Spitting on Common Sense

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At a time when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying to balance layoffs with fare increases to avoid service cuts, it is disturbing to learn that 51 MTA bus drivers took an average of two months off after passengers spat on them.

Every time you swipe your transit card, you are paying for these bums. To be fair, 32 drivers did not ask for time off after being spat upon. To get days off, drivers need a witness to the incident and a doctor who will say the driver was traumatized.

Part of the problem is that the Transit Workers Union contract allows drivers to take up to two years off with pay after an assault — provided, of course, they can come up with a doctor’s note. Not willing to admit to the absolute foolishness of this situation, Joseph Smith, president of the MTA Department of Buses, said, “You have to look at every case individually. If someone spits on your pants, it’s a lot different from being spat on in your face.”

Why should a driver get time off because a jerk spits in his or her face? The rest of the day, maybe, but not more than that.

We trust that when the MTA lays off hundreds of employees, John Samuelsen, president of Local 101 of the Transport Workers Union, will keep his high-paying job and all of its perks.

At Last, Justice

TimesLedger Newspapers has followed the campaign of Bayside community leader Mandingo Tshaka, who has fought for more than 10 years to honor the impoverished people buried beneath what became a Flushing playground.

The longtime civil rights activist understood Martins Field was symbolic of something deeply wrong in 19th-century America. The graves of the mostly African and native Americans were unmarked. In essence, they were treated as non-people and no one cared if their families would have a place to go to say a prayer or just remember their ancestors.

Last week, Martins Field was renamed “Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.” It is estimated that more than 1,000 people, most of them minorities, were buried in this field between 1840 and 1898.

We congratulate Tshaka and all who helped him fight this battle.

Updated 5:46 pm, October 10, 2011
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