Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

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Photo of the day: WHY I MARCHED WITH PRIDE AGAINST NYC COUNCILWOMAN CHRISTINE QUINN

HANS MARCHING IN PRIDE AGAINST QUINN

Photo of the day: WHY I MARCHED WITH PRIDE AGAINST NYC COUNCILWOMAN CHRISTINE QUINN

I lost my Gray Line tour guide job of seven years because of her bullying through a ‘headset bill‘ in New York City.  It all started two years ago when two older residents on Greenwich Avenue complained  about guides on open mic and insist we be rerouted. We tried all diff routes, but Greenwich is largest, best flow and connection to the rest of the routes and bus stops.
These complainers had the sirens of St. Vincent’s Hospital, a school yard with screaming grade school kids and the bars showing European soccer matches to boisterous patrons till 4am – if u do not like the noise – move to a better location, you knew what u where getting into when u moved in. So a headset law was suggested.

No one seemed to hear ’noise’ but them. Guards were placed at the corner to see if we were off mic. A noise “study” was supposed to have been done and magically was never needed.

NYC councilwoman Gail Brewer tried to help us and insisted a proviso be put in the bill the headsets be connected to a live guide. ALL tour guides rallied, spoke on TV and radio and press to “Keep New York Live”. Greg Mocker/WPIX11 befriended me and joined our cause. Rumor was that Twin America, the monopoly that owns blue City Sights and red Gray Line double decker buses was trying to get the ’live guide’ proviso thrown out. No tour guides = no high licensed salaries, no health insurance. BINGO! The proviso was erased in the middle of the night by Quinn, because Quinn is in the pocket of Twin America and they padded her coffers for her mayoral run. She simply claimed the proviso was ‘not needed’.

We held one big last ditch effort rally on the steps of city hall at noon time. 12:30….no press, no one. I called TV transit reporter Greg Mocker “Where are you?!!” ‘It’s canceled, isn’t it?’ Quinn had called the press and told them it was canceled. The bill passed with live tour guides eliminated. Councilwoman Brewer cowered under Quinn and was a bit of a wimp, she needed funding for her district. Next came the slaughter of the guides. We had a sign up book, you would sign the days you wanted to work for the next few weeks. Allllll of a sudden, any guide who was seen at NBC, ABC, WPIX11, CBS News, etc was not ‘allowed’ to sign up with no reason given. I was one of their top tour guides. I never had one complaint. I was requested world wide, did all their celebrity tours (Liza Minnelli, Heidi Klum, Cyndi Lauper, etc.) yet I was no longer allowed to sign the book. A fellow tour guide overheard my boss Eva Lee tell the dispatcher “these people are effectively no longer here.” With pressure mounting by the guides, Gray Line said we could re-apply for our jobs, but not at $17.75 an hour with insurance, but with $12.75 and hour, no insurance. We applied. “If a position arises we will contact you” we were told with the iciest of cold faces. Meanwhile through the tour guide grape vine we heard they were begging and pleading other less experienced guides to please come in.

Senior guides were offered insulting low buyouts. Gray Line wanted no one left with a memory of what it used to be like. Guides who had worked there 18 years!!, spoke 5 languages!, were now gone. They wanted no one to question the ‘new authority.’ No rebels, just quiet frightened to death zombie guides. Then they realized no one was watching the tourists on top, so they hired illiterate ‘watchers’ to sit on top and make sure guests didn’t stand up. Pay was about $7-11 per hour. The recorded tour tapes didn’t and don’t work well (at first they didn’t at all!) so now they are hiring guides who are given the answers to the Tour Guides License test, so any idiot can pass the test. Watch them, the buses pass by and the guide is saying nothing, or babbling utter incoherent nonsense. And so here we are. New York tourists are greeted by these “ambassadors to the city” – it’s a joke. The headset law was bullied thru by Quinn, the required noise study was NEVER done and hundreds of guides my age (57 and older) don’t find it easy at all to find work in this city at our age or at other companies. It is almost impossible. You have to be minimally bilingual (I am/German) or be the darling of one of the smaller companies. Smaller companies don’t have the work, salaries and clients. So many guides went bankrupt, moved, sold their things, took several other low paying jobs = slaughtered by that greedy dictator!

There are many other reasons I will cut my hand off before I vote for Christine Quinn. Zoning variances have become the norm in New York and we are becoming a city of soul-less glass boxes since she is in the deep pockets of the real estate Rudin family. Councilmembers are afraid of her. Vote against her – your funding is cut. She over turned term limits in the middle of the night as well so that elitist  mayor Bloomberg could buy a third term. NYC had voted TWICE for a two term limit. How is this a free country?

She is “gay for pay” – on gay pride day she runs to the front of the parade, but has not voted for one pro gay health, housing or community bill – NOT ONE. Her ultimate sinful act was to tear down St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village as well as the ‘Tiles For America’ memorial across the street. Built in 1849, St. Vincent’s took in the only survivors of the Titanic, was at the epicenter the AIDS crisis, and 9/11. The Rudin real estate family wanted condos there. Quinn saw to it, and while at it, tore down the adjoining church as well.  She is the most dangerous thing that has happened and could happened to New York City. We rebuilt after 9/11 and hurricane Sandy – we cannot tear down the glass boxes that are rising at an alarming rate where the mom and pops used to be. We have lost more long time establishments under the Bloomberg/Quinn administration than in the entire history of New York City. Affordable housing tenants are squeezed out, the middle class is ceasing to exist.  VOTE this election,

VOTE FOR “ANYBODY BUT QUINN!”

WATCH THIS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXoANkQh93I

http://votequinnout.com/

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