2012-01-27 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Cross Bay, Gang Violence And Medicaid
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

While it may not seem like it, there are times when good things happen in Rockaway. And, of course, there are times when a little finger pointing is necessary. This column consists of both.

The biggest news is the proposal by Governor Cuomo, in his 2012-2013 Executive Budget, to reinstate the resident rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge. Allowing Rockawayites to travel free over the bridge has been a long time in coming. A previous rebate program ended in 2010 when the MTA needed to find ways to raise capital. This is not the first time the MTA has asked Rockaway residents to help fill its budget holes. Once riders had to pay a double fare to board a Rockaway train and then get off at one of the area’s stations. Not to mention the need for better transportation all around, the MTA has stuck it to the peninsula several times.

Now, here’s the but. The victory won so far has been a joint effort between local representatives and the citizens of Rockaway. As mentioned in the article elsewhere in this newspaper, the governor’s executive budget is only a proposed document. To make sure this proposal goes through, residents need to keep up the pressure and continue calling and sending letters to their elected officials including State Senator Malcolm Smith, Assemblywoman Michele Titus, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, the leader of the assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, as well as Governor Cuomo.

“Until we adopt this budget …we still have a fight in front of us,” Smith said the other day.

Congratulations to Goldfeder, who is credited with the rebate proposal being made by the governor, and everyone else involved who fought for such a long time. But, as Smith said, citizen involvement in advocating for the change cannot end until the budget – which is due on April 1 – is officially passed with the rebate program safely in it.

In the meantime, thanks to the funding appropriated by Smith several years ago, the revitalization of the subway stations on the peninsula is moving along. Glass murals on the platforms, elevators being installed at the Mott Avenue station, new stairways and more are making the trains safer to ride. So I guess once the rebate program is approved, Rockaway can claim two victories over the MTA.

The 101 Precinct deserves some credit for what Deputy Inspector Michael Lipetri called “some excellent arrests” that the precinct commander believes has put a dent in activities by gang members. Working with the Queens District Attorney’s office the 101 Precinct is doing its best to make the streets safer for the residents of the area. Kudos not only go to NYPD officers, but also to several organizations, such as Project SNUG, that are working to change the culture of violence that is all too prevalent within the confines of the 101 Precinct. Then there are the behind the scenes people who are out there working with gang members. These people just don’t publicize their actions. Even I as a reporter do not know exactly who these folks are. But they are working to make a difference and for that we can thank them.

As everyone knows by now, in October, the city moved the Medicaid office that was located at the Human Resources Administration office on Beach 59 Street in Arverne to Long Island City. According to a representative at the city’s Human Resources Administration, the agency notified the necessary parties – elected officials, the Borough President, the Community Board and case representatives – in advance of the move. Yet, no one appeared to be given a heads up on this.

The offices of Councilman James Sanders Jr., Congressman Gregory Meeks and Community Board 14 and its district manager, Jonathan Gaska, all seemed to learn of the move from this newspaper earlier this month. The Director of the Rockaway Case Management Program at JASA, Regine Borgella, emailed this reporter the first week of this month to alert us to the closing. She learned of the change just prior to contacting The Wave.

HRA consolidated its Medicaid services into one office for all of Queens to L.I.C. In addition to someone dropping the ball when it came to contacting Rockaway about the change, moving the Medicaid office to L.I.C. took a vital service away from residents of the peninsula.

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Seeems like a step in the

Seeems like a step in the right direction if you want to clean up Rockaway and attract some people with money to live and invest here.

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