2013-05-03 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Our series of candidate forums will continue on Thursday, May 9th. You will have the opportunity to meet and question the candidates for Public Advocate, Professor Catherine Guerriero, Councilwoman Leticia James, former Deputy Public Advocate Reshma Saujani, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Sidique Wai. At 7:30 p.m. sharp we will meet at our headquarters at the Ocean Promenade Rehab, 140 Beach 113th Street, Rockaway Park. The location is handicapped accessible and has an adjacent parking lot. Refreshments will be served.

Last week we attended the Belle Harbor Property Owners meeting on Tuesday and the 100th Precinct Community Council meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday the Good Government Regular Democratic Club presented a Mayoral Forum. It was also a great pleasure to have local editor Kevin Boyle of The Wave in the audience.

The first candidate to arrive was Council Speaker Christine Quinn who referred to enjoying a summer bungalow as a child in Rockaway. Quinn proposed that power lines be put underground, cell phone companies should share relay stations and that grants, not loans, should be available to businesses. She pointed out that the East River ferry was the first form of mass transit to resume after Sandy. After a question from yours truly, the Speaker promised to bring Parks Commissioner Veronica White to tour the beaches and boardwalk.

On the key question of reopening the Rockaway Beach line to provide direct service to Penn Station, Quinn said that she would have to follow up by hearing from the opponents of the RBB line. She promised to announce her position in two weeks.

Councilman Sal Albanese described himself as a non-career politician who did not take contributions from lobbyists. As a former teacher, Albanese would repair the damage done by Bloomberg's control of NYC schools. He promised parents a meaningful role in the school system. The former Brooklyn councilman expressed his personal distaste for depending on casino gambling.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson described himself as a Brooklyn kid who graduated from Midwood H.S. He told about his Caribbean born mother who taught in Bed Stuy for 29 years and his 88 year old father who was elected the first black state senator from Brooklyn and still takes cases as a retired appellate judge.

Thompson spoke proudly of his work as President of the Board of Education and his work with Chancellors Ray Cortines and Rudy Crew. He criticized Christine Quinn for reversing term limits behind the people's back. Thompson referred to his losing mayoral campaign in 2009, when he spent $9 million while Michael Bloomberg spent $120 million. Thompson promised more community police and to appoint as Chancellor an education professional like Kathleen Cashin or Meryl Tisch. On the key question of his support for reopening the Rockaway Beach line, Thompson said absolutely. He suggested raising transit funds by charging higher fees for heavier vehicles.

Comptroller John Liu arrived last when some of the capacity crowd had left. He referred to his degree in mathematical physics and his work as an actuary for Price Waterhouse before his election to the City Council from Flushing. He said that he takes no contributions from Wall Street. Liu supported Warren Buffett's famous criticism of the tax code that makes Buffett's secretary pay a higher tax rate than he does. Liu said that the city must not be afraid to tax the wealthiest among us because if they left new business leaders would take their place. He denounced our city tax rate that is the same for those who earn $25,000 or $25 million.

Liu is proud of instituting CheckbookNYC. com which makes NYC budgets, cash reports and audits easily available from your computer. He is also proud of his audits which helped expose the City Time scandal and helped NYC recover $540 million lost through fraud and kickback schemes. Liu continued to talk with remaining members until close to midnight.

We would like to thank the residents of Rockaway, Breezy, Broad Channel and Howard Beach who made our meeting a huge success, John J. Kenny who recorded live for his NYTrue.com website, Councilman Ruben Wills from a neighboring Queens district who came to support our Democratic Club and told us that our turnout was the talk of an earlier mayoral forum in Manhattan. We thank Ocean Promenade for our meeting place, without you, we would not be in existence, Waldbaum's manager John Prongay for bringing cake and meeting our community, Rockaway and Beach Bagels for bagels and cream cheese, and Alexandria Siler, a member of Community Education Council District 27, for her knowledgeable questions on public education.

We ask everyone to continue to come to our Thursday evening meetings as we meet all the candidates and show them that we are still on the map. We will accept your membership of $25 or a donation of $2 to help keep our club working for our community.

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