Shoe-brandishing straphanger: fare hikes contemptible
BY MARLENE NAANES and ALFONSO A. CASTILLO
Transit riders were angry at the doomsday budget reluctantly adopted by the MTA yesterday.
Angry enough to attempt a shoeing.
In a protest reminiscent of an Iraqi journalists recent attack on President George Bush, one enraged subway commuter at yesterdays MTA board meeting attempted to grab his size 10 1/2-D Red Wings all the while yelling at MTA chief Elliot Sander, You made $300,000 last year, and this shoe is for you!
Stephen Millies, 54, of Jackson Heights, was hauled away before he could reach his shoes and was later given a disorderly conduct summons. But his furor over the budget was echoed by dozens of MTA riders, employees and elected officials who came out for yesterdays vote to jack up subway and bus fares by 23 percent.
As he was being walked in handcuffs to the police precinct in Grand Central, Millies said: My shoe is a sign of contempt because he \[Sander\] wants to raise the fare on disabled people. Thats contemptible.Sander later laughed about the incident and said he empathized with angry riders.
I certainly do appreciate the anger and the concern that is out there about our budget, and that was reflected in \[Millies\] comment, he said.
By a vote of 13-1, the MTA board passed the 2009 operating budget, even while calling it draconian, miserable and barbaric. In addition to the fare increases, the budget calls for service cuts to help plug the $1.2 billion deficit the agency is facing next year.
Norman Seabrook, the only board member to vote no, called on Albany and the city to pitch in financially. Other board members pushed for state legislators to approve a pay roll tax and East River bridge tolls recommendations that would generate extra revenue for the MTA before the increases take effect in June.
Public hearings on the hikes and service cuts could begin in January, and specific pricing schemes would likely be voted on in March.