While the corner of the Internet devoted to New York news was all abuzz earlier this week over the spit attack time off numbers that showed some drivers taking six months’ paid leave time following assaults by saliva, Jim Dwyer took a closer look. The Times columnist did some sleuthing and determined that the numbers reported earlier this week were erroneous. Rather, union officials told him — and MTA officials supported the claim — that “of 69 spitting cases in 2009, 34 drivers came back to work for their next shift, and nine took less than ten days off.” The rest, he said, were held back by the recommendation of two doctors.
According to Dwyer, the discrepancies “hardly matter,” and even though Gene Russianoff aptly termed the MTA mess “government by anecdote,” Dwyer raises a few good points in his column. He faults the state for not allowing the MTA to escape crushing pension debt and faults the MTA for taking on too much bond-based debt while recently hiring the financial guru who got them into this mess as the new CFO. It is a giant mess.
Still, Dwyer ends his piece on an optimistic note. Although MTA CEO and Chair Jay Walder and TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen have battled it out in the press recently, the two sides are slowly learning that private conversations are a better route to fiscal reform than a P.R. war. “Jay has had conversations with Mr. Samuelsen,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said to Dwyer. “They’re both on the same page, that the best chance of getting things done is talking quietly and less talking in the press.” Sounds reasonable to me.