2013-05-10 / 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’d like to give a special thank you to The Wave. A friend of mine named Ben used to own the furniture store above Caldor on Rockaway Turnpike. I know him for 27 years but hadn’t seen him for quite a while. He read my column and answered my prayers. He donated a beautiful, brand new cherry wood desk for our office at the Democratic Club. Now we can do business.

Ben also stepped up to the plate to help victims of Hurricane Sandy by donating some furniture. His furniture ranges from inexpensive to top of the line. We’d like to thank Aviv Home Decor at 1063 Beach 20th Street, Far Rockaway 718-471-8800 and 292 Burnside Avenue, Lawrence (next to Office Max) 516-341-0170. If you are in the market for furniture, stop in and thank him for helping our club.

We are looking forward to continuing to rebuild and improve the resiliency of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy and the Howard Beach communities. We want to lead the fight to make sure we get everything we are entitled to, plus. We will not allow the city to make us their stepchild. It is time that the residents of Breezy Point can start building with no more red tape. We must all band together to make sure we are protected from any future storm or hurricane. The key is protection, protection, protection.

On Thursday evening, candidates for Borough President addressed the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik arrived and spoke first. He was on the phone with us shortly after the storm and has been out here frequently since. Barry told us of his experience helping Borough President Claire Shulman stay on top of the federal, state and city governments to get the rebuilding of Queens Hospital Center finished on budget and on time.

Barry is working to get $200,000 for lights for the Little League fields at Fort Tilden so that more games can be played and more children can participate. He supports redwood fencing to reduce sand blowing into our streets. Grodenchik, who served on the State Assembly Health Committee, believes that community hospitals are needed in underserved communities of Queens. Barry supports the reopening of the Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR.

Melinda Katz, the next candidate, has served in the New York State Assembly and City Council representing Forest Hills. Her father was a founder of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and her mother was a leader of the Queens Council of the Arts. Melinda is married to Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa. As Chair of the Council Land Use Committee, Melinda used city zoning rules to help economic development. She told how she got IKEA to provide training for local Red Hook residents before the store opened. Katz supports primary care facilities all over the borough. She believes that the needs of permanent residents are more important than summer visitors. Melinda ignored our question about the Rockaway Beach line on Facebook. At the meeting Katz told us that she would keep an open mind on the RR question.

Leroy Comrie, the Deputy Majority Whip and Chair of the Queens Council delegation, told of his long history in local politics going back to the time of Jimmy Carter. He told of getting more member items for his Council district than any other Queens member. Comrie said that the Borough President should bring all parties together. He promised a satellite Borough President’s office in Rockaway using a public library or similar public space. When asked about the Rockaway line, Comrie said he had heard from supporters of the Greenway, but we had to find a way to make it happen.

State Senator Tony Avella arrived at 10:20 p.m. after making several stops at other meetings in Queens as most candidates do. Avella, who chaired the Land Use Committee in the City Council, before defeating longtime Republican Senator Frank Padavan, deplored the lack of response in the period shortly after Sandy. He said that he was out in his community with his staff and a chain saw to cut trees blocking streets. He wants to reinvigorate the office of the Borough President.

When he was told of current bus problems, Avella said that he would use his power as a Senator to get Tom Pendergast, recently nominated to head the MTA, to respond to these problems. Avella loudly said “Yes” when he was asked his position on the reopening of the Rockaway Beach line. Avella agreed to return on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with staff members to work out a plan to help us with transportation, economic development, health care, schools and cleaning up the neighborhood.

We are coming into an exciting political season. This is the time to get involved. We meet each Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean Promenade Rehab, 140 Beach 113th Street. You may make a $2.00 donation or join the club by paying $25 yearly dues. Refreshments are served.

At the Town Hall meeting at the Dome on Wednesday, we had a chance to ask Councilman Eric Ulrich about his position on the Rockaway Beach line. He said that he did not support it and would not pander to Rockaway people by supporting it. He said that it wasn’t going to happen. We need high speed transportation to get the economic recovery and development we need. Lack of good transportation will keep us down. We agree that it will be very hard to improve our transit if our own representative does not support us. Make sure that you ask Eric about this if you ever see him in the neighborhood. You can call his office or send a letter.

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