By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
it wasn’t an event with great fanfare.
crowds weren’t watching.
not sure that it was even an event at all, but rather a culmination of
discussions, phone calls and thought.
to this writer, it was conceivably the coming of age for the
administration of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.
it is certainly premature to judge my old friend Helen and her
administration. She took office six months ago and is following in the
biggest damn footsteps, made by the biggest damn shoes one could ever
is following Claire Shulman who led this borough for sixteen years and
left her imprint with Shaquille O’Neal-sized kicks. Claire had picked up
a very tarnished mantle after the city scandals of the mid-80s, and
brought respect, vision and leadership back to Borough Hall. She’d still
be there if it weren’t for term limits. She was everyone’s borough
president — matriarch of the Borough of Queens.
Beep Helen Marshall
by Dee Richard
don’t believe that anyone could have measured up easily. Claire had 16
years to build her network, perfect her skills and leave her huge imprint
on this borough. She, indeed, changed the face of Queens.
has been there for six months and has had a lot to learn. Anyone would
have had a lot to learn. Comparing Helen six months in to Claire sixteen
years mature is just not how we should be measuring.
week, the learning curve took a turn. Helen Marshall stepped out of the
ceremony of the office. She stepped out of the day-to-day obligations of
civics and government. She demonstrated that the office of borough
president which was devastated when the courts threw out the Board of
Estimate — and the Beeps’ significant role in City budget, contracts
and everything else — can still be vital and meaningful in the life of a
Queens, the Beep is not merely titular and procedural.
Marshall chose to make it more than that.
QUEENS BUS STRIKE
Marshall chose to throw her administration into the middle of a bus strike
crippling only our borough. While the rest of the City fathers (and
mothers) watched, slept, ignored or perhaps tried to help, Helen Marshall
came through with the first and only real solution to be put on the table
since the bus walkouts started months ago.
month-long strike by 1,500 drivers, mechanics and cleaners of the Queens
Surface, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Coach lines, which are heavily subsidized
by the city, has caused 115,000 Queens riders to seek alternate
— and/or her people — assessed the problem, spoke to both sides,
enlisted and got the assistance of the Mayor and as of this writing on
Sunday, has put on the table a real and doable solution.
labor conflict at the time ultimately boiled down to the demand on the
employees’ part to health coverage comparable to that provided to the
employees on City-owned and run buses.
got the mayor to agree to provide $2 million in loans which will be paid
back by reducing subsidy payments to the bus companies, while they find
and institute economies to pay for the increased cost of the health plan
the workers demand.
City would audit the bus companies to identify economies.
drivers, mechanics and cleaners get what they want (and probably deserve);
the City avoids a major transportation crisis; the bus companies lose
nothing, keeping their subsidized franchises and the wheels rolling, and
the people of Queens get to work and play with fewer hassles and less
traffic and it really doesn’t cost anyone anything.
in the job description of Borough President is the responsibility of
entering a labor dispute between private bus lines and their drivers.
Nowhere is there an official role provided in labor disputes for the Beep.
She has no more official input or power than anyone else. Any member of
the Council, Assembly, State Senate, Congress could have entered the fray.
As a matter of fact some tried.
the Mayor had more leverage to bring to the table than the Beep. The
Public Advocate, the Comptroller, former citywide elected officials could
have stepped forward. Now,
this is not meant to criticize all those who didn’t solve the problem.
It is meant to applaud the person who may have.
Marshall stepped up to the front of the line and we believe solved the
an aside, I write this before any official announcement concerning strike
settlement has been made. But for this longtime observer of City
government, the right solution has been put on the table; if it is not
accepted, we would expect the City to immediately cancel the franchises of
the three bus companies leaving both labor and owners with nothing for
which to negotiate. The City must not tolerate any more interruption of
bus service in Queens.
is the end of the line.
Helen Marshall punched the ticket. Well done, Helen.
Council Bill Will Strengthen Term Limits
New York City Council Speaker GIFFORD MILLER
like to begin by stating for the record that I am a great admirer of
Michael Schenkler and that I am proud to call him one of my good friends.
even friends disagree about some things and Michael and I disagree about
one of the finer points regarding a bill that was recently introduced by
46 of the 51 members of the New York City Council, where I have the rare
privilege of serving as speaker.
Speaker Gifford Miller
point of this bill is to repair a glitch in the term-limits law that
allows some members of the City Council to serve for eight years while
preventing others from serving for more than six.
you think back to 1993, when voters passed a referendum creating New York
City’s term limits law, then you will remember that the point of this
law was to limit our elected officials to no more than eight consecutive
years. The slogan employed by advocates of the law was “Eight Is
Enough,” which proved to be a better campaign, rallying cry than an
accurate description of what the law would actually do. Because of
reapportionment, special elections and the like, not all City Council
terms are four years long. Some are as short as two years, hence the
unintended consequence of actually limiting some officeholders to just six
years in office.
that was introduced just last week would fix the term limits glitch and
eliminate the inequities that prevent voters in Harlem, for example, from
electing their Council Member to the same length of time as voters in
neighboring Washington Heights.
In response to:
Not 4 Publication
the term limits glitch isn’t just a problem for voters in Harlem, who
will lose out on the benefits provided by seniority if we don’t repair
the current inequities in the law. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of voters
across the city will be placed at an unfair disadvantage if we fail to
take action now.
people (I won’t provide names because I know Michael is painfully shy)
have objected to the City Council’s approach on this issue.
Giff Miller at
the Queens Tribune offices.
by Dee Richard
I would say in response is that the City Council’s bill in no way
challenges the fundamental principle of the term limits policy that voters
approved in 1993 and then reaffirmed in 1996. In fact, this bill would
strengthen the city’s term limits law by applying the eight-year rule
fairly and equitably to every elected official in the city. It would also
close the loophole allowing an incumbent to escape term limits entirely by
resigning from office early and then entering the primary election as a
issue that this bill seeks to address isn’t really term limits at
all...it’s fairness. The people of New York City voted to make eight
consecutive years the limit for everyone holding office, not just some.
Unless voters say otherwise, term limits are here to stay. Far from being
an attempt to subvert the people’s will, all this bill would do is make
sure that term limits work as the people intended.
by Dom Nunziato