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Wage Increases - Retroactive Pay - New Contract Stuff



Thank you for your very generous support to our Annual Toy Drive.  There was a terrific turnout of toys and gifts for the children of The New York Foundling Hospital today. Santa (and his alter ego Ret. Lt. Bob Gibson) outdid himself very ably assisted by BTOs, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Local 1931 members, TBTA Managerial Supervisors, TBTA White Collar Staff, (Nancie Barrios,) Retirees, Hospital Staff and Mrs. Harry Hyland, plus  Harry's Sisters.

It was a joyous day for all! Your support is truly and deeply appreciated.
Thank you!


Bridge & Tunnel Officer Lori Ann Di Palo of the VNB thanks everyone who helped. Christopher is now better and no longer needs transfusions.




A Towering Goodbye -


by - Jennifer Fermino - NY Post, October 11, 2011

Outgoing MTA Chairman Jay Walder is enjoying every last perk of the job while he can -- even if it’s at the expense of his own customers.

The departing transit boss and an entourage enjoyed a taxpayer-funded tour of the Verrazano Bridge’s 693-foot-tall tower on Sunday, snarling traffic, pulling cops off their normal duties and using maintenance workers as tour guides, The Post has learned.

Walder -- in one of his last acts as MTA chairman before he starts a gig in Hong Kong -- showed up to the Verrazano just before 9 a.m. with a fancy camera around his neck and a party of four in tow, sources said.

JAY WALDER - Gets 3G Verrazano tour.
Gets 3G Verrazano tour.

In attendance were his wife, Susan, his son and another couple.

They got a tour that most New Yorkers could only dream of -- but all paid for.

Three MTA maintenance workers, including a supervisor, were called in on their day off to act as guides for the 2 1/2-hour tour, an MTA Bridges and Tunnels source told The Post.

The workers were needed because getting to the top of the tower involves climbing ladders and navigating stairs and various elevators, the source said.

In all, the estimated extra cost to taxpayers is around $3,000, the source said.

Also, two Bridge and Tunnel cops escorted the group into and out of the tower -- even though budget cuts have led to key security posts being left unmanned on the Verrazano and other MTA crossings.

The cops had to block off about 100 to 200 feet of roadway so Walder’s group could enter the tower, according to the source.

The brief shutdowns caused traffic jams on the bridge, the source said.

But an MTA spokesman strongly disputed that any workers were called in on their day off, and insisted that traffic flowed freely.

“Great care was taken to ensure this visit was made without impact to traffic operations or cost,” said spokesman Charles Seaton.

“The visit occurred early on Sunday morning when traffic was light. There were no lane closures, and no one was called in for this purpose or required to work an extended shift.”

The workers tapped to lead the group were already working, he insisted.

One was pulled from inventory duty, and the other was finished with his work and would have otherwise been doing nothing, Seaton said, adding that the cops were off their duties for only a few minutes.

Throgs Neck hit and run

Last Updated: 7:56 AM, July 30, 2011 - The NY Post

Posted: 2:23 AM, July 30, 2011

A Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority cop was injured after being struck by a hit-and-run vehicle last night on the Throgs Neck Bridge, officials said.

A blue Nissan Altima with New York plates struck the officer in a Queens-bound E-ZPass lane about 8:50 p.m., a TBTA spokesperson said.

After a chase, the car fled onto the Cross Island Parkway in Queens before exiting at Francis Lewis Boulevard and making a getaway.

The injured worker was taken to Jacobi Hospital with rib and arm injuries, the spokesperson said.



Officer Mike Carbone is doing okay thank goodness and was treated and released late Friday night.

EZ Pass Arbitration Ends

Following two additional hearing dates in August, the arbitration ended. Legal briefs are due in early October. Look for an answer in late October/early November perhaps.

The arbitration on the TBTA ordering BTOs to sell EZ Pass tags began on Friday, July 30, 2011.

Thus far, BTOBA Board Members Greg Lombardi, Kevin Heltzer and Wayne Joseph have testified in the case. Another day of hearings is scheduled for next week on Wednesday, August 3, 2011.


The BTOBA was back in court today as the Judge ordered a continuance of the Temporary Restraining Order that bars TBTA from forcing Officers to sell EZ Pass On The Go Tags pending the outcome of an arbitration on the matter.

The Judge declined to include TBTA's newest illegal use of Temps in this matter in his Order. That matter will be included in the arbitration.

Both sides will select an arbitrator shortly and are due back in Court on July 13, 2011  for an update. 





Our Fellow Bridge & Tunnel Officers:

The unrelenting assaults by TBTA Management on the dignity of Labor, and upon all Bridge & Tunnel Officers and their Families and our Collective Bargaining Agreement has hit a new high in lows - “Provisional” Sergeants. TBTA is attempting to recruit active Bridge & Tunnel Officers, all of them BTOBA Union members to join TBTA in violating our Contract and taking a stab at the Superior Officers Benevolent Association, (SOBA) as a bonus.

We met with Management on Friday, May 13, 2011 in a vain attempt to get some information about TBTA's ill-advised plot to use our Members as “Provisional” Sergeants. They provided us with no useful answers whatsoever other than they think they can do it and that the Union should “do what you have to do.”

We strongly advise any Bridge & Tunnel Officer considering joining the TBTA plot to consider their position as a Union member and a brother or sister of all other Bridge & Tunnel Officers before they fall for TBTA's promises.

We acknowledged the use of additional Acting Sergeants, and tried to negotiate this issue with TBTA pursuant to (over 30 years of) our existing Contract Clauses and they turned that down. Despite the financial hardships of the MTA and the fact that using Acting Sergeants is cheaper than using “Provisionals,” they prefer to spend MORE money to make them work outside of our Contract. They want to do something not called for in the Contract and make “Provisional” Sergeants that they can do what they please with.

TBTA claims in one breath that they “we're working towards a test;” and then in the next breath explain that they need DCAS to “look at the procedures to certify a test.” Right now, there is no test, no people to even write the test questions, nor any overall examiner to make sure any proposed test is given pursuant to Civil Service Law.

There is also according to TBTA, “No estimate on when it will be ready.”

When we asked TBTA how many people they would need, they answered “At this time, unspecified.” When asked for how long they would need these “Provisionals” the Management answer was “for as long as we need them.”

We believe that anyone volunteering for this position which wholly violates our Contract will have none of the protections afforded by the BTOBA Contract. You will in effect, serve in a no man's land at the will of the Authority. TBTA will no longer pay your Dues or your Welfare Benefits to the BTOBA. You will no longer be a Member in Good Standing of the Union and you will lose all of your BTOBA representation, Health Benefits and BTOBA Family Protection Plan benefits as well.

Your Union's position is that it is very possible that when TBTA has used you up (and they surely will) you will have no Facility to return to, and your seniority will be compromised.

Any Member that accepts this position should also consider the undue burden this will place on your brother and sister Officers and their Families. You will be assisting in the further violation of our Contract; as TBTA will attempt a new use of temps to cover the assignment you vacate.

We urge all our Officers to stand together in support of our Contract, our Union and for the good of each and every Bridge & Tunnel Officer we work side by side, day after day with and tell TBTA that we are not interested in betraying our fellow Officers!


The BTOBA Executive Board

Baby makes debut at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 8:53 AM     Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 8:57 AM
Shar baby.jpgDr. Ezra Dori, hot on Brooklyn couple's heels, delivered baby in the E-ZPass lane shortly after 3 a.m.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It was a case of E-Z does it for a Brooklyn woman, who delivered a 7-pound, 2-ounce baby girl in the wee hours of yesterday morning at the fog-bound Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza.

Mom and dad got by with a little help from their friends.

The episode began around 3:10 a.m. yesterday, when the couple, riding in a livery cab, pulled into an E-ZPass lane on the Verrazano toll plaza. Sgt. Danielle Katshl saw the car stop and went to see if there was a problem. When Katshl looked inside, she could see the baby’s head crowning.

Dr. Ezra Dori, the couple’s doctor, arrived almost right behind the cab. Dr. Dori, who is on staff at Staten Island University Hospital and has been delivering babies for 17 years, had been in contact with the couple and knew they weren’t going to make it to the hospital. Dr. Dori advised them to stop at the toll plaza where it was well lit.

"I encouraged her to go [to the hospital]" Dr. Dori told the Advance. "Because it was the fourth baby and the contractions were every five minutes, it made more sense to head to the hospital than have the baby at home."

An ambulance was called and Sgt. Katshl and Officers Michael Aurila and Deborah Rittenhouse closed two other westbound toll lanes. While these officers secured and made sure the scene was safe, Bridge and Tunnel Officers Lisa Sanchez and Michael Chyorny stayed with the doctor, who asked for shoelaces and something to cut the baby’s umbilical cord.

toll-plaza.jpgThe Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza became an impromptu maternity ward yesterday.

Officer Sanchez gladly donated both of her shoelaces and Officer Chyorny provided a small pocketknife to cut the cord.

"To be able to help bring a new life into the world is a wonderful experience," said Officer Chyorny, who has been with Bridges and Tunnels for seven years and is a former paramedic with 25 years experience.

It took only eight minutes for the newborn baby girl to make her appearance. At the doctor’s request, Sgt. Mark Herbert drove the infant to Staten Island University Hospital while Officers Sanchez and Chyorny held the little bundle in the back seat. "The baby was happy, healthy and crying loudly," said Herbert, who is also a seven-year veteran. "It was an exciting overnight shift," he added.

The couple asked that their identities remain private. It was their fourth child. They also have two boys and another girl at home.

"It was really an exhiliarating experience," Dr. Dori said. "It was nice to bring a healthy baby into the world, even though it wasn’t in circumstances you were the most used to."

He commended the MTA officers, noting they did "an amazing job," under the circumstances.

Said Dr. Dori: "It was also a great team effort by a lot of people I didn’t know. These people kept calm and were very respectful and I was very impressed with them."


Off-duty cop shot foiling robbery attempt at Brooklyn car repair shop, hero shoots two robbers

Originally Published:Sunday, April 17th 2011, 4:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 16th 2011, 9:55 PM

Investigators canvass the Bedford-Stuyvesant shop where Saturday's wild shootout took place.
Goldfield for News
Investigators canvass the Bedford-Stuyvesant shop where Saturday's wild shootout took place.

A heroic off-duty cop was shot after he foiled the robbery of a Brooklyn car repair shop Saturday night when he got into a wild shootout with the bandits, cops said.

Anthony Pressly, a Bridge and Tunnel cop, was waiting for his car to be fixed inside ARJ Auto Repair on Albany Ave. when four thugs suddenly burst in the garage and announced a robbery, sources said.

Pressly, who was armed, grabbed his handgun to stop the pack of thieves - sparking a gun battle that sent bullets flying inside the Bedford-Stuyvesant shop, sources said.

"I heard about five, six shots," said Kareem William, 25, who works next door at A-Plus Car, Stereo and Alarm about the 8:30 p.m. gunplay.

"When I opened the door, I seen three guys running from his shop and I seen one on the floor. He was not moving at all."

Pressly, a 10-year veteran who's assigned to the Battery Tunnel, was hit in the shoulder, sources said.

Two of the robbers were also hit. One was nabbed inside the shop and another managed to limp away from the scene and stumbled into Interfaith Medical Center across the street, sources said.

"When the guy on the ground was picked up, there was a lot of blood," said Ennis Johnson, who works as a security guard on the block.

The other two crooks jumped into a gray Ford Windstar minivan and fled, sources said. Cops were still searching for the vehicle last night.

Emergency workers took Pressly by ambulance to Kings County Hospital. He was in surgery last night and expected to make a full recovery.

"He's definitely going to be okay," a source said. "He's lucky - he was up against a lot of guys with weapons."
The wounded man at Interfaith was revived twice and in critical condition, sources said.

The other injured man was taken to Kings County Hospital in critical condition, but expected to survive.

The ages and identities of the two men were unknown.

William said he believes the robbers had targeted his store but got spooked and walked out.

"They were going to do it to us first," the electrical technician said.

"Two guys came into our store and started asking questions," he said. "We already thought something was up."

He said the men left when they saw too many customers inside the store.

Moments later, the gunfire erupted next door.

"It could have been me or any one of my co-workers," William said. "It's a scary situation."

Police continued to search the scene for evidence hours later as detectives questioned witnesses inside the 79th Precinct stationhouse.

"It's crazy," said Abdo Aldhafari, who owns a deli on the corner. "I'm very sad because this happened in the neighborhood."





Last Updated: 1:03 AM, April 17, 2011 - NY POST

An off-duty Triboro-Bridge and Tunnel officer was shot and wounded in a wild gunfight at a Brooklyn car stereo shop with a group of four armed thugs who tried to rob the place, police sources said.

The officer – who was hit in the shoulder – blasted two of the thugs in the 8:30 p.m. gun battle at the business at 74 Albany Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant. Though initial reports said one robber was dead, a police spokesman later said the officer left one in very serious condition and one in stable condition.

The other two robbers are at large.

The unidentified officer was in stable condition at Kings County hospital, officials said.

April 16, 2011, 11:56 pm

Off-Duty Officer Injured in Brooklyn Shooting

An off-duty Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority officer was shot and injured as he tried to break up an armed robbery at an auto body shop in Brooklyn on Saturday night, the police said.

The shooting occurred at 74 Albany Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant after four armed men entered the shop about 8:30 p.m. and pulled out guns. A shootout between the off-duty officer and the armed robbers ensued, and at least two people were hit.

The officer, who was struck in the shoulder, was in stable condition at Kings County Hospital on Saturday night, the police said. One of the suspects was shot in the head, leaving him critically injured, the police said. The condition of a second suspect, who was also shot, was unclear, and two others remained at large.

After the shooting, detectives canvassed nearby businesses in search of surveillance video footage, while guests were leaving a baby shower nearby on Atlantic Avenue.

Kyle Parker, who lives nearby, said he heard the noise about 8:30 p.m. and went to see what was happening on the street. He said he spotted a man sprawled on the ground by a fire hydrant.

“To see him lifeless like that, it was crazy,” he said.

Abdo Aldhafari, who owns a deli on Atlantic Avenue, said that shortly before the shooting three men wearing hooded sweatshirts got out of a white Jaguar and briefly entered his store but left without buying anything. After the shooting, Mr. Aldhafari went out and saw a man who had been lying on the sidewalk being put into an ambulance.

Investigators closed a wide swath of the neighborhood to cars, snarling traffic for blocks. Next door to the auto body shop, dozens of officers and detectives could be seen crowding into a car stereo and alarm shop.

The bridge and tunnel authority is a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Karen Zraick contributed reporting.

"MTAB&T carry around 290m vehicles a year or average daily 790k.  They are one of the largest tollers in the US by revenue at $1.08b/yr."

The funeral of Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf was held in Selden, N.Y
In East Islip, N.Y., funeral services were held for Officer Alain Schaberger.

Threat to

Long Island Bus

Is Just the Tip of The Iceberg

As the battle over public sector unions rages in Wisconsin, we’re fighting our own war right here at home.

It may not get the national attention, or even much City press, but for workers at MTA run systems it is most important. It’s the crisis facing TWU Local 252 at Long Island Bus.

 Long Island Bus moves over 100,000 commuters every day. It is the largest suburban public bus system in the nation. It employs nearly 1,000 Local 252 Bus Operators and maintainers.

They are public sector union workers and they are in the fight for their lives. The enormous service and job cuts facing Long Island Bus, along with the threat of privatization, are the result of local politicians not paying their fair share for this essential service. Now that Albany has raided public transportation of another $100 million in “dedicated” funding, the MTA says it can no longer pay the Long Island Bus bill.

The crisis Local 252 is facing today is the one we all will be facing tomorrow. We need to help our brothers and sisters in Local 252/LI Bus today. If they defeat the workers there, we will all be targeted tomorrow.

Rally March 23, 2011 - 2:30 P.M.

Hofstra University (Adams Playhouse) 118

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.

The MTA is holding hearings there on the fate of

Long Island Bus. Let’s be outside to tell them “hands off our buses. NO TO PRIVATIZATION.”

Call the following people to demand they properly fund Long Island Bus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: 518-474-8390

MTA Chair Jay Walder: 212-878-7000

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano: 516-571-3131

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos: 516-766-8383 or 518-455-3171

Sponsored by:




And The Rich Get Richer!
"Pay$ To Be ex-boss of Transit Boss
By Tom Namako - NY Post Feb. 24, 2011

MTA chief Jay Walder's past two employers now have consulting contracts with the transit agency just 16 months into his time at the helm -- and the one approved yesterday is worth up to $11.7 million.

The agency's board yesterday approved a contract with McKinsey & Company, the London-based management-consulting firm where Walder was a partner before heading to New York.

McKinsey, hired to scour the MTA's practices of buying machinery and find ways to save tens of millions of dollars, will earn 9 percent of all yearly savings.

In October 2009, Walder made consultants out of Transport for London, where he was the former chief. The contract, not to exceed $500,000, will pay the across-the-pond agency to help the MTA usher in a SmartCard.


Sources said McKinsey was not the lowest bidder among three other firms, but top MTA brass insist they would provide the most bang for their buck.

"McKinsey has nothing to do with anybody who has worked here or any other matter in that respect," said Charles Monheim, Walder's top deputy.

Walder recused himself from the board's vote."

Read more:



From today's Wall Street Journal:
"NY pension fund shows gain to nearly $141 billion
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's pension fund for public workers has reported a 6 percent return on investment in its latest quarter to a market value of nearly $141 billion.

The Common Retirement Fund for more than 1 million employees, retirees and beneficiaries was valued about $7.8 billion higher for the quarter ending Dec. 31.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says it benefited from a stock market rally and 84 percent of benefits were paid from investment earnings.

Following an actuarial review, the fund last year lowered its assumed rate of return on investments from 8 percent to 7.5 percent.

Its total return for three quarters was 9 percent.

Its value dropped from its historic high of about $154 billion in spring 2008 to $110 billion a year later in the recession."


All Bridge & Tunnel Officers, Retirees and their covered dependents must use the new BeneCard Prescription Plan as of January 1, 2011. If you have not received your new BeneCard prescription Card please call:

BTOBA Second Vice President/Legislative Director Edward Kalanz joins Assemblyman Matthew Titone to urge passage of The Zadroga Bill to aid 9/11 Responders who become ill.

Please click here for THE ZADROGA BILL VIDEO.

Stuart Salles Esq., the veteran legal counsel for the BTOBA and several labor unions went on the radio to discuss the state of affairs, the budget crisis facing the MTA and the effects it has on labor unions including the BTOBA. Mr. Salles also discusses the ill advised cuts in Security at MTA Bridges & Tunnels.

A legal veteran with unparalleled savvy on labor relations in New York City, Mr. Salles also offers some sage advice as to how we might cope with the current financial problems facing the MTA and work together to beat it.

Just click the link below to listen.


Six Flags Account Services
Dear Member:

Congratulations! The BTOBA is now signed up for savings! Just log into your own Six Flags site to buy tickets with substantial savings off the main gate price. This online benefit program offers not only substantial savings, but allows you to "print and go" so you have your ticket in hand when you get to the park with no waiting in the line to purchase tickets.

To access your special tickets, click the link below, then log into the site with the username and password provided.




Strategic Law Enforcement Differential is due on or about July 29, 2010.
BTOBA FPP Prescription Annual Deductible kicks in July 1, 2010.  It is $25 for active Officers, $100 for retirees with a maximum of 3 per family.



About New York

M.T.A.’s Budget Ills Are Worse Than Accounts of Spitting

The train crawled to a stop. Ahead, somewhere in a tunnel below 96th Street on the West Side of Manhattan, a 20-foot section of rail had broken. It was a good moment — actually, a good half-hour — to review the headlines.

City bus drivers were taking off three months to recover from being spit upon, all the city newspapers reported on Tuesday. The information was released by transit officials, who said that 51 drivers assaulted by spitters in 2009 had taken, on average, 64 days off with pay.

It was the outrage du jour.

Except that maybe it wasn’t quite.

After a day of research, union officials said that, in fact, most drivers took either no time off or very little after such attacks.

Of 69 spitting cases in 2009, 34 drivers came back to work for their next shift, and 9 took less than 10 days off, said John Paul Patafio, a bus driver and organizer with Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents the bus drivers. Mr. Patafio said his statistics were based on official reports supplied by the transit agency.

The remaining 26 “took quite a bit of time, but they were examined monthly by their own doctors and transit doctors,” Mr. Patafio said.

“They all had two doctors agreeing that they had to be held out,” he continued.

Asked for comment, officials from the transit agency agreed that the union numbers were correct.

It hardly matters. The transit system in New York has turned into Greece: dead broke. Layoffs have started, service cuts will begin in a few weeks, and, while some careful trimming has been done, no one has come forward with a glimmer of a solution.

“This is government by anecdote,” said Gene Russianoff, staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a riders’ advocacy group.

During the past five years, transit spending grew by 7 percent annually, which was twice the rate of inflation. The union recently won an arbitration award granting an 11.5 percent pay increase over three years.

Over the last decade, the debt of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has more than doubled: it was $13 billion in 2000. It now owes $30 billion in outstanding bonds, payable at interest rates of 4 percent to 5 percent.

Much of that money was borrowed in outright schemes to avert fare increases by refinancing old debt and kicking the costs into what used to be the future. By 2013, the riders will pay $2.2 billion a year just in interest, about 20 percent of every dollar in the authority’s budget.

At the time the money was borrowed, the bond deals were heavily criticized by fiscal monitors and riders’ advocates, although M.T.A. officials defended them as the best of bad choices. In any event, the authority recently hired a new chief financial officer to help it deal with the debt. He happens to be a former Bear Stearns banker who advised the agency on borrowing the money a decade ago.

With no new subsidies in sight from either the state or city, labor costs have moved into the target zone because debt service cannot be hounded or embarrassed into shrinking itself.

THERE is little doubt that the M.T.A. spends vast sums in ways that make no sense: for instance, the driver of an electric locomotive who switches to drive a diesel gets an extra day of pay for no additional work. A quarter of the workers use more than 15 sick days per year, and those absences contribute to a half-billion dollars in overtime costs. While other government agencies have started to curb their pensions, the Legislature has not made that possible for the M.T.A.

Are the union and the M.T.A. talking? “We’ve had conversations,” said John Samuelsen, president of the transit workers’ union. “They’re holding the loaded gun of layoffs to our heads. We didn’t cause this crisis.”

He hopes that Congress will authorize $2 billion in transit aid this year. Jay Walder, the chairman of the authority, apparently, and perhaps astutely, is not counting on it.

“Jay has had conversations with Mr. Samuelsen; they’re both on the same page, that the best chance of getting things done is talking quietly and less talking in the press,” said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for Mr. Walder.

Now they tell us.

Government by anecdote is not worth a bucket of spit.


Police Find Car Bomb in Times Square
Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, with Gov. David A. Paterson and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, spoke at a news conference in Times Square early Sunday.

A crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks was discovered in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion, and early on Sunday the authorities were still seeking a suspect and motive.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A police officer in a bomb suit examined a Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle.

Cary Conover for The New York Times

Crowds were lined up on the south side of 43rd Street as the heart of Times Square was closed off to traffic.

“We are very lucky,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15 a.m. press conference. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”

A large swath of Midtown — from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues — was closed for much of the evening after the Pathfinder was discovered just off Broadway on 45th Street. Several theaters and stores, as well as the South Tower of the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, were evacuated.

Mr. Bloomberg was joined by Gov. David A. Paterson, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and other officials at the early morning press conference to give a chronology of the vehicle’s discovery, its disarming, and the investigation that has been launched. The mayor and police commissioner had returned early from the annual White House correspondents’ dinner in Washington.

At 6:28 p.m., Mr. Kelly said, a video surveillance camera recorded what was believed to be the dark green Nissan S.U.V. driving west on 45th Street.

Moments later, a T-shirt vendor on the sidewalk saw smoke coming out of vents near the back seat of the S.U.V., which was now parked awkwardly at the curb with its engine running and its hazard lights on. The vendor called to a mounted police officer, the mayor said, who smelled gunpowder when he approached the S.U.V. and called for assistance. The police began evacuating Times Square, starting with businesses along Seventh Avenue, including a Foot Locker store and a McDonald’s.

Police officers from the emergency service unit and firefighters flooded the area and were troubled by the hazard lights and running engine, and by the fact that the S.U.V. was oddly angled in the street. At this point, a firefighter from Ladder 4 reported hearing several “pops” from within the vehicle. The police also learned that the Pathfinder had the wrong license plates on it.

Members of the Police Department’s bomb squad donned protective gear, broke the Pathfinder’s back windows and sent in a “robotic device” to “observe” it, said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the police department’s chief spokesman.

Inside, they discovered three canisters of propane like those used for barbecue grills, two five-gallon cans of gasoline, consumer-grade fireworks — the apparent source of the “pops” — and two clocks with batteries, the mayor said. He said the device “looked amateurish.”

Mr. Browne said: “It appeared it was in the process of detonating, but it malfunctioned.”

Bomb squad officers also discovered a two-by-two-by-four-foot metal box — described as a “gun locker” — in the S.U.V. that was taken to the Police Department’s firing range at Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx to be destroyed, Mr. Kelly said. It was not immediately known what, if anything, was inside it.

Officials said they had no reports of anyone seen running from the vehicle. Mr. Kelly said police were scouring the area for any additional videotapes but noted that the S.U.V.’s windows were tinted, which could further hamper any efforts to identify those inside. Some of the surveillance cameras nearby were located in closed businesses, and the mayor made clear it would take time to review all available tapes.

“We have no idea who did this or why,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

Kevin B. Barry, a former supervisor in the New York Police Department bomb squad, said that if the device had functioned, “it would be more of an incendiary event” than an explosion.

The license plates on the Nissan were registered to another vehicle — a Ford pickup truck that was taken to a junkyard near Bridgeport, Conn., within the last two weeks, according to a law enforcement official. The previous owner of the Ford was interviewed Saturday night by the F.B.I., but it did not appear he was regarded as a suspect. Still, the junkyard was considered a primary target of the initial investigation.

The S.U.V.’s standard vehicle identification number had been removed, Mr. Bloomberg said, and investigators were scouring it to see if the number appeared elsewhere.

The White House said President Obama had been briefed on the episode and had pledged federal assistance in the investigation.

Times Square on a Saturday night is one of the busiest and most populated locations in the city, and has long been seen as a likely target for some kind of attack.

A maze of metal barricades kept pedestrians south of 43rd Street. In the center of Times Square, dozens of police and fire vehicles were parked on Broadway and Seventh Avenue, but in Times Square between 42nd and 43rd Streets, tourists milled or sat at tables, much as they do on any other Saturday night. On Eighth Avenue at around 11:30 p.m., people carrying theater playbills were directed west on 44th Street out to Eighth Avenue.

On Eighth Avenue police officers used large pieces of orange netting to corral pedestrians and separate them from traffic.

Many people stayed to watch after being shut out of Broadway shows or prevented from getting back to their hotels, trading rumors about what was happening. Many guests at the New York Marriott Marquis hotel at 1535 Broadway were being kept in an auditorium at the hotel, Mr. Kelly said.

Some theaters were evacuated, but many were not, according to a spokeswoman for the Broadway League, the trade group of theater owners and producers. The spokeswoman, Elisa Shevitz, said she would not have all the details about how many theaters were affected until Sunday.

For some Broadway shows the curtains went up 15 to 30 minutes late. Shows that started late included “Red” and “God of Carnage” — which are both playing at houses on the block of 45th Street where the bomb was found — and “In the Heights.”

Onlookers crowded against the barricades, taking pictures with cellphones, although only a swarm of fire trucks and police cars was visible.

Pota Manolakos, an accountant from Montreal, was not able to return to her room at the Edison Hotel with her husband and 6-year-old son for several hours.

She said she asked a police officer what was going on, and the officer told her: “Lady, take your kid and get out of here. There’s a threat, take your kid and get out of here.”

“We have nothing with us except for what we have on,” Ms. Manolakos said.

Gabrielle Zecha and Taj Heniser, visiting from Seattle, had tickets to see “Next to Normal” at the Booth Theater on 45th Street but could not get into the 8 p.m. show because the area was blocked off. But they made the best of the spectacle. “It’s a whole different kind of show,” Ms. Heniser said, adding, “It’s almost the equivalent of a $150 show.”

A group of people on a high school senior trip from Jacksonville, Fla., said they were stuck for about an hour and a half in the Bubba Gump restaurant at 44th Street and Seventh Avenue.

“A lot of people were getting tense who were there longer than we were,” said Billy Wilkerson, 39, a police sergeant in Jacksonville and a chaperone for the trip. “It’s so good to get out, but it was exhilarating.”

He said he was impressed by his New York counterparts. “I just sat back and learned a lot,” he said.

Fabyane Pereira, 35, a tourist from Brazil, said the episode would not deter her from another visit. “I feel sorry for America,” she said. “I’m at your guys’ side.”

In December, the police closed Times Square for nearly two hours as they investigated a suspiciously parked van, delaying the rehearsal of the New Year’s ball drop. However, the van turned out to contain nothing but clothing.

Reporting was contributed by Micah Cohen, Patrick Healy, Karin Henry, Steve Kenny and Ray Rivera in New York and Eric Lipton in Washington.

Car bomb found in New York's Times Square Mayor Bloomberg: "Today is a further reminder of the danger we face" New York City police have defused an improvised car bomb parked in Times Square, one of the city's busiest tourist areas, officials say. They say propane tanks, fireworks, petrol, and a clock device were removed from a parked sports utility vehicle. Part of the district - where many theatres are sited - was sealed off. Both US President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the quick response by the New York Police Department. "We are very lucky," Mr Bloomberg told reporters. "Thanks to alert New Yorkers and professional police officers, we avoided what could have been a very deadly event." AT THE SCENE By Ian Sherwood in New York Thousands of tourists were evacuated from the area after a T-shirt vendor alerted the police when he spotted smoke coming from a Nissan Pathfinder. Heavily armed police and emergency vehicles then shut down many of the busiest streets in Manhattan, which were filled with theatregoers in the heart of Broadway. Many who had gathered on 43rd Street and Broadway were shocked to hear that the iconic Times Square had been sealed off due to a suspected car bomb. Theatregoers reported that police officers had come onto the stage during and after some of the Broadway shows to ask the audience if they had any information about the vehicle. He said the bomb "looked amateurish" but could have exploded, adding that the incident was a "reminder of the dangers that we face". Correspondents say the New York City Police Department is on constant alert after a series of alleged terror plots in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. "The NYPD bomb squad has rendered safe an improvised car bomb," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire," he added. The alert was triggered when a street vendor saw smoke coming from a Nissan Pathfinder parked on 45th Street and Seventh Avenue at about 1830 (2230 GMT) on Saturday. The vehicle had its engine running and hazard lights flashing, officials said. Police shut down several blocks of Times Square, as well as subway lines, while a robotic arm broke windows of the vehicle. "There were explosive elements, including powder, gasoline, propane and some kind of electrical wires attached to a clock," police spokesman Paul Browne told reporters early on Sunday. "No motive has been identified," he added. A metal box resembling a gun locker was also recovered, police say Security footage is being reviewed after reports that a person had been seen running away from the vehicle. Police have established that the car's registration plates do not match up with the Nissan. They belonged to a car owner in the state of Connecticut, who told officers he had sent the plates to a junkyard. Jerry Brown, one of the tourists evacuated from the nearby Marriott Marquis hotel, told the BBC: "Guests are sitting on the street and there is considerable chaos... There is talk about moving us to another hotel but I am not sure how this is going to happen." FBI agents have joined NYPD investigators at the scene. The White House said President Obama was being kept up to date on the investigation. On everyone's mind is the city's darkest day, the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers just a few miles away, says the BBC's Barbara Plett in New York. The most recent terror alert in New York City involved a plot to set off suicide bombs in the subway system. Earlier this year an Afghan immigrant, Najibullah Zazi, and an associate, Zarein Ahmedzay, both pleaded guilty in connection with the attempt. Last year four New Yorkers went on trial accused of plotting to bomb synagogues in the city and fire missiles at military aircraft

Gravy train

Strapped MTA's payroll up by $70M

Last Updated: 7:28 AM, May 2, 2010

Posted: 4:35 AM, May 2, 2010

It's your tax dollars in motion!

The MTA's total payroll rose by $70 million in 2009 -- even while it begged the state to pass a $1.2 billion bailout package, The Post has learned.

The cash is flowing this year, too, despite the agency carrying over a nearly $800 million deficit from 2009. While MTA board members approved draconian cuts in March to save $375 million, many managers received hefty raises, sources said.

Last year, the MTA trimmed its bloated staff by nearly 700 to 69,076. But the total payroll, which includes salaries and overtime, rose from $5.14 billion in 2008 to $5.21 billion in 2009, according to records obtained by The Post.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan blamed the ballooning payroll on previous union agreements.

"The increase . . . was mainly a result of built-in wage raises provided under multiyear labor contracts previously agreed upon through collective bargaining," he said. "We held costs down as much as we could by decreasing the number of positions and freezing pay for management."

But at least three MTA managers in the Bridges & Tunnels division received salary hikes this year, even while the MTA closed the $375 million gap by slashing service and paratransit, and through layoffs, sources said.

Donald Look, the B&T's internal security chief, got a $21,560 raise, to $175,560. A year earlier, he received a $13,000 pay hike.

The MTA defended the largesse, saying Look deserved the 14 percent pay bump because of increased responsibilities.

Sharon Gallo Kotcher, the division's VP of labor relations, saw her salary rise 10 percent to $152,000 in March. Again, the MTA said that even though her job title didn't change, she took on added responsibilities.

B&T General Manager James Ferrara got the biggest hike -- his salary rose from $160,000 to $190,000 this year when he was named acting president of the division.

MTA board member Andrew Albert blamed the expanding payroll on the inability of the union and the MTA to compromise on lowering costs.

"I just don't know how there is an end to this never-ending escalation [of wages]," he said.

Read more:

Port Authority cops: Staff cuts leave sites, like GWB, unguarded at times
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Last updated: Thursday April 29, 2010, 7:57 PM
State House Bureau

Port Authority’s police say they are understaffed, forcing them to leave critical infrastructure — such as the George Washington Bridge — unguarded at times.

The agency has cut about 100 officers over the past year and shifted its money and attention toward rebuilding the World Trade Center site, the Police Benevolent Association told the Port Authority during its Thursday meting. Agency officials say the number was 140, but was made up of administrative workers, not officers.

The union, which is embroiled in a contract dispute with the Port Authority, said officers are often busy dealing with a heavy volume of traffic and arrests near the crossings.

“This leaves the bridge with no patrol coverage a good majority of time,” Mike DeFilippis, second vice president of the Port Authority PBA.

Union members appeared at the agency’s meeting because “we’re looking for more police. We’re looking for better patrol. We’re looking for better equipment,” said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority PBA.

“The Port Authority is a prime terrorist target and we need to take it seriously,” Nunziato said.

The Port Authority declined to address the union’s specific complaints, saying the PBA is looking for a new labor contract since its 7-year agreement expired in January.

“The Port Authority is totally committed to the safety of all of our customers in this region,” said Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority “We have spent almost $4 billion in security for all our facilities.”

Nunziato said he did not appear at the meeting because of the contract dispute. The problem, he said, is the 1,700-member police force is 30 percent understaffed and the Port Authority would rather pay overtime than benefits. The Port Authority, however, says that the 1,700-member force is "the highest number of officers ever."

“If I was here about my contract I wouldn’t be opening my mouth,” he said. “It’s about public safety and my officers’ safety.”

DeFilippis claimed that fewer officers patrol the George Washington Bridge now than they did prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center

“Just one DWI arrest can tie up two patrol officers for numerous hours,” he said.


Port Authority’s police say they are understaffed, forcing them to leave critical infrastructure — such as the George Washington Bridge — unguarded at times.

The agency has cut about 100 officers over the past year and shifted its money and attention toward rebuilding the World Trade Center site, the Police Benevolent Association told the Port Authority during its Thursday meting. Agency officials say the number was 140, but was made up of administrative workers, not officers.

The union, which is embroiled in a contract dispute with the Port Authority, said officers are often busy dealing with a heavy volume of traffic and arrests near the crossings.

“This leaves the bridge with no patrol coverage a good majority of time,” Mike DeFilippis, second vice president of the Port Authority PBA.

Union members appeared at the agency’s meeting because “we’re looking for more police. We’re looking for better patrol. We’re looking for better equipment,” said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority PBA.

“The Port Authority is a prime terrorist target and we need to take it seriously,” Nunziato said.

The Port Authority declined to address the union’s specific complaints, saying the PBA is looking for a new labor contract since its 7-year agreement expired in January.

“The Port Authority is totally committed to the safety of all of our customers in this region,” said Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority “We have spent almost $4 billion in security for all our facilities.”

Nunziato said he did not appear at the meeting because of the contract dispute. The problem, he said, is the 1,700-member police force is 30 percent understaffed and the Port Authority would rather pay overtime than benefits. The Port Authority, however, says that the 1,700-member force is "the highest number of officers ever."

“If I was here about my contract I wouldn’t be opening my mouth,” he said. “It’s about public safety and my officers’ safety.”

DeFilippis claimed that fewer officers patrol the George Washington Bridge now than they did prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center

“Just one DWI arrest can tie up two patrol officers for numerous hours,” he said.



MTA Pulls Officers from Some Weekend Posts

Queens Midtown Tunnel, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Updated: Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010, 8:24 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010, 7:45 PM EDT


MYFOXNY.COM - Peace officers who patrol the MTA's bridges and tunnels are baffled. Their union is worried. All because the MTA has unstaffed on weekends some key security posts at the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

"This thing is ill-advised, ill-planned, and dangerous," says Greg Lombardi of the Bridge & Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association.

The MTA says it has a high-tech surveillance system in place that can monitor areas protected by peace officers Monday through Friday.

"The electronic security system is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by Bridge and Tunnel Officers, the same Operations personnel who used to staff the posts," said MTA Bridges and Tunnels spokeswoman Judie Glave, in a statement. "In the event of a breech in security, personnel would respond based on a security plan that is in place, the details of which we cannot disclose because it involves security sensitive information."

The bridge and tunnel cameras were installed by Lockheed-Martin, the same company that put in nonworking cameras at subway stations before quitting the project and suing the MTA.

Some say it is another example of the MTA's inefficiency.

Allan Rosen, a retired MTA executive manager, says the agency has better places to cut than security.

The MTA has cut 15-percent of its administration and insists there is nothing left to cut.

"I don't buy it," Rosen says. "They have not looked under every rock."

MTA Bridges and Tunnels, which is legally known as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, operates seven bridges and two tunnels in the five boroughs:

  • Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) (Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens)
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge (the Bronx and Queens)
  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (Brooklyn and Staten Island)
  • Throgs Neck Bridge (the Bronx and Queens)
  • Henry Hudson Bridge (Manhattan and the Bronx)
  • Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge (Brooklyn and Queens; Rockaway peninsula)
  • Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge (Queens; Broad Channel and the Rockaway peninsula)
  • Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (Brooklyn and Manhattan)
  • Queens Midtown Tunnel (Queens and Manhattan)

Posted: Tuesday, 30 March 2010 5:12PM

MTA Cuts Weekend Personnel at Queens Midtown Tunnel & Verrazano Bridge

NEW YORK (1010 WINS)  -- Just a day after the NYPD and MTA beefed up security in response to an attack on the metro rail system in Moscow, a new report from the Daily News questions whether there may be security vulnerabilities in some of the city’s bridges and tunnels.

The paper reports that the MTA has removed some weekend security personnel from the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Verrazano Bridge.

The Daily News reports that police are no longer in booths at the Queen’s Midtown Tunnel’s exit and the tower anchorages at the Verrazano on Saturday and Sunday.  There is a police presence at the tunnel's toll plaza in Queens, but not in Manhattan, according to the paper.  The MTA balked at the assertion that the staff cuts leave the transport hubs vulnerable, and said that cameras and monitors in both locations are adequate to oversee security.

An MTA spokeswoman told the Daily News that the system was monitored 24/7 and that a response plan was set in place in case of emergency.

Union officials disagreed with the MTA saying that it was irresponsible to take measures that could compromise security.

TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We are pleased and proud to announce this year’s winners of the BTOBA Scholarship Art Calendar Contest. The winners are:

December 2009 – SOD – Janari Aiken

January 2010 – BWB – Dyron Sims

February 2010 – TNB – Gabriella Bachmann

March 2010 – TNB - Melanie Noel Polly

April 2010 – RFKM – Faelyn Duffy

May 2010 – MPB - Jennie Marie Esposito

June 2010 – QMT - Elijah Howard

July 2010 – TNB - Robert John Polly

August 2010 – RFKM – Chris Duffy

September 2010 – VNB - Tristan Fox

October 2010 – QMT - Andrew Ortega

November 2010 – VNB - Kassie Rath

December 2010 – CBB - Megan Morano

This year’s contest was judged by local New York Artist Scott LoBaido.

Each winner received a Toshiba Laptop computer to assist them in their studies and the runners up received a Visa Gift Card. All prizes were purchased with money donated by sponsors to the Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from donations will be used along with future funds raised to give out our first ever Scholarship Awards. Details and further information about the scholarships will be announced in the upcoming year.

We’d like to thank all Officers who encouraged their children to participate in the Calendar Art Contest and we look forward to seeing what visions the children will have in next year’s contest.


Kevin Heltzer, Scholarship Fund Chairman

Research Negotiations Chairman


All our Runners Up won gift cards:
Thank you all for your great work!



The following letter was sent on 2/11/10 to the NY Daily News for publication consideration in the BTOBA's attempt to clear the misconception created by the MTA Web Site that maintenance workers were solely responsible for snow removal during the Feb. 10th storm, and to illustrate the many professional tasks that BTOs are responsible for on a daily basis. 

"Staten Island: Is it any wonder that the MTA finds itself in a perpetual state of financial distress? The agency doesn't even know which tasks its employees perform. Example: After the recent storm, the agency's Web site praised maintenance workers for snow removal efforts at bridges like the Throgs Neck, Verrazano and RFK, except it was bridge and tunnel officers who cleared the bridges, with maintenance workers' support. In case the MTA is not aware of what we do, in addition to law enforcement (safety and anti-terror checkpoints, making DWI, drug and gun possession and other arrests, issuing summonses), bridge and tunnel officers extinguish fires, remove disabled vehicles, clear snow and debris, and occasionally deliver a baby.

Greg Lombardi, Vice President

Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association"


50 officers gave chase in Phoenix officer killing 

 AP –

GILBERT, Ariz. – Two men suspected in the fatal shooting of a policeman led dozens of Arizona law officers on a 50-mile midnight chase, but couldn't shake pursuers despite firing bullets and spreading debris, officials said.

The suspects tossed out wrenches, other tools and an air compressor tank during the chase around midnight Thursday, police said. A half-dozen police cruisers were disabled after hitting debris or being struck by bullets.

Despite the lethal efforts, the numbers of law officers continued to grow even as damaged law enforcement vehicles dropped out and the officers inside hitched rides with fellow pursuers.

The chase ended near the small mountain mining community of Superior as violently as it began. The suspects jumped out and opened fire on police before falling to the ground in a hail of bullets. Both are expected to survive.

Authorities said the two men were initially pulled over by Gilbert police Lt. Eric Shuhandler, 42, near the southeast Phoenix suburb of Gilbert at about 11 p.m. on Thursday.

Shuhandler, a 16-year veteran, was shot in the face as he walked back toward the pickup after finding the passenger had an arrest warrant, said Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Mark Marino. Shuhandler, the father of two girls, was rushed to a hospital, where he died shortly before midnight.

The suspects were identified as Christopher A. Redondo, 35, of Globe, and Daimen Irizarry, 30, of Gilbert, Marino said.

Redondo is believed to have been the gunman and Irizarry the driver who led officers from multiple law enforcement agencies on the pursuit.

"It is nothing short of a miracle that no officers or members of the public were injured or killed," Gilbert Police Chief Timothy Dorn said Friday.

Shuhandler stopped the suspects' work truck for having an obscured license plate, Marino said. Shuhandler went back to his patrol car and found that the passenger, Redondo, apparently had an arrest warrant. He called for backup and was walking back to the passenger side of the truck when he was shot, about 12 minutes after pulling two men over.

Other officers saw the fleeing truck and a high-speed chase began along U.S. 60, which is a freeway in the metro area but turns into a two-lane highway as it nears Superior.

Once in the mountains, the truck stopped in the middle of the highway and both men jumped out, said Lt. Steve Harrison of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

"They engaged in what only can be described as a gun battle with officers," he said.

Both suspects were wounded in the lower extremities, taken into custody and hospitalized. Both were in stable, non-life-threatening condition Friday, according to Harrison.

Despite the law enforcement entourage, no officers other than Shuhandler were hurt.

Two more police vehicles were involved in a collision at the end of the chase, Marino said.

Redondo spent nearly four years in an Arizona prison for aggravated assault and related charges and was released in June 2008, according to Arizona Department of Corrections online records.

Irizarry pleaded guilty to assault in Pinal County Superior Court in 2004 and was sentenced to probation, online court records show. An arrest warrant was issued in 2006.

Shuhandler was wearing body armor, Marino said. "Unfortunately he was shot in the head."

He is survived by his ex-wife, daughters, ages 10 and 12, his parents and a sister, Marino said. Services were pending.

"Right now our entire department is in mourning," Marino said.


Associated Press Writers Bob Seavey and Bob Christie contributed to this report from Phoenix.

"Judge Denies M.T.A. Bid to Set Aside Raises
Published: December 12, 2009

A State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan has denied a petition by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to set aside substantial raises for transit workers that were awarded by an arbitration panel in August.

The decision by the judge, Justice O. Peter Sherwood, was released on Friday, and will put further financial pressure on the beleaguered authority, which on Monday is expected to recommend a series of measures, including service cuts, to make up a shortfall of about $340 million in its budget.

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision, which will force the M.T.A. to pay wage increases that are inconsistent with the economic crisis in New York,” the agency said in a statement Saturday. “The ruling will have severe financial impacts on the M.T.A. budget, coming on the heels of a state budget cut and reduction in payroll tax proceeds.” The statement added that the decision would add $200 million to the agency’s costs by 2011.

John Samuelsen, the incoming president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, the transportation authority’s largest union, called the ruling “a big win for us.”

The question of raises went to an arbitration panel in January after the authority and the union failed to reach agreement on a new contract.

Long before the impasse, the Bloomberg administration granted 4 percent annual raises to many of the major unions representing city employees. The arbitration panel cited those agreements when it granted raises of 4 percent for both 2009 and 2010. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who controls four votes on the authority’s board, sharply criticized the raises, arguing that the agency should not be forced to pay higher labor costs during a fiscal crisis.

The authority appealed, arguing that the panel had failed to firmly establish its findings and did not take into account the “interest and welfare of the public” and other criteria.

“In the current economic environment, the award of wage and benefit increases over three years of approximately 11.5 percent is a rich package but not unique,” Justice Sherwood wrote in his decision. He also said that “the court may not second-guess the decision of the arbitration panel.”

“The court has limited authority in this case,” he added.

Mr. Samuelsen said it was wrong for the city to oppose the wage increases after a pattern had been set in other negotiations. He added that he hoped the transportation authority would now release the money.

Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the authority, said it was not immediately known if the decision would be appealed.


"Judge: MTA must pay 11% TWU raises

By TOM NAMAKO, Transit Reporter - The New York Post

 The money train has pulled in the station for rank-and-file TWU members.

The cash-strapped MTA -- already in a multi-million dollar hole for next year -- will now be set back an additional $100 million in 2010 after a judge yesterday awarded the 35,000-member union a series of fat raises.

It's the third MTA money drain in the past two weeks. Earlier, Gov. Paterson took away $143 million in direct aid and revenues from a new payroll tax came in short of forecasts by $200 million.

So far, it seems like straphangers will be shouldering the brunt of the bill, as the MTA is considering cutting the W and Z lines, slashing bus service, and eliminating free student fares.

As the cash-strapped MTA considers cutting the W and Z lines to cut costs, a judge ordered the agency to give fat raises to the transit union, the TWU.
(Dan Brinzac- Photo)
As the cash-strapped MTA considers cutting the W and Z lines to cut costs, a judge ordered the agency to give fat raises to the transit union, the TWU.
Officials are also considering 10 percent pay cuts at the agency, sources said.

Over the next three years, the judge ordered the MTA to dole out 11 percent pay hikes -- a sum the agency said it simply can't afford.

The MTA has to fork over $100 million in 2010, and $200 million in 2011 to the union, sources said.

A binding arbitrator awarded the raises to the union in August. But the steep decision was immediately met with a legal challenge by the MTA, which claimed the deciding vote, former mayor John Ziccotti, didn't consider the MTA's ability to pay such large sums.

But Sherwood disagreed with the MTA, and said Zuccotti laid out a plan for the payments that largely deals with using MTA money for big-ticket projects to fund the raises.  (emphasis added)

"This confirms that a fair decision rendered in the arbitration process will be respected, even though the outcome may not be what the employer wanted," the Municipal Labor Committee said."


(Special thanks to Officer D. Ciccarelli. VNB, for passing along this helpful info.)
The Veterans Administration offers certain benefits in addition to the meager Veteran's Pension for Vets and their surviving spouses, if they need assisted living help etc.

For more in depth info check out the VBA site.

"The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisting living facility also qualifies.

To qualify for A&A it needs to be established by your physician that you require daily assistance by others to dress, undress, bathing, cooking, eating, taking on or off of prosthetics, leave home etc. You DO NOT have to require assistance with all of these. There simply needs to be adequate medical evidence that you cannot function completely on your own.

The A&A Pension can provide up to $1,632 per month to a veteran, $1,055 per month to a surviving spouse, or $1,949 per month to a couple*.

Eligibility must be proven by filing the proper Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation. (Form 21-534 surviving spouse) (Form 21-526 Veteran.) This application will require a copy of DD-214  or separation papers, Medical Evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations, and net income, along with out-of-pocket Medical Expenses.

A DD-214 is issued to military members upon separation from active service. DD-214s were issued to separated service members beginning in the 1950's. The term "DD-214" is often used generically to mean "separation papers" or "discharge papers", no matter what form number was used to document active duty military service. If the VA has a copy of a DD-214, it is usually because the veteran attached a copy (or sometimes, the original) to his or her application for disability or education benefits. If you've lost your original DD-214 or a copy and you are receiving (or applied for in the past) disability or education benefits from the VA, they may have a copy (or the original, if you gave it to them) on file. At the very least, if you are currently receiving benefits (or did in the past), they should be able to provide a Statement of Service, which can be used instead of a "DD-214".


Biker can't break laws of physics: he jumps off Throgs Neck Bridge, lands in trouble with law

Friday, November 13th 2009, 4:00 AM

Rocky Sanchez jumped off the Throgs Neck Bridge - and survived.
Harbus for News
Rocky Sanchez jumped off the Throgs Neck Bridge - and survived.

A Queens motorcyclist with a horrible driving record was so desperate to escape being pulled over on the Throgs Neck Bridge that he jumped off the span - and lived, officials said.

Rocky Sanchez, 35, whose license was suspended 17 times, twice tried to flee after a cop pulled him over for cutting off motorists near the Bronx side toll plaza around 5 p.m. yesterday, a law enforcement source said.

The first time, he remounted his bike and sped away from Triborough Bridge and Tunnel officer Charles Luce, who cut off his escape.

Sanchez, of Hollis, then ran across both lanes of traffic - and jumped into the drink, plunging some 30 feet, the source said.

Sanchez landed in shallow water - but was really lucky things didn't get, er, rocky.

He would have landed on the rocky shoreline, but the tide was high due to the impending nor'easter. "That's what saved his life," the source said.

Sanchez was in stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center on Thursday, where he was under arrest.

BTOBA 2010 SCHOLARSHIP CALENDAR WINNERS HAVE BEEN PICKED! ...more on this breaking story soon.

MTA FInds Some Cash For a Couple of New Employees
Better days are coming our way as the formerly cash strapped MTA has found a few bucks, $600,000 to pay two consultants to help us out.
"Will Subway Riders Start Calling It the Tube?
Published: October 22, 2009 - The New York Times

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to enter into a two-year no-bid consulting contract with Transport for London, its counterpart in Britain and the former employer of Jay H. Walder, the authority’s new chairman.

Skip to next paragraph
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The new chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority introduced computerized, scannable fare cards to the London Underground.


Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Straphangers said they would welcome the lower fares that new fare card technology could provide.

The arrangement, unusual for a pair of public agencies, would be worth up to $500,000 and would pay for Mr. Walder’s former colleagues to fly across the pond and work as on-site consultants in New York. The Londoners’ salary and benefits, along with travel and lodging, would be covered by public funds.

Many of Mr. Walder’s top priorities for the New York system — including computerized, scannable fare cards and arrival-time clocks at bus and subway stops — are modeled after similar programs he introduced in London, where he worked until 2006.

“Rather than having to bring in high-priced consultants, we’re getting experts with success already in doing these things, and getting them at public sector costs,” said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the authority.

Staff members from the London agency would charge $125 to $200 an hour, according to a document released this week. The authority called those rates “fair and reasonable,” and said the fees were half what a private consultant might charge.

Cities routinely look to one another for advice on public projects. But expenses rarely go much beyond the cost of a long-distance phone call, or a three-course lunch.

“In the normal course of business, you do check in with colleagues at other agencies around the world,” Mr. Soffin said. “This is a more intensive thing we’re talking about. It wouldn’t be in the normal course of business for someone to come over here for two, three, four weeks at a time.”

Arguably, the authority is already paying more than $600,000 annually for English expertise. Mr. Walder, who helped turn around the struggling London system with a series of high-tech innovations, is earning $350,000 a year as chairman, as well as retirement and housing benefits. He also hired a former London lieutenant, Charles Monheim, as his chief operating officer, at a salary of $285,000 a year. Several transit experts said the deal had to be handled with caution.

“A no-bid contract with a former employer could set a bad precedent,” said Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Mr. Walder has to bend over backwards here to explain what exactly these people will bring to the table that we can’t get through the expertise for which we’re already paying him.”

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a riders’ advocacy group, said that he could see why some might be cynical about the deal. “But I think he’s made a case that he’s going to get value for the deal,” Mr. Russianoff said, speaking of Mr. Walder. “He deserves a chance to do it on his own terms.”

The contract must be approved by the authority’s board. It is to vote at a meeting on Wednesday.

One application of London’s fare card technology gave discounts to riders during off-peak hours, like nights and weekends, a model that Mr. Walder has said he would look to introduce in New York.

Politicians and members of the authority’s board said on Thursday that they were open to the discounted fare idea, but that they would prefer more time to review it.

“Off-peak pricing makes sense in a lot of situations,” said Allen P. Cappelli, a board member appointed by Gov. David A. Paterson. “But you would have to look at how it impacts revenue.”

Susan G. Metzger, a board member from Orange County, said, “I want to sit back and see what it really entails for us.” She said she wondered if the discounts would really encourage more people to use mass transit on weekends. “Many people who use the subway don’t really have an alternative. The only alternate would be a taxi, and our subway pricing is pretty good.”

A spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who controls 4 of 14 votes on the authority’s board, said that the mayor had previously supported similar off-peak discounts for Port Authority bridges and tunnels and would consider Mr. Walder’s idea.

Straphangers asked about the plan on Thursday said they would welcome the lower fares. “It would save New York money; we deserve it to be lowered,” said Shakiba Hickman, 31, of the Bronx, who commutes on the subway to her job at the Hotel Beacon. “We want lower fares, but better service. We have to be working around the M.T.A., not the M.T.A. working around us.”

But others said they were skeptical that off-peak pricing could change the way they use the transit system.

“There’s the comfort factor,” said Alan Chung, 28, as he waited for the Times Square shuttle. “If it’s a late night, you’re out with your girlfriend, she’s in her high heels, you’re not going to hop on the train.”

His companion, Theresa Khuu, 24, of San Francisco, agreed. “You’re asking people to change their lives,” she said.

Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting."



Remembering Those Who Serve America -
I got this story from a good friend of mine, Charlie Gili.  He has long been involved with helping us remember all of the brave men and women that serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and in helping the families of those who have lost a soldier in the War.   I think he makes a great and important point about priorities in today's society and that's why I've passed it along for all BTOs.
- G. Lombardi

A Hard-to-Get-My-Head-Around Kind of A Day

Ever been confused?  Today was one of those days for me.  I got up early and headed out of Brooklyn and out east to Long Island. 

I was in route to meet up with a very special group of folks, to take care of something that I needed to be part of.  A young Marine had been Killed in Action last week in Afghanistan and he was brought home to his family by his fellow Marines.  I couldn't make the services, but I knew through the great folks from The Patriot Guard Riders, that Lance Corporal Damas would be taken to Kennedy Airport for his final flight to North Carolina for burial.

I finally caught up with the Damas escort at the funeral home.  I said hello to some of the other volunteers and got some direction and absorbed the protocol for the last leg of the escort.  The casket had to be made ready for air travel and this was the purpose of the stop at the funeral parlor. 

Six Marines in their best dress uniforms  loaded the casket carrying Lance Corporal Damas into the hearse. The police escort pulled out of the driveway to block traffic and those of us making up the Patriot Guard escort got underway and headed to Kennedy.  Most of the traffic along the Belt Parkway yielded when they noticed that this was a service member escort and those that didn’t were encouraged to do so by those of us providing the escort.

We were taken through the back roads of the airport and right up to a fence that marked the tarmac.  The civilians in the escort were stopped short of the tarmac, so we lined up just outside the fence, while the uniformed personnel proceeded ahead.  Moments later, Port Authority Police Officers invited us through a building and onto the tarmac so that we could be part of the proceedings.  This was a very nice gesture on their part and we formed ranks around the back of the hearse on one side and a group of Police Officers did the same on the other. 

The six Marines went through their movements to remove the casket to a mechanized gurney.  As the  Marines slowly brought their right hands into the military salute position, the Police Captain ordered his Officers to do the same and we all followed suit.

We held the same salute until the casket was rolled to the waiting jet and loaded aboard.  It was a very solemn few moments.  I have attended several such services, but this was the first time I was involved in an airport departure.  Once the formal recognition was concluded, we shook hands and were on our way back to resume our regular lives.

I had to go straight to work since there was a huge event being held in a Brooklyn Park and I was responsible for many of the logistics.  Spike Lee was sponsoring a "Tribute to Michael Jackson" and when I arrived at the event site, the music and activities were already underway.  The crowd estimate was 12 to 15,000.  Everyone was having a great time and it was a nice event, with everyone well-behaved. 

I don't know if I was just a bit tired or if I am just getting old, but I couldn't get the scene on the JFK tarmac out of my head.  A local Marine had been killed, brought home and sent to his final resting place.  Lance Corporal Damas is a true hero.  Yet, at his final farewell on the grounds of a windswept local airport, there were about 40 of us who witnessed his passing and in the same day, just 35 minutes from the tarmac at Kennedy, there were more than 10,000 nice people celebrating the music of a pop icon.

I understand the dynamics of how these things work in our society, but even though I do, I just couldn't get my head around the backwardsness of my day.  I don't think I ever will.  Semper Fi Lance Corporal.     


Hi Greg
Just got deficit letter from nycers indicating I owe additional AMC,s  of $1,XXXX for period between Feb 3rd 1995 and Aug 1st 1995. 
                I recall that there was a  delay ( somehow i'm thinking it was a 2 year delay or so but really not certain as to exact time period???) before city started accepting our contributions. Recall that we had to pay deficit retroactively( at the time I wondered why we could not have set up an escrow account for the arrears)
As far as I know I paid ALL owed contributions. . its amazing that all these years after paying to join plane that we are now told of an additional deficit.  What happened??
BTO Fred Skepner QMT
What happened is an excellent question and I'll do my best to explain it:
Dear Fred,
There are some 150 active Officers . Sgt's & Lt's (you and me are 2 of them) that owe NYCERS money.
1. The 20/50 Pension is made law in Aug. 1995
2. The first requirement was that we had to pay a 6 month "vig" of 5.5% for the 6 months prior to Aug 1995. That meant at the time that anyone meeting the requirements of the 20/50 could actually retire in Aug. 1995 and some people did.
3. Effective Aug. 1995 everyone in the plan had to pay a total of 8.5% in pension till the cows came home.
4. NYCERS & TBTA did not have compatible computer systems to deduct the additional 5.5% and no additional Member Contributions (AMC) were made for about 3 years.
5. In 1998 they finally begin to deduct the full 8,5% from our pensions and also deduct additional AMC's to catch up for the time period between Aug. 1995 and 1998, known on our checks as BFEE.
6. The pension law changes and our 3% contributions end after 10 years minimum or longer, and the 5.5% ends after 20 years of service but the stopping of the 3% and the 5.5.% drags on and we pay  an overage into NYCERS.
7. NYCERS refunds overages and sends us 1099 forms as we have to pay tax on the money refunded because it was originally witheld under 414h laws and was tax deferred.
8. * (Note) WIthin the last year or so, most BTOs finish off the BFEE catch up.
9. 2008 NYCERS realizes that most retiring BTOs have a deficit and that is because we never paid the original 6 month "vig" which was the very first requirement of the bill.
10. 2009. NYCERS moves to correct the deficits and we are screwed for the 6 month owed.
You can still retire with a deficit and a reduced pension until such time as the deficit is paid off. Actives can pay in payments at no interest or make a lump sum payment. The payment rate will be about (X) amount for 2 years or so.
* The BFEE was calculated for the 3 years we owed while waiting for NYCERS/TBTA to begin AMC's. It  probably should have been calculated to include the 6 month VIG as well but it wasn't.
Hope this helps.
Greg Lombardi - VIce President

Dear Members:

We are very pleased to announce that the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association is sponsoring its Second Annual Art Calendar Contest for the school children of all active Bridge and Tunnel Officers. The money raised through vendor and fraternal donations to our 2010 Children’s Art Calendar will go to help fund the B.T.O.B.A. Scholarship Fund.

Last years calendar was a great success! Our member’s children won 13 new computers. This year we hope to have even a greater success. Children in grades Kindergarten through 12 are urged to submit a drawing with a law enforcement theme and/or a theme related to the month that corresponds with their grade, to be used in the 2010 Calendar.

The 13 winners, one from each respective grade, will be featured during the following months:

Kindergarten: December 2009 7th Grade: July 2010

1st Grade: January 2010 8th Grade: August 2010

2nd Grade: February 2010 9th Grade: September 2010

3rd Grade: March 2010 10th Grade: October 2010

4th Grade: April 2010 11th Grade: November 2010

5th Grade: May 2010 12th Grade: December 2010

6th Grade: June 2010

Examples of themes related to the entrants corresponding grade might be 2nd Grade (February) entrants incorporating a law enforcement and Valentine’s Day theme; 7th Grade entrants (July) incorporating a law enforcement theme and Independence Day; 12th Grade (December) incorporating a law enforcement theme and a Holiday theme.

Entrants must include their name, address, phone number, age, grade and school attended as well as the name and Facility of their parent or guardian who is a B.T.O.B.A. member. Addresses will not be used on the calendar. Winners will receive new computers from corporate sponsors and runners up will receive gift cards from various retailers.

All winners will be picked by an independent judge. All of the proceeds will be donated to the B.T.O.B.A. Scholarship Fund. Entries MUST be submitted on an 8 ½ by 11" landscape side (horizontal) sheet of white paper. They must be a HORTIZONTAL line drawing and NO oil or charcoal drawings are allowed.Entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, August, 14, 2009. They should be mailed to:

Kevin Heltzer, Research-Negotiations Chairman


1140 Bay Street

Suite A & B

Staten Island, New York 10305


Kevin Heltzer

Research Negotiations Chairman











MTA may fight panel's hefty pay hikes for transit workers

Saturday, August 15th 2009, 4:00 AM

A state judge can throw out a contract after concluding arbitrators didn't properly apply the criteria mandated by the legislation, including an employer's ability to pay wages and benefits.

The pact grants transit workers staggered annual raises totaling 4%, 4% and 3.5% over the three-year contract.

MTA officials said it would increase costs by $350 million.

The major provisions in the contract crafted by the arbitrators mirror the terms supported last year by MTA CEO Elliot Sander and NYC Transit President Howard Roberts before direct talks with union boss Roger Toussaint ended and the two sides turned to arbitration to finalize a deal. Sander resigned in May.

The MTA under acting CEO Helena Williams tried unsuccessfully to steer the panel away from the framework supported by Sander and Roberts, concluding it spelled a bad financial deal for the authority, even if it included removing conductors from some subway lines.

A union spokesman said the MTA's legal review is "another attempt by the MTA to mask its incompetence."

The 20 Year/Age 50 Pension Has been Renewed!
The special 20 Years of Service/Age 50 Pension for BTOs, Sergeants and Lieutenants has passed both the Assembly and Senate and has been signed into law by Governor David Paterson.

The last contract included the following new payments:
July 2, 2009 - Perfect Attendance Pay

...more on this as the photos arrive.

OSHA raps MTA with 300G in fines for punishing workers who claimed injuries on job

Friday, June 19th 2009, 4:00 AM


The OSHA decisions suggested the MTA ignored its own procedures by punishing workers who fell or were hurt, in violation of a federal rail safety law passed in 2007.

The Feds slapped the MTA on Thursday with more than $300,000 in fines for punishing four Metro-North workers who claimed they were hurt on the job.

OSHA found supervisors guilty of retaliating against the workers after they complained about injuries suffered while working on suburban line trains in 2007 and '08.

"Railroad employees have the right to report occupational injuries and illnesses without fear that doing so will negatively affect their jobs, their health or their income," said Jordan Barab, an OSHA official.

The decisions suggested the MTA ignored its own procedures by punishing workers who fell or were hurt, in violation of a federal rail safety law passed in 2007.

Custodian Ralph Tagliatela of West Haven, Conn., car cleaner Larry Ellis of the Bronx, track worker Andy Barati of Waterbury, Conn., and electrician Anthony Santiago of upstate Hopewell Junction will each get $75,000 in punitive damages under the order.

They'll also get up to $10,000 in compensatory damages and lost wages, plus interest, and legal fees.

The railroad will also have to post notices saying it won't retaliate against workers who report injuries on the job.

Metro-North spokesman Dan Brucker said the railroad was looking into the decision.


Send your contract demand ideas here

We received the following heads up from TBTA's Frank Ronci about checking to be sure that your beneficiary is accurate on your Prudential 457/401 plan:
 Recently the beneficiary data from the prior MTA Deferred Compensation Plan administrator, FAS Corp., was  uploaded in to the Prudential Financial Services database. Unfortunately this information reflects data that is dated October 2008, when FAS Corp. was the administrator for the plan.

In order to ensure that this important piece of data reflects your beneficiary choice accurately, I encourage everyone to check their beneficiary designation online or via telephone with Prudential. If you want to change the current beneficiary information you can do so at that time either online, via paper format.

The Prudential website is : . If you choose to make your beneficiary choice on-line the path is: I'm a Participant/ID & Password/401 or 457 View Details/Other Links - Personal Information/Beneficiary Change.

If you choose to make your beneficiary choice on paper, forms can be downloaded from the website, or they are attached here for your convenience.

The Prudential telephone number is 877-756-4682

Sweet Lord!  What is this world coming to?
May these brave fallen heroes rest in peace! Amen.

Below are the results if the election for Chief Delegate at the following facilities:
Andrew Peeples  - 30
James T. O'Connor  - 27
Chris D'Amico - 11
Michael Rosseti - 6
Void - 3
Daniel Reichart - 28
Worrel Francis - 19
Laura Tully - 7
Silvestro Tierno - 4
Void - 1
Cerrone Danzy - 12
Angel Figueroa - 5
Glenn Perez - 5
Void - 3
RFK- Manhattan
Christopher Duffy - 35
Thomas Turner - 11
Void - 2
Darnell Eason - 47
Bruce Sokolovic - 42
Void - 1
Orlando Padilla - 9
Nikole Brown - 1
Void - 1
Thanks to all of the Officers who ran in this election. You care and dedication is well noted.

The Spring General Membership Meeting will be held on Friday, March 27, 2009 at 11 AM at the Locust Point Civic Association. The building is located near the Throgs Neck Bridge in the Bronx.
A representative from AFLAC will be available at the meeting for information and consultation.

All Bridge & Tunnel Officers are strongly urged not to have any FACEBOOK, MYSPACE etc. and/or personal web pages that display or make any reference to their names, their job, their weapons, their training or work locations in any way.
About New York

The Officer Who Posted Too Much on MySpace

Published: March 10, 2009  - The New York Times

In pictures, Vaughan Ettienne is a champion bodybuilder of surreal musculature. In conversation, he is polite and thoughtful.

And in the looking glass of his computer screen, he becomes a man of fierce, profane views on how to keep law and order. A few weeks ago, he posted a description of his mood on a MySpace account. “Devious,” he wrote.

The next day, a man accused of carrying a loaded gun would go on trial in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn — and in large part, the case rested on the credibility of Vaughan Ettienne, bodybuilder, Internet user and arresting officer.

What seemed like a simple gun possession case became an undeclared war over reality: Was Officer Ettienne a diligent cop who found a gun after chasing an ex-convict weaving through traffic on a stolen motorcycle? Or was his story a “devious” facade in keeping with the ruthless character he revealed on social network Web sites?

“You have your Internet persona, and you have what you actually do on the street,” Officer Ettienne said on Tuesday. “What you say on the Internet is all bravado talk, like what you say in a locker room.”

Except that trash talk in locker rooms almost never winds up preserved on a digital server somewhere, available for subpoena. The man on trial, Gary Waters, claimed that Officer Ettienne and his partner stopped him, beat him and then planted a gun on him to justify breaking three of his ribs.

Suddenly, Officer Ettienne was being held to the words that he wrote in cyberspace.

Besides the “devious” mood setting, the jurors learned that a few weeks before the trial, the officer posted this status on his Facebook page: “Vaughan is watching ‘Training Day’ to brush up on proper police procedure.”

That referred to a 2001 movie starring Denzel Washington as a narcotics detective who pillaged and plundered Los Angeles. “The defense lawyer brings up ‘Training Day’ — like I was trying to emulate Denzel,” Officer Ettienne said. “He ties the defense to the story in the movie. It was a masterful piece of fantasy — but it was one that the jury bought.”

In fact, Mr. Waters, on parole from a burglary conviction when he was arrested, beat the most serious charge, the felony possession of a 9 millimeter Beretta and a bagful of ammunition. He was convicted of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

When the case started, the defense was going to focus more on what was in the officer’s body than on his mind. Officer Ettienne had been suspended for using steroids — legally, he says, with a doctor’s prescription. The defense lawyer, Adrian Lesher of the Legal Aid Society, argued last year that steroids might have created irrational rage in Officer Ettienne.

Then Mr. Lesher tracked down comments Officer Ettienne had made on the Internet about video clips of arrests. An officer should not have punched a handcuffed man, Officer Ettienne wrote. “If he wanted to tune him up some, he should have delayed cuffing him.”

He added: “If you were going to hit a cuffed suspect, at least get your money’s worth ’cause now he’s going to get disciplined for” a relatively light punch.

“I’m not going to say it was the best of things to do in retrospect,” Officer Ettienne said. “You want to run your mouth with the best of them. As the lawyer Ron Kuby says, stupidity on the Internet is there for everyone to see for all times in perpetuity. That’s the case for me. There were hundreds of comments I made that were positive.”

Officer Ettienne said he has never been disciplined for brutality.

From the defense side, the mouth-running was a gift outright. “It supported our theory of the case — this guy was motivated to cover up his use of excessive force,” Mr. Lesher said.

The prosecutor, Kevin James, tried to persuade the judge, Joel M. Goldberg, that remarks like the one about “Training Day” had nothing to do with the arrest. “It goes into artistic interpretations to a movie, directorship, actors,” Mr. James said.

“I don’t think it’s enlightening.” The judge replied, “If you want to redirect and the witness says I liked it because of the cinematography, he can say that.”

Officer Ettienne said he is now being careful to mask his identity on the Web and that he has curbed his tongue because of the acquittal. “I feel it’s partially my fault,” he said. “It paints a picture of a person who could be overly aggressive. You put that together, it’s reasonable doubt in anybody’s mind.”

You may have received information in the mail from the Social Security Administration about MTA Bridges & Tunnels misreporting your 2008 Wages. There was a mistake in the information that the Authority forwarded to Social Security as they left off everyone's LAST NAME. The Authority is re-sending the correct information to Social Security and you need take no action to correct the problem.

Special thanks to our Chief Delegates and members from the Throgs Neck, Bronx-Whitestone, RFK Manhattan and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges  and The Brooklyn-Battery and Queens-Midtown Tunnels who have been working closely with the BTOBA Executive Board this week as we worked together on some schedule changes and new bids for 2009.

From The Chief - January 16, 2009

An appellate court judge reinstated an arbitrator's ruling that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could force Bridge and Tunnel Officers to use vacation time for absences from work taken under the Family Medical Leave Act for personal or family emergencies.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled Dec. 23 that a State Supreme Court decision in favor of the union, "impermissibly substituted its judgment and interpretation" of the collective bargaining agreement for that of the arbitrator. The appellate justices found that there were no grounds to overturn the decision reached by the arbitrator, because it was not "completely irrational." The courts usually require that an administrative ruling be "arbitrary and capricious" as the sole basis for overturning it.

Union: Ruling 'Ludicrous'

The Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association was outraged by the decision and plans an appeal. "We feel it is ludicrous and it is incorrect," said Vice President Greg Lombardi. "The FMLA can't diminish anything in the collective bargaining agreement."

The issue for Mr. Lombardi's members was that they could have a family or personal emergency that required them to take time from work, only to return to find they had been docked vacation time. "For the department to force the use of vacation time when on family leave is cruel for one thing and mindboggling," he said.

The MTA had no comment. The union and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority first went to an independent arbitrator over the matter in 2005. Mr. Lombardi said the original arbitrator ruled in favor of the union but limited his decision to the two named plaintiffs in the case, not the entire membership, despite BTOBA's evidence that the problem extended to other members. This necessitated a second arbitrator, whose decision cut against the ruling of the first one by saying that 25 percent of vacation time could be used towards FMLA days.

Twice Reversed in Court

From there the bridge and tunnel cops' union brought the matter into the court system. The lower-court judge, State Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada, ruled that the authority's practice of docking vacation days violated the collective-bargaining agreement. This decision overturned the ruling of the arbitrator.

The authority then took the case to the Appellate Division.

"Naturally, we plan a vigorous appeal," said Mr. Lombardi. He added that the issue continues to be a problem for bridge and tunnel cops. "Family Medical Leave Act is an employee benefit and they are trying to make it an employer benefit," he said.

(Photos courtesy BTO Frank Burgos - QMT)
The B & T Honor Guard were in action in The Veteran's Day Parade, representing all the men and women of our force.  Great job Officers and thank you!

The Outstanding Bridge & Tunnel Honor Guard - Please Press Here.

The BTOBA Scholarship Fund Hits Home
For the Children of our Officers!


Marine Parkway Bridge Officer Thomas Adrian (r) receives his daughter Kaila's winning prize from BTOBA Research/Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer (l)

Nikolas Ballestero, son of Verrazano-Narrows Officer Eugene Ballestero was another BTOBA Scholarship Fund Winner. BTOBA Scholarship Fund Director Officer Kevin Heltzer presents Officer Ballestero with a brand new Dell Computer for his son!

(l) Research/Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer
VNB Officer Eugene Ballestero {r}

A Fine Day in The Bronx
Though the Bronx Bombers didn't make it through this season, there were still lots of winners in the Bronx.  The children of Officers from the Throgs Neck Bridge and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge who submitted their winning drawings to the BTOBA Calendar Art Contest received their computers.
BTO Joseph Brigante Sr. son, Joseph Jr., of Throgs Neck Bridge, and Bronx-Whitestone's  BTO Jeanette LInares son Adam Bochno, BTO Vincent Kavaluskie's daughter, Gabrielle, and BTO Elizabeth Montoya's daughter Alexis, were not available today but they all received their computers.
BTO MIchael Kotas' son Nicholas and BTO Carl Mosby's son Tyrree will be receiving the computers their Dad's picked up today and Officer Mosby's daughter Tyra won a $100 Visa Card as our top runner-up winner as well.


from l. to r. BTO MIchael Kotas, BTO Greg Lombardi, BTO Kevin Heltzer, BTO Bryan Walsh and BTO Carl Mosby as Officers Kotas and Mosby received computers for their children.
(BTO Wallace Butler - Photo)
2 DOWN, 11 TO GO!
QMT Officers Fred Skepner and Alexander Montoya (and BWB Officer Elizabeth Montoya), the proud parents of children who's calendar art was selected as winners in the art contest took home two new Dell computers to Fred's daughter, Stacey and Alexander & Elizabeth's daughter, Alexis, as the first recipients of The BTOBA Scholarship Fund.


[l to r, BTOBA Research/Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer, BTO Fred Skepner, BTO Alexander Montoya, BTOBA Vice President, Greg Lombardi, BTOBA Health & Safety Officer Bryan Walsh.] (Charles Bishop - Photo)


[l to r, BTOBA Vice President Greg Lombardi, BTOBA Research/Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer, BTO Fred Skepner, BTOBA  Health & Safety Officer Bryan Walsh.] ( Grievance Chairman - Charles Bishop - Photo)

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR CALENDAR ART WINNERS! Computers will be distributed in the coming weeks to the children listed below:

MONTH      NAME      FACILITY        


JAN 09               ALEXUS SEEGER   TBM              JOHN SEEGER - Parent

FEB 09               JOSEPH BRIGANTE JR.  TNB              JOSEPH BRIGANTE SR. - Parent

MARCH 09         ADAM BOCHNO           BWB            JEANETTE LINARES - Parent

APRIL 09            KAITLYN DiMATTEO      CBB              MICHAEL DiMATTEO - Parent



JULY 09        KRISTEN McGUINESS     HHB              JAMES McGUINESS - Parent

AUGUST 09       KAILA ADRIAN        MPB              THOMAS ADRIAN   - Parent    


OCTOBER 09        TYRREE MOSBY   BWB             CARL MOSBY - Parent





Any BTO who wishes to enroll in the new Flexible Pending Account must do do by telephone or via the internet. The telephone number for  enrollment is 1-877-WAGEWORKS. Their web address is

You must enroll between November 1 - November 30, 2008.  If you have any questions please call the TBTA Benefits Department at 646-252-7935.





Pregnant flaws for Bridge & Tunnel cop

Monday, August 11th 2008, 4:00 AM

MTA bosses decided a pregnant Bridges and Tunnels officer was unfit for duty, stripped her of her gun and sent her to work in a tollbooth.

"Being pregnant here - it's like wearing a scarlet letter 'P' on your chest," said Lori Ann DiPalo, 36, the MTA Bridges and Tunnels officer.

After being out of work for two weeks, her personal doctor gave her a full exam and decided DiPalo, who was 10 weeks pregnant, was fit for duty: able to carry and use her weapon with no restrictions.

But a doctor for Bridges and Tunnels read DiPalo's file and decided she shouldn't carry a gun.

"When I asked why, they said they didn't want to risk abdominal injury or me having to use 'deadly physical force,'" she said.

So DiPalo - unarmed but in uniform - now stands in a bridge tollbooth from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. collecting tolls.

"I like the night shift, but they have me standing there in my uniform, unarmed, unable to take any action," she said.

"If there is going to be trouble, the toll plaza is where it happens, but I won't be able to act."

In her six years as a peace officer, DiPalo has arrested frauds, drunken drivers and other people who had noright to be behind the wheel. She has dispatched officers, handled roll call and patrolled the vulnerable bases of various bridges and entrances to tunnels - considered key targets for potential terror attacks.

"I like my job. I want to work. My doctor said I can," she said.

A Bridges and Tunnels spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on individual personnel matters, "but please note that our actions are guided by the advice of our agency's medical doctor."

Bridges and Tunnels union leaders said DiPalo wasn't the first pregnant officer to be sidelined by the authority, which runs and secures seven bridges and two tunnels throughout the city.

"Word got around that officers would lose their gun if pregnant. One woman didn't say a word until she was six months pregnant when her own doctor suggested she stop," said union official Greg Lombardi, first vice president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association. It's like it's still 1950 or something."

Michael McWeeney / Staten Island Advance

MTA officers scoop up bridge kittens

Officer John Esposito, center, will home Elle, one of three kittens recently thrown out of vehicles on the Verrazano-
Narrows Bridge. Another officer has also adopted a kitten

Bridge kittens arouse officers' protective instincts

by Staten Island Advance
Sunday August 10, 2008, 10:10 PM

Survivor of bridge ordeal, Elle will go home with Officer John Esposito.

Maybe they should pack catnip in their holsters.

It seems that in separate incidents, three kittens were tossed out of vehicles halfway across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, only to be scooped up by animal-loving MTA Bridge and Tunnel police officers.

Two cute and fuzzy 2-month-old calico kittens were adopted by the officers. Sadly, the third kitten was so badly injured that it had to be put down.

The first incident occurred two weeks ago.

Alerted by motorists who saw a kitten huddling against the roadway's wall, Officer Trevor Gibson of Arden Heights slowly drove his patrol car across the upper level until he found the little cat, midspan.

"It was up against the wall, scared to death," said Sgt. Kenny Winslow of Bay Terrace.

From his trunk, Gibson pulled out a pair of gloves and a blanket, and gently placed the kitten in a box. It was brought to Rosebank Animal Hospital, but the kitten's injuries were so serious, it had to be euthanized.

A few days later, a kitten was rescued on the upper level by Officers Joseph Dahl and Rosario Marino. This story has a happier ending.

On-duty a few miles away at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Officer Carlos Martinez, whose 17-year-old cat died recently, heard the news of the rescue over his radio and called back to the bridge officers that he wanted to adopt the kitten.

"Any cat that survives the upper level deserves a second chance," Martinez said.

The officer said he named the kitten "Miley," after his 6-year-old daughter Victoria's favorite pop star, Miley Cyrus.

After Miley's rescue, Officer Sabatino Ilardo of South Beach was on patrol when he saw a kitten curled up against the curb on the lower level.

He, too, tried to scoop up the cat in a blanket, but it ran away from him and jumped onto a support pillar overhanging the water. With nowhere else for the kitten to go but down, the officer was able to grab it. Officer Anthony Giacchi of Fort Wadsworth dubbed the little cat "Elle," as in the double L of lower level.

The kittens were treated for free by Dr. Christine Brognano of Rosebank Animal Hospital. Elle will remain at the vet's office for a while longer while she recovers from ringworm, fleas and ear mites.

Then, she's going home with Officer John Esposito of Graniteville -- and she's not the first pet he has brought home from work.

The self-proclaimed "cat freak," who sports a cat tattoo on his leg, rescued another cat a while back, found, appropriately enough, on the bridge's catwalk. A co-worker took the cat home and named her -- drumroll, please -- Bridget.

The officers believe the cats were most likely thrown out of moving cars.

Since they were found midway across the country's longest suspension bridge, "I doubt the mother cat left them there," Winslow said.

The kitten rescues are just the latest in the Verrazano's walk on the wild side.

From the peregrine falcons roosting above, the poison ivy-eating goats grazing below and the raccoons, dogs, and turkeys that have been rounded up on the roadway over the years, the call of the wild is all in a day's work for its crews.

-- Contributed by Maura Yates

Bridge & Tunnel Officer Darren Fox, a 7 1/2 year veteran of the force, risked his own life to stop and grab a jumper at edge of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Officer Fox drove up to a motorist  stopped on the Span at approximately 1400 hours on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.
He thought he was reponding to a disabled vehicle at first, but realized something was amiss when the motorist moved away from him and towards the edge of the bridge him when Officer Fox tried to approach him. Sensing some special handling was required, Officer Fox radioed in and then created a zone of safety between the distressed man and himself, to put the fellow at ease. 
His reasurring words and tones helped the man calm down.  Officer Fox said he felt that the gentleman "really needed sombody to talk to," so he kept talking with him and reassuring him and he was eventually able to rescue the man away from the treacherous edge and secure him.


Officers who wish to defer their October 2, 2008 retroactive pay increase to their MTA Deferred Compensation Plan must call the Bridges and Tunnels Benefits Office at 646-252-7935. Contributions can only be made to plans in which you actively participate. If your deferred amount causes you to exceed your $15,500 annual limit you must open a second plan (e.g. 401k, or 457 Over-age 50 - if you qualify) by calling FAS Corp at 866-682-7567. The period to call the Benefits Department to make this one-time change begins Thursday September 18, 2008 and runs until 4:00pm Thursday September 25, 2008.


If interested please contact Al Levy at 

Police Olympic Shooting Info


At 7:28 a.m. on April 25, 2007, in a quiet corner of the Catskill Mountains, an indoor motion alarm went off at a vacant farmhouse, a half-mile from where a van driven by a suspect in the shooting of a New York State trooper the previous day had been found abandoned.

Trooper Brinkerhoff with his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Isabella.

The alarm unleashed a chain of events that culminated in a fierce shootout involving an elite team of state troopers, known at the time as mobile response teams. In the two-minute gun battle, during which more than 80 bullets were fired, two men lost their lives: the suspect, Travis D. Trim, and one of the troopers, David C. Brinkerhoff.

Within a few days, State Police officials revealed that Trooper Brinkerhoff had killed Mr. Trim, a 23-year-old college dropout from North Lawrence, N.Y., and was then killed by a shot from a colleague.

The death of Trooper Brinkerhoff, 29, raised questions about the quality of the unit’s training, the tactics its members used in the farmhouse that morning and the conduct of the trooper who fired the fatal round. Meanwhile, State Police investigators remained tight-lipped as they tried to determine if negligence or other criminal behavior contributed in any way to Mr. Brinkerhoff’s death.

Fifteen months later, the first official account of what transpired at the farmhouse has emerged. An internal State Police report, obtained by The New York Times under a Freedom of Information request, reveals that Trooper Brinkerhoff may have unknowingly placed himself in the line of fire when he raised his head just as a colleague standing behind him fired a shot at Mr. Trim.

The report outlines two other similar scenarios, which it says “share equal weight as being the most probable.” One scenario has the colleague, Norville Yearwood, lowering his aim and firing at Mr. Trim, who was crouched across the room, but striking Trooper Brinkerhoff instead. The other suggests that Trooper Brinkerhoff raised his head and Trooper Yearwood simultaneously fired a low shot.

In December, the Delaware County district attorney, Richard D. Northrup Jr., ruled that “no reasonable view of the evidence” would sustain criminal charges “against anyone other than Travis D. Trim,” according to a document that is part of the report.

In an interview on Sunday, Harry J. Corbitt, the New York State Police superintendent, said that Trooper Brinkerhoff’s death was “a tragic accident” that resulted from “a very intense firefight” in a farmhouse carved into rooms of different shapes and sizes.

“Certainly there was no criminal intent here and that’s what the report shows,” Mr. Corbitt said.

Still, the State Police has instituted a series of changes after Trooper Brinkerhoff’s death. The unit is now called the special operations team to reflect the uniqueness of its members’ skills — from their knowledge of dangerous rescue techniques to their specialized weapons training and their ability to perform risky searches and raids. The troopers who are part of it are now permanently assigned to one of four teams in the state; in the past, the teams were assembled only when needed, and their members otherwise spent their time on routine duties like highway patrol, Mr. Corbitt explained.

There is new equipment, like armored cars and better bullet-proof vests, and there are psychologists assigned to track candidates through the selection and training process to make sure that they can handle the high-stress situations that are common in their jobs, Mr. Corbitt said.

“We certainly looked at every aspect of the team and we made wholesale changes so we could provide the best possible protection to our members,” he said.

The report, finalized in June, shows that for the State Police, figuring out what happened inside the farmhouse at 1245 Cemetery Road in the northern Catskills, near Margaretville, N.Y., was much like trying to solve a puzzle with a few pieces missing.

Mr. Trim had died in the firefight, but the troopers did not know that when they left the house carrying Mr. Brinkerhoff. Once the troopers were outside, officers lobbed a tear-gas canister inside the house in an effort to flush out Mr. Trim. When that seemed to have no effect, they tossed in a second canister, not knowing that it was filled with an incendiary material that wound up igniting a first-floor bedroom.

Within seconds, the farmhouse was ablaze.

The fire destroyed much of the evidence, making it hard to determine exactly where Mr. Trim and Trooper Brinkerhoff were when they were shot. The damage that the fire caused to the farmhouse also made it impossible for investigators to figure out the trajectory of the shots fired by Mr. Trim, the report says.

Still, investigators assembled enough material to cobble together an official version of the events. They used statements from dozens of witnesses, including the troopers who were in the farmhouse that morning. They examined the locations of shell casings to determine who fired their weapons, where they were when they fired and how many rounds were fired in all. They also analyzed radio transmissions and the results of the autopsies performed on Trooper Brinkerhoff and Mr. Trim, among other things.

The report described the following sequence of events.

The search for Mr. Trim began on the afternoon of April 24, after Mr. Trim shot a trooper who had pulled him over in Margaretville because the van he was driving — and which turned out to have been stolen — was missing a license plate. (The bullet struck the trooper’s protective vest and he was not seriously injured.)

By the next morning, scores of state troopers descended on the area, perhaps haunted at the time by several tragic deaths among their colleagues. In the previous 14 months, six troopers had died, including two who were shot in 2006 by a fugitive, Ralph L. Phillips — known as Bucky — whom Trooper Brinkerhoff had helped track.

The troopers who went to the farmhouse after the motion alarm was activated found the front door and windows closed, but saw an open window in an adjacent barn. In a loft upstairs, the troopers retrieved a backpack with Mr. Trim’s Social Security card and a Smith & Wesson revolver. Propped against a wall were two more guns: a loaded 270-caliber Winchester and an unloaded single-shot hunting rifle.

A commander ordered seven troopers inside the farmhouse, including Mr. Brinkerhoff and Mr. Yearwood. The team scoured the first floor and then moved to the second floor, where the gun battle began. According to the report, Mr. Trim fired the first shot, striking Trooper Brinkerhoff’s armored vest. At 8:55 a.m., after several of the troopers had shot at him, Mr. Trim returned fire, this time hitting Trooper Richard Mattson in the left arm. (Trooper Mattson survived his injury.)

Eventually, three of the troopers found themselves in a second-floor bedroom, as Mr. Trim crouched in a passageway that linked it to another room. Trooper Richard Verdesi was in front and to the left of the other two. Trooper Brinkerhoff was in the middle and Trooper Yearwood was directly behind him, according to the report.

Trooper Brinkerhoff fired the shot that struck Mr. Trim in the right temple, killing him instantly, as an autopsy would determine. Trooper Yearwood discharged the shot that hit Mr. Brinkerhoff in the head, just below the helmet, the report said.

No one saw Trooper Yearwood fire the fatal shot, one of 28 shots he fired that morning. According to the report, Mr. Yearwood told investigators that he did not believe Trooper Brinkerhoff could have known that he was right behind him, firing his gun.

Trooper Yearwood resigned from the special operations unit, but remains a member of the State Police, said its superintendent, Mr. Corbitt.

Bridge & Tunnel Cops Ratify New Pact
Bridge and tunnel cops ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement by an overwhelming 84%, one of the highest margins of approval in a contract ratification vote in the history of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association.
The 771 bridge and tunnel cops provide law enforcement and other services
at the bridges and tunnels operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, including the
Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown Tunnels, and the Triborough Whitestone,
Throgs Neck, Henry Hudson, Verrazano Narrows, Cross Bay and Marine Parkway
The contract, retroactive to March 1, 2006, expires May 19, 2009. Besides
wage increases totaling 10.5%, the contract provides an unprecedented
annual law enforcement differential, recognizing the dramatically increased role
of bridge and tunnel cops since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
In addition, all bridge and tunnel cops will continue to receive a
comprehensive medical benefits package without paying out-of-pocket premiums. They

also won an additional paid holiday and other monetary gains, including
substantial increases in longevity pay and uniform allowance. The union fought back management's attempt to have bridge and tunnel cops
pay medical benefits out-of-pocket on an escalating percentage basis. Other
MTA unions currently pay out-of-pocket medical, which has already surpassed
1.5% of their gross wages.
"It was a long and difficult negotiation process, but we didn't leave the
table until we could come away with a package commensurate with the services
provided by bridge and tunnel cops. The overwhelming ratification vote speaks
for itself," said Joe Mauro, President of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association.
"This contract provides economic gains and other benefits that helps to meet the
needs of our members and their families,": added union Vice President Greg Lombardi.
Of the 591 valid ballots cast, 502 voted to approve the new contract.


Triborough Bridge walk takes toll on fugitive - he gets arrested
By Jonathan Lemire

Friday, July 4th 2008, 10:08 PM

A man wanted for threatening police officers in Washington, D.C., was arrested Friday after he was spotted loitering near a high-security area of the Triborough Bridge, officials said.

Sharp-eyed Bridge and Tunnel cop Cesar Alvarez had just gone off duty and was in his car heading home at 8:30 a.m. when he spotted a familiar face on the bridge's span, officials said.

Alvarez recognized Terrence Blackman, 46, from a police bulletin. Blackman was wanted for threatening cops in the nation's capital and for an outstanding felony warrant in New York.

Calling for backup, Alvarez, a 16-year veteran, followed in his car as Blackman walked along the pedestrian ramp. The suspect was arrested as soon as he reached 125th St. in Manhattan, officials said.

Cops searched Blackman's backpack and discovered two 10-inch throwing knives, one 8-inch dagger and a mysterious white powder.

Blackman was charged with loitering, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of an illegal substance. He was expected to be extradited to Washington, officials said.

The Bill (A4573) to include BTO Crime Statistics in DCJS Reports passes Assembly & Senate, going to Governor Paterson



Dear BTOBA Sisters and Brothers, 

The BTOBA Executive Board has negotiated a new tentative contract agreement with Triborough that provides wage, increases and other economic gains, as well as improvements and enhancements to benefits, retroactive to March 1, 2006. The new agreement, which would run through May 19, 2009, is tentative pending ratification by the union membership.

          More specifically, this new pact provides all BTOs with increases in wages (10.5% over the life of the contract), longevity pay, uniform allowance, Check-In/Check-Out, paid holidays, and in many other areas. In addition, for the first time in our history, BTOs will receive a ground-breaking law enforcement differential. We were able to remove clauses in the old contract that were detrimental to BTOs, especially those hired after 1997 -- for example, a clause that allowed Triborough to deny this group weekends off for their entire career. We also had the progressive discipline clause amended, and we got Triborough to make the current vacation scheduling permanent for all BTOs, which means those hired after 1997 are no longer at the mercy of management’s scheduling whims.

        In addition, we fought back many of Triborough’s demands. Management wanted us to pay out-of-pocket for our medical coverage like other MTA unions. We said no. They wanted to eliminate Check-In/Check-Out. We not only said no, we won an increase. There are many more areas where we made gains and also rejected Triborough’s demands. You the full Memorandum of Understanding and now we have provided a synopsis of the highlights of the tentative agreement, along with the full Memorandum of Understanding. Also enclosed is a secret mail-home ratification ballot that must be received by July 10th. Please review all of the enclosed material with your family so that you can cast an informed ratification vote. The entire BTOBA Executive Board and the full Delegate Body voted unanimously to bring this contract offer to the membership for a vote.

  In closing, we believe the increases, improvements and enhancements in this tentative pact will meet the needs of BTOs and their families well into the future and, therefore, respectfully recommend that you vote to accept this new tentative contract. 

In solidarity, 

The BTOBA Executive Board 

What We Won at the Collective Bargaining Table: 

A new 38 1/2  month contract retroactive to March 1, 2006 through May 19, 2009. 

Wage increases totaling 10.5% implemented as follows: 3% retroactive to March 1, 2006, 4% retroactive to March 1, 2007, and 3.5% retroactive to March 1, 2008. 

Top salary increases from $52, 714 to $58,444, along with differential and fringe benefits.

  No employee out-of-pocket contribution to medical plan! 

A ground-breaking extra $200 annual law enforcement differential. 

Disciplinary improvements. A first discipline is expunged from BTOs’ record after five years without a subsequent discipline except for insubordination or termination cases. 

The current vacation scheduling system is permanent for all BTOs, meaning that all BTOs hired prior to 1997 are no longer at the mercy of Triborough’s mandatory vacation slots.  

Removed clause in old contract that precluded BTOs hired after 1997 from having weekends off. Triborough now has to give BTOs hired after 1997  at least 3 of every 10 weekends off, protecting all new hires against never having a weekend off during their entire career. 

Longevity allowance increased by $100 per step; also added a pensionable longevity step of $2,600 after 25 years of service.  

Uniform allowance increased by $100, from $1,100 to $1,200. 

Check-In/Check-Out amount increased by $150, from $2,122 to $2,272. 

Increase in TBTA’s contribution to the BTOBA Family Protection Plan benefits, including the annual sum of $2,500 per active member and retiree effective May 15, 2008 and $2,620 per effective Feb. 15. 2009. In addition, Triborough will make a one-time contribution of $130,000 to the Family Protection Plan. 

An extra paid holiday upon contract ratification, with future additional paid holiday accrual on Jan. 31st.  

All days for perfect attendance will be cashed out and paid at the higher Paid Holiday Rate. 

Improvements on Forced Overtime: In cases of forced OT, the junior BTO on the tour who has not worked OT that tour or who is not working his/her RDO, will be required to work ordered OT. 

OT can be offered to a BTO even when replacing an absent temporary worker.

  Documentation is no longer required for the first three emergency personal business (EPBs) in a leave year (except for those taken the day before/after or on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, July 4th, Labor Day, and EPBs taken before/after RDOs or vacation.

  A BTO who fails the gun-qualifying test is now entitled to a requalify on paid time, regardless of the score, on the same day or the next business day using rounds provided by Triborough (practice rounds are increased from 50 to 100, unless the BTO qualifies after the initial 50 rounds). BTOs in this situation will receive any necessary instruction prior to the requalification. 

A panel consisting of a Triborough and union representative will hear appeals in cases of firearm removal. If an agreement cannot be reached, the MTA director of security (who has law enforcement background), instead of the VP of operations, will make a ruling on the appeal.  

BTOs will receive OT up to 4 hours past their regular tour due to arrest duties. If arrest duties continue over 4 hours, instead of OT the next regular tour is advanced, with the BTO receiving straight time pay (including all differentials) for the advanced tour (instead of pay for the original tour. If arrest duties continue past 8 hours of the advanced tour, however, the BTO will resume OT pay for all hours beyond the 8-hour advanced tour.  

A suspended BTO can bid on a new facility (but cannot transfer to the new facility until the suspension is served). 

Additional affordable life insurance (approximately $200,000, without a medical exam) under the management group life insurance program is available to BTOs (paid by BTOs). Aflac is available to all BTOs for a two-year trial period. 

Additional Changes: First Step Salary will remain at $36,900 for the first year of employment following ratification of the contract and new Officers in the first 11 weeks of training at the Academy will be paid 15% below starting salary. (Approximately $100 per week) After the first year, Officers will be paid the full second year rate.

We Rejected and Defeated These Triborough Concession Demands:

Triborough wanted us to pay out-of-pocket for our medical benefits on an escalating percentage basis the same as other MTA unions, which have already surpassed 1.5% of their gross wages. We will not pay any premiums for our our medical coverage!

Triborough wanted to eliminate our Check-In/Check-Out. We not only said no, we won an increase in Check-In/Check-Out.    

Triborough wanted mandatory cash payments for two paid holidays, which would have meant loss of OT and a day off. We said no, and instead won an extra paid holiday and BTOs still have the discretion to take paid holidays as cash or days off.

Triborough wanted to treat a 6-hour notification of cancellation of OT as an absence, requiring a doctor’s note even though it isn’t even scheduled work.

Triborough wanted to transfer anyone at the tunnels who was not gun-qualified and authorized.. Instead, transfers to the tunnels will have to be gun-qualified and authorized.

Officers looking for affordable housing in New York City have their work cut out for them. The link below may provide some useful leads.
Additional Housing Help:


Applications of interest are now available for six new condominium apartments being constructed at 237 & 247 W. 115th Street in the West Harlem section of Manhattan. These condominiums are being offered through the Cornerstone Program of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
Amenities include a bike storage room; landscaped courtyard; state of the art kitchens and baths; and washer/dryer in each apartment. All apartments will be pre-wired and ready for cable TV and high-speed Internet access.
Three 1-bedroom/1 bath apartments priced at $136,903 and three 1 bedroom/2 bath apartments priced at $168,836 will be offered. Assuming a 10% down payment, the apartments are affordable
to families with incomes between $35,000 and $49,150, as adjusted for household size.

All purchasers must have suffi cient combined income, and debt limitations to qualify for mortgage financing, down payment, and closing costs. End loan fi nancing is available to qualifi ed applicants
through institutional lenders. Assets of purchasers may not exceed $96,465.60.
Applications of interest may be requested as follows:
By email from:
By mail to: Delany Lofts Lottery, P.O. Box 1797, Morningside Station, NY, NY 10026.
Completed applications must be returned by regular mail only (no priority, certified, registered, express or overnight mail will be accepted) to a post offi ce box number listed on the application, and must be postmarked by May 24, 2008.
All applications postmarked after the deadline date of May 24, 2008 will be set aside for possible future consideration. Applicants and/or co-applicants who submit more than one application will be


Prospective buyers will be selected by a lottery. Preference will be given to New York City residents. In addition, residents of Manhattan Community Board 10 will receive preference for 50% of the
apartments, households that include person(s) with mobility impairments will receive a preference for 5% of the apartments; households that include person(s) with hearing or visual impairments will receive preference for 2% of the apartments; and Municipal Employees of the City of New York will receive preference for 5% of the apartments.
Informational seminars will be held on: Tuesday, April 8th and Wednesday, April 30th. Both seminars will be held at the State Offi ce Building at 163 W. 125th Street and will be held from 6:30 PM to
8 PM. Picture I.D. is required. Seminar attendance is not mandatory.
No brokers’ fee or application fee is charged for this development. Prospective applicants who currently own, or have in the last fi ve years owned, a residence developed under an HPD, NYCPartnership or NYC Housing Development Corporation project or programs are ineligible.

The Officer Next Door Program - Bridge & Tunnel Officers as sworn Peace Officers are eligible for a 50% savings on the cost of a single family home in select areas under HUD's Officer Next Door Program.  Please click the link below for further information:

Off-Duty Firearms
Many Officers are unsure of which off-duty weapons we are authorized to carry. Bridge & Tunnel Officers may carry the Glock Model 26, 9 .mm or a .38 caliber revolver manufactured by Smith & Wesson, Colt and Ruger. All firearmes must conform to the TBTA Gun Policy in terms of style, color and ammo carried.

Weigh Full Automation
MTA Bridge Union: Bell Not Tolling Yet

By ARI PAUL - The Chief - March 14, 2006

While toll collectors at Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels may be replaced by an electronic tolling system, their union leader remains unafraid - for now.

JOE MAURO: Questions plan's viability.
"They're going to do a study," said Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association President Joe Mauro in a March 6 phone interview. "I don't know what that means. They've done studies on a lot of things, but that doesn't mean it comes to pass."

Drive Now, Pay Later?

He had been informed before MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander's "State of the MTA" address March 3 that the authority was considering a video system that would record license numbers and bill drivers who do not use the E-Z Pass system.

Mr. Mauro doubted that such a system would better serve the MTA.

"If you drive through a toll, who's going to be collecting tolls from these people?" he asked.

Noting that the MTA had been considering the plan for a while, City Council Transportation Committee Chairman John Liu said that more unmanned tolling was inevitable.

"The systems are not going to be perfected for a long time, so some human presence is still going to be needed for the foreseeable future," he said. "And the reality is any time this kind of technology is introduced, it creates new jobs that will then need to be filled."

William Anderson, a professor at the Center for Transportation Studies at Boston University, said that there are systems similar to the one the MTA will study in London and Toronto.

Succeeded Elsewhere

"It's one of those technologies where it almost sounds like it wouldn't work, but it seems to be working in a few applications," he said. "I suppose it would be hard to catch up with out-of-state people and things like that."

Mr. Mauro represents nearly 700 officers at the MTA's Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and acknowledged that even though it was too early to brace for job losses, the implementation of the proposed system was a possibility.

"Would we like that? Obviously not," he said. "We'll still be patrolling the bridges. It's not like we would become extinct."




Two North Carolina men were nabbed at a Triborough Bridge Bronx Plaza Checkpoint for transporting $64,000 worth of counterfeit Nike sneakers on March 6,  2008.
BTO Larry Herzog made the stop at approximately 5 PM and when the occupants of the truck could not produce a bill of lading for some 641 pairs of alleged Nike sneakers he became suspicious. A Nike Counterfeit  Specialist  confirmed that the footwear was indeed fake and Officer Herzog placed the two occupants under arrest.

Just look at the eyes on the faces of these shocked kids!

TOY  DRIVE 2007 
by- Greg Lombardi
The BTOBA is part of the Annual Toy Drive in association with the TBTA EMERALD SOCIETY, Local 1931, SOBA, TBTA White Collar Unit,  FOP Lodge #77 and all TBTA Employees. Today's Toy Drive was a mega-success with hundreds of kids meeting Santa (Ret. Lt. Bob Gibson) and his helpers at the New York Foundling Hospital.
Special thanks to all Bridge & Tunnel Officers who donated toys, clothes etc.  You helped these children who have so little, to have a very happy day! The kids were so adorable and very happy to receive their toys.  It was a very touching day for all of us who helped Santa out.
Several retired Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants made the trip too and I think (Ret.) Lieutenant Vito Pignatelli said it best when he quoted from the famous idiom, ..."There but for the grace of God go I," as we looked together upon the assembled groups of kids and we counted our own blessings
on this day and every day.
Thanks again to all our members who took part in this
wonderful day. Thanks to Emerald Society President,
Harry Hyland, who worked so long an hard on this as always; (Harry generally calls me sometime in August and  says "Greg, I know I'm early but I'm calling about the next Toy Drive." Then I call him crazy and he gets the ball rolling.) FOP Lodge #77 President Sgt. Mike Vrettos, TBTA's Noreen Gonzalez and Nancy Barrios, TNB General Manager Ed Wallace, Local 1931 Vice President, Tony Mattia,  Madman Mike MacCaullife and Mike Gatti. BTOBA President Joe Mauro, Research/Negotiations Chairman, Kevin Heltzer, Chief Health & Safety Officer, Bryan  Walsh, Toy Drive Veterans (Ret.) BTO John Altuna, BTO John Sutera,  TBM's Chief Delegate Chris Duffy, TBB's Chief Delegate Mike Schlosser, BBT's Chief Delegate Mike Andino, QMT's Chief Delegate Wayne Joseph, BWB's Chief Delegate Worrell Francis, TNB's Chief Delegate Ralph Anzano, HHB's Chief Delegate Glenn Perez, Cross Bay Bridge's Chief Delegate Orlando Padilla,Sgt. Eric Velez and I apologize for those folks I've inadvertently left out as the list of helpers is extra long this year thankfully.
Thanks for all of your gracious help, time and effort and for letting me be a part of it all.  It's truly the best day at work I've ever had!











UNIFORM ALLOWANCE  - 01/01/08 (AVAILABLE 12/31/07)




Nikes were fake, but cops were real

     A little shoe-leather detective work on the Triborough Bridge led to the arrest of a trucker who was smuggling $250,000 worth of knockoff Nike sneakers, police said yesterday.

"There were Jordans in there, everything. All different kinds," said a police source.

MTA Bridge & Tunnel cops Jason Green and Mardakh Mardakhayev stopped the rig at the Bronx-bound toll plaza about 10 p.m. Thursday to check its weight.

But when the officers asked for documentation on the cargo, driver Khattar Bazi, 51, balked.

The driver, a Lebanese national from Michigan, then told the cops he thought he was carting clothing.

Police checked the trailer and found 195 unmarked cartons containing 3,475 pairs of counterfeit kicks, the sources said.

The bootleg sneakers, usually produced at factories in Asia, were in boxes with Nike markings.

A Nike senior investigator was summoned to the scene and immediately identified the cargo as bogus.

Bazi was charged with trademark counterfeiting in the third degree. He could not be reached for comment.

Investigators said the sneakers would have fetched $260,625, at an average of $75 a pair, on the street.

Nike's most expensive mass-produced sneaker, the Air Jordan XX2, retails for $175. Other Jordans range from $110 to $125.

Cops nabbed a driver carrying more than $250,000 worth of counterfeit Nike sneakers during a routine traffic check, authorities said yesterday.

Khattan Youssef Bazi, 51, of Dearborn, Mich., was charged with trademark counterfeiting after the 53-foot trailer he was driving was found containing 3,475 pairs of bogus Nikes.

Bazi was stopped on the Bronx-bound plaza of the Triborough Bridge at 10:30 p.m. Thursday by MTA Officers Mardakh Mardakhayev and Jason Green as part of a stricter enforcement of truck-weight restrictions


       WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced today that it has determined that the Pinnacle Armor, Inc. bulletproof vest model SOV 2000.1/MIL3AF01, is not in compliance with the requirements of OJP's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) voluntary compliance testing program for bullet-resistant body armor.  Effective immediately, this body armor model will be removed from the NIJ list of bullet-resistant body armor models that satisfy its requirements.  Pinnacle Armor, Inc. is the maker of "dragon skin" body armor.

     NIJ, OJP's research, development, and evaluation component, has reviewed evidence provided by the body armor manufacturer and has determined that the evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that the body armor model will maintain its ballistic performance over its six-year declared warranty period.

     Notwithstanding NIJ's determination, DOJ encourages public safety officers to wear their Pinnacle Body Armor, Inc. body armor, model SOV 2000.1/MIL3AF01 until replacement because research has shown that officers are more likely to suffer a fatal injury when not wearing body armor. 

     In addition, DOJ strongly recommends that public safety agencies and officers who purchase new bullet-resistant body armor verify, prior to purchase, that the body armor model appears on NIJ's list of models that comply with its most current requirements, the 2005 Interim Requirements for Bullet-Resistant Body Armor.  A list of these models is available at  DOJ also encourages public safety officers to follow body armor manufacturer "wear and care" instructions, and not to store armor in the trunk of their vehicle or other environments in which armor might be exposed to extreme heat or cold.

Information about the DOJ Body Armor Safety Initiative can be found at

From The New York Post July 7, 2006

July 7, 2007 -- ALBANY - Gov. Spitzer vetoed a series of bills yesterday that would have expanded binding arbitration in New York for police and other municipal workers.

Among dozens of vetoes handed down yesterday, Spitzer rejected bills to give binding-arbitration rights to Office of Mental Health security assistants and court workers.

He also vetoed a bill that would have expanded the power of arbitration boards handling cases involving state troopers and another that would have set new requirements for boards for MTA Bridges and Tunnels officers.

Thank you all for your help in lobbying for our PERB Bill.  Unfortunately, the Governor has vetoed the bill. The text of the Governor's Veto is below. 
                                                                       VETO MESSAGE - No. 19
                                             TO THE SENATE:
                                             I am returning herewith, without my approval, the following bill:
                                             Senate Bill Number 1063, entitled:
                                                 "AN  ACT  to  amend the civil service law, in relation to the resol-
                                                   ution of disputes in the course  of  collective  negotiations  for
                                                   employees  of  the  Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority who are
                                                   employed as bridge and tunnel officers"
                                                 NOT APPROVED
                                               This bill - which is identical to bills that were vetoed in  2005  and
                                             2006  -  would add to the list of considerations that must be taken into
                                             account by an interest arbitration panel, addressing an impasse  between
                                             the  Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority ("TBTA") and its peace offi-
                                             cers. Specifically, the bill would require arbitrators to consider:  (1)
                                             hazards of employment;  (2)  physical  qualifications;  (3)  educational
                                             qualifications;  (4)  mental  qualifications;  and  (5) job training and
                                             skills. These considerations mirror those included  in  the  arbitration
                                             criteria for firefighters, police, deputy sheriffs and state corrections
                                             officers.  Consideration  of these factors would not be required for any
                                             other employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA")  or
                                             its subsidiaries, who are governed by the same statute.
                                               The bill's supporters argue that Bridge and Tunnel Officers are unique
                                             in comparison to other MTA employees, and warrant special consideration.
                                             They  point  to  the  important law enforcement functions carried out by
                                             these officers, including setting up checkpoints,  making  arrests,  and
                                             maintaining vehicle safety rules.
                                               I recognize the essential contributions of these officers to the safe-
                                             ty of our roads and the protection of our citizens. For the crucial work
                                             they  perform,  the Bridge and Tunnel Officers deserve our gratitude and
                                             respect. This bill, however, would create  a  legislative  mandate  that
                                             their  arbitration procedures by governed by a different set of criteria
                                             than those of thousands of other workers. The Bridge and Tunnel Officers
                                             are free to make the argument in collective bargaining, or to a  binding
                                             arbitration panel, that their responsibilities warrant greater consider-
                                             ation and remuneration. On the basis of the record before me, however, I
                                             see no reason to enshrine this distinction in law.
                                               I am also concerned about other potential ill effects of enacting this
                                             legislation.  Singling  out  one  group of employees for a unique set of
                                             criteria undoubtedly will lead other groups to make the same demand, and
                                             encourage more of the kind of piecemeal push for  legislative  advantage
                                             that  has characterized this area of the law. Moreover, the TBTA and its
                                             employees have successfully reached contract agreements through  collec-
                                             tive  bargaining  without resort to arbitration. This bill, which raises
                                             the prospect that an arbitrator will issue a higher award based  no  the
                                             new  factors  introduced, will create an incentive for the union to wait
                                             for arbitration rather than settle contracts via negotiation.
                                               The bill is disapproved.                      (signed) ELIOT SPITZER




The Law Enforcement Awards for actions taken in 2006 were held  at Randall's Island on June 8, 2007. Bridge & Tunnel Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants were honored for a variety of actions including lifesaving actions, multiple felony collars for weapons possession and narcotics and more.
The BTOBA Executive Board attended including President Joseph Mauro, Vice President Greg Lombardi, 2nd Vice President Laurence J. Levine, Grievance Chairman, Charles Bishop, Health & Wefare Benefits Chairman Tom Duffy, Research/Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer and Chief  Health & Safety Officer Bryan Walsh.
TBTA Chief James Fortunato headed the proceedings and described the many valiant actions of the men and women of the Bridge & Tunnel Operations Force.
MTA Bridges & Tunnels President David Moretti spoke of the extraordinary work done andmentioned that the new law enforcement medals were in line with all the other law enforcement agencies so that other Officers could easily recognize the medals as our peers.
SOBA President Marc Sirlin praised the award recipients and reminded them that their actions represent the Authority to the public eye.
BTOBA VIce President Greg Lombardi lauded the strong efforts of the Officers in making over 1800 arrests during 2006. VP  Lombardi stressed how increased training has improved arrest situations and safety of the our Officers. He singled out BTO Kevin Heltzer for his extraordinary work with the affected Officers during the recent shootings and congratulated and hailed the medal recipients as "the best of the best, the proudest of  The Proudest and the backbone of our Force."
The Awards were as follows:



Queens : A Corona man was arrested after a high-speed chase that started at the Triborough Bridge and ended in Forest Hills early yesterday, authorities said.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels cop Anthony Barbato tried pulling over John Bohm, who sped over the bridge at 76 mph in a 40 mph zone, sources said.

Barbato followed Bohm, driving a red Lincoln Town Car, onto the Grand Central Parkway and then the Van Wyck Expressway.

Bohm eventually reached Union Turnpike, where he suddenly skidded to a stop, threw the car into reverse and tried ramming the cop, sources said.

Barbato fired two shots but missed.

He eventually caught the driver, who did not have a license and refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test.

The plates did not belong to the car, which had not been inspected or insured.

Bohm was charged with assault and reckless endangerment, along with numerous reckless-driving charges.


The BTO PERB BILL has passed the Assembly and the Senate and is going to the Governor's Desk. We need each and every BTO to send a letter of support for this vital Bill to Governor Spitzer. This Bill would add a  special section to The Taylor Law that would permit PERB to consider the special training and unique duties of BTOs during CONTRACT INTEREST ARBITRATION. Information on the Bill is below; along with a sample letter that you can cut and paste and either mail (preferred) or e-mail to Governor Spitzer.


S1063  MALTESE             
Civil Service Law
TITLE....Relates to additional considerations for public arbitration panels relating to certain employees of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority

03/27/07 1ST REPORT CAL.460
03/28/07 2ND REPORT CAL.
05/01/07 referred to governmental employees
05/29/07 substituted for a2186
05/29/07 ordered to third reading cal.494
05/29/07 passed assembly
05/29/07 returned to senate


05/01/07 S1063 Senate Vote Aye: 59 Nay: 0
05/01/07   S1063    Senate Vote    Aye: 59   Nay: 0
Aye Adams Aye Alesi Aye Bonacic Aye Breslin
Aye Bruno Aye Connor Aye DeFrancisco Aye Diaz
Aye Dilan Aye Duane Aye Farley Aye Flanagan
Aye Fuschillo Aye Golden Aye Gonzalez Aye Griffo
Aye Hannon Exc Hassell-Thompson Exc Huntley Aye Johnson C
Aye Johnson O Aye Klein Aye Krueger Aye Kruger
Aye Lanza Aye Larkin Aye LaValle Aye Leibell
Aye Libous Aye Little Aye Maltese Aye Marcellino
Aye Maziarz Aye Montgomery Aye Morahan Aye Nozzolio
Exc Onorato Aye Oppenheimer Aye Padavan Aye Parker
Aye Perkins Aye Rath Aye Robach Aye Sabini
Aye Saland Aye Sampson Aye Savino Aye Schneiderman
Aye Serrano Aye Seward Aye Skelos Aye Smith
Aye Stachowski Aye Stavisky Aye Stewart-Cousins Aye Thompson
Aye Trunzo Aye Valesky Aye Volker Aye Winner
Aye Wright Aye Young


Amd S209, Civ Serv L
Establishes public arbitration panels shall take into consideration for employees of the Triborough bridge and tunnel authority who are employed as bridge and tunnel officers and are peace officers a comparison of peculiarities in regards to other trades or professions.


                                                             STATE OF NEW YORK
                                                         S. 1063                                                  A. 2186
                                                                            2007-2008 Regular Sessions
                                                             SENATE - ASSEMBLY
                                                                                 January 16, 2007
                                                     IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. MALTESE -- read twice and ordered print-
                                                       ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Civil Service
                                                       and Pensions
                                                     IN  ASSEMBLY  -- Introduced by M. of A. ABBATE -- read once and referred
                                                       to the Committee on Governmental Employees
                                                     AN ACT to amend the civil service law, in relation to the resolution  of
                                                       disputes in the course of collective negotiations for employees of the
                                                       Triborough  Bridge and Tunnel Authority who are employed as bridge and
                                                       tunnel officers
                                                       The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
                                                     bly, do enact as follows:
                                                  1    Section  1. Paragraph (d) of subdivision 5 of section 209 of the civil
                                                  2  service law, as added by chapter 929 of the laws of 1986, is amended  to
                                                  3  read as follows:
                                                  4    (d)  Such  panel  shall  make  a  just and reasonable determination of
                                                  5  matters in dispute. In arriving at such determination, the  panel  shall
                                                  6  specify  the basis for its findings, taking into consideration, in addi-
                                                  7  tion to any other relevant factors, the following:
                                                  8    (i) comparison of the wages, hours, fringe  benefits,  conditions  and
                                                  9  characteristics  of  employment  of the public employees involved in the
                                                 10  impasse proceeding with the wages, hours,  fringe  benefits,  conditions
                                                 11  and  characteristics of employment of other employees performing similar
                                                 12  work and other employees generally in public or  private  employment  in
                                                 13  New York city or comparable communities;
                                                 14    (ii)  the  overall  compensation paid to the employees involved in the
                                                 15  impasse proceeding, including direct  wage  compensation,  overtime  and
                                                 16  premium  pay,  vacations,  holidays  and  other excused time, insurance,
                                                 17  pensions,  medical  and  hospitalization  benefits,  food  and   apparel
                                                 18  furnished, and all other benefits received;
                                                      EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                                                                           [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 1063                             2               
                                                         A. 2186
                                                  1    (iii)  the impact of the panel's award on the financial ability of the
                                                  2  public employer to pay, on  the  present  fares  and  on  the  continued
                                                  3  provision of services to the public;
                                                  4    (iv)  changes  in  the average consumer prices for goods and services,
                                                  5  commonly known as the cost of living;
                                                  6    (v) the interest and welfare of the public; [and]
                                                  7    (vi) for employees of the Triborough bridge and tunnel  authority  who
                                                  8  are  employed  as bridge and tunnel officers and are designated as peace
                                                  9  officers pursuant to subdivision twenty of section 2.10 of the  criminal
                                                 10  procedure  law, shall use comparison of peculiarities in regard to other
                                                 11  trades or professions, including specifically, (1)  hazards  of  employ-
                                                 12  ment;  (2)  physical qualifications; (3) educational qualifications; (4)
                                                 13  mental qualifications; and (5) job training and skills; and
                                                 14    (vii) such other factors as are normally and customarily considered
                                                 15  the determination of wages, hours, fringe  benefits  and  other  working
                                                 16  conditions in collective negotiations or impasse panel proceedings.
                                                 17    §  2. This act shall take effect immediately; provided that the amend-
                                                 18  ments to paragraph (d) of subdivision 5 of  section  209  of  the  civil
                                                 19  service law made by section one of this act shall not affect the expira-
                                                 20  tion of such subdivision and shall be deemed to expire therewith.


submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1
                                             BILL NUMBER: S1063
                                             SPONSOR: MALTESE             
: An act to amend the civil service law, in relation to the resolution of disputes in the course of collective negotiations for employees of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority who are employed as bridge and tunnel officers   PURPOSE: To require an arbitration panel to consider qualifications and training requirements for Bridge and Tunnel Officers.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Amends §209.5 of the civil service law by adding a new subdivision, 209.5 d-VI.   JUSTIFICATION: Currently, there are no provisions in the civil service law 209.5, that spell out the specific qualifications and training requirements for Bridge and Tunnel Officers. By adding this new subdivision 209.5 d-VI, the panel will consider the special training the officers receive.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S.6836 of 2005-06. Vetoed by Governor.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.


Honorable Eliot Spitzer
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany New York 12224

Re: S.1063


Dear Governor Spitzer:

I serve proudly as a Bridge & Tunnel Officer for MTA Bridges & Tunnels. I encourage you to sign in to law Bill S. 1063. This Bill would rectify a longstanding inequity in the law and would allow PERB to consider the special training and unique duties of Bridge & Tunnel Officers during Arbitration.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter that is vital to me and my family.


Please cut and paste the above letter to Governor Spitzer's e-mail page linked below:

Study Finds Police Training Plays Key Role in Shootings
By BENEDICT CAREY - The New York Times
Published: June 2, 2007

In making snap decisions about whether to shoot a potentially armed suspect, police officers are far less influenced by racial bias than students or community members forced to make the same decision, a large study has found.

The study, which was based on video simulations of armed and unarmed confrontations, found that racial stereotypes influenced the reaction times of both officers and civilians, but swayed the ultimate decision to fire only in civilian participants.

The findings, while offering little solace to the relatives of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and other minority victims of police gunfire in New York City, suggest that the impact of race on police behavior is subtler than previously understood, and is strongly shaped by professional training.

In previous research, investigators have found evidence that the police use greater force to restrain minority suspects than white ones. And in the wake of the Rodney G. King beating in 1991 in California, an investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department concluded that officers with antiblack attitudes were more likely to be promoted than others.

But the new study, reported yesterday in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is the first to rigorously compare the influence of race on such life-and-death decisions in officers and in non-officers.

“We don’t mean to suggest that this is conclusive evidence that there is no racial bias in police officers’ decisions to shoot,” said Joshua Correll, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. “But we’ve run these tests with thousands of people now, and we’ve never seen this ability to restrain behavior in any group other than police officers.”

Dr. Correll said that the findings were unexpected, given that the police were exposed to the usual racial stereotypes in popular culture, as well as in roll calls, confrontations on the beat and other cruelties of the system up close. His co-authors were Bernd Wittenbrink of the University of Chicago; Bernadette Park, Charles Judd and Melody Sadler of the University of Colorado in Boulder; and Tracie Keesee of the Denver Police Department.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has called for an investigation of the Sean Bell shooting, said the study was good news, both for police departments and for those who advocate for equal justice. Mr. Bell, a groom-to-be, was killed in November when five officers fired 50 shots at his car as he left a bachelor party in Queens.

“It demonstrates that people can be trained not to rely on racially biased cues in deciding to pull the trigger,” Ms. Lieberman said of the new study. But the findings, she added, “should compel departments with histories of shooting unarmed black men to undertake a re-examination of their firearms training.”

The research was conducted in 2004, and included 157 officers from the Denver Police Department, 113 officers from departments around the country, and a diverse group of 245 adults from the Denver area. The police officers and the civilians were drawn to represent blacks, whites and Latinos, but the sample was not nationally representative.

In one experiment, participants watched a video screen as a series of 50 threatening images flashed by, one after another: men, half of them black and half white, each shown once while armed and once while holding something innocuous, like a can of Coca-Cola or a cellphone. The participants hit a button to shoot or to hold fire for each image they saw.

The researchers measured reaction times down to the millisecond, and found a clear effect of stereotyping. Both officers and civilians took 10 to 20 milliseconds longer to make a decision when they saw either an unarmed black man, or an armed white man, compared to the other images. This tiny twitch of time reflects the cultural expectation that it is black men who are more likely to have a gun, experts say, and some studies suggest that blacks as well as whites are susceptible to it.

But when it mattered — pull the trigger or not — the police officers tuned out race. They shot at about 13 percent of the unarmed black men and roughly the same number of the unarmed white men. By contrast, the civilians shot at about 35 percent of the unarmed black men and 29 percent of unarmed white men.

To check the results, the researchers ran the entire trial again, and speeded the rate that the images flashed by. The results were the same. Compared to the public at large, the authors concluded, police officers had a “less trigger-happy orientation.”

Ms. Keesee, a commander, has patrolled all over Denver, and said that in some areas suspicions of police racism ran high.

“Whenever there’s a shooting of a black suspect by a white officer,” she said, “it has a significant effect on the community, and the elephant in the room, the big question, is, Do you train your officers to shoot black males? This affirms that we’re on the right track.”

Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University who was not involved in the research, called the result a major finding.

“It suggests that police officers are far more circumspect than they’re usually given credit for,” Dr. Weitzer said. “But at the same time there’s the age-old problem of the lab studies versus the real world.” Officers may be tired, afraid or unable to see clearly, or all of those things, when a partner starts firing.

“Or let’s say officers might respond to a situation and suddenly are surrounded by onlookers, bystanders who are yelling at them; that is going to make you more tense,” Dr. Weitzer said. “It’s not possible to capture all that in a study like this.”




Car sticker had expired.
Story Bottom

May 19, 2007 -- Grammy Award-winning rapper Method Man lived up to his stage name - Staten Island slang for marijuana - when he was busted by a toll-booth cop for smoking a blunt, police said yesterday.

Method Man, a k a Clifford Smith, 'fessed up to carrying about 28 grams of dope in his 2005 green Lincoln immediately after being stopped by a bridge-and-tunnel cop as he drove into Manhattan at about 10 p.m. Thursday.

He was about to pay the toll for the Battery Tunnel in Brooklyn when Officer Donald Johnston, spotting his car's expired inspection sticker, pulled him over, according to the criminal complaint.

When the rapper rolled down his window, the cop was hit with a waft of marijuana smoke and noticed two pot-filled cigars and a plastic bag containing even more grass in the car.

When Method Man said he had yet more pot under the driver's seat, he was taken into custody without a fuss, said a police source, who added, "I guess he was feeling mellow."

Method Man was released on his own recognizance yesterday after having been arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

Retired BTOS (less than 10 years) recent amendments to Section 89-n (4) of the General Business Law, may have a direct effect on you.

Here is the amended Subdivision 4.

4. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a security guard who is:
a. a correction officer of any state correctional facility having the powers of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision twenty-five of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law;
b. a bridge and tunnel officer, sergeant or lieutenant of the Triborough bridge and tunnel authority having the powers of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision twenty of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law;
c. a uniformed court officer of the unified court system having the powers of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision twenty-one of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law;
d. a court clerk having the powers of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision twenty-one of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law;
e. a deputy sheriff having the powers of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision two of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law;
f. a police officer as defined in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (j), (k), (l), (o) and (p) of subdivision thirty-four of section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law who has been retired from such employment for a period not to exceed ten years, provided, however, that a retired police officer who has been retired from such employment for a period in excess of ten years shall be required to provide proof to his or her security guard employer of his or her satisfactory completion of an eight hour annual in-service training course approved by the commissioner, and provided further, however, that a retired police officer who will be required by his or her security guard employer to carry a firearm or will be authorized to have access to a firearm shall provide to such employer proof of his or her satisfactory completion of a forty-seven hour firearms training course approved by the commissioner and, if such firearms training course has not been completed within one year prior to such employment, satisfactory completion of an additional eight hour annual firearms in-service training course approved by the commissioner, such training course to be completed at least annually; or
g. a peace officer as defined in subdivisions two, twenty and twenty-five and paragraphs a and b of subdivision twenty-one of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law who has been retired from such employment for a period not to exceed ten years, provided, however, that a retired peace officer who has been retired from such employment for a period in excess of ten years shall be required to provide proof to his or her security guard employer of his or her satisfactory completion of an eight hour annual in-service training course approved by the municipal police training council, and provided further, however, that a retired peace officer who will be required by his or her security guard employer to carry a firearm or will be authorized to have access to a firearm shall provide to such employer proof of his or her satisfactory completion of a forty-seven hour firearms training course approved by the municipal police training council and, if such firearms training course has not been completed within one year prior to employment, satisfactory completion of an additional eight hour annual firearms in-service training course approved by the municipal police training council, such training course to be completed at least annually.


OFF-DUTY ARREST - From the Staten Island Advance
An off-duty Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority cop helped arrest four bandits after they held up a pharmacy in Grasmere yesterday, authorities said.

Officer Paul Padilla was on his way home from work when he spotted a man running out of the CVS store at Hylan Boulevard and Old Town Road, with two workers chasing him, at around 1:30 a.m., law-enforcement sources said.

Padilla, an Iraq war veteran who has been with the TBTA for four years, saw the suspect jump into a car with three other men inside, the sources said.

After confirming that a robbery had occurred, Padilla followed the Honda, blocked them in on a dead-end street and identified himself as an officer, authorities said.

Residents on the street heard the commotion and one of them, an off-duty Immigration Customs Enforcement agent, came out to assist Padilla until backup arrived, sources said.

Lawsuit Accuses M.T.A. of Bias Against Its Black and Hispanic Police Officers
Published: May 5, 2007- The New York Times
Ten current and former members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department sued the agency yesterday, charging that there was a deeply rooted culture of discrimination against black and Hispanic officers.
 The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, charges that minority officers are denied promotions or are promoted at a much slower rate than white officers. And it says that overtime work is often steered to white officers, adding to their paychecks — and, in some cases, their pensions — at the expense of minority officers.

The legal papers also charge that supervisors used racial epithets when speaking with some of the officers who brought the lawsuit.

The authority’s police force patrols the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road commuter lines and stations, including Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station, as well as the Staten Island Railway. The force is controlled by the authority and is separate from the transit division of the New York Police Department, which patrols the subway system.

The authority responded to the lawsuit with a statement that said, “The M.T.A. is proud of the diversity of its Police Department.”

“We are completely committed to a workplace free of any kind of discrimination or harassment,” the statement said. A spokesman said the authority had not yet received the court papers, and he declined to comment further.

Detective Lilian Alvarado, one of the plaintiffs, said at a news conference that she had decided to come forward after her daughter told her she wanted to become a police officer. Detective Alvarado, who is Hispanic, said she did not want her daughter to face the same discrimination she had faced. “It didn’t matter how long I worked or how hard,” Detective Alvarado said. “I was ostracized.”

She was promoted to detective in 1994, 14 years after she joined the police force. The lawsuit said that many white officers were promoted in less than five years. It also said Detective Alvarado was denied the training necessary for rapid advancement.

The other nine plaintiffs are black, three of them now retired.

Some of the incidents described in the lawsuit are said to have taken place in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the most recent involved a black officer, Michael Benjamin, 44, who said that he was directing traffic in Port Jefferson, on Long Island, in November 2005 when a sergeant came up to him and cursed at him for allowing the traffic to back up.

“When I questioned his behavior,” Officer Benjamin said at the news conference, the sergeant used a racial epithet. Officer Benjamin said that when he complained, he was ridiculed and instructed to see a counselor.

Norman Siegel, one of the lawyers representing the officers, said that the lawsuit sought monetary damages from the authority and a court order directing the authority to stop its discriminatory practices.

The lawsuit says that 86 percent of sergeants, detective sergeants and lieutenants on the force are white. At the level of captain and above, it says, 96 percent are white.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday provided a racial and ethnic breakdown of the force, although not by rank. Of the 683 members of the force, 465 — or 68 percent — are white, 109 are Hispanic, 90 are black and 19 are Asian.

OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., left, of OSHA, and Eric Peoples, an injured worker, testified Tuesday at a Congressional hearing.

Published: April 25, 2007 - The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 24 — Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in the town of Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening disease that was ravaging their lungs.

J. D. Pooley for The New York Times

Keith Campbell, 49, became ill after having worked for two years at a microwave popcorn factory in Marion, Ohio.

Puzzled Missouri health authorities turned to two federal agencies in Washington. Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which investigates the causes of workplace health problems, moved quickly to examine patients, inspect factories and run tests. Within months, they concluded that the workers became ill after exposure to diacetyl, a food-flavoring agent.

But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with overseeing workplace safety, reacted with far less urgency. It did not step up plant inspections or mandate safety standards for businesses, even as more workers became ill.

On Tuesday, the top official at the agency told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing that it would prepare a safety bulletin and plan to inspect a few dozen of the thousands of food plants that use the additive.

That response reflects OSHA’s practices under the Bush administration, which vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers. Across Washington, political appointees — often former officials of the industries they now oversee — have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.

The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.

“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”

Agency officials defend their performance, saying that workplace deaths and injuries have declined during their tenure. They have been considering new standards and revising outdated ones that were unduly burdensome on businesses, they said, adding that they have moved cautiously on new rules because those require extensive scientific and economic analysis.

“By the time the Bush administration is done — we have a good record already — we will have a better record,” said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., the agency’s head, in a recent interview.

On diacetyl, Mr. Foulke said “the science is murky” on whether the additive causes bronchiolitis obliterans, the disease that has been called “popcorn worker’s lung.” That claim is echoed by some industry officials, but a number of leading scientists and doctors agree with scientists at the national occupational safety institute that there is strong evidence linking the additive to the illness.

Without an OSHA standard, which would establish the permissible level of exposure for workers, companies can set any limit of exposure they want.

Instead of regulations, Mr. Foulke and top officials at other agencies favor a “voluntary compliance strategy,” reaching agreements with industry associations and companies to police themselves.

Administration officials say such programs are less costly, allowing companies to hire more workers and keep consumer prices down. The number of voluntary agreements has grown in recent years, but they cover a fraction of the seven million work sites that OSHA oversees, or less than 1 percent of the work force. Sixty-one food plants out of the tens of thousands across the country participate; industry representatives say other businesses are taking steps to protect workers on their own.

Critics say the voluntary programs tend to have little focus on specific hazards and no enforcement power. Because only companies with strong safety records are eligible, they argue, the programs do not force less-conscientious businesses to improve their workplaces. A 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office found some promising results from such programs, but recommended against expanding them until their effectiveness could be assessed.

“OSHA has been focusing on the best companies in their voluntary protection program while doing nothing in the area of standard setting,” said Peg Seminario, the director of occupational safety and health at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “They’ve simply gotten out of the standard-setting business in favor of industry partnerships that have no teeth.”

While labor organizations and public health experts argue that the agency has been lax in recent years, some industries have applauded its efforts. Construction companies, for example, are pleased that OSHA recently decided to relax the standards for handling explosives.

The agency had long been the target of businesses that criticized its rules as arbitrary, costly and confusing. Three of the biggest industries regulated by OSHA — transportation, agribusiness and construction — have given more than $630 million in political campaign contributions since 2000, with nearly three-quarters of that money going to Republicans. The Bush administration has promised to address their concerns.

Change at OSHA

“We’re also going to bring a transparency to the regulatory jungle that is unprecedented in the federal government,” Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told business owners in a speech on June 2002. “There are more words in the Federal Register describing OSHA regulations than there are words in the Bible. They’re a lot less inspired to read and a lot harder to understand. This is not fair.”

Until recently, Congress has provided no significant oversight of OSHA. With Democrats now back in control, House and Senate committees are holding hearings this week.

Among those who testified Tuesday was Eric Peoples, a former worker at the popcorn plant in Jasper, a small town 125 miles south of Kansas City. Once healthy, the 35-year-old Mr. Peoples has been told by doctors that he will need a double-lung transplant. Far from Washington, he finds the debate over the calculus of regulation — the costs to companies and consumers of upgrading workplaces versus the possible health benefits to workers — baffling.

“I can’t understand what it would take to get them to pass rules to make it safer to handle this stuff,” Mr. Peoples said, referring to diacetyl. “Something needs to be done.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created under President Richard M. Nixon in 1970 after Congressional hearings exposed dangerous workplace conditions. The agency was to set and enforce safety standards as well as detect health hazards before they could take a toll on workers. Since the agency’s creation, deaths and injuries on the job have steadily declined. Regulators have taken credit for much of that trend, though experts also cite pressure from insurers and lawsuits. Government records show that in 2005, more than 6,800 workplace-related deaths occurred, along with 4.2 million injuries and illnesses. OSHA officials say that since 2001, the fatality rate has declined by 7 percent and the injury rate by 19 percent.

Labor leaders and health experts say those numbers significantly undercount the problem, in part because the Bush administration has reduced the categories of recognized injuries and because many dangerous jobs are now performed by undocumented workers who do not report problems.

In one of his first acts in office, President Bush signed legislation repealing one of OSHA’s most-debated accomplishments during the Clinton administration, an ergonomics standard intended to reduce injuries to factory, construction and office workers from repetitive motions and lifting. Business groups and manufacturers had lobbied against the measure, saying it would cost $100 billion to carry out.

By the end of 2001, OSHA had withdrawn more than a dozen proposed regulations. The agency, though, soon identified several safety priorities: rules on the hazards posed by dust from silica, used as a blasting agent, and noise from construction sites, which was causing a growing number of workers to suffer hearing loss. The agency has yet to produce either standard, though OSHA officials say they are working on them.

Mr. Foulke, the OSHA chief, has a history of opposing regulations produced by the agency he now leads. He has described himself as a “true Ronald Reagan Republican” who “firmly believes in limited government.” Before coming to Washington last year, Mr. Foulke, a former Republican Party state chairman in South Carolina and top political fund-raiser, worked in Greenville, S.C., for a law firm that advises companies on how to avoid union organizing. Representing the United States Chamber of Commerce, he had testified before Congress several times to promote voluntary OSHA compliance programs. He also opposed the ergonomics standards.

And as a member in the 1990s of an independent agency that reviews OSHA citations, he led a successful effort to weaken the agency’s enforcement authority.

Early in his tenure at OSHA, Mr. Foulke delivered a speech called “Adults Do the Darndest Things,” which attributed many injuries to worker carelessness. Large posters of workers’ making dangerous errors, like erecting a tall ladder close to an overhead wire, were displayed around him.

“Kids don’t always know what their parents do all day at work, but they instinctively understand the importance of them working safely,” he told the audience, which included children who had won a safety-poster contest. “In contrast, adults could stand to learn a thing or two. Looking at the posters, I was reminded of a couple examples of safety and health bloopers that are both humorous and horrible.”

A Pattern of Illness

Soon after Eric Peoples began working at the Jasper popcorn plant in 1997, he was thrilled to get a promotion: from the assembly line, which paid $6 to $7 an hour, to the mixing room, where he got more than $11 an hour to prepare ingredients.

Ten months later, Mr. Peoples recalled in a recent interview, he came down with a fever and chills. Doctors first said that Mr. Peoples, then 27, had pneumonia. When he did not improve, he saw a specialist who treated him for asthma. Still suffering from breathing problems, Mr. Peoples was hospitalized in St. Louis. After days of testing, doctors diagnosed bronchiolitis obliterans.

“My lung capacity had dropped to 18 percent,” Mr. Peoples said. He was told that there was no cure for the often-fatal disease and that he would likely need a double lung transplant to survive.

Some of his co-workers had similar health problems. A local lawyer whose mother had fallen ill showed the medical records of several workers to Dr. Allen Parmet, a former T.W.A. medical director who specializes in occupational hazards.

“It took me about 15 or 20 minutes to see there was a pattern,” said Dr. Parmet, who in his previous two decades in medicine had seen only three other cases of bronchiolitis obliterans. He contacted the Missouri Department of Health, which then notified the agencies in Washington.

The Missouri officials noted that in addition to nine sick workers identified by Dr. Parmet, 20 to 30 current and retired workers had similar symptoms. All had been exposed to vapors from diacetyl, a compound found naturally in cheese, butter, milk and other foods. It is added for the buttery taste in microwave popcorn and widely used as a flavoring agent in other foods, like snacks and pastries.

Although Dr. Parmet’s letter was the first that Washington learned of a possible problem with diacetyl, some companies had been aware of the health hazards. In late 1996, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association heard from a company that a flavoring plant employee had developed bronchiolitis obliterans. Three years earlier, BASF, the German chemical maker, had found in animal studies that diacetyl caused severe respiratory problems.

After scientists from the national occupational safety institute visited the Jasper factory and examined the injured workers, the agency issued a bulletin in September 2001 saying “a work-related cause of lung disease” had occurred there. In December 2003, the agency issued an alert to more than 4,000 businesses, with tens of thousands of workers, that suggested safeguards.

OSHA’s response was more limited. The agency sent an inspector to the Jasper plant, but he did not test the air, saying the company’s insurers had done an environmental sampling four years earlier. He concluded that the plant was in compliance with existing rules and closed the case.

Sixteen months later, a lawyer for ill workers filed a complaint with the agency. OSHA conducted a 40-minute inspection, but said it could do nothing more because there was no safety standard that established what level of diacetyl was acceptable. Since the first outbreak, OSHA has inspected three food and flavoring plants for links to popcorn worker’s lung, and issued one citation, according to records provided to public health experts at George Washington University and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union under the Freedom of Information Act.

Other workers have developed symptoms of the lung disease. Keith Campbell had worked at a Conagra microwave popcorn factory in Marion, Ohio, for two years when he got sick. He was then 44, but his doctors told him he had the lung capacity of an 80-year-old, Mr. Campbell said in an interview. He has extreme difficulty breathing, particularly in cold weather. “It’s affected my entire life,” he said.

Kenneth B. McClain, a lawyer at the Missouri firm that has represented Mr. Peoples and Mr. Campbell, said he had tried or settled more than 100 cases involving diacetyl and other flavorings and that more than 500 were still awaiting resolution in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri and Ohio.

At a two-week trial in March 2004, lawyers for the makers of diacetyl products — International Flavors and Fragrances and its subsidiary, Bush Boake Allen — maintained that the additive did not cause Mr. Peoples’s illness and that, in any event, the popcorn company had mishandled the substance. Jurors awarded Mr. Peoples $20 million. His case, like Mr. Campbell’s, was later settled for an undisclosed amount.

Melissa I. Sachs, a spokeswoman at International Flavors and Fragrances, based in New York, declined to comment on the cases. According to its latest annual report, the company has been sued by more than 150 workers in four states.

Health experts have not raised alarms about diacetyl vapors that are released when consumers make microwave popcorn. But they note that there is little science on the issue, and the Environmental Protection Agency has declined to make public the results of its studies.

There are no estimates of the costs of upgrading all plants that use the food additive to protect workers better. Some microwave popcorn companies, including the Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation plant in Jasper, have spent millions of dollars on better ventilation, respirators and other equipment.

The Official Response

Two industry groups — the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association and the Popcorn Board — have also become involved in resolving workplace problems, particularly as the lawsuits have mounted. The association has not expressed opposition to an OSHA standard; its officials say it is working with California regulators to develop one there.

But John Hallagan, the association’s general counsel, says the group is working with OSHA to reach a voluntary compliance agreement.

“OSHA is doing the right things in addressing flavor-related health and safety issues,” Mr. Hallagan said in a recent e-mail message.

He said the agency had met with industry and health officials and had posted on a Web site possible health hazards associated with some flavorings.

In September 2002, OSHA’s Kansas City office entered into an alliance with the Popcorn Board, which represents popcorn processors, to try to address safety problems. But that arrangement soon ended.

Last July, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters petitioned OSHA for an emergency temporary standard for diacetyl. Urging action, 42 doctors and scientists from institutions including Harvard, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins, wrote to Ms. Chao, who oversees OSHA.

The agency responded by saying it was preparing a safety bulletin and would be monitoring diacetyl hazards at a few dozen popcorn plants, but not at the thousands of other food factories that use the additive. That has frustrated public health experts like Dr. Michaels, the George Washington University epidemiologist.

“Here you have one federal agency, Niosh, doing a great job exploring the science behind a problem and a second agency, OSHA, which is supposed to be moving forward with enforcement and standard setting, and they are not,” he said.

Ron Nixon contributed reporting.

Cocaine won't pay for tolls, dummies!

Story by Bob Kappstatter -  New York Daily News

Three Long Island men were caught with as much as $4,000 worth of drugs on the Triborough Bridge on Sunday - all because they couldn't come up with the $4.50 toll, cops said.

The trio was busted by MTA Bridges and Tunnels cops while trying to get from the Bronx to Manhattan Sunday afternoon, police said.

When Officer Joshua Landon asked to see the driver's license so the agency could mail him a bill for the toll, Jesus Cancal, 31, of Syosset, only had an expired learner's permit - with eight prior suspensions, police said.

While Landon was arresting Cancal, cops Willie Gamble, Greg Vanicky and Ernesto Reyes approached the 1996 Chrysler to search it. That's when, they said, they spotted passenger George Perez, 29, of Patchogue, frantically fumbling around in the backseat.

When they ordered him out of the car, bags of cocaine allegedly fell from his lap. Stuffed in his pockets were more bags of cocaine, as well as a container of liquid angel dust worth about $300 on the street, police said.

A hypodermic needle was allegedly found on the other passenger, Jason Kadlec, 29, of Bellport.

All told, authorities said, 110 packets of cocaine were recovered, with a street value of $3,000 to $4,000.

Cancal, Perez and Kadlec were all charged with possession of a controlled substance.




Story Bottom

March 20, 2007 -- Three men were caught with 110 bags of cocaine at the Triborough Bridge after they didn't have enough money to pay the toll, authorities said yesterday.

The driver, Jesus Cancal, 31, pulled up to the toll booth on Sunday afternoon - but didn't have $4.50 to cross over into Manhattan from The Bronx.

A Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority cop then asked for his license and explained that a bill would be mailed to his home, law-enforcement sources said.

The cop noticed Cancal was using an expired permit and later found out that the driver had eight suspensions against his license.

Cops also spotted passenger George Perez, 29, hunched over and "frantically fumbling in the back seat," sources said.

Perez tried cramming nearly $4,000 worth of cocaine in his pockets - but missed a few bags that fell from his lap when he was ordered out of the car. Another passenger, Jason Kadlec, 29, who had a used needle in his pocket, was also arrested.

The men, who have prior drug arrests, were charged with possession of a controlled substance, police said.

State Deal Will Boost Workers' Comp Payments; Maximum Benefit To Rise to $650 By 2009
      Governor Spitzer joined with legislative leaders and State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes Feb. 27 to announce a landmark agreement that will overhaul New York's Workers' Compensation system, while raising the maximum weekly benefit from $400 to $500 later this year, progressing to $650 by 2009

Bridge & Tunnel Officers D. Rivera and D. Eason discovered over $25,000 of  counterfeit Air Jordan sneakers at a Checkpoint at the Queens-Midtown Tunnel on February 24, 2007. 

Feb. 20, 2007 - by Greg Lombardi
Bridge & Tunnel Officers on the alert for a carjacked Range Rover yesterday at the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge were involved in a shootout as the perpetrator tried to run down the Officers that were attempting to stop him. Officers Chaidir Hasanoeddin and Joseph Garcia ordered the driver out of the stolen vehicle as they discovered it on the Toll Plaza. The driver ignored the commands of the Officers, reared the vehicle in reverse and revved the engine to help mount the curb, heading straight for Officer Hasanoeddin. Trapped and fearing for his life, Officer Hasanoeddin fired 3 times at the charging vehicle. Officer Garcia was forced to hold his fire as Officer Hasanoeddin was then wedged between him and the perpetrator.
Officer Greg Verderber joined the scene and fired once as the vehicle raced at Officer Hasanoeddin. The driver escaped down a nearby exit ramp and the hijacked vehicle was recovered.
A truly magnificent job was done by all the members of the BWB in looking after the Officers following the incident, securing the scene and coordinating with the follow-up by the NYPD and the BTOBA.
Special thanks to:
Officer Carl Mosby who raised the alarm and intially spotted the hijacked vehicle as it entered the Facility and providing the timeline of events.
Officer Erika Tanner-Santiago who checked on her brother Officers immediately.
SOBA President Lt. Marc Sirlin for his kind assistance.
All at the BWB.
Chief Health & Safety Officer Bryan Walsh and Research-Negotiations Chairman Kevin Heltzer for their extraordinary diligence and long hard work in every capacity.
And above all:
Officers Hasanoeddin, Verderber and Garcia for their utmost professionalism, vigilance and bravery.



Story Bottom

February 20, 2007 -- A brazen thief stole an SUV from a Queens carwash yesterday and then nearly ran down a cop on the Whitestone Bridge - who bravely squeezed off three shots before diving out of the way, authorities said.

The crook remained at large last night after abandoning the swiped Range Rover just past the bridge in The Bronx.

Police sources said the incident began at about 11:30 a.m. at the Laurelton Car Wash on Merrick Boulevard in Queens, where a man was having his orange Range Rover cleaned. After the SUV was washed, the driver left the car to pay his bill, the sources said.

At that point, a man described as wearing a hooded sweatshirt and gray jeans jumped into the car and sped off.

People at the carwash called 911, prompting police to issue a bulletin for officers to be on the lookout for the vehicle, which had Georgia vanity tags.

About 35 minutes later, the Range Rover was spotted on the Whitestone by a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Police Office Chidir Hasanoeddin, who was at the toll plaza.

As the SUV waited to pass through the toll, Hasanoeddin shouted, "Police! Don't move! Get out of the car!" according to Greg Lombardi, vice president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association.

But instead of stopping, the driver gunned the engine, sending the SUV lurching over a two-foot curb toward the cop.

The officer fired three shots from his 9mm pistol at the Range Rover, the sources said. Another TBTA officer, Greg Verderber, saw what was happening and ran over before shooting once at the SUV.

The Range Rover then crashed through a toll gate and raced off, according to the sources. Neither officer was hurt.

The SUV was recovered about 20 minutes later by police at Brush and Lafayette avenues, near the first Bronx exit after the bridge. Both left tires were flat.

Cops flooded the area - a favored dumping ground for stolen cars - looking for the perp.

"It looks like a war zone," said José Ocasio, as he watched dozens of assault-rifle-toting officers surround the Brush Avenue house behind his after a police dog had tracked the scent of the thief there. Despite their search, the cops were unable to locate the thief.

Thief tries to ram cops



Two bridge and tunnel cops opened fire on a car thief yesterday as he tried to ram them with a stolen Range Rover on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, sources said.

Officer Chaidir Hasanoeddin fired three times at the SUV as the driver revved the engine and jumped a 2-foot concrete barrier, law enforcement sources said.

Hasanoeddin had stopped the car and ordered the driver to get out when the orange Range Rover barreled over the barrier at him, sources said. His partner, Officer Greg Verderber, fired one round at the vehicle, sources said.

Neither officer, both of whom work for the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority, was hurt and the SUV sped off.

The car was abandoned on Brush Ave. in Throgs Neck, the Bronx.

"I see them parading up the block - police, dogs, all searching for a carjacker," said Brush Ave. homeowner Jose Ocasio as NYPD officers and bloodhounds scoured the neighborhood but did not find the suspect.

The SUV's front and rear driver's side tires were blown out, though it was unclear whether it was from the shots fired or scaling the barrier.

The Range Rover had been stolen from a Merrick Blvd. car wash in Cambria Heights earlier in the day while the owner paid the bill. Surveillance cameras at the car wash caught the thief on videotape.

A bridge and tunnel officer spotted the SUV as it entered the plaza leading to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and officers moved in.

"If it was a silver Mercedes or a blue Acura, it would have blended into the background," a law enforcement source said. "An orange Range Rover - it doesn't exactly blend."

Originally published on February 20, 2007


Officers at Whitestone Bridge Shoot at Stolen S.U.V.; Driver Escapes

Published: February 20, 2007 The New York Times

A man who stole a sport utility vehicle at a car wash in Queens yesterday nearly hit two officers who tried to stop him as he drove up to the Whitestone Bridge toll plaza in the Bronx, the authorities said.

The officers fired at the vehicle, but it escaped. The driver, who soon abandoned the car, had not been found or identified as of last night. Neither the driver nor the officers were seriously injured during the confrontation, officials said.

The authorities gave this account:

The officers, from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, were alerted about the stolen S.U.V., an orange Range Rover bearing the Georgia license plate “David I.”

When it approached the toll plaza about 12:15 p.m., the officers recognized it and called for it to stop. But it jumped a two-foot-high concrete barrier and came barreling toward them. They fired three shots at it.

After the gunfire, the man sped through the toll plaza, took the first exit off the northbound Hutchinson River Parkway at Lafayette Avenue and abandoned the S.U.V.

He then seemed to disappear on Brush Avenue, in an area with a few houses, warehouses, a United States Postal Service facility and a brushy landscape.

A search for the man continued throughout the afternoon. Officers from the New York Police Department and the transportation authority used dogs to scour the area along Brush Avenue and searched inside two houses.

It was unclear yesterday whether the driver had been armed.

Catherine Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority, said investigations into the theft of the vehicle and the confrontation on the bridge were continuing.

The owner of the Range Rover had called 911 yesterday morning, reporting that his S.U.V. had been stolen from the Laurelton Hand Car Wash and Detailing, at 220-02 Merrick Boulevard in Queens.

He was paying for the car wash and three employees were wiping down the S.U.V. when an unknown man jumped in and drove away, a manager on duty said yesterday afternoon.

The owner, David Irish, 50, said last night that said he is a New Yorker who lives near Atlanta but is visiting in Queens. He had bought the S.U.V. only last year, as a present for himself. “All of a sudden I look out the door and see my truck being driven away with the back window still open,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, they just stole my car.’ ”

Angela Macropoulos and Fernanda Santos contributed reporting.


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All Active BTOs enrolled in the Empire Plan may NO LONGER USE QUEST LABS AS OF JANUARY 1, 2007. The only approved in-network lab is LabCorp.
Please consult the Empire Webpage for the Lab nearest you.
The In-Network co-pay for all lab work and Doctor's visits will be $18 effective January 1, 2007.


The Story is from the NY DAILY NEWS

A fugitive wanted by federal immigration and customs agents somehow slipped through background checks and got a job making repairs inside the Midtown Tunnel, authorities said yesterday. 
Carlos Amaya was busted only after an MTA Bridges and Tunnels officer noticed Amaya's work ID had expired and checked his name for outstanding warrants, authorities said. 

"This guy could have easily slipped through the cracks and gained entry to very sensitive areas," said BTOBA President, president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association. "This may seem inconsequential, but imagine the implications if this guy was a terrorist." 

Officer Christopher Schatz stopped the 44-year-old construction worker as he tried to use an expired work ID to get into a ventilation room, where air is pumped into the tunnel. 

When Schatz asked Amaya for another ID, Amaya gave him a photocopy of a driver's license and then a forged driver's license, police said. 

Schatz - who is assigned to a counterterrorism post created after 9/11 - quickly discovered that Amaya was wanted by the feds for unspecified crimes. The feds are now planning to deport Amaya to his native El Salvador. 

An MTA spokeswoman said the agency was investigating how Amaya made it through the background checks. 

Originally published on August 9, 2006 



June 16, 2006 -
OFFICER JARLDANE (TNB) COPS DOUBLE GUN COLLAR! - Officer Debra Jarldane (assigned to Throgs Neck Bridge) spotted a man videotaping on the Plaza.  A closer look revealed the man carrying a 9 mm semi-automatic and a .357 Magnum.  Officer Jarldane was ably  assisted by Officer Jose Vasquez.... NY Post Article below: 

June 16, 2006 -- A drunken Connecticut driver, armed with two guns, 150 bullets and a knife, was arrested on the Throgs Neck Bridge yesterday after cops spotted him videotaping the toll booths heading into The Bronx, authorities said.

The incident occurred at 11 a.m. when Jacques Dominique, 47, of Norwich Conn., drove his 2000 Dodge Ram into an E-ZPass toll lane - despite not having an E-ZPass - and he sat in front of the lowered toll arm videotaping the area.

Bridge and Tunnel cops approached his vehicle and noticed a .357 Magnum on the front seat next to him and a holstered 9 mm automatic on his hip.

The officers also found 150 rounds of ammo, a stiletto knife and $300 worth of coins, authorities said.

Dominique was charged with possession of illegal weapons and driving while under the influence."

Congratulations on a great but dangerous job well done Officers!

BTOBA Welfare & Benefits Chairman Thomas Duffy is very pleased to announce some major improvements to the Prescription Plan, effective July 1, 2006.
Annual Deductible will be reduced from $50 down to $25 for Active Members, maximum deductibles: 3 per family
Reduced from $125 down to $100 for Retirees, maximum deductibles 3 per family
Generic Medications will now have a $0% co-pay once the deductible has been met.
New Member ID Number: The Fund has assigned a new number for each Member.  That number is printed on your new Plan Identification Card, which should arrive the week of June 18th.  YOU MUST use this new number whenever you use your Prescription Card, in both the Mail In Plan and at the PHARMACY.
Quantity Limits: NMHCRX has developed standard quantity limits to ensure that certain medications are being utilized according to FDA indications, dosing, safety and efficacy data.  The following medications will now have quantity limits:
Regranex: One 15 gram tube per month
Tamiflu/Relenza: 10 tabs per year for Tamiflu, 85mls per year for Tamiflu suspension and Relenza- 1 disk per year.






Wednesday, May 03, 2006




Today, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental spending bill that would ensure that police officers, firefighters, and health care professionals are provided compensation should they suffer injury from any new pandemic flu vaccinations.  The amendment appropriates $289 million to fund the pandemic flu vaccine compensation injury program for first responders. 


NAPO has been a leading proponent of such legislation since 2002, when there was an effort to vaccinate first responders against smallpox.  At that time, the nation experienced a situation in which some of first responders who accepted vaccines in the public interest risked previously unpredicted adverse medical consequences.  NAPO salutes Congress for choosing once again to stand with us in our fight to protect our nation’s first responders.  It is ultimately a civic obligation to provide compensation to public servants who suffer adverse effects from the vaccines.


NAPO thanks Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) for sponsoring this amendment, as well as all of the senators who voted in favor of the amendment for their support of men and women in law enforcement.


Click here for Sidegigs, Uniforms etc.


If you purchased Defective Body Armor containing Zylon from Point Blank/Paca you may be entitled to replacement panels or discount vouchers for a new vest as a result of a settlement reached recently.

"The Settlement provides two primary benefits:

New non-Zylon® ballistic panels - Class members are entitled to receive new non-Zylon® replacement panels at no cost. Defendants are responsible for all transaction costs associated with delivery of the replacement panels to Class members; and

Voucher/Carrier Option – Class members have the option of receiving a voucher equal to the difference between the price they paid for their original vest and the replacement selected, on a depreciated basis, or a new standard carrier."

Click here to download a Claim Form and get further information.

Officers at The Q converged upon an
alleged crazed, intoxicated motorist who was operating a stolen vehicle through the Tunnel and out into the streets of Manhattan on Janurary 26, 2006. What a great job well done by everyone concerned!
The New York Daily News Police Bureau Reporter Tony Sclafani made this report:


BTOs Get Full Line -of- Duty Death Benefit - From The Chief Jan. 14, 2005
Governor Pataki signed into law a line-of-duty death benefit that guarantess the families of Bridge & Tunnel Officers a lifetime annual payment equivalent to their final year's earnings, the BTOBA announced January 3rd.
Union President Joe Mauro said the benefit will include overtime earnings and longevity pay on top of salary, which for senior BTOs is currently $51,179.
He said he believed that the greater emphasis on safeguarding the city's bridges and tunnels in the wake of 9/11 had helped convince some legislators and the Governor that the BTOBA's 800 plus members deserved the same death coverage as cops and firefighters.
"The constant threat of terrorism, coupled with increased law-enforcement responsibilities, has increased the dangers in our work environment," Mr. Mauro noted. "If the unthinkable occurs, the spouse and children of BTOs will be cared for financially."
Prior to De. 15 - the day Mr. Pataki signed the bill - the families of Bridge & Tunnel Officers who died in the line of duty received just a single payment of three years of their earnings.
The bills primary legislative sponsors are both from Queens: Republican State Sen. Serphin Maltese and Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Seminario, who is a former Correction Officer.

Bridge & Tunnel Officers may carry their firearms throughout the USA as a result of the new bill signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 22, 2004.



Please note that this law DOES NOT CHANGE any of the current requirements for air travel and the many restrictions involved with air travel.

The BTOBA has a new e-mail address.
Please send your e-mail messages to

All original items are copyright © 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 by the Bridge & Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association Inc.  Any reproduction without the express written consent of the BTOBA Inc. is prohibited. BTOBA NEWS is written and edited by
 Bridges & Tunnel Officers Greg Lombardi, Wayne Joseph & Kevin Heltzer