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City jail to Marty: Get your own workers!

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The city has cut the cord on Marty’s chain gang.

Borough President Markowitz’s summer shows may go on next year, but inmates from Rikers Island will not be deployed to set up chairs and save the Beep thousands in labor costs.

“The Department of Correction provided work crews of inmates to help set up chairs for the Brooklyn concerts this summer; there are no plans to do so again,” said Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction, which had created the unique prison work detail for the borough president after his prior supplier of labor, the state prison system, eliminated the program to save taxpayer money.

Markowitz had gotten cheap labor from the state’s Lincoln Correctional facility overlooking Central Park for at least the previous 15 years.

A source within the city’s jail system said that its budget is nearly as strapped as the state, and that there was no infrastructure in place to handle requests for work crews at other locations around the city.

But the sight of inmates in orange-and-white-striped jumpsuits — the typical garb worn when they are outside the confines of a jail — will not soon be forgotten around Coney Island.

Last Friday morning, roughly 15 inmates were back on duty, cleaning up the aftermath of the B-52s concert while six guards kept a close watch.

The city had said that the inmates on the detail posed a minimal risk, as they were hand picked only minutes before getting on the bus to the concert site — so as to avoid any possible escape plans — and strip-searched before getting on the bus to Asser Levy Park or Wingate Field.

The Department of Correction also made sure the inmates weren’t from either Crown Heights or Coney Island, so that the prisoners wouldn’t be seeing old friends while gathering chairs.

Most locals had not taken issue with the prisoners, but rather had been disappointed that the jobs were going to incarcerated men being paid $1 an hour instead of people in need of work in the ailing economy.

“It’s nice the prisoners give something back to society,” said Ida Sanoff, an opponent of Markowitz’s larger plan to expand the bandshell into a $64-million amphitheater. “But on the other hand, there are a lot of people out of work that would like to get paid — even if just for a couple of days.”

And, as it turns out, there is a program established by Mayor Bloomberg through the Department of Youth and Community Development that would likely be able to find teenagers willing to set up the chairs for around the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Rather than use such an outlet to find a workforce for his concerts, the Beep went to the city’s jail system.

Markowitz’s longstanding summer concerts have come under fire this year like never before. Just last week, the city admitted that the concerts at Asser Levy Park broke a law limiting the volume of the shows — calling into question the future of the music extravaganzas.

Still, the organizer of the concerts, Debra Garcia, pledged that the music would be bumping next year.

“Next summer, we will be celebrating the 33rd season of the Seaside Summer Concert Series,” Garcia said.

Updated 9:45 am, August 25, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Varina from Richmond says:
Marty has 100 people on staff with nothing to do.

Could they be trained to fold up chairs ?
Aug. 25, 2010, 3:36 am
sal from Coney Island says:
@ Ms. Garcia organzier of the Concerts :

It's amazing to me that after Marty Markowitz violated the original 500 foot rule sound permit law and his buddies in the City Council passed in just 5 days a new law, and after violating the new sound permit law at each & every concert this season that they are allowed to continue to thumb their noses at the residents & neighbors in Brighton Beach.
We are a city of Laws, not of men.
Abide by the NYC Laws Ms. Garcia.
Aug. 25, 2010, 8:38 am
Inquiring Mind from Downtown says:
What is the cost of paying Corrections officers to transport and guard prisoners doing this work? It has to be far higher than paying community youth minimum wage to do the same work. Is this guy the dumbest guy on the planet or are we for electing him?
Aug. 25, 2010, 8:58 am
al pankin from Florence, Italy says:
this is a great idea, the residents of the Jail get to see a good show, get fresh air, learn a new trade, what could be better? Marty is doing them and the public a big favor.
Thanks, Marty.....
Aug. 26, 2010, Noon
moishe from coney island says:
@ Patty....

I personally think that Al Pankin's comments were just being sarcastic.

I didn't know that putting up chairs & taking down chairs was a " new trade ".
Secondly the cons don't hang around for the concerts. They are taken back to their cells.

Besides that, even though the cons are being superivised, ther is a kids playground no more than 25 feet from the bandshell, playing & running around. Is this an appropriate place to have cons working?
Aug. 27, 2010, 8:05 am
tupelo35 from windsor terrace says:

It's a shame Marty can no longer count on DOC to furnish criminals to set up his concerts.
If the function requires a criminal element, why not use members of the City Council, i'm sure they more then qualify.
June 24, 2011, 10:56 am

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