New York Daily News

May 29, 2003

Tixed-off man grilled by Mike aide

By DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

see also "Quotas? What Quotas?"

David Galarza just wanted answers.

Instead, the Brooklyn union worker got the third degree from Mayor Bloomberg's press secretary yesterday - all because Galarza had the temerity to confront the mayor on a fare-beating summons his wife got.

Galarza staked out the mayor at a breakfast event early yesterday and asked Hizzoner, "What's with all the quotas?"

But things got strange after Galarza left the meeting -- with Bloomberg press secretary Ed Skyler hot on his heels.

Skyler said he followed Galarza to offer help, as he said he often does for constituents.

But Galarza said the confrontation quickly turned testy, with Skyler angrily demanding to see the $60 summons and asking, "Who put you up to this?" Galarza said.

He refused to give any information to Skyler, whom he described as "very intimidating."

Skyler said later, "I couldn't understand why someone would ask the mayor a question in a public forum, then refuse to share basic information when a staffer tried to follow up."

He later suggested that the whole affair may have been a setup perpetrated by unnamed enemies of the mayor.

Galarza is a communications staffer for the Civil Service Employees Association, a union that represents some 18,000 state workers in the city but no municipal employees.

He insisted he was only sticking up for his wife, a teacher.

"I was really quite taken aback," said Galarza. "I said, 'Nobody put me up to this. I am a concerned citizen.'"

Gripe over swipe

The summons was issued Tuesday after Inez Galarza, 30, a speech therapist at Public School 151 in Queens, pushed a cartload of classroom supplies through a service entrance at the Lexington Ave. line's Brooklyn Bridge stop.

She planned to swipe her MetroCard through the turnstile after being cleared through the gate with her 11-year-old son by a token booth clerk.

But she never had a chance, she told The News yesterday.

A city transit cop immediately demanded identification, saying, "It's too late," as the teacher begged to swipe her card.

Cops last night disputed her version, saying Inez Galarza walked at least 10 feet past the turnstiles before being stopped.

But with a seven-day unlimited pass in her pocket, she said she had no incentive to trying to beat the fare.

"There was no reason for me to try and get over on them," she said. "But the officer just kept saying, 'This is protocol. This is what we have to do.'"