For going on roughly 2 decades now, New York’s Chuck Schumer has found something, almost anything, especially if it promoted big government, to offer an agreeable media on Sundays. He’s generally taken advantage of what’s usually a “slow news day” to either pitch or bitch about an issue in front of a friendly gaggle of reporters. There have, however, been some rare times the camera seeking Chucky has missed those free publicity love-ins.
One notable absence was following the worst disaster in the over century-long history of the Staten Island Ferry. On Wednesday, October 15, 2003 the Andrew J. Barberi crashed full-speed in a concrete pier at St. George ferry terminal, killing 11 and injuring 165. The crash was so horrific, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg felt compelled to issue a statement saying it was not a terrorist attack.
Facing multi-million dollar lawsuits the NYC Department of Transportation had the hard-hearted chutzpah to claim the clearly avoidable tragedy resulted from an Act of God. Not only was that pathetic argument debunked to the tune of well over $50 million, but 5 people were charged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York with 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter and making false statements.
In addition, an independent federal report found fault with upper management ruling, “the lion’s share of culpability in this case as resting with the high level management of the Ferry Service.” So, given this was just the kind high profile catastrophe Senator Schumer would normally use to bleat about dramatically expanding the fed’s role; where was Chuck? Why the uncharacteristic silence?
The answer is only an easy one if you know two things. 1) The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation was Iris Weinshall. 2) Iris Weinshall, was and to this day still is, Senator Charles Schumer’s wife. If this comes as a huge surprise it’s not the reader’s fault. The couple was very careful covering their tracks. In July of 2006 Iris, as a defendant in a related law suit, went so far as to have the hyphenated Shumer part of her Weinshall-Schumer name removed.
While others were disciplined, fired and/or served jail terms Ms. Wesinshall had the remarkable good fortune to serve in that position for another four years. She then took a job at the City University of New York, tasked with overseeing the planning, building and maintenance of physical structures. Unbelievable, unfunny irony anyone?
Not so long ago someone with a fine memory and their own sense of irony made a profound point. Wile Chuck visited a transportation hub (airport) and conjured up camera fueled crocodile tears over 11 folks being detained because of President Trump’s travel ban, he made no such public display of emotion over the 11 fellow New Yorkers killed and 165 injured on a ferry being badly mismanaged by his wife’s agency.
As those who saw loved ones lost or maimed remember the 14th anniversary of that deadly crash, don’t expect publicity hound Schumer to be joining them on this or any other Sunday.