Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The City That Never Sleeps...

...grinds to a halt.

For the first time in a quarter-century, New York City transit workers
walked off the job this morning.

Two points:

1) This is an illegal job action, in violation of the nearly forty-year old
Taylor Law that forbids New York state public employees from striking. Those who violate the law are susceptible to fines of two days pay for every one off the job. Last week, the state also won a preliminary injunction against a strike; the city filed for one as well (which it will be in court this morning to gain a ruling).

2) The Metropolitan Transportation Authority may be seeing years of chickens coming home to roost.
The MTA has been the subject of scorn for its "interesting" book-keeping over the years.

*Construction of a new headquarters became a multi-milion dollar debacle, rife with corruption and mob infiltration.
*Charges that it keeps "two sets of books" are common. Ironically, that 2003 report by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi and City Comptroller Bill Thompson was both repudiated and confirmed in subsequent years -- proving the main point that no one knows how much money the MTA has).
*After years-long warnings of imminent fiscal doom that mandated fare increases, the authority revealed several months ago a huge surplus -- one which is now over one billion dollars (cue Dr. Evil accent). Now, that figure is somewhat illusory because of outstanding long-term pension obligations (ironically one of the key stumbling blocks on the contract).

With this accumulated backstory, it's no wonder that -- as frustrated as the public will be because of the inconveniences that the strike imposes -- a lot of fury will be directed toward the MTA. Simply put, this is the least-trusted public agency in the state.

That might -- stress might -- embolden the union to stay out for a few days. Oh well, that toot of the horn means my colleague Tom is here! Operation Car Pool begins!

Happy Holidays!

UPDATE: Tom Elliott and I, plus Ryan Sager (another Post colleague) and Michelle (my apartment-building neighbor) provided the four-warm-bodies-per-vehicle that the city's strike contingency plan mandates. However, neighbor Michelle and I would not have had to wait long if Tom hadn't arrived. Standing on a Prospect Heights corner at Flatbush Avenue and Sterling Place for about 15 minutes or so, we were subject to at least seven offers for rides from people with only one or two folks in their cars. (In an economic sense, one starts to wonder: What is more valuable during this "crisis" -- someone with a car to go into Manhattan or the people needed to fill the car. Michelle and I could, arguably, have "rented" ourselves out to the highest car-bidder!). Anyway, once onto the main part of Flatbush Avenue, the trip went without too much drama; we were in our offices in a little more than an hour (Tom's part of the ride from East Flatbush, actually was the longest proportionally). The lovely and talented Michelle did however feel a little intimidated by the blogospheric testosterone oozing through the car.

More great strike coverage from Newscopy (the must-read blog on New York state politics), Karol, Michelle Malkin, Newsday, NewYorkology and many others.

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