Tuesday, March 09, 2004


If Charles Schumer never met a camera he didn't like, why is he silent about 11 deaths on the Staten Island Ferry?

On October 15, 2003 many New Yorkers were making a routine commute on the Staten Island Ferry. However, the dereliction of duties by the ferry crew led to a terrible accident that claimed the lives of 11 people. Many others were injured, suffering unspeakable pain including the amputation of limbs.

The New York Senator, Charles Schumer, has gone to great lengths to attract a name for himself, and his career, with the media. The most notable of his camera hogging efforts are his notorious Sunday press conferences about the most mundane and insignificant topics in order to make headlines in the Monday newspapers. However, Senator Schumer has not publicly spoken about the Staten Island Ferry Disaster in which 11 of his constituents died. Senator Schumer's uncharacteristic silence concerning New York City's biggest tragedy since 9/11 begs the question, "Why?"

Jim Callaghan of The New York Observer wisely points out that Senator Schumer's wife, Irish Weinshall, is Mayor Bloomberg's Transportation Commissioner. It has been Weinshall's duty to make sure that the Staten Island Ferries are operating properly. However, it's been discovered that Weinshall presided over a culture of incompetence, lax supervision and sheer laziness that led to a mass confusion during the subsequent investigation about where the members of the Ferry's crew were when the ship crashed into the side of a dock.

The Observer also points out:
1. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact whereabouts of the doomed boat's captain, Michael Gansas, at the time of the accident. A crucial piece of evidence; the captain's log, which Mr. Gansas had to sign at the beginning of his tour;was turned over by city Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall to the National Safety Transportation Board.

2. Ms. Weinshall has yet to announce the results of any investigation into a far more serious subject: the complicity of New York shipping companies in providing fake "sea papers" for ferry workers.

3. Anyone who thinks the ferry has changed since Oct. 15 should stop by the Manhattan ferry terminal, where they will find every fire exit locked;a violation that would close down any nightclub in town. Such a violation puts the lives of thousands of commuters at risk and is a contradiction of the Mayor's crusade to reduce legal claims against the city.

4. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the king of the weekend press conference on topics ranging from cell-phone portability to gift-card fees, has yet to say a word about the ferry crash, even though a federal agency, the Coast Guard, has some regulatory powers over the ferry. The Senator, of course, is married to Mr. Bloomberg's transportation commissioner. Could that have something to do with the long delay?


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