The [Wednesday] Papers
The latest CTA fiasco made the New York Times today under the headline "Impatient Subway Riders Revolt in Chicago."
The story carries CTA chief Ron Huberman's unfortunate initial reaction (later wisely walked back): "If those particular passengers had not self-evacuated, we could have gotten people out on trains and restored service much sooner."
Aside from the questionable premise of that statement, I'd like to stick Huberman on an overheated underground train under the care of the Chicago Transit Authority and see just when his patience runs out and his instinct for self-survival kicks in.
This comment on CTA Tattler rang truest to me (I added the links):
"In 2006 when the first Blue Line incident occurred, Kruesi and Phil Cline and Daley were falling all over themselves congratulating themselves on how no one was killed and thousands were spirited to safety. Yesterday we learned that one of those passengers who was almost killed got a million dollar settlement. I was on a train once that overshot Paulina and the front car doors opened over the street. I've been on platforms that were dangerously overcrowded. On numerous occasions I've entered stations and waited a long time for a train only to finally hear about a huge delay the station agent didn't bother to tell anyone about. Anyone who has ridden the CTA for a while is used to incompetence and lack of ability to communicate. If I'd been down in the dark tunnel on a hot, crowded train with a silent operator, I would have been tempted to 'self-evacuate' too."
Similarly, the Tribune account included this:
"Daniel Kotin, an attorney who represents dozens of victims from the 2006 derailment, said the CTA appeared to encounter similar woes in Tuesday's incident.
"'Our hope was that after the July 2006 incident the CTA would learn valuable lessons not only in track maintenance but also how to communicate with passengers in times like that so that people can remain calm and evacuate a train in an orderly fashion,' Kotin said. 'I heard much the same [Tuesday]: no information from the CTA provided in terms of what someone should do, how long they would be waiting or what their options were.'"
My favorite nugget, though, comes from the Sun-Times:
"Brendan Fitzpatrick, 23, who was on the third train from the station, said riders passed the time by cracking jokes about CTA service and singing along to their cell phone ringtones."
That's almost enough to make me wish I was there.
"After an eight-week jury trial, three of the defendants were convicted of mail fraud and the fourth of making materially false statements to federal investigators. The centerpiece of their appeal is a challenge to the government's theory of prosecution: they contend that their behavior, while dubious, is not criminal, and that the honest services mail fraud statute is unconstitutionally vague.
"We conclude that the defendants' actions do constitute mail fraud, and that the statute is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case.
"The defendants also argue that they did not deprive the city or the people of Chicago of any money or property, but the jobs that they wrongfully gave away were indeed a kind of property, so we reject this argument. Individual defendants also challenge the sufficiency of the indictment, the connection to the mails, and the sufficiency of the evidence against them, while one defendant argues that he was entitled to a sentencing adjustment for playing a minor role. Finding none of these arguments persuasive, we affirm on all counts."
And then the money line: "The beating heart of this fraudulent scheme was the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA). Formally, the office serves as a liaison between the City of Chicago and state and federal governments and has no role in hiring for the city's 37,000 or so civil service jobs. Informally, the office coordinated a sizeable portion of the city's civil service hiring, ferreting out jobs to footsoldiers in the mayor's campaign organization and to other cronies."
You can read the whole decision here.
Also from Chicagoist: "Circles of El."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Evacuating daily.
Posted on April 16, 2008
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