2012-06-08 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

For the first time in so many years I was unable to march in the Rockaway Memorial Day Parade. Having major discomfort from what could be my gall bladder, I got a possible diagnosis of a viral infection from acid reflux which causes terrible tightness and pain in the rib cage and back. It made me feel like an elephant was sitting on me.

Sunday in Broad Channel I could participate by riding in a car and was able to speak. On Monday I was not able to participate in the Rockaway Parade because they do not allow cars. I would have driven myself but there was no parking due to the beautiful weather. None of the people I asked to drop me off was available.

I have been getting questions about the Crossbay Bridge toll rebate program. Although the rebate was restored as of April 1, the charges are still appearing on the E-Z Pass bills. The MTA TBTA has agreed to credit persons with E-Z Passes registered to Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy residents with the rebate by July 1. For those who use the bridge every day this sum may be around $214.20 The MTA tells us that they will credit this rebate to the E-Z Pass account. This would create a problem for those who do not use other TA bridges or tunnels. I also question why the MTA was able to end the rebate by simply pushing a button but is taking months to give a rebate required by the law passed by the legislature. I agree with those who have told me that the MTA wants to make the interest on our money.

As you are aware we have been one of the leaders of the fight to bring back service on the Rockaway Branch of the LIRR since 1996. We could get to Penn Station in 32 minutes from Rockaway, 20 minutes from Howard Beach and 18 minutes from Ozone Park. When Resorts World Casino opened on October 12 everyone saw that they could not expect their thousands of visitors to take the unreliable, slow A train service that has to cross Brooklyn or the express buses that are available only a few hours a day. Some thought the ferry would solve our transportation problems but it was canceled before it could be made a financial success. We feel that we have been cut away from the world in terms of transportation.

For the last few years we have heard that casino gambling was coming to Aqueduct. The Rockaway Branch line would allow customers to visit the theaters, museums, restaurants and hotels in Midtown Manhattan as well as the casino and proposed convention center on the same day. The New York State constitution must be amended by two successive legislatures and then passed in a voter referendum before casino gambling would be legal in the state. During the time it will take to pass the amendment, negotiations between Genting and Governor Cuomo’s staff will continue. The state can also negotiate with other potential casino operators. In any case we know that without good transportation Manhattan customers will not put up with the long, slow trip many of us have to make every day.

Assemblymen Phil Goldfeder and Mike Miller are in 100 percent support of our efforts. We are aware of Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s statement, but believe that the efforts of all our other elected officials and good common sense will prevail in the end. If you can help in this fight get in touch with my office.

Congratulations to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder’s brother Mardi, who is an official of the NYC Office of Emergency Management, on the Bar Mitzvah of his son Benjamin. It is ironic that I had taught Phil and his brother Avrumi many years ago.

It is once again that time when we call upon all good registered and enrolled Democrats to please sign the petition to help me get my name on the ballot for reelection. We have served nine twoyear terms and I am proudly going into my 19th year of not getting paid, working 25 hours, 7 days and eating, sleeping and thinking my district in Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and parts of Howard Beach and Ozone Park. We are always there for those who call for assistance and never ask where they live or what party they are enrolled in. So please be kind and sign. If you do not see my people, please call my office at 718-945-1216 and we will send someone to your door. If you are not registered to vote in this presidential election year, call for an appointment.

We urge everyone who is interested in our community and the coming election to pay their membership dues to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Send your dues of $25 to the club at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Rockaway Park 11694.

We intend to keep our club open for Democratic meetings and community service on Thursday evenings, but it is available for other groups at other times. Anyone in need of a meeting place such as a driving school or Weight Watchers can call our office to make arrangements at reasonable rates.

We look forward to the start of Dancing Under the Stars-Zumba Fitness on Wednesday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockaway Rockies Hockey Rink at Beach 108 Street and Shorefront Parkway. It is a good way to keep in shape, and lose weight while dancing and having fun. Admission is free. The costs are supported by a grant I get every year from Sweet-N-Low.

Although Peninsula Hospital is closed we have not given up the fight to reopen the hospital. We should all be keeping on top of Governor Cuomo and Health Commissioner Shah demanding they work with those qualified groups that respond to the RFP to take over and manage our hospital. We will continue to fight to stop the bankruptcy trustee, Lori Chapin Jones, if she tries to sell valuable medical equipment for recycling instead of to the best qualified bidder who can run a fully equipped hospital.

Most of this equipment was bought with public funds obtained by our local elected officials or through generous contributions from hospital trustees Marvin Eisenstadt, Joe Mure, Nancy Vardakis and family, Lou Cau-cig, Lenny Tanzer, the Russos, George Greco and Steve Greenberg who also put in countless unpaid hours serving our community hospital. Marvin Eisenstadt, who has given millions to the hospital, said that the destruction of the hospital is ripping out his kishkes. There are many others who gave over the years like my good friend Jack Domfort and Sheila Schwartz and the Ladies Auxiliary whose sweat and love are part of the hospital. We cannot allow anyone to throw all this into the trash.

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