September 22, 2011
By Marc Bussanich
As TWU 100 members, transportation advocates and elected officials were gathering on the steps of city hall yesterday September 20th, Mayor Bloomberg was seen walking quickly across the plaza in the opposite direction.
Some in the crowd said, “I guess he doesn’t want to talk with us” But the eclectic group of TWU 100 members and their allies were eager to talk to the media to express their concerns about the need for the federal government to make sure it doesn’t withhold funds for infrastructure investments in New York.
The event was part of the nationwide “Don’t X Out Public Transportation” day of action to protest the House Republicans’, who claim they’re for job growth, initial proposal to cut public transportation funding throughout the country by 35 percent. Many comments were made during the event, but perhaps the oft-repeated was, “This is no time to be proposing cutbacks,” and a directive to Governor Cuomo to sign the Transit LockBox Bill, a piece of legislation that passed in both the Senate and State Assembly, which mandates that the state can no longer take monies from the transit budget to plug up budget shortfalls.
John Samuelsen, President of TWU Local 100, was the first to speak among a diverse group of elected officials, including Council Member Letitia James, Council Member Robert Jackson and Assembly member Robert Gottfried, and transit advocates from Transportation Alternatives, Strap-hangers Campaign and Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The recently defeated 9th District candidate David Weprin appeared, and spoke self-deprecatingly, “Although I won’t be able to fight for transit funding in Washington, I’ll do all I can to fight for it in New York.”
“A vibrant transit system will help support a vibrant economy. The only way we can prevent the raiding of $260 million from Albany [the past two years] again is for Cuomo to sign the LockBox Bill,” Samuelsen told the crowd.
Cuomo has yet to sign the bill, which the State Assembly passed almost three months ago already. Many are suspecting Cuomo doesn’t want to sign it because he intends to use transit funds as a backstop again.
Council Member Jackson abides Samuelsen’s comment by holding up a piece of paper, and pen he claimed was Bloomberg’s, and called on Cuomo to sign the legislation. He added, “All governments should fund mass transit.” Meanwhile, Council Member James, who arrived from an early protest rally at M.S. 571 in Brooklyn to speak in support of Local 372 school aids being threatened with layoffs said, “We urge Cuomo to sign the bill because infrastructure jobs are good paying jobs.”