Iris Weinshall (Mrs Chuck Schumer) presided over a massive human tragedy caused by human error, yet she kept her job.
On 15 October 2003 the ferry Andrew J Barberi killed 10 people and injured 71 when its operator crashed into the concrete pier at the St George Ferry terminal. The Commissioner of the Department of Transportation was Ms Iris Weinshall. Who was blamed for this tragedy? The little people - the captain and the pilot. You might ask "why should she step down?"
Three years earlier Ms Weinshall was concerned with cleanliness of the ferry system. She directed a change in management that led to the retirement of Jack Larsen, a former member of the Navy and the ferry's executive director. She then replaced the subject matter expert (Larsen) with wonks.
Robert Grotell, who "had no experience running a large transportation operation" was installed as deputy commissioner for passenger transport.
Joseph Albano, was a traffic engineer and had exactly ZERO maritime experience.
Patrick Ryan, was given the day-to-day operations position. But, though he worked on ferries for his entire career, he had been previously demoted. Was this the best person for the job, Ms Weinshall? Apparently not.
Patrick Ryan was prosecuted in the Staten Island ferry case for seaman's manslaughter. It was discovered that Ryan did not enforce safety policies. The real question remains, why was this man appointed?
Meanwhile, Ms Weinshall's decision did not lead to her resignation. In fact, she has been selected to another public service position as the Vice Chancellor for or Facilities Planning, Construction and Management at The City University of New York (CUNY). Another six-figure position for someone who so fundamentally failed in another six-figure job? There is no question she placed the wrong people in the wrong jobs and led to the deaths of 10 New Yorkers as well as injuries to 71 others.
There was a fundamental failure of leadership at the highest levels of NYC's Department of Transportation!
I AM CALLING FOR MS. WEINSHALL TO RESIGN FROM THE CUNY POSITION IMMEDIATELY AND TO CEASE SEEKING OTHER PUBLIC OFFICES!
This week is "Sunshine Week" - a week dedicated to transparency in government. CUNY is a public college that receives federal funding. On Friday I will call CUNY and determine if the hiring procedure for the Chancellor's position was fair and impartial or driven by cronyism and politics.
UPDATE: The call to CUNY on 16 March 2007 led to the usual bureaucratic shuffling from one office to another and the obligatory "message" to the Public Relations person. That person was supposed to call back. Do you think they did? This may require more investigation.