2012-05-25 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

It’s been a very busy few weeks with lots of events, rallies and happenings. On Monday evening Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke at the Community District 27 Education Council Town Hall meeting at P.S. 137 in Ozone Park. Chancellor Walcott is an outstanding individual who is down to earth and he keeps it real. He spoke to every student who was part of the program or in the audience. He addressed numerous issues and brought a number of his top staff including Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.

Numerous questions came up about special education. There is a new initiative to mainstream the special education students putting them into regular classes. We are very concerned about moving children with emotional and behavioral issues into mainstream classes. One student who is a major discipline problem or bully can destroy a class. One of the questions I asked Chancellor Walcott was why we keep closing schools and shuffling our children and at the same time blaming teachers and requiring teachers with years of experience reapply for their jobs. Are we blaming the teachers for all the difficulties of our times? We invited the Chancellor to serve as Principal for a Day at the Peninsula Prep for a day and see what an outstanding program and loving family they have. They are currently in litigation to keep the school open in September. We attended the Breezy Point Town Hall meeting. It was great to see all the great people of Breezy Point, Rockaway Point and Roxbury.

On Thursday evening we attended rallies to keep public libraries open. We started at Seaside Branch at Beach 116 Street and the people marched to the Peninsula Branch at Beach 94 Street where we all sent a clear message to the Mayor and City Council not to cut the library budget. In this day and age the library is a safe haven and an important means for children’s education and research. Seniors and other adults can access newspapers and periodicals. Computers are available to write resumes and surf the net for jobs.

Our libraries bring programs like ESL, cultural, puppet shows, story time, book clubs, resume writing and computer skills. We feel there is a desperate need to keep libraries open seven days a week. This way parents who work can bring their children in when they observe Shabbos or Sunday. Education and library services are synonymous. They go together.

During the past week one of our good friends and board members was rushed to St. John’s Hospital from the west end by his wife when he had trouble breathing. Every inch of emergency room space was taken up by a gurney. It took 8 hours to get a bed. He said that he received excellent, spectacular treatment in every way. Each and every patient was attended to by the staff which worked as a team. The nurses were extremely friendly. On Friday evening when I visited him in his room, I met one of the nursing directors who lives in Arverne by the Sea. She was so friendly, hospitable and really caring. I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness of the hospital and the warm atmosphere.

Fifteen hundred children will be suffering if the mayor’s budget cuts eliminate needed afterschool programs in many of our local schools. It will cause major hardship for parents who have to work to 5 p.m. or later and their children are released from school at 3 p.m.

Congratulations to Larry Love, formerly of Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s staff, who has been chosen as the Democratic organization candidate for the local Civil Court judgeship which takes in Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point. We have every confidence he will do an outstanding job.

We are saddened by the loss of Abe Mintz, an outstanding pillar of our community; I personally have known Abe all my life. During the late 1970s my parents joined the Hammels Senior Center. Abe Mintz was always on the board and president for so many years. At Temple Israel Mildred Schulman, Ann and Bernie Klein and Abe used to put on a fabulous show every month. Abe was a very talented comedian and singer. He always made everyone laugh and smile. I don’t think Abe ever had a bad word to say about anyone nor did anyone have a bad word to say about him. He was involved with the Hartman Y doing musical and comedy shows. He had the voice of an angel. When he and Ann Klein sang together it was absolutely beautiful. Mom and I looked forward to going every month to Temple Israel on Sunday evening for the little dinner and entertainment where Jews and Catholics from the community came together. Abe Mintz and his lovely lady friend Sylvia Heller were an outstanding couple. They complemented each other. Sylvia adored Abe. God must have had an opening for an MC in heaven. He was a special person who passed away during open heart surgery. My deepest sympathy to Sylvia and Abe’s family on this major loss.

It was great to see Diane Russo, widow of the late great Mario Russo. We spent about an hour reminiscing and talking about Rockaway and its wonderful people and catching up on old times. Diane looks fantastic. We wish her long life, love and happiness.

The Good Government Regular Democratic Club welcomes your membership. It is a good way to keep up with and discuss the issues of our community. The cost of dues is $25. Come in any Thursday evening or mail your check to the club at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park NY 11694. For assistance with any community matter you can reach us at 718-945-1216.

For the last week I’ve been experiencing some pain in my back and mid chest. I went to Mitchell Kurk who is the best. He gave me a cardiogram and ruled out any heart problem. He suggested that I have several sonograms for the gall bladder and kidneys, Jill Bahab was extremely professional and wonderful since I was so frightened. She alleviated all my fears. She spoke to me and made me feel calm and relaxed. At Admitting, Vernetta registered me. We had worked closely together during the bankruptcy crisis when we helped keep St. Johns open. We were very pleased with the care and service.

God bless State Senator Shirley Huntley who has been meeting with and hounding Governor Andrew Cuomo demanding Peninsula Hospital be reopened as a hospital.

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