Chief-Leader Editorial: MTA Leader’s Cheap Shot

(published in the May 21, 2010 edition)

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder last week established a baseline response to the question of how low would he stoop to win a public-relations battle with Transport Workers Union Local 100 as he lays off employees while pressing for work-rule changes.

He brought the Daily News’s attention to what he called “the shame of the system”: Bus Operators shooting pool during their time between runs.

Would the News offer us exposés concerning the fact that firefighters often watch TV and even—horrors— grab some sleep when they are not extinguishing blazes late at night? Or that Mariano Rivera whiles away the first eight innings of Yankee games relaxing in the bullpen eating sunflower seeds while on the clock at $15 million a year? Only if the Fire Commissioner or Yankees’ ownership became sufficiently surly and mendacious to make an issue out of something that goes with the territory of those jobs.

As several bus drivers noted to this newspaper’s Ari Paul, they are working shifts that provide big gaps in the middle of their day between runs because the MTA wants the same drivers available for the peak ridership periods in both the morning and the evening. So why begrudge them the leisure pursuit during the dead spots in their shifts?

Chasing cheap and misleading headlines is a cheesy way to do business.