**PRESS RELEASE**: Bus Riders’ Pleas Fall on Deaf Ears

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 10th, 2016

CONTACT:

Aaron Watkins-Lopez
Organizer, Long Island Bus Riders’ Union
awlopez.lijwj@gmail.com
516-724-6145

Bus Riders’ Pleas Fall on Deaf Ears

Suffolk County, NY— On Monday October 10th, Suffolk County cut 10 bus routes: the S71, 7D/E, 10A, 10D/E, S90, S35, 5A and 1A in an attempt to save $4 million, annually, and fill the $129.4 million county deficit. These cuts come after a month-long push from bus riders, bus drivers, Legislators, advocates and community members to postpone any cuts until 2017, citing a proposal from Suffolk County to get a system-wide onboard analysis done of all Suffolk County Transit routes.

In addition to calling on a Moratorium on the bus cuts, advocates brought several alternatives to the County’s attention, yet none were heeded. Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, whose Smart Growth organization found monies that could have been used to stop the cuts had this to say:

“While the Suffolk County budget has structural deficits, there are offsets in the current County budget that could be have been made at the meeting last Wednesday, October 5th, to stave off these cuts. Unfortunately the legislature couldn’t reopen the budget at that meeting; only the County Executive could have. Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider was present at the meeting, and did petition the Legislature to act on a completely unrelated item. Several Legislators did say to the Deputy County Executive they felt that there were more important budgetary matters to address that day, including the bus cuts, however bus cuts were not brought up by the Executive’s office at the meeting.”

After weeks of public hearings, testimonies, press conferences, petitions and phone calls, many bus riders’ felt ignored and discarded by the current administration. Aaron Watkins-Lopez, Organizer of the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union and Stony Brook resident, felt confused by the cuts and the obvious disconnect between Executive Bellone’s “Connect LI” platform:

“The only thing that is more disconnected than Bellone’s ‘Connect LI’ plan, is his understanding of the wants and needs of his constituents. Over 300 people testified publicly, called and emailed his office with the clear message that they needed these buses running but, instead of listening to their pleas, the County Executive decided that the county’s deficit should be shouldered by those who are barely able to survive in Suffolk,” Watkins-Lopez lamented, “It’s disgusting.”

Jon Siebert, a resident of Mastic Shirley and a 7D/E user voice his opposition to these cuts as well:

“If the County Executive had the power to postpone these cuts until a proper analysis is complete to better understand the impacts of cuts, what improvements can be made in order to have an efficient transit system, and to better serve riders, then he should have. There is a survey ready to go soon to analyze the bus system and see what should be changed, however it comes after cutting 10 routes! That makes no sense…”

On bus rider, Paul Pressman, felt that there is a lack of commitment and empathy from Suffolk politicians to public transportation and bus riders:

“One important point is that not one political officer of the county ever took a bus, so why would they worry how it works or runs? Because it’s their job to serve the citizens who rely on the service of public transportation. The same people who voted those politicians into office and whose hard earned money pays for these county services.”

Advocates also warned that an incomplete analysis of the overall impact those cuts would have on Suffolk Communities will come back in various negative ways: approximately 30 bus drivers were slated to lose their jobs along with the bus cuts; 8 different communities, all with plans of transit-oriented revitalization, will lose vital buses; many local downtowns will lose the commerce and workforce that the buses bring in. Long Island Jobs with Justice’s Director Anita Halasz commented on these unforeseen effects:

“Efficient transportation reduces public costs that local governments often have to finance, while inefficient transportation increases these costs, and adds to local deficits. Not investing in our County’s bus system not only segregates the most underrepresented communities, but it is also fiscally irresponsible.”

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Long Island Bus Riders’ Union is an organization of Nassau County bus riders and public transit advocates that supports affordable, equitable, and accessible mass transportation. The Bus Riders’ Union originated with the Coalition to Save Long Island Bus and is a project of Long Island Jobs with Justice.

SAVE THE DATE: Human Rights Day Prayer Brunch

Each year in December, Long Island Jobs with Justice commemorates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by honoring one champion of human rights right here on Long Island. This year, we are proud to honor Rural and Migrant Ministry, an organization that has been standing with the rural and migrant communities of New York State, including farmworkers on Long Island.

Please save the date and join us on Friday, December 9th, from 10am-12pm, as we celebrate and honor the remarkable humanitarian work of Rural and Migrant Ministry. Location will be announced shortly.

Visit this link to pledge your participation and stay connected to upcoming announcements:http://bit.ly/2czNvcl

Hope you can come!

labor-faith-prayer-brunch-std-2016Download PDF flyer here.

Rally For Good Jobs at Best Yet Market

This past Labor Day, we celebrated the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our Long Island communities. However, because profitable companies have redefined what work looks like, many Long Islanders remain bound to unstable, unpredictable, and underpaid jobs.

Best Yet Market is one of those companies!

You might be familiar with this neighborhood supermarket , but did you know that despite priding themselves on being a team-oriented, family driven company their employees lack job security, a living wage, and affordable healthcare?

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 11.57.09 AM.pngCLICK IMAGE TO PLAY VIDEO

This Friday, September 9th, we will rally for good jobs that truly support Long Island families, and we will call on Best Market to do better by their workers!

Will you join us?

We will gather at the Huntington Station Best Market (711 E. Jericho Turnpike) store at 10am.

See you there!

 

Martins’ Voting Record Contradicts His Immigrant Values

The Long Island DREAM Coalition:

As Election Day gets closer and closer, many immigrants and our allies are crossing our fingers. The stakes are certainly high this year, and Jack Martins-, current senator for the 7th senatorial district and candidate for the 3rd congressional district on Long Island-  is well aware of how important this election is to the immigrant community. In Alexandre Soares’ piece “For Republican Jack Martins, an Immigrant Story Worth Telling”  Martin’s aligns himself with the immigrant community- as the son of immigrants, someone with strong ties to the Portuguese community in Mineola, and as someone who shares immigrant values. Martin’s states, “ I think personal initiative has always been part of the American dream, and of the immigrant’s’ journey as well. That you allow anyone who comes from anywhere to set his priorities on education, hard work, and to succeed – it’s an issue fundamental to the Republican Party.”

However, his voting record shows opposition to educational initiatives for the immigrant community.  Senator Martin’s district includes Westbury High School, Mineola High School, and Port Washington High school, all schools with a large populations of immigrant students. Despite his responsibility to represent the best interest for these students, Senator Martins voted against the NY DREAM Act in 2014 when it was brought to the floor. If passed, this legislation would have allowed all students, regardless of immigration status, who have graduated from a New York high school to be eligible for financial aid for higher education. It failed by two votes.

In 2015, after  Governor Cuomo added the NY DREAM Act to the state budget, Senator Martin’s  further voiced his opposition to the New York DREAM Act,  stating” how can we justify providing additional college benefits to illegal, non taxpaying persons when a full 70% of legal New York college students do not qualify for it themselves?”

This statement is not only factually inaccurate, immigrants do pay taxes and the New York DREAM Act does not take away financial aid from citizens, but it serves to reinforce the current anti-immigrant climate by perpetuating the myth that immigrants are stealing opportunities from US citizens. Martin’s has also contributed to this anti-immigrant climate by co-sponsoring Senate Bill S6032b, a legislation that would take away funding from local police departments that have a non-cooperation policy with Immigration Enforcement.

On Long Island, the immigrant community has been fighting an uphill battle- limited  amount of non profit legal service providers, limited funding for programs for refugee central american children, ICE presence separating our families, and resistance form our Long Island senators to support the NY DREAM Act.  We wish we could have an ally to immigrants, someone who shares our values, representing us.  Senator Martins has not only been unavailable to meet with us for the past two years, but has actively opposed initiatives that would make education more accessible to the immigrant community.

The 3rd congressional district has a large and growing immigrant community in Eastern Queens, Hicksville, Huntington and Glen Cove. Their support will be crucial in the congressional elections. As such, it is important for candidates not only to bond with their constituents over shared values, but also to honor those values in Albany.

aashole