Tag Archives: school bus strike

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast. High of 43. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Thursday Night: Overcast with a chance of snow and a chance of rain. Low of 27 with a windchill as low as 19. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: After the Fall

Veteran production company Variations Theatre Group has found a new home at the former US Chain Factory site in Long Island City, which once housed a photo development facility and a plant for industrial syringes. Variations launches with After the Fall, one of Arthur Miller’s most autobiographical works, intimately exploring his failed marriage to Marilyn Monroe and her subsequent suicide. January 17 to February 2, 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Astoria lawmaker to propose bill to make it harder for bikini bars and strip clubs to get liquor licenses

A seedy Astoria bikini bar called Queen of Hearts has failed to capture the hearts of local leaders fed up with the number of adult establishments seeking to open in the area. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City school bus driver strike enters 2nd day

A standoff between striking school bus drivers and aides looking for job protections and a city administration that says they just can’t have it has the potential to go on for some time, observers said, as parents scrambled for a second day to figure out alternatives for tens of thousands of students who need to get to school. Read more: ABC New York

Deadline imminent for city teacher evaluation system

Today is the deadline for the city to figure out how to rate its school teachers, but as of last night there is still no deal in place between the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: NY1

Rockway parish that helped victims of Sandy now needs help itself

When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Rockaways, St. Francis de Sales in Belle Harbor served as a haven for its flood and fire-ravaged community. Read more: New York Daily News

Feds round up 30 in massive metro-area mob sweep

Thirty-two people were charged today in connection with a long-running federal investigation into continued Mafia control of the private garbage-hauling industry. Read more: New York Post

NRA chief says group accepts background checks

The head of the National Rifle Association says the organization has no problem with tighter background checks of gun purchasers. Read more: AP

Study: 20K ER visits linked to energy drinks in 2011

A new government study is calling popular energy drinks “a rising public health problem” that is sending more and more people to the emergency rooms. Read more: ABC News

 

 

Bus strike leaves parents, students scrambling


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

Dodging icy sleet, first-grader Tarunima Bhowmik and her father Gola grabbed a cab from their home in Sunnyside on their way to Tarunima’s school, P.S. 166  Golain Astoria. Fare cost about $10, a necessary evil with New York City school buses out of commission.

“It’s a very hard time for the kids,” Gola said of the school bus strike as he dropped off his daughter. “The bus drivers and the city authorities should come to an agreement as soon as possible.”

Riding the bus is first-grader Aviva Kaufman’s favorite part of the day. Every morning, the six-year-old hops on the big yellow rig in her Bay Terrace neighborhood and rides to P.S. 130 in Flushing with her classmates. Her mother Kari covets the spare time she gains in the morning when Aviva takes the bus, running errands and catching up on housework before heading to her job at a nearby preschool.

When Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union announced that school bus drivers would begin striking on Wednesday, January 16, parents panicked over wrecked routines and tricky transportation alternatives. Nearly 152,000 students, who rely on city-contracted buses to get to class on time, are now stranded.

“I’ll have to drive her and pick her up every day,” said Kari. “Instead of having time in the morning, I have to go straight to work. [The strike] really impacts the number of things I can do during the day, in order to do them safely.”

Local 1181’s motive for striking rests in job security after the city announced attempts to find new contractors for more than 1,000 bus routes. Drivers want the city to ensure job stability, a request city officials have deemed “illegal,” adding that any kind of discrepancies are between the employees and the bus companies.

“This is not about safety,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s about job protection that the city cannot offer.”

According to Bloomberg, the city spends $1.1 billion annually on student transit, equaling $6,900 per child, which the mayor said is far greater than any other American city, including Los Angeles which he cited at $3,100 per student. Bloomberg claimed that over the last five years, altering bus routes and opening contracts to other bidders has saved the city $95 million in taxpayer dollars, allotting more money for teachers’ salaries and schoolhouse improvement projects.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the lockout “a strike against our students,” that will have “a devastating effect” on them.

Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181, stood by his group’s decision to begin striking on Wednesday, stating that their justification lies in their increased responsibility to “handle and transport the most precious cargo in New York City.”

“I heard it was said today that if we strike, we are striking the children of the city of New York,” said Cordiello. “In fact, we would be striking for the city of New York’s children.

According to Cordiello, starting pay for bus drivers is $14 per hour, amounting to $38,000 annually, and pension plans for operators are private and don’t impact taxpayers. Cordiello also stated that contrary to what city officials have claimed, the drivers’ objective of job security does not break any laws.

To ease transit tension, students in grades kindergarten through six will be issued MetroCards with students in kindergarten through second grade eligible for an extra MetroCard for parents who wish to accompany their children to school. Parents driving their children to school can receive gas reimbursements at 55 cents per mile.

Gola said he hopes his daughter’s school will reimburse him for their morning cab ride, but hasn’t heard anything yet.

Kari fears the bus strike could jeopardize student’s safety, adding that drivers undergo diligent training as well as a thorough screening process before they are put behind the wheel. Substitute drivers may not be as equipped to care for students, she said.

“I don’t want my child riding on a bus with someone who hasn’t been trained and tested,” said Kari. “The safety of my child is not clear then.”

Though the strike affects 152,000 students, some school buses were still running Wednesday.


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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Overcast with ice pellets and snow, then a chance of snow and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 41. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 90% . Wednesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Quintet of the Americas’ Crystal Winter Concert 

Crystal Winter, a concert performed by Quintet of the Americas at the  Catholic Charities Bayside Senior Center, features projected images of crystals, snowflakes, winter scenes and Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Songs will include Adam Schoenberg’s Winter Music, Sammy Cahn’s Let it Snow, Quintet of the Americas’ improvisation Starry Night, Silver Bells and more. Audience members will also have the opportunity join the Quintet playing bells, water glasses keys. Concert starts at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

House approves $50.7 B in Sandy aid

Sandy victims are one step closer to receiving the relief money they need. After $9.7 billion in flood insurance funds were signed into law earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an additional $50.7 billion in aid. Read more: Queens Courier

NY passes toughest gun laws in country

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns. Read more: Queens Courier

Elderly Queens man beaten on J train

An elderly Queens man says he was beaten while riding the subway in Brooklyn last month and police are now looking for the suspect, who was captured on newly-released surveillance video. Read more: NBC New York

Parents scramble on eve Of NYC’s first school bus strike in 33 years

New York City school bus drivers were just hours from walking off the job Tuesday night, and thousands of parents were scrambling to find alternate transportation. Read more: CBS New York

Base of spire installed on roof of 1 WTC

Workers at the rising 1 World Trade Center on Tuesday installed the first piece of the spire that will make the 104-floor skyscraper the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. Read more: ABC New York

One man dies, one hurt minutes apart at New York subway station

One New York man was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents just minutes apart at a Manhattan station during Tuesday’s rush-hour, authorities said. Read more: Reuters 

Quinn presents vision for improving New York City schools

Christine C. Quinn, the New York City Council speaker and a presumptive candidate for mayor, laid out in a speech on Tuesday a series of proposals for improving the city’s schools, which included replacing textbooks with computer tablets, creating online resources for parents and extending the school day for many students. Read more: New York Times

Obama to unveil gun violence measures Wednesday

President Barack Obama’s broad effort to reduce gun violence will include proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control. Read more: AP

Find out which school bus routes will be affected by the strike


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot from NYC DOE website

In anticipation of a bus strike that is set to begin Wednesday, January 16 , the New York City Department of Education has set up an online tool on its website that will tell students if they’re bus routes will be impacted by the strike.

Information is refreshed daily beginning at 7:00 a.m. and throughout the day as needed.

Click here to use the search tool.

 

NYC school bus drivers won’t strike Monday, but walkout still possible


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After threatening to strike, New York City school bus drivers were back to work Monday, but they could still walk off the job within the next few days.

A strike would affect 152,000 students, including 54,000 with disabilities, and those in public, private and parochial schools.

“The union is asking for something we cannot legally deliver and are putting a central and necessary service at risk,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “A strike would be irresponsible and would adversely impact our students and their families who rely on bus service to get to and from school.”

In an effort to cut costs,  the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years.

New York City spends $1.1 billion, or $6,900 per student, on busing each year. That figure is more than any other school district in the country and almost double what the country’s second largest school district, Los Angeles, spends.

Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 9,000 drivers, is objecting to the lack of  job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

“I’ve been working 35 years driving kids to school in the Bronx, and now you’re going to tell me, ‘You don’t have a job no more’?” 67-year-old union member Rick Meli told the Wall Street Journal. “How do you tell this many people they could lose their jobs?”

If a strike does happen, the city will robocall affected families.

Additionally, students and parents with children in pre-school to 2nd grade or with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and require transportation from their home directly to their school will receive free MetroCards. Parents who receive yellow bus service from their homes or are in grades K through 6 and do not live in areas where public transportation between home and school is available, can request reimbursement for transportation costs.

“As the city continues to take all possible precautions in advance of a potential strike, we are asking parents to make a plan in the event that busing is disrupted,” said Walcott.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Monday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 34. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Japanese Classical Dance for Kids at Resobox

This workshop for kids ages 8-11 at Resobox in Long Island City teaches the 400-year-old nichibu dance popularized in kabuki. Performer and writer Helen Moss leads the class in the elegant Soke Fujima style. All experience levels are welcome, and all materials, including fans and kimonos, are provided. Starts at 5:30 p.m. Classes for ages 12 and above follow at 6:30pm. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYC school bus drivers will not strike Monday: union

New York City school bus drivers will not strike on Monday, a union spokesperson told NBC New York Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean a work stoppage still isn’t possible in the days ahead. Read more: NBC New York

Marketing campaign targets Sandy victims with threats of hefty fines

A firm that cleans up oils spills is preying on Sandy-battered homeowners by circulating an official looking letter threatening hefty fines, angry residents said. Read more: New York Daily News

Teachers irate as Bloomberg likens union to the N.R.A.

Of all the polarizing things Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said and done over the years, from banning large sugary drinks to supporting congestion pricing, few have generated the sort of viral backlash that has unexpectedly mounted after his weekly radio show on Friday. Read more: New York Times

Obama signs bill for federal flood insurance for Sandy victims

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that releases $9.7 billion for a flood insurance program for Hurricane Sandy victims. Read more: NY1

Storm panel recommends major changes in New York

A new commission formed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charged with figuring out how New York should adapt in the long term to cope with worsening storms amid climate change and population growth, has recommended an extensive menu of programs: it includes turning some of the state’s industrial shoreline back into oyster beds, hardening the electric and natural gas systems, and improving the scope and availability of insurance coverage, according to a draft version obtained by The New York Times. Read more: New York Times

Business interest group takes on New York’s run-down airports

Business leaders embarrassed by the sorry state of the city’s airports have formed a new advocacy group to press for improvements. Read more: New York Daily News

Obama taps Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA

President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team. Read more: AP