By Dante DeAmicis
In my “911” post I reported that all the canceled bus runs after the drivers ended the strike were 100% due to sabotage by Paratransit Services. As transit is a service not a product the services could have been running at full strength immediately. Paratransit’s private agenda would not allow this, as I pointed out in my 9-11 LTA meeting blog. They gave no reason for their action. Apparently they didn’t feel they owed the public an explanation other than to say that the law allowed them to wait 5 days before taking back the strikers.
Of course they neglected to mention that this law implied “if they needed those days.” With manufacturing, a business might need those days to ramp up. Service businesses can usually resume without implementing this option. Most people would say it is violating the intent of the law to use this legal slack when it is not needed. Paratransit is not most people. But they didn’t stop there. Their para reasoning was on a roll. They reasoned that since they could hire people for 5 days they had the right to finish their training, which would take over two weeks, before taking any of the original drivers back.
At some point Paratransit’s pursuit of their secret agenda outstripped their ability to rationalize it. While they were busy training new people hired during the 5 days after the strike, they continued to hire new drivers after the 5 days as they allowed a few former full time drivers to come back as “part time” and “temporary” drivers. I ride the bus. People talk. Not to mention I work with someone who was hired as a transit driver during this post-5-day-after-the-strike period for his second job.
Paratransit would not say what this hostile agenda is but its effect was to slam the bus riders and Lake County economy for an additional two weeks. Mark Wall, the Lake Transit Authority manager weakly defended this transparently predatory action as a justified preemptive maneuver in case the Union decided to strike again some time. Amazing. This ignores the fact that the ranks of transit drivers are now saturated with non union drivers or they wouldn’t have crossed the picket lines to begin with. The Teamsters would have to be suicidal to call a strike in their weakened condition. There is no reason to believe this old, conservative union is suicidal. If they were they wouldn’t still be around.
So what is Paratransit’s hidden agenda? Most residents think it is not hidden at all, that it is pure “union busting”, possibly subsidized by outside interests. That would be an obvious conclusion . But it is not an entirely satisfying one. First off, Paratransit Services is not an entrepreneur desperately defending their capital investment. They are simply a management company brought in to run a public investment on a contract by contract basis. They can’t actually loose any money so their borderline paranoid behavior is a mystery. Why the LTA tacitly condones these bazaar actions is a bigger mystery.
Make no mistake. After the strike officially ended on August 16th the reduced bus service was no longer a labor problem. Lake County was in the grip of a management problem. Labor was no longer involved. The transit authority continues to absolve Paratransit from any responsibility for their two week attack on the most vulnerable segment of the population – transit dependent residents.
So how much damage was done? Because Paratransit had a driver replacement plan that was explained and accepted at the August 14th LTA meeting we can come up with a very specific theoretical number for the damage inflicted on our County by a service that we paid for. Percentages, dates, and the bus schedules are all that is necessary to arrive at this number, which I call the “head shot” number, as in “shots to the head.”
The Paratransit Plan called for 60% of the routes to be running with replacement drivers between August 16th and August 24th. That’s 6 weekdays and 2 Saturdays worth of runs. According to the bus schedules there should 734 runs operating during this period. If 40% weren’t running because Paratransit put their agenda first, that meant Lake County took 294 inexcusable hits. Between August 26th and August 31st these ungrateful carpetbaggers allowed only 80% of the buses to serve our residents. That’s 5 weekdays and one Saturday for a total of 565 scheduled runs. If 20% of the runs were held hostage by Paratransit that means an additional 113 runs were slashed from the schedule. The figure for both phases is 294 plus 113 for a total of 407 head shots delivered by a shadowy cabal who have shown nothing but contempt for the local taxpayers who are feeding them. It is time for the Lake Transit Authority to get a clue as to who is buttering their bread as well.
This “head shot” number was easy to arrive at. Another of my blog posts mentioned a “diamond number” that would reveal a greater level of corruption, incompetence, or just plain self serving meanness. Unfortunately, this figure will require a variety of data, some of which may only be possessed by Paratransit. Stay tuned to see whether the LTA will assist or hinder the effort to pry this publically paid for information from the Paratransit inner sanctum.