community it should be rejected.

We wish a happy Thanksgiving to all.

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