2013-07-05 / 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 As we have been walking through our community knocking at doors of enrolled Democrats, I realize more and more why I chose to run for City Council. We see so many houses that have been devastated or destroyed. The city government is not helping people. We see and hear their anguish and despair that no one is helping them. They are personally thanking me for always being there.

Last week Mayor Bloomberg made an announcement after a number of SIRR meetings. It is basically a plan with no concrete action now. Why must we suffer and wait any longer?

When plans for ocean protection were proposed by the mayor, Breezy's beach was omitted. Breezy residents pay taxes like the rest of the city. Failure to build the dunes puts not only the beach but the homes in the area at greater risk. There must be no discrimination against Breezy.

We have been waiting eight months with no protection. As we enter the hurricane season everyone is very concerned that we might get hit again. The plan does not offer immediate protection for Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, Howard Beach or Hamilton Beach.

At the SIRR meetings local residents agreed that we need seawalls for the ocean and bay and the rebuilding of the boardwalk. We need protection now. Current city leadership does not respond to the urgency of our needs. We will not praise a refurbished concrete walkway in front of a concession when we need a whole new boardwalk.

It came to my attention that Jay Deutchman, who owns the old Rockaway Park Hotel, had a deal with Narco Freedom to house homeless people on Beach 116th Street. We have said from the beginning that we need to load buses to picket Mr. Deutchman's home in Scarsdale. We are aware that the plan to open on Beach 116th Street is now on hold but we have to be prepared to stop any future destructive plans for this building.

Brad Gair, NYC Director of Housing Recovery Operations, spoke at Representative Gregory Meeks' Town Hall meeting. Gair mortified many in the audience when he told us that persons who had followed advice to apply for a FEMA loan would be punished and not receive any money from the city.

Anger and tempers are flaring. People have cashed out their IRA's and life savings. Now they can't get a grant. Any rules that cause this situation must be changed so that they help people, not hurt them.

We were the only elected official to take time to speak out at the Community District 27 Education Council on proposed budget cuts for P.S. 114, P.S. 47 and P.S. 146. These schools were targeted for cuts in teachers because many of their students had been forced out of their homes because of Sandy. Some of them are finishing their term at other schools, but plan to return to their home school in September.

We spoke to District Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey and Chancellor Dennis Walcott's office. We wrote a letter to Mayor Bloomberg. We understand that the teaching positions have been returned.

We also spoke on the proposal to remove the NEST program from P.S. 20. This program serves autistic spectrum children. Any interruption in their daily life affects their ability to cope. I told about watching my autistic niece get very upset when simple routines have changed. We asked them to grandfather in all the current students until they graduate.

Madelaine Chocolate, Rockaway's largest industry, has partially reopened. The owners paid for reconstruction out of their own funds but are looking for a $10 million grant so that they can expand and employ 450 local employees. They can't afford more loans and we need jobs in our area.

We would like to personally thank Senior Care Ambulette Service for taking one of the community leaders to a very important meeting. Thank you so much.

Dancing Under the Stars Zumba Fitness is back again on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockaway Rockies rink at Beach

108th Street at Shorefront Parkway. Dancing Under the Stars is sponsored by Sweet N Low and Lew M. Simon. Come one, come all. We welcome you.

We currently have openings for Election Inspectors for Primary Day, September 10th, Runoff October 1st, and Election Day November 5th. The pay is $200 for each day and $100 for required training. If you are a registered Democrat in the 23A.D. Part B, call my office at 718-945-1216.

I am available to help all those who need me. I am a phone call away. If you haven't signed my petition, give us a call and we will come to you or meet you. These petitions will give me a chance to help more people by giving me a staff.

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