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Bus Drivers to Romney: 'We Don't Like Your Attitude!'

County school bus drivers protest Republican presidential candidate's remarks.

 

Spurred to action by comments by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, members of the union that represents Montgomery County school bus drivers took to a Rockville street on Thursday morning.

About 20 members of SEIU Local 500 waved signs urging passing motorists to “Honk if you love your school bus driver” and depicting a report card giving Romney failing marks on schools, education and working families.

The protest, in front of Montgomery County Republican Party headquarters on Crabbs Branch Way, was prompted by Romney’s comments about school bus drivers.

“When a young person makes the honor roll, I know it took a bus to get to school, but I don’t give a bus driver credit for the honor roll,” Romney said in Manassas, VA, on Aug. 11, the day he tapped Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

(Cue up the 7:57 mark in this YouTube video to hear the comment.)

Romney has delivered variations of the line in stump speeches along the campaign trail.

His message is clear, bus drivers said.

“They’re saying that the bus drivers do not contribute to the kids’ education,” said Lia Lee, a supervisor at the Shady Grove Depot who has worked for Montgomery County Public Schools for 11 years. “Yes, they’re not teachers, but they are teaching them self-respect, they’re teaching them how to talk, they’re teaching them how to respect one another on the bus—the same rules as inside that school apply on that school bus.”

Lee added: “We take pride in that statement, ‘no child left behind’ as well.”

Bus drivers are often the first faces that students see when they leave home each school day, said Charles Montgomery, a county bus driver since 1989.

“Some of the kids don’t have people to talk to them,” he said. “When they get on the bus, they want someone to talk to them. We take them to school. We try to show them respect. In order to get respect, I tell them, you’ve got to earn it. We teach them that. We teach them being on time.”

Romney is “trying to put us down,” Montgomery said of bus drivers. “It’s a hard job. And I love it.”

Thursday’s protest was mostly a show of support for drivers, Montgomery said. “But I hope it’s political too. I’m not voting for [Romney].”

Rebecca Smondrowski, a candidate for the District 2 county school board seat from Gaithersburg who attended the protest, agreed with Montgomery that bus drivers set the tone for a child’s day.

Smondrowski said that her son, Andrew, a 16-year-old special education student at , tells her that the bus ride to school—when he talks with his bus driver and bus aide—is the best part of his day.

“Every child’s day has the ability to be made or broken based on every adult that they come in contact with,” she said. “Every adult in our students’ lives is equally important.”

The idea of value was a focus of an Aug. 13 column by The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson about Romney’s bus driver line.

“What I hear Romney saying, and I suspect many others will also hear, is that the little people don’t contribute and don’t count,” Robinson wrote.

The “PostPartisan” blog highlighted contrasts in reader reaction to Robinson’s column.

“sedwards2” said Romney “wasn’t saying anything negative about bus drivers or ‘the little people,’” but was making a point about “apportionment of merit for one’s achievements.”

“There are people who empty the trash from our offices each night,” sedwards2 wrote. “They are good, hard working and decent people. They may have their own successes and achievements, however they may define them, but they are not responsible for the growth or success of my business.”

Another Post reader took exception with Romney’s remark: “As a Republican I don’t like the bus driver remark either,” wrote “Peterroach.”

“That individual is responsible for the safety for up to 40 kids, often unruly, boisterous children," he wrote. "Romney better think a little more before he talks about such things.”

Protestors Thursday expressed similar sentiment, saying that the lives of the county’s children are in their hands as buses leave depots at 6 a.m. every school day and venture out into rush hour traffic.

“Mitt Romney, you’re so rude! We don’t like your attitude!” the group chanted before union organizers attempted to deliver a petition to the county GOP office.

The petition, signed by protestors, “just asks Mitt Romney to respect bus drivers and working folks who get up every day and contribute to communities,” said Christopher Honey, communications director for SEIU Local 500.

An initial attempt to deliver the petition was met without an answer at the door of the headquarters.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Mark Uncapher did not return a call for comment on Thursday. Uncapher is part of in Tampa, which concluded with Romney’s acceptance speech Thursday night.

Lorna D. Rudnikas September 20, 2012 at 01:59 AM
:-(
You made me laugh! September 20, 2012 at 03:34 AM
@Lorna Radunski you are more loyal than my dog. You are an inspiration to women everywhere. Stand by your man god damn it. Come on bark for me.
B Allen September 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM
OMG, you retard making yourself laugh...I am sure you are WELL aware of how stupid you are and how foolish you look to the rest of the world. I REALLY feel sorry for you that you have NO respect for yourself or others. You are even lower in the gene pool then that woman from Boca Raton...oh wait, that was you that made that call or so it seems and you moved to Maryland because they laughed you out of Boca...NOW WE KNOW. HAHAHAHAH Yeah you do make me laugh at you with all your lies you post here.
B Allen September 20, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Maybe you making everyone laugh at you, will grow up one day and stop acting like a pussy (cat). Which you are because you have to hide behind this left wing sounding board as the little pansie you are. Hell, Lorna could probably squish you like a bug, so you better watch out what you say to her. Oh wait, thats right, you lefties are racists, bigots, sexists you hate women, you don't like clean air because every time you open your mouths a bunch of crap comes out. HAHAHAHA what a tard.
You made me laugh! September 20, 2012 at 08:14 PM
@Your master welcomes you back to the empty thread. I think this year I am going to make you wear a diaper in the house. Or maybe just keep you outside. You need to be house broken. Come on and bark for me.

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