Batavia trucker Bill Sutton was one of hundreds of truckers who converged on Albany this morning.
Truckers and Citizens United of New York organized a convoy of fed-up haulers and drivers to meet up at the Betty Beaver Truck Stop in Fultonville and from there: the state capital. From their Web site: "We expect to parade down State Street in Albany by 10:00am and encircle the Capitol Building. Join us at any point along the way in your own vehicle! Be heard! Be seen! Take back our state!"
From Land Line Magazine:
Bill Sutton said he has a challenge for any truckers who use the excuse they can’t afford to participate in the convoy to Albany. He’s had his share of bad luck recently.
Sutton, a flatbedder from Batavia, NY, has been trucking for more than 23 years. However, he said the company he was leased to for 16 years shut down on Friday, June 6. Besides losing his job, he is also out more than $12,000 he was owed in back settlements from the company.
“I got a message that I should be receiving a check for about $3,000 to $4,000, but I may have to wait a year or more to receive the rest, if I get it at all.”
Sutton said he’s participating in the convoy because he believes truckers should stand together to fight toll increases and high fuel taxes truckers in New York face. He is also meeting with his assemblyman, Stephen Hawley, while he’s in Albany to discuss some of the key issues truckers are facing.
“I really believe we are doing the right thing by doing this,” he said. “Even though I am forking out money out of my own pocket to participate in the convoy, I am not willing to just accept what is continually being done to the truck drivers here, which is being taxed to the point they can’t run any longer.”
He said that while many people don’t know his name, they recognize his truck, which is a bright purple 2005 Western Star LowMax.
“People don’t know me, but they know my truck. It’s hard to miss,” he said.
The Associated Press was there when the drivers arrived. They caught up with Sutton who was in the thick of it. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno addressed the crowd, claiming that it was the Assembly's fault the state gas tax "holiday" didn't pass.
Shortly after his remarks, Bruno got a taste of what it's like to drive a big rig after Sutton, who helped organize the rally, invited him to check out his truck parked nearby.
After a choppy start, Bruno, who doesn't have a commercial driver's license, pulled out into traffic and, after nearly running onto a curb, drove off out of sight. He reappeared a few minutes later, parked the truck and described the experience as "some challenge."
Gov. David Paterson was also on the scene. He said he couldn't support the gas tax "holiday" unless fuel companies promised to pass on the savings to consumers and told the truckers to take their protest to the offices of big oil company executives.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he didn't speak to the truckers because he wasn't invited, adding that the rally was organized by a failed Republican candidate for Assembly who he described as "Tedisco's henchman," referring to Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.
Vincent Gramuglia, a Fultonville truck-stop owner, was the lead organizer. He lost a bid for the Assembly 18 years ago to Democrat Paul Tonko but said that had nothing to do with the rally.
"This has nothing to do with politics," he said. "This has to do with truckers."