Caption Contest: Re-name This Foursome


Hat tip to Liz Benjamin at the Daily Politics for this snapshot of four state senators who’ve helped concoct a stopgap, toll-less MTA funding plan that does nothing to address the imminent decline of New York’s transit system. Lest they be accused of completely shortchanging the future, they say maintenance and expansion can be taken care of next year, by raising personal income taxes throughout the 12-county MTA region. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is calling it all "sound practice." Politicker’s Jimmy Vielkind has more from Smith.

The grinners, from left to right, are Carl Kruger, Ruben Diaz, Sr., Pedro Espada, Jr., and Hiram Monserrate (yes, that Hiram Monserrate). When these men held the Democratic takeover of the Senate hostage, they styled themselves the "four amigos." Now that they’ve done their level best to hamper investment in subways and buses, all to preserve a free ride to Manhattan for the car-driving minority, I think it’s time for a new nickname. Something to do with horsemen, perhaps?

  • Larry Littlefield

    The New York City incumbent Democrats.

  • So they’re pulling the trigger on the payroll tax. That will cost employers money, unless they simply cut wages to cover the difference. That in turn will discourage business from staying in, or relocating to, the 12 counties covered by the tax. Just what I need — another tax to encourage my Florida-based employer to cut me loose.

    That linked graphic is an epic of butt covering: “Zero tolls … restoration of proposed service cuts… reduced (!) fare hikes … restored confidence in MTA finances … accountability to voters.” Today, we are all Larry Littlefield.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “That will cost employers money, unless they simply cut wages to cover the difference.”

    In the public sector, they can’t cut wages, because under state labor laws wages can only go up — except for new employees.

    In the private sector, in this economic environment, here’s an “aha” moment. Why was the New York City Partnership, which represents large employers, in favor of this tax increase?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    How about:

    The Three Amigos and the Wife Beater.

  • CanCon

    The Four Horsemen Drive Don’t Take No Public Transit?

  • Jason A

    What type of politician gloats over proposing a dead-end, no-future plan that only calls for raising (even more!) taxes?

  • Dee Lite

    I believe there was a movie that featured a Cowardly Lion, a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a Wizard.

    See if you can match each Senator to the apropos character. (And no Toto!)

  • graham

    The Fare Hike Four

    A Fource of Evil

    The Unfourtunately Elected

    Fourk Over the Future

    Fourk You

    Fourck Off


  • James

    I can’t think of a nickname right this second, but the level of douchebaggery radiating off of that photo is just immense. Especially from the guy third from the right. It had to be said.

  • I’m sure it’s been pointed out dozens of times before, but I find it tragic that New York’s transit riders are being screwed over not by out-of-touch upstate legislators from auto-centric districts but by four NYC politicians representing transit-oriented districts.

    How is it that the “big three” (Paterson, Silver, and Smith) are all NYC politicians and yet NYC is not faring any better at the hands of the state legislature?

  • vnm

    If you had told me a year ago that a group of four state senators would push such an anti-urban agenda, I would have thought it was a group of elected officials representing from far-flung exurbs.

    No, it is four knuckleheads from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING??

  • What type of politician gloats over proposing a dead-end, no-future plan that only calls for raising (even more!) taxes?

    Jason A:

    A New York State legislator?


    “The Fare Hike Four” is a winner.

  • screwed over not by out-of-touch upstate legislators from auto-centric districts but by four NYC politicians representing transit-oriented districts

    It’s just a symptom of Albany’s continuing stranglehold over NYC issues. Check out the graphic: the phrase “Commitment to upstate and Long Island highways and bridges” has exactly zero relevance to the survival of the MTA but is politically required in order for the rest of the State to give up some of its surplus that the City sends to them.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Four NYC politicians representing…”

    May I point out that most state legislators run unopposed, that it is easy to knock anyone dumb enough to run on the ballot, that most serve until indictment, and that the only people still reading the newspapers are seniors, who don’t dare criticise them?

    Why is this a bad deal for those actually represented by these people. Because the transit system is certain to gradually deteriorate over a decade, perhaps leading to a severe decline in the New York area’s quality of life and economy? That affects them and theirs how?

  • The recipients of the 2009 Robert Moses Award for Atrocities in Urban Policy.

    A bunch of goddamn crybabies?

    But I really do like “The Fare Hike Four.”

  • Otis

    4 Asses with 6 Unaccounted-For Thumbs

  • But I really do like “The Fare Hike Four.”

    To be fair, the fare is being hiked regardless of these clowns.

    How about “A driver’s best friends”?

  • J-Uptown

    Here’s an idea for Patterson, Silver, and Smith: Cut these guys loose. Hold up any and all funding for their election campaign. Fund opposition candidates who will actually support transit and the democratic party, of which they are supposedly a part.

  • J-Uptown

    I also really like “Fare Hike Four”.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Now remember, it only takes once Democrat to prevent the Senate from approving this deal, and then turning around and saying take it or leave it to the other Democrats. One recently elected, perhaps.

    Let’s assume that those on this blog actually care about New York City and its people circa the year 2020.

    Which do you prefer:

    a) This deal — or

    b) The yet-to-be-decided real Doomsday Plan with the state legislature blamed?

    I, of course, prefer B. And let’s be clear what they deserve to be blamed for: not any sacrifices and disasters today and tomorrow, but the deals, favors, and privileges of 15 years that put us into this situation.

    Were I to conduct a forensic audit, they’d end up with a restatement of 15 years of budgets, with no “surpluses” in the years when debts and unfunded pension other retiree liabilities went up or maintenance fell below normal replacement. What we have is a generation of on and off-the-books debts, revenues sucked out of the future, and costs deferred to the future. And NOT just at the MTA.

  • Urbanis, Ruben Diaz is not upstate– he’s from the South Bronx I have no idea how he thinks letting the Bx4 bus get cut is going to help anyone in his district. I know it is shocking because he’s acting like he’s not even from around here. I just wanted to point that out.


    Larry, do you think we could have just one blog post where you don’t blame all of the ills of the universe on pensions from blue-color jobs? I mean by now everyone here knows your theory by now, but many of us don’t agree.

    Larry, I’m glad the pensions are decent and I want my tax dollars to support that. It’s getting a little old. You try to tie every issue to pensions, but too often the real issue is just not enough funding. I think cutting pensions would be a crumby way to solve this crisis.

  • Ryan

    the faresome foursome?

  • Jason A

    Kind of off topic but… the tireless sheneanigans of NY State Democrats only convinces me further that we need a new political voice in this country. Someone needs to stand up an speak up for sustainablity – that’s both ecological and fiscal sustainability…

    The Democrats in their current guise only care about middle class entitlement. Unfortunately we’re on a disasterous course if we insist of preserving the “American Dream” in its current wasteful incarnation. We can not sustain a country that promotes highways to nowhere, McMansions everywhere, “shop til you drop!”, meat at every meal etc, etc, etc…

    If Democrats want to insist on defending our parking lot economy in the name of the “middle class”, it’s high time their constituents start paying for all of sprawl’s opportunity costs and externalities.

    The Democrats are supposedly the supporters of environmental protection and the greater social good… The Republicans are supposedly the party of local solutions and personal responsibilty… We desparately need a new generation of leaders who synthesize the best tendecies of both parties.

    As it stands now, we’re stuck with the worst of both worlds.

  • Kate

    How about

    “The Four that Never Ride the 4”

    It’s all a big joke to these guys.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Larry, I’m glad the pensions are decent and I want my tax dollars to support that.)

    How much more would you be willing to give up to have EVERYONE provided with the same deal? I think 20% of your (and my and everyone’s) take-home pay might do it. And if it was for everyone, I might go along. But that ain’t happening. And remember, the financing of Social Security is very much like the State Senate deal.

    But you missed my point.

    Regardless of whether the pensions were excessive or decent, they should have been paid for when they were earned. They weren’t. That’s what I mean by unfunded pension liabilities, and hidden debts.

    You’re promising people one year of retirement for every year worked. So how were contributions to these plans cut, in some cases, to ZERO in the years around 2000? How could that pension cost zero? They didn’t pay, so that was an off-the books debt — in years when surpluses were claimed.

    The soaring pension contributions that are going to join with debts to wreck public services aren’t just the cost this year of the retirement benefits earned this year. They are the cost this year of retirement benefits earned in past years but not paid for.

    New Jersey, by the way, is worse.–pensiondeferr0316mar16,0,1535068.story

  • Jaywalker

    Took a closer look at the graphic and Monserrate’s smirk…..

    think I need to breathe heavily and repeatedly into a cloth bag and recuse myself of commentary as the only things that come to mind right now involve a lot of this:


  • I guess we’ll have to prod the DOT and DMV to hike the existing automobile fees and fines in Manhattan.

    I’m starting to think that even though Sadik-Khan and Bloomberg more or less quit the fight to get rid of motorist entitlements like free bridges when Silver let congestion pricing die. Instead they realized that the trick (with the help of bike lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian plazas, et al) is to make driving in Manhattan so prohibitively aggravating and expensive that tolls would be the lesser to two evils. Essentially break their spirit since negotiations are going nowhere.

    Oh and don’t forget that the two or three of the Fourckers are homophobes and darn proud of it.

  • Ken

    The Four Drivers of the Autocalypse

  • spike

    Cops (and teachers) currently drive into the city and park for free. Monserrate a former cop is protecting cops from ever paying anything to drive into the city.

  • Ken

    Who wants to join me on an approach to an East River bridge with signs asking motorists to voluntarily pony up $2 to pay their fair share? All proceeds collected to be given directly to the MTA to stave off a fare hike. At the very least, it’ll draw the media like flies.

  • Glenn

    Can’t Bloomberg or Paterson find 3-4 Republican Senators from upstate to support the Ravitch or Silver plan? It would reset the power position of the Four Jokers.

    I think other Dem Senators need to oppose this now in order to counter the Four Jokers. Let them try to find votes for their plan. All you need is one Dem to oppose them.

  • Ken, I’d be so tempted to do that with you. We’ll get honked at though and possibly have things thrown at us. I mean if the drivers on these bridges will make lewd comments to me while I’m jogging I have *no idea* what they do if I was telling them they need to pay $2.

    eh.. I think it’d just make people mad– better to go out and picket these 4 clowns again. Can we find out when was the last time they took the subway?

  • Michael

    I’m hoping, after the next election cycle, their name is “The four ex-senators.”

    We need something like the “Club for Growth” that funds primary challengers for Senators, Assemblymen, and City Council members that oppose transit and safe streets. I’d contribute.

  • Glenn has a point. Bloomberg should talk to his fellow Republicans.

  • Glenn, I have to agree with you. How little clout do the Dems have in Albany that they can’t bring a single Republican over to their side in this?

    Besides, this option, with tax hikes now and tax hikes later, sure isn’t going to get any traction among the Republicans. Maybe some Dems should take a stand against this proposal and cause a deadlock.

  • LN

    That graphic looks like a Depends ad.

    We are all going to need them waiting for the train to come and get us home.

  • pat

    Thanks for this post streetsblog. I needed some cathartic laughter.

    How about the:

    Let’s locate good primary challengers for 2010 RIGHT NOW. These clowns need to feel the heat!

  • Pat– doing that in the Bronx would mean getting people to pay attention to the election, this is easier said than done! I wonder if any of the organizations who supported the recent protest in the South Bronx have any members or leaders who might want to run?

  • Bloomberg should talk to his fellow Republicans.

    June 19, 2007, 6:21 pm
    Mayor Bloomberg Quits the G.O.P.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced tonight that he is quitting the Republican party and changing his affiliation to independent.


  • Marty Barfowitz

    The Loathsome Foursome

  • BDavinci

    How about The we’re F**ked Foursome or The Four that really screwed the MTA. I can’t believe that each of these state senators where a majority of their constituents greatly rely on transit would oppose the Ravtich plan. It’s not a perfect plan and I understand having to pay on the East River bridges would be a “burden” on drivers but why do I get to pay more for transit while drivers get to cross their bridges for free! Even if you use the Triboro, Queens Midtown or any bridges or tunnels owned by the MTA would still have to pay more by the increase of tolls and the drivers would still be complaining about it! Its nonsensical that these 4 dumbasses would oppose something like this when they know their consituents would pay higher fares. I would also call these clowns the Selfish and Greedy Four because I think it them what small minority of drivers they really avocate for that don’t like to pay a measly $2.

  • Hi Susan, I was actually making the point that the Gang of Four are all from NYC, not upstate. I know very well that Diaz is from the South Bronx–I think it’s shameful that those who should most stand up for transit are the obstructionists. I love what your group is doing and am grateful you protested at Diaz’s office (who is also, like another poster mentioned, a blue-chip homophobe).

  • J. Mork: True, but he’s once again seeking to get on the ballot as a Republican for his third run. And even after he quit the party, he was still making campaign contributions to Republicans in the state legislature. I suspect these maneuvers were connected with some fantasy he was entertaining about becoming an indie presidential candidate. But now he’s focused on a third term as mayor.

  • Ok, Urbanis sorry I misread your comment.

  • tekbit

    Not unlike most Politicians these days…”Four Sale”

  • Streetsman

    2 years later: Monserrate was expelled after being convicted of assault. Espada, after being indicted for embezzlement, is voted out in the next primary. And today Karl Kruger is removed from his post as leader of the Finance Committee after being charged in a bribe scandal. The MTA budget is completely in the toilet, and we have these slimy, crooked deadbeats to thank.

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