Friday, December 30, 2005

I of course will have nothing to do with the first program mentioned in this article. Nope. Nosiree. I won't be doing those progress reports. Nope. Not I.
I have become a selfish jerk:

- I have been shamelessly promoting my blog. I tell people “why, I posted it on Live Journal.” “Gosh, I posted it on Pico.” Like I am that important. People come to read when they wanna, and it’s cocknoxious of me to ask them to step out of their routines—which probably involve more work than I do—to read my mealy mouthed whining! (But read my/ our sports blog.)

- The continuing sales of candy on the subway by pre-teens and teenagers is making me sick. I assume they’re out because in the holiday season, people are giving, people are sweet, and people are from out of town. I should respect that some of my young (black + Latino) people have a hustle, but what kind of world are we in that they have to hustle like this? I’m a hater, I know. Even worse, I wonder if it’s because I hate to hear people on the subway? I have preaching, I hate sales, I hate panhandlers, I’m halfway to sounding like I am from a red state and I am living in a waterfront condo.

- I’m going to go wash my sins out with whiskey. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

This morning Alissa met me with a bag the size of a well-fed 10 year old. We walked to Atlantic/ Flatbush, in hopes of finding a ride... and there was a yellow cab, empty of passengers and lights on, in the middle of the street. Sweet! He didn't even pass me by! It took 40 minutes by car, traffic on Flatbush and gridlock on Broadway being the culprits.

post: from the Defend Brooklyn mailing list:

So Pataki and Bloomberg were willing to let TW-100 walk over a pension proposal that would have saved the transit authority less than $20 million over the next three years considering that the city says that every day of the strike will cost its businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues. Are they that dumb? No, This is all about upcoming negotiations for City employees who's contract runs out next year. Bloomberg was quoted in the NY Post 12/20/05 saying New city employees had better get ready for reduced pension benefits no matter what happens in the transit talks — where pension costs are a key sticking point.

"A fifth tier for city workers is something we have to think about," the mayor said during a press conference on Staten Island, referring to the city's four current pension plans.

Pension reform had been on the mayor's agenda long before the transit negotiations.

This is why we have a strike today! And if you think this is bad just wait till the summer.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005


So in response to Mayor Bloomberg calling the TWU workers selfish, cowardly, and thugs, Roger Toussaint, head of the TWU, responded this afternoon by likening their struggle to Rosa Parks' struggle and bringing up the lack of days off/ holiday provisions on Martin Luther King Day. And the story of a transit worker with a child who couldn't get days off.

This ain't gonna end this week, because that's a step up in rhetoric.

plus: i like how this NYTimes graphic starts with the most affected-- a graphic that is city-center oriented; and goes on to the worst affected. the most affected graphic does not take into account the additional time and discomfort on the LIRR or in vehicles for those of us on the outskirts of the city, or the effect on Long Island. That is your paper of record.
Day Deux

Less cold today; walking makes a body tired. But I feel good, exercised; which is the perfect antidote to the malaise I've been feeling recently. Plus it takes a moment like this to remind me how much I love certain people.

Also, shopping at Century 21 was quick and easy. More people in the store than I would have guessed but free enough at lunchtime to get some clothes.

Last night I caught a ride home with one of my big bosses and I will never do that again. On the plus side, he really does remember my name and even my high school. On the bad side, we sat in traffic on Water Street for an hour. And then on State Street for half an hour. I learned a lot about Sir Paul McCartney's oeuvre, found out there is apparently an Eagles song in the movie "the Warriors," and saw my old Windsor Terrace neighborhood, but that trip was not necessary.

Tonight, we walk.

Here is a transit strike photoset from yesterday, including Randi Weingarten at the Manhattan base of the bridge, Marty Markowitz in the Brooklyn Cyclones cap telling us "we're going to get through this" on the Brooklyn side, and lots of morning commuters getting reacquainted with their bunions.

Photo Library - 1524.jpg

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What some New Yorkers are saying about the transit strike

opposition seems to be based on people's whining inconvenience (serve me, meat! and smile when i can't understand the subway map and my brittle voice shrieks at you!) and on the premise that being a transit worker is a desirable job. also, the premise that since the rest of the world is getting unlovingly screwed out of pensions that everyone else should.

also, this transit system is obviously valuable to all of us, drivers and walkers and subway riders alike. and if someone's douche-ass advertising job was valuable to the company, they can go to their boss and say "hey, i'm valuable. pay me like i'm in GoodFellas or i go to a rival."

the transit workers have no rival.

so when they get mistreated, when they have given back wages (when in any private industry job have you agreed to not get a raise?) they only have one option. stay. that lack of option should have a specialized status/ value. since the sweet children from indiana who come to the city to test their hipster fortunes playing their glockenspiel into their powermac don't want to be train conductors, obviously, this is a job that a limited amount of people are willing to do.

additionally: danger factor, being in the subways. in 7th grade our science teacher asked us to come up from the subway and blow into a tissue and check the color of what comes out. lovely, right? and we don't work in it.

and yes, the subways are going to be automated at some point (that sends warmth up my spine! hey, digital readout, these kids are robbing me. what's that you say in response? next stop, bergen street?), which should embolden the transit workers. because what are they going to do in 10-15 years? work in finance? study philosophy?

anyway, the comments. these people.

douchey comment string from gothamist.
Transit Strike 2005!

I went to bed last night knowing that it was actually going to happen. The Transit Workers’ Union was going to walk off the job; the MTA representative came out and spun the negotiations his way, the TWU representative spun the negotiations that way. The news reporters clenched their jaws and pursed their lips to deliver the news. The traffic reporters spat gloom and doom. I heard of bottlenecks; Dora and Di decided not to go.

The LIRR station at Atlantic was jam packed with people buying tickets to get to Jamaica and then back into the city. Good luck. Meanwhile, I started my walk up to the Brooklyn Bridge, assuming it should take me 40-50 minutes.

And I had my camera. There will be a photoset later.

Highlights include:

- A few bikes.
- Not much foot traffic, relatively.
- Goofy bikers and rollerbladers.
- Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz greeting us on the bridge. “We’re going to get through this!”
- Empty roads on the bridges and streets.
- The United Federation of Teachers at the Manhattan foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, with some TWU folks, handing out coffee.
- The Red Cross, handing out coffee.
- Reporters everywhere.

Apparently the Staten Island Ferry wasn’t crowded.

Also, that was a good brisk walk! I should do it more often! Except for the frozen nose thing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

From the NY Times, about the strike on the private bus lines likely to happen on Monday. I bring this up because I live out there, with some pretty cruddy bus service to begin with, and at $5/ dollar van ride, i'll take the LIRR, thanks. or just stay with my girlfriend as long as she'll have me. you know, becausde mike bloomberg told me i should. anyway, here is some text from the article:

The Transport Workers Union represents 217 workers at Jamaica Buses, based in Jamaica, Queens, and 490 workers at Triboro, based in Flushing, Queens. By noon today, the buses were still running, and it was unclear when the union members would stop work. A driver for Triboro Coach said a walkout was unlikely before Monday.

Jamaica Buses has about 15,000 riders each weekday, while Triboro has about 42,000. If there is no bus service on the lines, city-licensed commuter vans along those routes will be permitted to charge up to $5 a person and taxis will be allowed to charged up to $10 a person.

The chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee, John C. Liu of Flushing, said in a discussion on WNYC-AM radio this morning that the patrons of the private bus companies would be the one harmed by a strike.

"These riders have suffered from years of neglect by the city and the M.T.A.," Mr. Liu said. "Their service has become atrocious and to sock it to them this way through a strike at this point just seems profoundly unfair to these bus riders."

He emphasized that the union was not the only one to blame for the contract impasse. "Whenever there is a shutdown of a transit system, it's not just simply the union's fault because it is illegal for them to do so," Mr. Liu said. "The M.T.A. should have come to the table a long time ago in earnest and not wait until the very, very last second. And in fact that's been, I think, a part of the problem. The chairman, Kalikow, didn't even show up until yesterday afternoon."

Roger Toussaint, the union's president, and Mr. Kalikow met at 11 p.m. last night for the first time in the labor talks, just one hour before the union's three-year contract expired at 12:01 this morning. Although talks had been conducted throughout the day, they heated up once Mr. Toussaint and Mr. Kalikow were both at the table.

The major sticking point, according to several union officials, is the authority's proposal that new employees reach age 62 before being able to collect a full pension. Since 1994, the vast majority of transit employees have been able to collect a regular pension at age 55 if they have 25 years of experience.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Normally I’d talk about the extreme self-absorption and anti-tabloid snobbery of the NY Times (Hi! This is Queens here! We exist!) but this is an interesting article, short and sweet, about one transit worker. I like it not only because the writer is one of the kids from the HS (Sewell. I know a funny story that Cappy might know too!), but also because the article talks in monetary and time terms about the life this conductor leads, the middle income people in the middle of the transit negotiations.

Meanwhile, A judge enforced an arbitrator’s ruling that removing conductors from the L train violated the Transit Worker’s Union contract.

And from Ray Sanchez' column:

Joshua Freeman, a labor historian at the City University of New York, said MTA giveback demands plus the union's militant history couple to make a strike a real possibility.

"The very nature of brinkmanship is sometimes you fall off the edge, even if you don't flinch," he said. "But this is not late in the game by standards of these negotiations, which tend to always be resolved at the very last minute."

And, Some MTA Guidelines in case of a strike, from the Newsday:

Enhanced carpooling rules in morning rush hour; restrictions on trucks, cars with fewer than four passengers

Carpool staging areas in all five boroughs

Additional parking at Metro-North and LIRR stops

Encourage use of bicycles where possible

Encourage staggered work schedules

Encourage telecommuting

Start of school will be delayed two hours, field trips canceled


Friday, December 09, 2005

In case you don’t know about the local papers—I suppose “tabloids” can be used to segregate them from the classy and regal New York Times—a little proof positive that the NY Post is very chummy with Fox News and into promoting conservative concepts on New York’s populace (as if reading Andrea Peyser wasn’t enough. Or the mug shots of negroes).

There’s no link to the article because I wouldn’t want you to sign up for the NY Post (though it’s free); you don’t need to get dumber. Read the Daily News instead. That way you won’t think about boycotting stores that won’t put Christmas in their advertisements.