2013-02-08 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon One of the biggest problems we are faced with now is the loss of direct transportation to Manhattan day and night. If you live in the Rockaway Park community, you must go to Beach 90th Street, travel on a bus to Far Rockaway and then get the bus to the subway. Folks who live in Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor, Neponsit and Breezy Point usually would catch a bus at Beach 116th Street, 105th Street, 98th Street, or 90th Street and go over the Cross Bay Bridge to the Howard Beach or Rockaway Boulevard stops.

Our local Rockaway ferry is a big hit, but it has 45 minute intervals and is not available when some people need it. It should be running every 15 minutes from 4:30 a.m. through 1 a.m. At this time the Q53 limited buses are unreliable. In the evening they are constantly late for their scheduled time. One of our local friends, Phil McManus, says this bus constantly makes him late for work. Others say that they are out freezing in the cold waiting for the bus.

Why is our public transportation an abomination? We demand swift, prompt action. We will be demanding our fair share of funds allocated through Hurricane Sandy relief for an immediate start to rebuilding the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. No more games. Let’s make this a reality now. We urge all to come out and speak up at all the meetings that we are having to plan the rebuilding of our community.

On Tuesday, February 12th, Community Board 14 will be holding one of the most important meetings of the decade. The Army Corps of Engineers, the so-called experts, who make the decisions on how to replenish the sand on our beaches will be there. Make it your business to attend at 7 p.m. at Scholars Academy, 320 Beach 104th Street at Beach Channel Drive. To sign up to speak, you must be there before the meeting starts because the chairperson will pull the public speaking list when the meeting starts. If you expect to be late ask someone to sign in for you.

It is essential that you come out for this meeting. If you don’t speak out the next storm will kill us. I am prepared to be arrested if necessary, to get my right to speak. Invite your friends, neighbors and enemies. All must attend. The auditorium holds 450 people. We want to see people standing in the hall with all seats filled. We expect the city press and even national press coverage.

Former Peninsula Hospital workers have told me that they are not getting the health coverage they paid for. They have written checks to Peninsula and were supposed to have health coverage through January 24th, 2013. Although they appear to be insured, the doctors are not being paid. The Peninsula trustee was supposed to put $1 million down and pay $250,000 a month until the hospital sale is complete. Many PGH staff members are hearing from collection agencies because the trustee did not have funds to pay. The agreement was made prior to bankruptcy.

Rabbi Michael Melnicke is now the receiver, but not yet the owner of Peninsula. We must watch if he does as usual, breaking the union contract of the workers in the rehab building. Peninsula Nursing Home is scheduled to get funding from insurance to renovate the building. We have been led to believe by the counsel to trustee Burton Weston that Rabbi Michael Melnicke has a lease in place for mental health beds and a clinic for St. Johns Hospital in the vacant hospital building. Just another great gift by an outstanding man. Michael Melnicke is a pillar of the community.

For those who don’t remember we faced a major problem with poorly kept SRO’s occupied by people with numerous problems during the 1990’s. Rabbi Melnicke was the slumlord.

We must watch the financial disclosure reports of local, city and state public officials and candidates. Melnicke is a generous man who likes to make contributions. He has not been a friend to this community.

We’re sad and upset that Mark O’Brien, who has been the manager of our Rockaway Park Waldbaum’s since 2009, is being replaced. Mark spent weeks and weeks supervising the rebuilding process. Why would they choose to move him out now as the store is scheduled to reopen on February 22th? He knows our community.

The shoemaker on Beach 116th street is up and running. Welcome him back.

We are very proud to have stood side by side with one of the greatest organizations in our community, the Graybeards. On Thursday morning we gave them a huge plug on Morning Joe on MSNBC. The Graybeards give 100% of the funds collected to those in need and do not take anything off the top as many other organizations do.

Our new Democratic Club office will be open on Friday evening from 7 to 10 p.m. to accept your dues and contributions. We are located at the Ocean Promenade Rehab Center, 140 Beach 113th Street. Parking is available in the adjacent lot. We are always available to help all. Call us at 718-945-1216 if you need help or you can help us help our community.

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