2013-01-25 / Letters

NYC: Out Of Touch

Dear Editor:

Here is another example of why some businesses are fed up with the way the city is treating them. I received a violation from the Health Department about a month before the storm, and because I couldn’t show up in court on the scheduled date I got a summons for $5,400.00. That’s enough to make you as upset as Kevin Boyle was when he was charged $6.00 for a bottle of beer in a local establishment. Here is what I wrote to the Health Department to defend myself.

I know you have no control over how computers work, spitting out information without any concern about the weather or any other factor that plays a major part in people’s lives. The day I was scheduled to appear in court was October 29th to the best of my knowledge. Wasn’t that the day New York got hit with the worst storm in history? Aren’t we lucky to be alive and talking about it? Too many were denied that privilege and will never again enjoy the freedom I have writing you this letter. I regret to inform you that your agency is, to say the least, oblivious to what occurred down here in Rockaway Beach on that day of the storm. Your actions in reference to summons are despicable and your insensitivity is deplorable and inexcusable.

The storm of the century left us down here in Rockaway Beach without electric, water, public transportation, banks, post offices, food supplies, traffic lights, telephone service, and many more basic needs I cannot remember at the moment. The Red Cross is giving out food on street corners on a daily basis because there are very few places open where you can get anything to eat. Today I do not have telephone service in my restaurant. My carrier, Verizon was wiped out and it could be many more months before service is restored. 95% of the businesses on Beach 116th Street were flooded out and there are few signs of anyone coming back.

The Sandbar, Bar and Restaurant is no more. The ocean surge smashed the steel gates down and everything inside that establishment was ripped out and floated away in 15 feet of water, including the huge walk in coolers. The horse-shoe bar along with the booths, tables and chairs were never seen again. The only thing left inside is a heap of sand about 4 feet deep. Along the beach many of the first rows of houses were ripped off their foundations smashed up into pulp and floated away with all their contents like they never existed. The boardwalk is just a memory. Our two closest post offices are still not up and running yet. I have to go to Brooklyn to do my banking because the banks are still closed and have no signs of opening soon.

At a time like this we should be all working together to get the city up and running again instead of levying exorbitant fines against businesses who have no control over how the post office is delivering mail, or not delivering mail. Obviously your agency is oblivious to the magnitude of Storm Sandy on the Rockaways. Shame on you and the City of New York for being so much out of touch with reality. You really should dismiss this summons, or do you still want your pound of flesh from the dead carcass. You should come down and see for yourselves. Don’t take the A train or any rail lines. They are ALL still out of service.

No, I will not be opening my restaurant again, but I am interested in settling this matter. I am requesting a new hearing.

JOHN BAXTER

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