2013-01-11 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon We have just confirmed that the postponed Rockaway hearing of the Moreland Act Commission on the failures of New York State public utilities during and after Hurricane Sandy has been rescheduled. The new date is Thursday, January 17th from 2 to 9 p.m. at the Challenge Prep School (old Hartman Y building) at 710 Hartman Lane which is on the corner of Beach Channel Drive, near Far Rockaway High School. Come out and voice your outrage at how LIPA treated us. Stop complaining to yourselves and your neighbors. Governor Cuomo appointed this commission and appears to be waiting for their full report. Show up and show that you care.

As we sit and write our column this week we are angered, outraged and upset with the fact we are in desperate need to rebuild from the major disaster of Hurricane Sandy. As we try to rebuild we get a major disappointment from Speaker John Boehner who failed to even schedule a vote on the $61 billion aid package that has been passed by the US Senate. Because of apparent opposition by many members of the House majority Boehner only allowed a $9 billion bill to cover flood insurance to come to a vote.

Lew and friends. Lew and friends. During the years of major hurricanes, Katrina in 2005, Andrew in 1992, Ike in 2008, Rita in 2005, Wilma in 2005, Charlie in 2004 and Irene in 2011 Congress always appropriated funds needed to get repairs started and improve protection against a future storm. No one questioned how the state had voted in the last election or whether some wealthy persons were among the victims. Even during the Iraq war funds were approved in a matter of weeks. The whole Congress and the President, Democrats and Republicans stepped up.

Major things such as expenses for the disaster cleanup, overtime for the sanitation, police, fire and EMS and Rapid Repairs have cost us in the billions. The fact that we have no boardwalk, are in desperate need of sand replenishment, replacement of beach and seawalls, repair of collapsed water mains, filling of sink holes and collapsing streets are not covered. There is nothing for the repair of the A train bridge to Rockaway and the damaged roadbed through Broad Channel. The long commute to Manhattan, always a long ride, has become a nightmare adding extra commuting time out of people's lives.

With so many people now sitting in the dark with no heat or lights, many losing their jobs because of difficulty in reaching their jobs, unemployment is rampant. How dare the congress spit in our faces. Why are we being treated like garbage? It is quite annoying that we regularly give foreign aid to other nations that suffer disasters, while they leave us to die. I urge everyone to pick up the phone and call Republican members of Congress to give us the other $51 billion. We need Speaker Boehner to put the bill on the floor where it could pass. The main number for the House is 202-224-3121. You can ask for the office of Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

It is amazing how certain New York elected officials like Rep. Peter King and Rep. Michael Grimm can denounce the move by Speaker Boehner, but vote for his reelection as Speaker. I have always had respect for Peter King, but I don't know why he caved in and voted for the Speaker.

Those who have followed my political career know when I speak I follow up. I guess that's why they sit in the Congress and get all those dollars, while I am just the low man on the totem pole and getting nothing. I am personally proud that I can lay my head on the pillow and sleep at night.

While we are all feeling the gloom and doom of Hurricane Sandy, I felt that we needed a little pick me up for New Years. On the spur of the moment, we came up with a brainstorm of having a New Years Eve get together. We opened it up to everyone on Facebook and made a few phone calls and we got together at the Inwood Buffet on Burnside Avenue (Stop N Shop) in Inwood for $12.95 a person. It put a smile on our faces to be together sharing our love. It was such a big hit that Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder spent several hours with us.

It was brought to my attention that the Beach 94th Street tent and St. Camillus closed their doors and stopped their volunteer feeding programs. As we write this column on Monday evening we just got back from the First Congregational Church after meeting with Pastor Joseph Medlin, volunteers, and Board of Trustees members Mama Rose Danza and Marissa Benowicz. They are going to work feeding those who have no shelter on Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. They can come and take the food with them. A million thanks to Pastor Medlin and his Board of Trustees and volunteers for allowing the feeding program to continue.

This is not the time for another study regarding jetties or to give $1.5 million to some politician's friend or family member to do a study. October 29th spoke volumes as to the desperate need for jetties and it showed that where jetties were the boardwalk still sits, Stop playing with our lives. We demand jetties now. For shame on Mayor Bloomberg for not calling for the immediate rebuilding of the Rockaway boardwalk. Long Beach is committed to rebuilding by the summer, Belmar NJ and Atlantic City are rebuilding. Why is our mayor sitting on the fence? Rockaway's beaches and boardwalk are the mecca for people from around the city, surrounding areas and even foreign visitors. We don't want a sign saying closed for repairs. We are demanding that the repairs begin now.

We have been told that the Rockaway Waldbaum's will reopen on February 22nd.

Our office and the Good Government Regular Democratic club still need your help to keep working on your behalf. Send your dues and contributions to the club c/o Ocean Promenade Rehab Center, 140 Beach 113th Street, Rockaway Park NY 11694. We need basic supplies like pens, pencils, paper, scissors, staplers, markers, ruler, bulletin boards, desks and chairs. We need a printer who will donate the printing of membership applications and stationery for the GGRDC and for myself. We lost everything. Call us at 718-945-1216 if you need help or you can help us help our community.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Michael J. Sessa Jr. of Seaview Towers which are the two buildings at Beach 31st and Beach 32nd Street and Seagirt Boulevard. which were named after his father. Michael was an outstanding individual who gave to all whatever they needed. He had a heart of gold, a wonderful smile and was a great friend to the Rockaways. My deepest sympathy to his mother Ann, Past President of the Tenants Association, his wife and children and grandchild. God must have needed another special angel. When her other children came to tell his mother she was in ICU with pneumonia. She said that she already knew Michael was dead because her late husband had appeared to tell her Micheal had passed.

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