2013-02-15 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew Simon with Assembly District Leader Stacy Pheffer Amato and NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Lew Simon with Assembly District Leader Stacy Pheffer Amato and NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. It was 3:30 p.m. when Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chief of Staff Bob Simmons and Rockaway Director Joe Edwards got back to me concerning the fiasco at the Breezy Point Post Office at the old Coast Guard station in Fort Tilden. A constituent had called to tell us that mail had not been sorted, only one staff member was on duty and people could not get their mail including insurance and FEMA claims.

Congressman Meeks immediately asked Postmaster Cassandra Louie to rectify the problem. Now there will be a minimum of three people sorting mail for Breezy Point. The local Postal Advisory Council will meet to discuss rebuilding postal services for all of Rockaway. We will also discuss the possible loss of Saturday mail deliveries and how we can try to protect our needed services.

Small businesses still have a desperate need for grants so that they can rebuild their businesses. Most cannot afford loans. Rep. Meeks said that he will work with Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg to get the services needed. The Congressman offered the use of the conference room at his Rockaway office for staff members to work to help local merchants cut the red tape and receive government grants.

Rep. Meeks is also circulating a letter to be signed by all our local elected representatives concerning the desperate need for funds to get Rockaway business started again. Our Congressman is taking up the challenge of restoring our local economy. He has fire in his belly and exudes confidence that we will be able to get the job done.

We have been working with Assembly District Leader Stacy Pheffer Amato to get out the news on NYC Business Solutions. This NYC agency offers grants up to $5000 to help small businesses that have suffered physical damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Grants may be used for structural or equipment repairs, or the purchase of replacement equipment. Call 311 and ask for “Small Business Assistance Grant Program.” Other available assistance include emergency loans up to $25,000, sales tax exemptions up to $100,000 for the purchase of rebuilding materials and equipment. (visit the EDC website.) and Disaster Unemployment Assistance if you were self-employed. Call 1-888-209-8124. We asked City Council Speaker Christine Quinn about opening a local office or trailer to assist business.

We visited our local Waldbaum’s and talked to Joe, the new manager. They are cleaned up and restocked. They expect to reopen on Friday February 22nd. Our local H&R Block Tax Service on Rockaway Beach Boulevard will not reopen this year. Alice Barnes is telling her old customers they can find her at the H&R Block office at 2107 Mott Avenue, Far Rockaway. Call (718) 327- 3431 for an appointment.

On Thursday evening we met with NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and discussed the impact of the storm on our business infrastructure and rebuilding in Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy and Howard Beach. Our Comptroller is a standup guy, easy to talk to and responsive. We invited him to speak at a meeting of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club this spring.

Our office at the Ocean Promenade is now available for our use. We are there evenings after 5 PM depending on our attendance at community meetings. Call (718) 945-1216 to make an appointment if you want to come in to chat, pay your dues, leave a contribution or see if we can help you with a local problem. We will be holding our regular Thursday night meetings with guest speakers including the Democratic candidates for Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate and Borough President. We always have a question and answer period.

On Thursday evening we also spoke with our Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. We thanked her for the assistance we get from Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik. At 10:30 p.m. Barry and I toured Shorefront Parkway to see the constant problem of light outages and the need for barriers to keep sand from blowing over the road. We asked President Marshall to help us get a temporary snow fence to contain the sand and to get repairs for Rockaway Beach Boulevard, the Freeway and local streets. We complimented Ms. Marshall on her work for the Rockaways. It seems that she has taken up residence here since Sandy. Ms. Marshall said she appreciated my compliments for her , Barry and Alexandra Rosa, her Chief of Staff, as I had not always been complimentary toward her in the past.

We are demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers stop studying and begin pumping sand and begin placing jetties as necessary.

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