Last Sunday, notorious publicity hound and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, called for Boeing to be removed from a Federal Aviation Administration rulemaking committee. As investigations deepen into both the company and regulator’s role in two deadline airline crashes, Schumer said Boeing should be suspended from the panel which makes recommendations on airline regulations.
It’s the standard operating procedure for Chuck to make some kind of Sunday pronouncement, guaranteed to be picked up by a reliable, friendly media. And if there’s a crisis/tragedy to exploit, all more motivation for Schumer to add his two cents. So, typically oblivious to any hypocrisy, Schumer decided to weigh in on the two recent air crashes, in far off lands.
We say “oblivious to any hypocrisy” because just about 15 years ago there was another horrific accident, just one borough removed from Sen. Schumer’s Brooklyn office. This one involved 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?
The answer is easy if you know two things. 1) The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation was Iris Weinshall. 2) Iris Weinshall is Senator Schumer’s wife.
If this was unknown at the time it’s no one’s fault. The power couple was very careful covering their tracks. In July of 2006 Iris, as a defendant in a related lawsuit, went so far as to have the hyphenated Schumer part of her Weinshall-Schumer name removed and both were virtually unreachable for comments regarding the deadly accident.
While others were disciplined, fired and/or served jail terms Ms. Weinshall 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, ironically tasked with overseeing the planning, building, and maintenance of physical structures.
This past weekend Sen. Schumer demanded, “….the FAA both suspend Boeing from this committee and any others until the formal investigation has ended and to also answer serious questions I have raised.”
Ms. Weinshall-Schumer’s husband made no such calls for answers in 2003. That’s probably because both he and his wife knew what the answers would be.