2014-08-01 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

On Thursday evening, I had a great conversation with our State Senator Joe Addabbo. We discussed funding for the Rockaway ferry and what went wrong.

Joe reminded me when he was City Councilman he put $300,000 in the city budget every year from 2002. He and Borough President Helen Marshall had always left the money in the budget. Eventually, we did get a ferry for a short time.

I would like to know why our City Councilman Eric Ulrich did not specify part of his budget for ferry operations or obtain funding in the general city expense budget.

It is sad that we don't have a Democrat in the council seat who could have delivered with a Democratic speaker and mayor.

We must continue to fight on. We urge everyone to call City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito at 212- 798-7210 to add funds for the Rockaway ferry. The mayor's office is routing all calls through 311. You may reach Kyle Kimball, the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation at 212-312-3713. You can tell him how regular, affordable ferry service will benefit economic development by bringing tourists from JFK, Brooklyn and Manhattan to Rockaway and encourage visitors to stay in NYC. We must be relentless and continue to work non-stop.

We are starting by thanking everyone who signed our reelection petition. We are proud of the fact that we got the highest number of signatures in Queens County. Even better news is that no one is running against me. I look forward to continuing to serve our district and make myself available to all.

I'd like to give a special thank you to my right and left arm Johanna Mazza, who is the lady you see with me when you give your signature to get on the ballot. I'd like to thank Richard C. Berger for driving us around from destination to destination. I'd like to thank all the people who carried petitions for my reelection as District Leader and those who signed in other parts of the 23 AD, where I have been selected to be a judicial delegate.

I was mortified on Saturday afternoon when I received calls, email and Facebook messages regarding a plane flying a banner over our beaches with a swastika on it. You would think in this day and age people would be mindful of the hatred, branding, violence and loss of innocent human lives by the SS in Germany. Why would anyone use this symbol? We urge everyone to reach out to the group and tell them to get rid of the swastika.

The sponsors are the Raelian Movement which favors sexual pleasure, women's right to go topless, follows the prophet Rael, defends rights of sexual minorities, a new universal calendar, voluntary migration to Africa of successful descendants of slaves, and the use of robots to provide all goods and services. They do not appear to be Nazis, but cause much pain and alarm by using the symbol most people associate with the Nazis. We are objecting to giving them approval of 501C (3) status which would make contributions tax deductible. Saturday afternoon I called the FAA to track down the owners of the plane. I would like to thank Marty Ingram, Breezy Point board member, who is retired from the FAA. He gave me the name and number of the proper FAA official. The FAA stated that the plane was flying too low and was not on their radar. They fly out of Long Island and do not require FAA clearance. It is completely unacceptable to not know who is above our heads. I reached out to Rep. Gregory Meeks Chief of Staff Bob Simmons, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and State Senator Joseph Addabbo. After Shabbos, I called Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

On July 14, the Community Board 14 Housing and Land Use Committee discussed a proposal which was reintroduced by Alma Realty to build three apartment buildings with market rate housing, four stories high with 200 units including commercial units on the lower level. It would be located on the existing parking lots from Beach 105th to Beach 108th streets along Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Shorefront Parkway.

This is an outrageous proposal. When the existing buildings were planned by Robert Moses it was agreed that there would always be an open space corridor. This is part of the existing zoning. Alma is attempting to hijack the rules and get a variance to build new houses.

In 2008, a similar proposal was defeated. Can you imagine the parking problems that 200 more units with hundreds of additional cars and customer's cars would cause in this area? We may find these crowded conditions in mid-Manhattan; we don't need it in Rockaway.

Alma Realty has not been a good landlord for the residents of the buildings that it owns now. The Surfside tenants’ SHAFT, led by Barbara Buffalino and Karen Nevirs, have had a constant battle to get walls painted, floors washed, brick walls pointed, vermin exterminated, faulty windows repaired and heat and hot water when needed. Cement walkways have been allowed to go without repairs making walking dangerous. The maintenance crew has been reduced from 24 workers to 8. I have joined with Local 32BJ members to save their jobs.

At the Board 14 meeting, I stood up to oppose the variance. I urged Alma to clean up their act and stop acting as a slumlord.

The Good Government Regular Democratic club is planning meetings in August, September and October. Guest speakers will answer your questions and needs, we meet at Beacon Rehab, 149 Beach 113th St. Yearly dues are $25. Send your check to the club c/o Beacon. If you or a loved one needs rehab or short term nursing care we urge you to come to Beacon, mention my name. I wish I could offer you a discount, but I don't have that pull.

On Friday, June 27, I was honored to cut the ribbon for the opening of Breezy Dog Shakes. Our own Maria opened a beautiful, new eatery on Beach 129th Street. We invite everyone to stop by and enjoy Maria's delicious milk shakes. You can sit outdoors and enjoy the breeze.

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Lew, when Linda and I started

Lew, when Linda and I started the letter and call in campaign to the EDC and the Mayor's office, An EDC Rep and Helen Ho from the Mayor's office started to answer the people. I was told by Helen and the Rep from the EDC at a meeting I attended it got so overwhelming and they could not answer all the emails, letters etc. What I'm trying to say is alot of credit should already go out to ALL that pitched in, all Rockaway residents, Broad Channel Residents, Breezy Point residents and many of our local businesses. I do agree with you Lew we must continue to fight on. Danny & Linda Ruscillo

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