By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I don’t ride buses.
But on my list of present City outrages is the failure of City Hall to get
the private bus lines in Queens back on the road.
As you should be aware,
we are entering the third month of a strike by drivers, mechanics and
cleaners against three Queens private bus lines: Jamaica, Queens Transit
and Triboro Coach. These three companies are granted the exclusive
franchise to operate specified routes in the borough and are granted huge
subsidies to provide bus service to residents.
Ninety two million
dollars, at last report, is the cost to the City to underwrite the three
Tribune Publisher Mike Schenkler holding the hundreds of pages of the contracts
between the City of New York and the Queens private bus companies.
Tribune Photo by Susan Lee
about the subsidy, the cost of operating City buses, and the terms of the
franchise/contracts has not been easy.
We don’t believe
anyone is trying to conceal the information, we just believe the
information is so convoluted and confusing that the guys in charge of
regulating the bus companies have inherited a nightmare. The
Comptroller’s Office has been cooperative with us but at times has
expressed frustration in figuring out the whole thing. They are digging
out cost figures, but apparently it’s not as simple as one plus one
We’re committed to
researching the subject — we feel someone has to.
And in our research, we
did what we thought the logical thing and asked the City Department of
Transportation for copies of the contracts with the bus companies.
Well, we were told,
there are contracts for each company; then there are contracts for each
route. But finally – after a day of or two of back and forth – it was
determined that there is a “master contract” for each company. And so
we requested it.
The document giving the
three Queens bus companies the right to operate their franchises in the
City arrived at our office by messenger. Wrapped in two very, very large
envelopes and fasted together in almost a dozen sections, hundreds of
small print filled pages comprise the operating agreements.
We didn’t know where
to begin — we still don’t. But our staff shall plod on.
Our ability to quickly
find what penalty exists for failure to provide service is no better than
the folks who work for the City. You see, we’ve been informed that these
documents predate present DOT staff and that no one was around back when
these contracts were first drafted.
Not surprisingly, when
renewed or updated, they apparently just added onto the mammoth document.
Want a new route? Draft another document and attach it to the huge pack of
Now remember, the
hundreds of pages we are attacking make up the master contracts and do not
contain the individual route franchise agreements.
We’re not sure if our
terms are correct or if we understand much except that the lawyers sure
must have cost a lot.
Those City lawyers sure
worked very hard generating all those pages. But did they protect the City
and bus riders?
On a page marked 43 of
what appears to be the body of the main contract, headed Article XVI
“Termination and Cancellation,” Section 16.2 reads: “The Company
shall not be deemed nor declared to be in default under any conditions,
provisions, requirements or limitations of this contract in any case in
which the performance of any such condition, provision requirement or
limitation is prevented by reason of strikes, injunctions or other causes
beyond the control of the Company, provided that the Company shall not
have instigated such strike, or shall not have been responsible for suits
or injunctions or other causes of delay.”
Perhaps, the solution
is as simple as reading the appropriate section of the contract — only
maybe, nobody can find it.
We asked the DOT press
office to let us know how many times copies of the contract have been
requested since the labor dispute began back in January.
“Your request is the
first,” was the response.
Perhaps the solution
will require a clean sweep: throw out the contracts; throw out the bus
companies; throw out the union.
But first, throw out
Hey Mayor Mike, all the
other boroughs have bus service, why don’t you get involved and help the
folks in Queens who have been taken for a ride.
On The Queens GOP
The Dems Are Not Any Better
Okay, politics is about
power. But in this country, it is also about participating in the greatest
democracy in the world. We have a system that offers voters a choice.
We have matured into a
two party system with a number of vital third parties. But no matter what,
you know that the Republicans will challenge the Democrats and the Dems
will return the favor. Having opposition keeps everything honest.
There are no free rides
here. The United States stands proudly as one of the few great democratic
nations where the person in office is always challenged at election time.
Not so in Queens.
The Republican Party
which last year lost two of their three City Council seats has become less
and less competitive.
This year with 31
legislative seats up in Queens, the Republicans have only managed to field
candidates in a little more than half the seats — 17. There is no
Republican challenger for Greg Meeks’ Congressional seat. Three State
Senate Seats go without GOP candidates. And shamefully, in the Assembly
– the smallest of districts where races are the easiest and least costly
to run – the Queens Republican Party has only found candidates for seven
of the 18 seats.
Now, the Dems own this
County. But they are either lazy or cut deals. There are only two
Republicans seats up while 29 of the 31 are owned by the Dems. So you
think the Dems would want to take the two missing links.
No! State Senators
Frank Padavan and Serf Maltese (who also happens to be Republican County
Chair) do not face Democratic challenges this year. Do we smell a rat?
Is Serf getting a free
ride in exchange for something?
Are the Dems just too
lazy to make Frank and Serf work for their seats?
Or is it all just one
big comfy cozy family of incumbents?
The chart below
presents the names of the candidates who filed petitions for each seat.
The Board of Elections has not yet ruled on the validity of these
petitions. There will be challenges.
If the Democratic
County Organization holds true to form, you can bet there will be extreme
scrutiny of any challenge to an incumbent office holder.
As you review the list
below, remember that the Dems win in Queens. It’s nice to have third
party candidates and they further our exercise in Democracy, but eliminate
the two incumbent Republican Senators and the Democrat will win all the
rest of the contests in November. So it is the Democratic Primary that
will really decide the other 29 seats.
And right now there are
only 10 seats with Democratic Primaries. And you can be pretty sure when
County (the Dem organization) and the Courts get done, there will be lots
The sad story about our
democracy is that the people aren’t getting a chance to decide.
With 31 open seats,
there will be fewer than 10 contests. In fact, we can absolutely name the
winner (the incumbent) in all but five of the 31 seats.
And we have a pretty good guess at those.
The only five worth
watching: the 13th Senate which has no incumbent and a three-way
Democratic Primary; the 16th Senate as incumbent Toby Stavisky is
challenged in the Democratic Primary by former Assemblywoman and
Councilwoman Julia Harrison; in the 22nd Assembly district, a five-way
Democratic Primary for a newly drawn (Asian) seat representing Downtown
Flushing; the 31st Assembly district, which pits newly elected
Assemblywoman Michele Titus against six Democratic challengers; and in the
newly drawn Latino 39th Assembly District there is a four-way Democratic
junkies, with 31 seats, there are only five games in town.
D = Democratic Party
R = Republican Party
C = Conservative Party
I = Independence Party
L = Liberal Party
W = Working Families Party
G = Green Party
RTL=Right To Life
* = incumbent
5th District (no primaries)
*Gary L. Ackerman - D,I,L,W
Perry S. Reich - R,C
6th District (no Repub)
*Gregory W. Meeks - D,L,W
Rey Clarke - D,I
*Joseph Crowley - D,W
Jon S. Branning - D
Dennis Coleman - D
Kevin Brawley - R,C
*Anthony D. Weiner
Alfred F. Donohue – R,C
12th District (no primaries)
*Nydia M. Velazquez – D,W
Cesar Estevez – R,C
*Carolyn B. Maloney – D,I,L,W
Jeff Brauer - D
Anton Srdanovic – R, C
10th District (no Repub)
*Ada L. Smith - D,I,L,W
Lawrence T. McClean - D
11th District (no Democratic challenger)
*Frank Padavan – R,I,C
12th District (no primaries)
*George Onorato - D
Marie Lynch - R
Ann Eagan - G
13th District (no incumbent)
John D. Sabini - D
Charles Castro - D,I,L,W
Nestor H. Diaz - D
Giash Ahmed - R
14th District (no nothing! - Repubs have endorsed the Dem)
*Malcolm A. Smith D,R,C,W
15th District (no Dem challenger)
*Serphin R. Maltese – R,I,C
Dorothy Williams-Pereira - G
Pamela A. Peters -W
16th District (no Repub)
*Toby Ann Stavisky - D,W
Marcia Lynn – D
Julia Harrison – D,I,L
Mark Ralin - C
22nd District (no incumbent)
Ethel T. Chen – D,L
Barry S. Grodenchik - D
John P. Albert – D,W
Jimmy Meng – D,C,I
Richard Jannaccio - D
Meilin Tan - R
Evergreen C. Chou - G
23rd District (no Repub, no
*Audrey I. Pheffer – D,L,W
Kenneth Huhn - I
24th District (no primaries)
*Mark Weprin – D,L,W
Stacey Kaplan-Vila – R,I,C
25th District (new District but
no Repub, no contest)
*Brian M. McLaughlin – D,L,W
26th District (no primaries)
*Ann Margaret E. Carrozza - D,W
John D. Ottulich – R,I,C
27th District (no Repub, no
*Nettie Mayersohn – D,L,W
28th District (no primaries)
*Michael Cohen – D,L,W
Todd C. Bank – R,C
29th District (no primaries)
*William Scarborough – D,L,W
Gerard Borriello - R
30th District (no Repub, no
Margaret M. Markey – D
31st District (new Assemblywoman
*Michele R. Titus – D.L,W
Charles A. Pringle Jr. - D
Bryan J. Block - D,C
Henrietta Fullard - D
Michael Duvalle - D,I
Taj Rajkumar - D
Marina Rejas - R
32nd District (no Repub)
Vivian E. Cook – D,L
Rachel A. Gordon – D,I
33rd District (no primaries)
Barbara M. Clark – D,L,W
Rolaine F. Antoine – R,I,C
34th District (no Repub, no race)
Ivan C. Lafayette – D,L,W
35th District (no Repub, no race)
Jeffrion L. Aubry – D,L,W
36th District (no Repub)
Michael N. Gianaris – D,W
Gerald F. Kann - G
37th District (no Repub)
Catherine T. Nolan – D,W
Patrick J. Langhenry - G
38th District (no Repub)
Anthony S. Seminerio – D,C
Darius Pereira – G
39th District (new seat)
Jose Peralta – D,L,W
Isabel Guzman – D
Willaim Salgado – D
Francisco Moya – D
Charles Gonzales – R,C,I,Rtl
by Dom Nunziato