2013-11-29 / Columnists

Simon says...

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


Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon We wish all those who celebrate the Festival of Lights a Happy Chanukah, The holiday coincides with Thanksgiving this year, an event that may not occur again until 79811. Enjoy both holidays.

A really cold bone-chilling wind has swept in. We hope that everyone is getting enough heat. Help for those who have trouble paying for heat is available through HEAP. Single residents with a monthly income of less than $2,175, or a family of four with an income of less than $4,182 may get help by calling the Department of Social Services at 800-692-0557. We suggest calling immediately as they have run out of funds in past years.

We attended a really important Queens Department of Transportation meeting last week concerning improving traffic flow in the Woodhaven Corridor from Liberty Avenue to Queens Boulevard. We believe that the proposal for Select Bus Service is stupid and ridiculous. It would eliminate one traffic lane for cars in each direction. Those of us who use this route during peak periods know the traffic jams that already exist and the risk of getting trapped in an intersection and getting a ticket because of the red light cameras.

I proposed that DOT mark one lane an HOV lane that would be used by buses and eligible cars during peak traffic periods. Red light cameras should be turned off during times when cars are likely to be trapped in intersections. We got a very great response from the traffic engineer present. We found the Acting Queens Borough DOT Commissioner, Dalila Hall, a breath of fresh air. A career DOT employee, she would be an excellent Queens Commissioner.

Can you believe that the Department of Parks is now stating that our Boardwalk may not be finished until 2017? This is absolutely insane. Why doesn't our Councilman use the clout he says that he has with Mayor Bloomberg to make this a priority? We plan on following up with Mayor-elect de Blasio.

Bill de Blasio's Transition Team is really listening to people. Anyone can be nominated, or even put their own name, for an appointed position in the new administration. We are happy to hear of the possible return of Bill Bratton as Police Commissioner. He has NYC experience and is well qualified to deal with anti-terrorism. We are excited to hear that Kathleen Cashin was placed on the list for possible appointment as School Chancellor at my sug- gestion. It is time that we had a real educator with hands on experience at all levels in the NYC system in charge. She has a heart and knows how to be tough when necessary.

It is time to change the Bloomberg educational policies that led to closing schools and shuffling students and teachers all over the city. Suspension schools formerly served students who were unable to function properly in the schools that serve most of our children. The Bloomberg policy of closing these suspension schools wrecks the schools that have to accept these students who need special supervision. We must reopen the vocational schools that used to prepare students for jobs, from beauty culture to radio repair that did not require a college education. The new vocational schools must partner with unions and industry to train students for the jobs of the future. Labor unions like the plumbers, carpenters, steam fitters and electricians already have training courses for young people willing to work hard to get a job with good wages and benefits for their working life.

We must keep and strengthen the programs in after school centers so that tutoring and enrichment classes as well as sports and recreation is available to all students while parents are on the job or on their long trip home. We must reduce the time and cost of busing by making it possible for most students to get a good education in their community school and siblings can pick up the younger ones. Investment in universal Pre-K will more than pay us back with a better educated population over future years.

We also hope that Bill de Blasio will clear out those NYC Parks officials who have ignored our needs. Every year since 2003 we have asked First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh to arrange for lifeguard coverage to be extended to 8 p.m. on selected beaches on hot summer days. We have suggested ways to do this at little or no cost. Kavanagh sometimes listened but failed to follow through. I suggest Nadia Murphy would be a good replacement.

Our Good Government Regular Democratic Club will invite Commis-sioners and other top officials to dialogue with our community. You may participate by joining. Send your yearly dues of $25 to GGDRC at 140 Beach 113th Street Rockaway Park 11694.

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