2012-12-07 / Columnists

Simon Says…

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

While we are in the process of rebuilding and regaining our lives in the Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point and Howard Beach community, so many wonderful volunteers have come from all across the world to be of assistance and to aid us in our time of need. Now all of a sudden we get a slap in the face. The Governor in his infinite wisdom has allowed the MTA to begin collecting tolls on the Marine and Cross Bay Bridges. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and I double tagged him as a team to make sure the tolls were eliminated on these bridges during the rebuilding period.

We all got sticker shock when it was brought to our attention that tolls were to be reinstituted on both bridges. We residents still have free access over the Cross Bay Bridge providing you have your EZ Pass and $1.19 on the Marine Bridge, but many volunteers will be required to pay $6.50 round trip and more for the truckloads of supplies that are being donated to us. What a damned disgrace to put this toll back on now. We are all urging our Governor to keep the toll off until at least next March so that we can get ourselves going.

Our President Obama stated on TV that red tape would be removed from FEMA and a 15 minute rule on getting what was needed would be followed. Many of us have hit stone walls with FEMA with constant back and forth denials, appeals, arguments and lousy financial offers. It is utterly absurd.

We have asked our Congressman Gregory Meeks to please bring President Obama to walk our community. Why did Mayor Bloomberg bring the President to Staten Island, but not here? The President needs to see the pain, anguish and anger of people who are out there looking for food, clothing, heat and trying to get their lives back to normal. Why did FEMA send heated trailers to FL after hurricane Andrew and to LA after hurricane Katrina but sent trailers with no heat here. Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn got RV trailers. We heard that a hundred winterized FEMA trailers were sent to Plains Township, PA. FEMA trailers can go into existing driveways and hook up to utilities. For shame for allowing people to freeze to death.

So many people have upper respiratory infections we are calling it the Rockaway cough. Let's get our act together and help all. It’s also very sad if somebody does not have food and no cooking facilities. You cannot get food after dark. Where are all the millions the Red Cross has collected? Why aren't they spending it on us?

On Sunday afternoon we proudly attended a rally with hundreds of people to demand sand and jetties. This rally was put together by the dynamic duo of John Cori and Eddie Pastore. Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy were united. It was quite apparent that the existing jetties saved the boardwalk from Beach 84 Street down. It was great to see our friendly neighbors, family, community activists and civic leaders as well as our elected officials, Congressman Gregory Meeks who has not slept a minute, Phil Goldfeder who has worked day and night, former Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Sandee Doremus representing Senator Joe Addabbo, District Leader Stacy Amato, Councilman Eric Ulrich, Donovan Richards who is a candidate to succeed James Sanders in the City Council was representing him as Chief of Staff and Selevena Brook who is also a City Council candidate as we demanded with one voice that there be no more studies and we want the sand and jetties delivered now. A special note of thanks to Eddie Pastore for giving me a brand new bullhorn.

We are trying to rebuild our office at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. We are in desperate need of a fax machine, copy machine, printer and office supplies. We need it all to get up and running to help all. Send your checks to the GGRDC c/o Ocean Promenade Nursing Center, 140 Beach 113 Street, Rockaway Park NY 11694. Our usual phone 718-945-1216 is now working. If you leave your name and phone number, I will return your phone call. I am a Commissioner of Deeds (Notary). If you need any document notarized, call and we make an appointment.

A billion thanks to The Wave and Rockaway Point News for allowing our voice to be heard as we try to help all. Please friend me on Facebook under Lew M. Simon. I have been using social media to keep in touch during these trying times.

A shout out and thank you to Team Rubicon and the Mormon Church, the Irish group and to all who came to help. Peter Corless, who grew up in Rockaway, got on Facebook to get help from all over the U.S. Special thanks to Milan Taylor and the Rockaway Youth Task Force and the tens of thousands of community residents who came together as a team to help each other, and to my dear friend Mary Cassidy Kennedy, who spent long hours coordinating on Facebook. A major shout out to the various labor unions that have come together to help us out of this mess.

We are once again demanding a daily check of our air and water quality. It is not enough to tell us that everything is all right. We'd like to thank U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo and various members of Congress who are lobbying for needed federal funding.

We still need to come together and go after LIPA. When I call LIPA and ask them to make up for our loss of food, they say that it was an act of God. Let's give them an act of God.

A billion thank you’s to Sloan Hoffer who is the most brilliant computer whiz who has helped us over the years. He had backed up some of my earlier files and was able to retrieve them. Some of our more recent files may have been lost. If you contacted me or paid dues this year, give me a call so that we can see if we have your information.

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