Democracy Now! December 17, 2002

Program Title:
Democracy Now! December 17, 2002
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 

Transit Workers Union reaches a tentative agreement with New York City MTA: the deal averts a strike by workers from nation s largest public transportation system; Is cross-burning constitutionally protected speech, or racial intimidation and hatred? A debate between Rodney Smolla, attorney for three white Virginia men who burned crosses and john powell, founder of the Institute on Race and Poverty; The International Poindextering of Poindexter : electronic activists publish the Total Information Awareness director s home phone number and satellite photos of his house

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: A tentative agreement last night averted a transit strike by workers from the country s largest public transportation system. Transport Workers Union Local 100 president Roger Toussaint announced the deal last night, accompanied by New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials. In the end, the Transport Workers Union Local assented to one of the manager s main objectives: a wage freeze in the first year. To soften the blow, M.T.A. will give each of the city s 35,000 workers a $1,000 bonus in the first year, and 3-percent pay raises in each of the second and third years. That will save the M.T.A. tens of millions of dollars, because the bonus will not become part of the worker s base pay in future years. The union had originally asked for 8% raises in each year. The union also assented to measures designed to improve worker productivity. The MTA pulled back from a request that workers increase their payments into the pension fund, and the agency also agreed to increase its funding of health benefits by an amount the union estimates is over $400 million. In addition, the union won an overhaul of a disciplinary system that workers called overly punitive and tyrannical, and a relaxation of some of the MTA's stringent sick-leave rules. Tension reached a peak on Friday when a State Supreme Court justice issued an injunction invoking the state's Taylor Law. That law bars strikes and calls for two days' pay for every day a worker was on strike. The judge also ordered union leaders not to incite their members to strike, but denied the authority s motion to prohibit union leaders from even discussing a strike. Worse, the city brought a lawsuit seeking $1 million in fines against the union on the first day of a strike, doubling each day thereafter. the suit also sought $25,000 from each worker, doubling each day, and $5 million to compensate the city for the expenses it said it had incurred on emergency preparations for the strike. Shortly before the settlement was announced late yesterday thousands of transit workers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and joined a coalition of teachers, municipal employees and other supporters in a rally at City Hall. They chanted, Make the Crooks Open their Books , voicing skepticism about the $2.7 billion dollar deficit the MTA claims it faces over the next two years. The MTA will end the current year with a surplus. Video Tape: Roger Toussaint, President, Transit Workers Union Local 100 and Peter Kalikow, Chairmain, Metropolitan Transit Authority Guest: Marc Albritton, Track Equipment Maintainer at the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority s Coney Island Overhaul Facility. He is also the Shop Steward for about 700 brothers and sisters of Transport Workers Union Local 100. Phone Guest: Robert Snyder, historian and the author of Transit Talk: New York's Bus & Subway Workers Tell Their Stories. He is also the director of the Journalism and Media Studies Program at Rutgers. 9:20-9:21 One-minute music break 9:21-9:45: Last Wednesday, Republican Senate leader Trent Lott for the second time tried to distance himself from his remarks at Strom Thurmond s birthday party, when he said the country would be better off if Thurmond had won the presidency on his Dixiecrat, Segregation Forever platform. That same day, the Supreme Court held a hearing on whether states can ban cross burning. Justice Clarence Thomas, who rarely utters a word in court, passionately denounced cross-burnings. He said: the cross was the symbol of this reign of terror for more than a century. There was no other purpose for the cross. It was intended to cause fear and terror. He said, It is unlike any symbol in our society. At issue is a 1952 Virginia law that makes it a crime to burn a cross or intimidate someone. Three white men in two separate cases were convicted of the offense in 1998. In one case in August 1998, some twenty people gathered on private land for a rally that concluded with Ku Klux Klan members setting on fire a 30-foot cross made of metal and covered in cloth. The leader of that group was Barry Elton Black, the leader of a Pennsylvania branch of the Ku Klux Klan, who preaches racial separatism and doesn't invite people of color into his home. In another case, two Virginia men, Richard Elliott and Jonathan O'Mara, burnt a cross on the lawn of an African American neighbor. All three men were convicted, but last year the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state law was unconstitutional and reversed the convictions. Virginia prosecutors took the matter to the US Supreme Court. Today, we re going to have a debate about whether cross burning should be Constitutionally protected as free speech. Guest: john powell, founder of the Institute on Race & Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School. Guest: Rodney Smolla, Law Professor at the University of Richmond, Law School. He represented the three white Virginia men convicted of cross-burning in 1998. Smolla argued that while a burning cross may be "horrible, evil and disgusting," it's no different from flag burning in that it constitutes constitutionally protected "free expression." 9:40-9:41 One-minute music break 9:45-9:58 : The head of the government's Total Information Awareness project, which aims to track credit-card, travel, medical, school and other records of everyone in the United States, has himself become a target of personal data profiling. According to a recent article in, online pranksters, taking their lead from a San Francisco journalist, are publishing John Poindexter's home phone number, photos of his house and other personal information to protest the surveillance program. The campaign began after columnist Matt Smith printed the information -- which he says is all publicly available -- in a recent column for the SF Weekly. Smith wrote, "Optimistically, I dialed John and Linda Poindexter's number --(301) 424-6613 -- at their home at 10 Barrington Fare in Rockville, Md., hoping the good admiral and excused criminal might be able to offer some insight. Smith continued, "Why, for example, is their $269,700 Rockville, Md., house covered with artificial siding, according to Maryland tax records? Shouldn't a Reagan conspirator be able to afford repainting every seven years? Is the Donald Douglas Poindexter listed in Maryland sex-offender records any relation to the good admiral? What do Tom Maxwell, at 8 Barrington Fare, and James Galvin, at 12 Barrington Fare, think of their spooky neighbor?" Smith added, "I needed to call Poindexter anyway, and it seemed like a worthy concept that if he's going to be compiling data that most certainly will leak around to other departments and get used, one way to get readers to think about it was to turn that around. Meanwhile in Washington, the Secret Service yesterday warned a group of peace activists against convening in front of War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld home tonight in Washington. Activists plan to gather in front of Rumsfeld s home near Dupont Circle to sing holiday carols. Tonight s gathering won t be the first time peace activists have taken protests directly to Rumsfeld s home. During the Ford Administration, the late Philip Berrigan once dug a grave on the lawn of Rumsfeld s, who then too was serving as the nation s War Secretary. The headline in the next day s paper read 'Berrigan Arrested at Rumsfeld's Grave. Phone Guest: Matt Smith, SF Weekly Columnist and the author of the recent pieces The International Poindextering of Poindexter . Phone Guest: Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (He specializes in free speech law, including intersections with intellectual property law and privacy law.) Phone Guest: Medea Benjamin, founder of Global Exchange and one of founders of Code Pink: Women's Pre-Emptive Strike for Peace. Links: Electronic Frontier Foundation: Matt Smith s The International Poindextering of Poindexter s John Poindexter page: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogiera and Alex Wolfe. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
December 17, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
December 17, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
These terms will not bring up a complete list of all items in our catalog associated with this subject. Click here to search our entire catalog.
WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., December 17, 2002
PRA metadata viewPRA metadata view
This recording is currently on a 1/4” reel tape and has not been digitally preserved. If you would like to contribute to the cost of transferring this recording, and receive your own personal copy on CD, please complete this form and we will return your request with pricing information. You will hear from an archive staff member once your request has been researched. We can also be reached by phone at 800-735-0230.