Steve Margarella is the owner of Margarella Asphalt and Concrete, a local Staten Island small business that has been providing paving and other services to Staten Island residents for more than 25 years. Formerly, Mr. Margarella was a city contractor, and paved streets in most of the five boroughs, including 34th Street, water to water.
Steve recently organized the Back 2 Work rally on Staten Island in Travis to protest the mayor and governor’s continued shutdown of Staten Island non-essential businesses. He believes that there is no clear logic that dictates whether a business is essential or non-essential, and that the continuing shutdown (for almost three full months as of this writing) is not supported by evidence. He and other small business owners demanded that the governor lift the shutdown and allow businesses to return. A second rally also took place the Thursday following the first rally, in Annadale, Staten Island, called Save Staten Island Small Business.
The following is an interview with Steve Margarella made between the two rallies, during the weekend after the Back 2 Work rally.
SI-Interviewer: We wanted to reach out to you and see if you had any statement that you wanted to make about the rally or about the situation. With the businesses remaining closed.
Steve Margarella: Were you at the rally?
SI-Interviewer: No, we actually found out about it after, so we were not actually at the rally.
Steve Margarella: Okay.
Steve Margarella: So, I don’t know what you want me to do but there are tapes of the rally online and if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer it for you, but it might be out of context, with you not having been at the rally but… Who are you writing for by the way.
SI-Interviewer: The paper is Staten Islander.org we are the Staten Islander News Service. You can see us online at statenislander.org as well. We have written an article, a preliminary article about the rally based upon, some of the videos that we did see online, but we needed to get permission to either use some of the videos or some pictures or something like that. I’m not sure if you had any videos of the rally, that you would be able to share with us that we would be able to publish. But that would be helpful also.
Steve Margarella: Yeah, it’s on Facebook so, are you on Facebook?
SI-Interviewer: So, we don’t have a Facebook presence at this time.
Steve Margarella: Because I was going to tell you that I have a public page Steve Margarella is a public page and my page, it was a 65 Minute rally, so they got most of everything. (Inaudible) but it’s…I get Pretty aggressive at times. (Inaudible) So you get to watch it. What’s the circulation of your website, by the way?
SI-Interviewer: I don’t have the traffic statistics right now. But I do know that there, we do have lively conversations and stuff like that. We get a lot of commenters, that do read the paper. For, as far as now, I don’t believe that particular article has gotten any comments yet since it was just posted, late last night. But you can kind of see some of the conversations that are, you know, that happened on some of the other articles that we’ve posted. I wanted to know is this the only, is this the only rally that you guys were planning, or did you have any, future rallies planned?
Steve Margarella: So, before we get to your question, you know hold on let me put my headphones on, so I can hear you better hold on one sec
Steve Margarella: Hi. Can you hear me
SI-Interviewer: Yes, I can hear you.
Steve Margarella: Alright great, so when we got the idea to do this, was you know 10 days or 2 weeks ago, in my head you know? Well, rolling it around in my head for a few minutes and I figured if I wanted to do this…because I know what’s involved because I’ve done it before and so yeah if I did decide to do it, the hard thing about doing the rally like this is you never know how many people are going to show up. I had hoped to maybe 100 to 200 hundred people. And estimates ranged between 2 and 4 hundred did show up.
Steve Margarella: With that said, we thought maybe we would get some coverage and that maybe the Governor would see it. Not that they would capitulate because of me but it would bring some level of awareness of that level of anger and frustration that’s being experienced by business owners, salon owners, contractors and restaurants owners and so on.
Steve Margarella: By the time the event ended several people came up to me afterwards and said please let’s do this again, we want to do this again yada, yada, yada. I’m saying to myself in my head thank you very much. It feels good you know, you have had no idea what goes into pulling something like this off and I said thank you very much. Before you know I’m watching my phone blow up from people that either couldn’t make it or wanted me to do it again.
Steve Margarella: And so, I was on my way home last night and I was thinking to myself that it generated such a positive response that I would do it on a much larger scale and on a much larger platform.
And I ended up getting home, and made some phone calls last night and I thought of a few things that are in the works of an organized rally body of several thousand people and so today I got another phone call from a group of guys that are in business that want to meet with me tomorrow because they want to do something right away, all over again, and then bring more people to the table in other words they want to get behind me and I’m going to meet with them tomorrow at 3 o’clock, and then at 4 o’clock this afternoon I got a call from somebody else who wants me to go to Queens and to do what I did in Staten Island in Queens. You know you make plans and God takes care of the rest. I did not say it, there was nothing in my mind to do a series of events like this, but it kind of looks like that’s my calling right now.
SI-Interviewer: So, the second question I had is, how long have you lived on Staten Island?
Steve Margarella: All my life
SI-Interviewer: Okay, cool. Me too. The name of your businesses. What was the name of your business again?
Steve Margarella: Margarella Asphalt. Concrete.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. That’s pretty self-explanatory as far as what you guys do. You kind of do asphalt and concrete.
Steve Margarella: Actually, it’s not, so my trade is called heavy and highway. I was a road builder which is a bit different from the guys in the drive ways. So, I did large scale asphalt like 34th Street from water to water, that’s our asphalt and sidewalks. So, I downsized the company about four or five years ago and I was doing tennis courts, parks, and public schools here in addition to, you have driven on my streets in any borough in the city of New York.
Steve Margarella: That’s who I am and that’s what I used to do, now I’m much smaller, I have a much smaller crew. Now we do driveways, some playgrounds and parking lots.
SI-Interviewer: Alright. Okay. Awesome. How many people were involved in organizing the event?
Steve Margarella: A whole lot of people. I have a lot of friends, and I reached out to my friend, Laticia and she’s always done a lot… she’s been a political activist for years, she ran a community board, she’s run elections for several candidates and she is a very close and dear friend, so hardly anything that goes on in our lives that we don’t bounce off each other. So, she was my first call because, she’s my sounding board. If I am out of my mind crazy she would tell me that I’m out of my mind crazy. If I’m on to something she’ll say that’s a really good idea, we should do this.
SI-Interviewer: okay that makes sense.
Steve Margarella: I reached out to other friends because there were other things that I was going to need that day. Not the least of which was a location, I needed sound, and then I needed facilities in case anybody needed to use the facilities. I needed trucks there, picked up the phone and just started calling, and reached out to a bunch of my contractor friends to bring their trucks
Steve Margarella: So, I guess I’m the guy who did it but I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my friends.
SI-Interviewer: Okay, cool, how did you get the word out about it? I remember reading that you said that Facebook took down your posts like a bunch of times and stuff. So, how, how did you end up getting the word out about the event?
Steve Margarella: It’s kind of funny and not funny at the same time. I knew that if I put it up on Facebook right away it would get blown up and flood my inbox. The moment Artificial Intelligence picks up something then you have no recourse. They will shut you down for two weeks or months and there’s just nothing you can do about it.
Steve Margarella: So what I did was put up a…and that’s why I asked you if you go on my Facebook page, if you go back a week or two days you would see me put up these weirdly encrypted post where if you don’t know what I was talking about, it would say you should make signs and show up on Saturday morning, and people would say what are you doing Saturday morning? Then I would say well I’m going to do a rally, and then I managed to get away with that for a while and my friend said you know I want to put up an events page, and I said that you can’t put up an events page because if you do, do not put it up in my name because I do not want my Facebook page blocked because it’s the only way I have to communicate with people.
Steve Margarella: So, I have other web pages for my other businesses, so they put it up on that website page. Actually, hold on something happened before that. I was asked to do what do you call that thing though is after do online that interview I was asked to do a podcast the week before and the podcast went up and the podcast got taken down. That was the first thing that’s happened.
Steve Margarella: and like I said my other friend said let’s put it up on that page and I said if it’s going to get blown up just make sure you don’t put it up on my website. And it was there for an hour before it got taken down. Oddly enough Wednesday, one of my friends posted a message for me and I said whatever you do don’t put it on my favorites, so they went and put it on other people’s pages and oddly enough, I have no explanation for this, but it got past the intelligence, the artificial intelligence, it got past the AIs. And the thing started to get shared, it got shared several hundred times to other people’s pages. Perfectly, you know without anything, that was really kind of cool because I might have figured out a way to kind of get around AI but that’s what ended up happening. Then when people would contact me I would a lot of times go through instant messenger instead of my account. But you have to understand that all of this took place in four days. Even though I had started doing those cryptic messages. I guess it was Monday. It didn’t make sense, but I started getting these weird messages that people knew what I was talking about. It went from there.
SI-Interviewer: Ok, why was the particular site where you guys had this event in Travis, the parking lot of the, what used to be the movie theater. Why was that site chosen?
Steve Margarella: It wasn’t. I put out a message on Facebook that I was looking for someone to donate a large parking lot to me. This dude got back to me and messaged me and said what’s up and I said I wanted to do a back to work rally. And that guy reached out and said it’s a great idea it’s all yours. Then yesterday his family was there, and he took me there and I met his daughter and she said you can have it anytime you want
SI-Interviewer: Oh awesome
Steve Margarella: Yeah that’s pretty cool. You see what happens is, I needed a private parking lot, since the mayor still has the ability to stop people from gathering in groups of more than 10. Now a lot of people think that that’s about spreading the virus. I’m sure that might be so, but personally it’s very hard to dissent on any level if you can’t have a large crowd
Steve Margarella: And the only way you can have a large crowd legally is if people were to socially distance. So, my idea was that I can fill a parking lot and ask people to stay in their cars, then there is really nothing they can do, and that’s how that came about. Now it turned out that the police were really cool, but I went to them in advance. Even though I had signs up please stay in their automobile, [and] I passed out face masks and Purell [hand sanitizer] and [asked people] to stay in their auto mobile. Some people wore their mask and some people didn’t. Everyone got out of their cars and it turns out, I reminded them a few times that we were doing this under the graciousness of our local precinct and to please respect them. And that’s the thing. I’ve got to say for the most part people did.
SI-Interviewer: It looked like people were staying pretty far from each other, except for some little tiny groups of people who live together. What was your motivation personally for taking a stand?
Steve Margarella: My girlfriend God bless her, is a first responder she’s in medicine, she’s a nurse practitioner, she’s a physician so she’s been on the front lines of this from day one. And we had been working. And then we agreed that the peak was going to be coming soon, so I told my men, that they should take 3 weeks stay home, if they need anything tell me, I’ll bring it to you I don’t want you to leave the house I want you to stay healthy. I don’t want you to leave the house. And we did that. And the curve was flattened out, and while I was at home while I am watching all of this stuff go on, it came to my attention that our legislature has sold out to this governor and has given him complete permission to pretty much do whatever he wanted. Not unlike like a fascist dictator, so I no longer… And he also took on the religious establishment with the priests and the mullahs and the rabbis. So, we so we no longer had the Bill of Rights, that was your and my Birthright by virtue of being citizens, gather at will. There was virtually no dissent because Google or Facebook will pull down anything that is objectionable or that they deem objectionable to the democratic establishment. [Take away] your traffic and censor you. And the work part I understood it, and I was willing to play the game, but the part about my personal rights really gnawed at me. That piece of it just ate at me and ate at me and ate me for days. I started seeing things that were making me really angry and uncomfortable like you know lines for blocks of people waiting to get food, you know handouts, and I’m like this is the United States, it’s not Venezuela, and it occurred to me when all of these [problems with Covid PPE supply shortages] were about to occur, this president moved Heaven and Earth upside down to [provide] all of the requested material, in other words for the things he was doing to fill these requests, none of them are being utilized. So it started not to make sense to me you know on a Common Sense logical level this guy builds you a 2500 bed hospital at a cost of 25 million dollars at lightspeed and then completely loaded it with all the medical equipment you needed, why are you jamming up our hospitals so that the people that have cancer and heart disease liver disease heart disease can’t be treated because the hospitals are on shut down loaded with covid-19 patients. All of a sudden, it is really absurd, that cancer became an elective treatment. Do you know anybody that is has elected to get cancer?
Steve Margarella: I’m being facetious, but on a common-sense level, that’s really what it comes down to, right, it’s not elective. And I mean some of these people believe it. And I’m saying you’ve got 1200 beds on that Hospital ship, he used 178 of them. What’s wrong with this picture? You had a 2500 bed hospital for 3 weeks, that’s unheard of.
Steve Margarella: Millions and millions of dollars. I need more nurses. I need more doctors, we don’t have enough staff. Then he turns around and sends in 10,000 National Guardsmen.
SI-Interviewer: Well, there’s actually a lot of, volunteer nurses and doctors. Who came in on free airfare and free hotel rooms, and they’re not getting paid, and they’re here, and not just the National Guard. They’re actually just regular doctors and they’re civilians, you would say, but they answered that call of volunteering for New York. And there’s some in New Jersey, but the ones in New Jersey I believe were getting paid. Whereas the ones in New York City are actually doing it on a volunteer basis, but they get, you know, their food paid for and their hotel room and their airfare, but there’s a lot of them. I don’t remember what the number I saw it somewhere in the tens of thousands. What he asked for he got with that regard as well.
Steve Margarella: Thank you, Thank you. And I said to myself, so this isn’t even enough and then he takes and then he takes. Mandates that they put them in these nursing homes and these long-term care facilities have to take these Covid-19 patients. So, you take the sickest of the sick and house them with the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, and no wonder you have these hideous spikes in deaths and this isn’t making sense. Those nursing homes were never, they are not equipped for [this kind of] medical care.
Steve Margarella: When somebody in a nursing home or a long-term care facility gets sick, they send them to a hospital.
Steve Margarella: So, most staff in the nursing home or long-term care facilities, they’re nurses, they are not there to practice medicine. These nurses are there to treat in case some body gets sick. They have no medical facilities; they have no ventilators. You know, it was just not making sense to me. I mean, I know because of my girlfriend. I mean the bypass works just as well as the vents. I mean I do a lot of research, I’m a reader. I follow news reports and I research stuff locally by in the news sources that are reputable, and 1 in 9 people are coming off ventilators. The other 8 are dying.
Steve Margarella: So why do you want all these thousands and thousands of respirators when you know they’re going to kill people.
Steve Margarella: I don’t know if you understand the process of what a ventilator does. But it’s pretty much a death sentence. You know unless you are as healthy as a professional football player, and even then, you’re at risk.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. They have to put you in an artificially induced coma, and you have to be under sedation in order to even use it.
Steve Margarella: Right, and then what happens is that they [weaken] the muscles [around] your lungs after they know [they] can’t perform the [breathing] process on their own anymore, and then you wonder why people don’t even breathe when you take them off.
Steve Margarella: And they start finding out but because they get 39 thousand dollars a head to put people on ventilators.
Steve Margarella: And I think they’re getting $39,000 dollars a head to put them on a ventilator, and I think they get $9,000 to admit them and that’s the charge, unless they go on a vent.
SI-Interviewer: Right. Those were, I had seen those numbers too, the $39,000, is standard for putting a person on a ventilator. That’s what Medicare always pays. But what the CARES act did was it made a 20% bonus for every COVID patient. So, in addition to the regular cost of admission to a hospital, which is like $13,000 or something like that, for a regular patient. It’s the same thing for a COVID patient, but if a person is a COVID patient, they get some 20% bonus from the CARES act. So, the other stuff is normal.
Steve Margarella: 20% of the $39000 is another $7800.
Steve Margarella: So, your $39,000 just became $45,800. But here’s my question to you, how much would it cost if that same sick person went to Jacob Javits? It would be the cost of the care because there’s nowhere to go.
SI-Interviewer: Right. What do you mean? It’s like in the hospitals, they bill all of this extra money, but at the Jacob Javits, it would have been just like billing the government essentially. Like there wouldn’t have been as much is that what you’re saying?
Steve Margarella: There’s nowhere to bill, there’s nowhere to bill. The Government, already paid for Jacob Javits, they already built the hospital, they already have doctors on staff, the doctors or either going to get paid or they’re National Guardsmen, or they volunteer. So, they pay a certain amount for those care takers if you will. So, there’s no financial incentive for the governor to do that because in the back of the governor’s mind he needs to drive these numbers up, so he can say my God look what’s happened to us.
Steve Margarella: But what happened to us is exactly what you created as a result of your mismanagement.
Steve Margarella: You know, why, why, you got to start looking at the numbers worldwide. If you look at Belgium this really doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re writing about, but I just want to share it with you. Look up Belgium and you look on the per capita basis Belgium got hit much worse than the United States. [It’s a] much smaller country, much smaller economy. But at the end of the day a per capita number is a per capita number. That means it’s that amount of devastation in your country. Much worst in these your countries. You know when you look at the United States and you look at our death rates and you look at studies for the death rates in the United States, you got Florida that has 2,000 deaths and you have New York State that got 22000 deaths. That’s not because Florida is a much healthier state, because you know yourself out of Common Sense, Florida has the highest rate of elderly and retirees in the country. That’s not a guess, that’s a statistical fact. So, if you know the most vulnerable are over 65 and they have the more people over 65 than anywhere else, why is their death rate so much lower than ours? Because this virus was managed much more differently in Florida. Now we can go a step further let’s go a step further. Let’s look at all of the states that have the highest death rates, now let’s look at the states that have the most draconian shut down laws. You know Michigan, Wisconsin, California, New York, Maine, and you come to find out there’s not one Republican Governor in any of those States.
SI-Interviewer: Right. So, the states with the lower death rates tend to be ones that did have less Draconian shut downs?
Steve Margarella: Right less Draconian shutdown and the Democratic states have the worst shut down and the highest death rates
Steve Margarella: and they’re all Democrats States and they’re all…because if this and was auditioning to be Uncle Joes vice president.
Steve Margarella: let’s face it I’m not a conspiracy guy and this has nothing to do with your article but alright go ahead I don’t want to dig into the politics stuff, but you have questions for me, I don’t want to keep you…
SI-Interviewer: Yes, I mean I also myself I had been looking into Sweden, I don’t know if you check out or paper
Steve Margarella: Perfect example, perfect example. You want to talk about Sweden.
SI-Interviewer: We had a whole article about Sweden and what Sweden said and what they were doing and everything in the World Health Organization came out and said that we should have all been following Sweden and I was like wait what.
Steve Margarella: Right, no you have to go and look at what they were saying 3 months ago about Sweden, they were crazy, this and that and that they were killing their people, but it was Sweden. So, here’s what’s going to happen we have a choice to lose around 20, 30, 50,000 people. And kill our economy or lose 20-30 50,000 and maintain our economy.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah and they rather, they were going for the group immunity thing rather than trying to flatten everything and make sure no one dies which was just impossible, and there was actually an epidemiologist who I believe I quoted in the article about how they said why would you want a respiratory illness to last as long as possible, you don’t want the flu to last as long as possible, you want it to last as short as possible because it’s going to infect people. That’s just what’s going to happen and so I guess you kind of answered how you’ve been personally affected by the shutdown in the last question that I asked. What were your employees doing while they weren’t at work?
Steve Margarella: Well, they all had unemployment except for two of my guys which is another thing because they all pay taxes, they pay every week, they paid thousands and thousands of dollars in taxes, but because they’re not citizens they couldn’t receive the unemployment.
SI-Interviewer: Oh, okay so two of them were not citizens so they couldn’t receive it?
Steve Margarella: So I had to pay them out of my pocket but you know I couldn’t give them what everybody else was getting but I made sure that they had food to eat and you know they were going to be okay, but that’s the other thing you know this government has put these people in a position now, I mean all my men were willing to come back, but let’s face it a lot of people are getting paid more money to stay home than what they would if they were going back to work.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah, that’s been a common complaint.
Steve Margarella: That’s a real problem, and so as long as a person is a man, then he’s going to take care of his family.
Steve Margarella: So, when you dangle a carrot like that in front of a laborer then I need to work to keep my company going, you’re further hurting me. My men all came back, you know they all came back to work. Because they know when this is over, if my company goes away, you know you’ve got your unemployment, but they’ve got nowhere to go.
SI-Interviewer: Do you know a lot of companies like, as you were mentioning that you have a lot of friends. Do you know a lot of people who are going to lose their businesses?
Steve Margarella: Absolutely.
SI-Interviewer: I mean, I’ve been kind of seeing the same thing, like what you were saying about your business, like you have to pay insurances, and business rents, and I’m familiar myself with school bus companies, so how they have to pay for lots, and insurance, licensing and rent and all these other expenses. So even if they do get unemployment, their monthly expenses are higher than the unemployment that the individual business owner would get. So, what if their business expenses are $5,000 and you’re getting $2,000 a month from unemployment, what are they going to do with the other business expenses? Eventually it piles up to the point where you know there’s, there’s no coming back after that. So that’s what’s um.,
Steve Margarella: Let me, let me run something by you listen. My Trade, I’m trained to be a carpenter, and you’ve got to buy a lot of handles and saws and stuff like that. You going to need an Electric Chain, you know and you’re going to need a Van and you’re going to need a bunch of hand-tools. The guys in my industry, they’re into machinery and Trucks. So, if you got a decent size company, I’m not talking about a big company, I’m just talking about a decent, you know, you employ 15 to 20 men, you’re doing 5 to 10 million a year. That’s a, not a small company but a pretty small company, but your machinery payments would then go anywhere depending on whether you had what you had to buy in the last couple of years, it can go anywhere from $30-60-70,000 a year. So that’s $6,000 or $7,000 a month. And some of them more. And then you’ve got to house that machinery and that’s another $5 to $10,000 a month. And then you have the insurance on those trucks and we work in the street. So, we have an addition of another $150 to another $250,000 a year, another $15,000 a month. Right, then you have to pay your other associated taxes, tax stamps and all the other things you know, to keep your truck running, you have to pay $10,000 a year for tires, have to finance it.
Steve Margarella: So, you end up in a position that I used to be in that I couldn’t go to sleep on Sunday nights. Sunday nights, it’s literally been horrible for me to sleep. Because I know that by Friday, I had to generate $50,000 to $75,000 a week. And I didn’t have a big company. I had, you know, a decent size company of about 15 Trucks, you know, some dump trucks, some pickup trucks, you know plus machinery. But I just, I just got to add some numbers to because you know, I didn’t have to speak numbers to you because you know, I don’t speak numbers, but it will give you a sense.
Steve Margarella: It will give you a sense of the kind of stress these owners are under. You know, it’s a lot more, you get what I’m saying it’s a lot more. And we lost a couple of weeks work.
Steve Margarella: Can you expect to recover from that when your expenses are a little over a $100-150,000 a month.
SI-Interviewer: I can’t even imagine that’s just…
Steve Margarella: Okay. So now you know the [deal]…a friend of mine came by the other day, he came by yesterday and he brought a bunch of his trucks with him because you know I wanted to make a statement. So, I had some of my trucks there, some of my other buddies brought their trucks, a couple of other Tow truck guys were there, and my buddy Joe he brought his trucks and everybody’s saying, Wow you guys have some really nice Trucks. You’re looking at a row of dump trucks. Yes, I said I’m looking at a million and half dollars he has to pay because each one of those trucks, $150 to $200,000 apiece. Then he looked at me. Let’s do the math, now how do you tell this guy to stay home for another month. Now those are just the Dump Trucks, there is a $600,000 dollar milling machine, a $150,000 tractor trailer that you have to buy to pull the machine around yada yada yada I could go on and on about how about how it’s close to $150,000 apiece, you know Backhoe is also $100,000, The Skid Sears are $100,000 a piece, you know so how do you tell this guy that’s gone and pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into this economy that he has, same way my company, did it’s much smaller now, but, I still, you know, pumped a million dollar a year into this local economy. You know, my payroll, is like $4 million dollars a year. So, I’m nobody I’m just like this little guy. You know, so people don’t understand. It’s more than just…it’s like, this is catastrophic.
Steve Margarella: You know you sound like a young lady but your children’s, children will be paying for what this Government has done in the last six months. It’s not Okay. You know.
Steve Margarella: You know if start a little research, you will find out that this city has already lost $12 billion dollars in income. So how do you make that up, you’re going to tax the companies, the ones that you’ve already gutted and almost put out of business, you’re going to heavily tax them.
SI-Interviewer: Oh my gosh.
Steve Margarella: The ones that managed to stay alive are going to be maybe be alright, you know lots of small companies are going to be hanging on by a thread. You were going to tax them more than you’re taxing them already which is worse than any state in the union. You know on so many levels it doesn’t add up. Its virtual insanity you know because, you know people can call me a conspiracy theorist and what not and all that stuff but at the end of the day understanding the virus, they spent several million dollars to try to unseat this duly elected president and the only way they could do it was by taking the economy away from him, and they managed to do that by continuing to use this Virus against this president, and [this governor is] using you and I to do it, and that’s not ok.
SI-Interviewer: This, for the businesses that we’ve spoken to, the people that we know, you know this, it’s very different numbers than they say. I was talking about with someone about the school bus companies and you know, what he was telling me is about like, you know, they have like maybe $30,000 a month. You guys have hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, just in expenses and you know, they’re giving you, I mean, I don’t know if you, if any of you guys got the paycheck protection or anything like that, but the paycheck protection pays for payroll, not for all these other things. And then if you use it for other things, then it becomes a loan, So it’s kind of sad.
Steve Margarella: So, let’s take a look at that a minute. So, we got payroll protection right, we got PPP, so what do I do with that money? I have to pay my men. Okay. So, I take my men off of unemployment and I use it to pay my men because it’s payroll, right? That’s what it’s supposed to be for. Right? if you don’t want to pay it back.
Steve Margarella: But they are not letting me go to work. So now I’m paying my men to stay home. Now does that make sense? And how does that help me as the business owner. If I spend that money properly and use it to pay my men 47% of that is my money to spend as I wish. It doesn’t cover 1 month’s rent. I’m already 3 months behind in my rent. How does that help me?
SI-Interviewer: And honestly it doesn’t. I mean, my dad has a similar situation, I mean he has a business down in Jersey and his landlord kept saying, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear nothing. He ended up getting him to pay the rent from some of the, basically the unemployment that he got, but it’s a different situation than you. It’s like, you know, he doesn’t have 50 people, 2000 pieces of equipment, and all this other stuff. But for you, I mean, and when you guys would be considered to be like a mid-size business as opposed to like a small Business by the…
Steve Margarella: Under 500 employees is small on a practical level, like for the purposes, like generally if you’re doing under 5 million dollars a year you’re a small business. If you are doing anywhere from 10 to 30 you’re a medium size business, if you’re doing anywhere from 50 to 100 in my business you know you’re a big contractor.
Steve Margarella: So, by the initial stance I would have been a medium size contractor but now I’m a small contractor
SI-Interviewer: Okay, But the other people that you mentioned, who brought their dump trucks. And stuff. They would be more like the.
Steve Margarella: They are also small contractors. Well, yeah, they are probably doing about 10 a year.
SI-Interviewer: Okay, and so then you tell somebody that they can, that $75,000 a week that you were mentioning. You have to generate that $75,000 a week in order to meet those expenses that you have that, was, I think I had mentioned in my article, and it’s like, if you had an income of $75,000 a week, what’s that $2,000 a month going to do for, you know, like…
Steve Margarella: When you’re into construction and you’re working on a large scale, like that you usually work on 20% to 25%, if you get to 30% you’re doing really good. So, they’re maybe making $75,000 a week. And then they are only left with $25,000 to pay bills.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. So,
Steve Margarella: Alright, so add that, and when you add up all the numbers I just gave you it’s like yea it’s a lot of money, but it really isn’t so much money once you get done paying for everything, you know it’s like there isn’t much left.
Steve Margarella: The other side of that coin just so that you have something else in the conversation. I used to do a lot of municipal work for the city of New York. They’re the ones with all the money. So, the guys that do the municipal work they are called [essential workers], this is one of my pet-peeves by the way. They do sidewalks and I do sidewalks. They can do their sidewalks because they are called essential workers. I can’t do my sidewalks. Now we could be working with each other on the same job when it’s one house and the house next door. They can do the sidewalk because they’re working for the city, they are essential contractors, but I can’t do mine because I’m not an essential contractor.
SI-Interviewer: That was something else I noticed that a lot of people were questioning is like, how do you, how is he defining essential? And it was so arbitrary and inconsistent. Yes.
Steve Margarella: Pretty accurate, they keep twisting the story but yeah you are pretty accurate,
SI-Interviewer: So, basically you would do sidewalks and you would sometimes be doing sidewalks in the same area as someone who’s considered as an essential worker, but because you’re hired not directly by the city. Okay.
Steve Margarella: I’m hired by the Home Owners, I’m not essential but because the sidewalk is a part of the city contract it’s no problem. It is illogical.
SI-Interviewer: Right. Yeah. I was actually thinking today. I was wondering the other day, if the speed cameras were still in effect
Steve Margarella: Yeah
SI-Interviewer: About two weeks ago we were on this and then it’s like, but school was not in session.
Steve Margarella: There you go so their argument is, perfect example, so those cameras go on from 6 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night? Do you know any kids that are going school at 6 o’clock in the morning?
Steve Margarella: Do you know any grade school kids that are in school at 8,9, 10 o’clock at night?
SI-Interviewer: Nope. No, no. And that’s one of the reasons we did an article about that. We did an article about the speed cameras. I put a map in there so that people can like put them in their phone and, you know, plan their trip and stuff and know where they are. Not so they’ll go and speed where they are not that just said that right where they are, they know that they’ve got to go like 20 miles an hour. You know? It’s like, because otherwise it’s a, I think, what is it like a hundred dollars a ticket or something like that?
Steve Margarella: And it’s like there no grace period. Usually they give you 5 miles over but no if you’re doing 27 you’re getting a ticket. My office manager guy, I mean I’m going to get a dozen of them because I mean I don’t drive fast but I know, because there’s 1 not far from my house but every time I go down the street and I look down I go like [oh, no] I’m doing 28, you know I get another one. And it has nothing to do with…You know the fines are like 5 or 10 thousand dollars a crack.
SI-Interviewer: And, and when you think about, like, let’s say a salon owner decides that she’s going to open up her business, like the lady over in Texas, she doesn’t, like, you know, some kinds of businesses, she doesn’t make $5,000 in a day. You know, so.
Steve Margarella: Nobody does, when you do a side walk on a forty something house you know how much you ‘re making a day when you paying everybody?
Steve Margarella: $500, you’re lucky and if it’s a big sidewalk you make a $1000 and you know that’s after I pay the city $200 for a permit. And if I have to do your curb I have to pay $300 for a permit, and that’s the other reason why we can’t work because they won’t let us pull permits now. So, there’s some work on the homeowner’s side of the property line. I’m still not supposed to be working, but I’ll take the job because we have to eat.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. So, the city is not issuing permits for, this kind of work because it’s not essential?
Steve Margarella: Right, Exactly.
SI-Interviewer: So, this has had a really big effect on your own business that you have before…
Steve Margarella: I’ve been in business in nearly everything from restaurants to roller skating rinks and construction and roads, so I’ve been in business since I’m 19yrs old. So, this company, the construction company, are from 25, almost 30yrs old
SI-Interviewer: Okay. And what you were saying before, you were saying that you don’t, you don’t know if yourself or any of the people that you know, are going to actually be able to recover from this. And I’m, I’m sure that that adds to the stress of this whole situation. It’s like, you know. Something that you’ve worked this hard for, for almost 30 years, and, you know, there’s nobody to, I guess, complain to. There’s nobody to like, stop this.
Steve Margarella: You know what the governor said,
Steve Margarella: I got to tell you this because this makes me so insane you have no idea. I’m not going to use profanity I promise you.
Steve Margarella: You don’t know how I’m going to struggle not to do it I have a clip that somebody sent me. They put a bunch of my stuff together and they have a clip of the governor saying, you want to go to work? You want to get a job, go become [a hospital worker]. I’m 66 years old, you’re telling me I worked all my life to pay the bills and you’re going to be telling me to go get a job working in the hospital. That’s your answer to me. How out of touch, how out of touch are you.
SI-Interviewer: And it’s a lot of, you’d have to go back to school and do all this stupid stuff and like, like, that’s not real.
Steve Margarella: It’s an idiotic answer.
SI-Interviewer It is.
Steve Margarella: We are the backbone of this city. The Construction industry was the number 3 money generator in the state of New York in 2018. We were number 5 in the United States in terms of revenue producing industries.
Steve Margarella: Ok, so we’re the backbone of this economy and I wanted to smack them. These stupid sons of a b**&h who has never, has never, had to worry about getting up at 5 am in the morning or work till 2 O’clock in the morning, when it was 20 degrees below because the job had to get done. You know that’s why I have less than no respect for them because they have never had to do anything.
Steve Margarella: Listen, even though, he gave himself a raise. The blood of thousands are on his hands and he gave himself a raise.
SI-Interviewer: Oh my gosh.
Steve Margarella: And [Mayor DeBlasio], this mook, keeps giving his wife hundreds of millions of dollars and it just gets lost
Steve Margarella: She wants $800 million dollars because she wanted to teach homeless people how to do yoga. Come on, really? Really? You know it’s just, it’s just hideous and they are so out of touch with what you or I have.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. It’s, saddening because you’re very much right. Like they are, you know, they’re not anywhere. I don’t know if they’ve ever worked or anything like that, but it doesn’t look like, you know, they get paid to do this stuff and then it’s pretty much what he’s got paid with.
Steve Margarella: I know but you’re going to take as much time as you need. I want you to go online when you got a hot ten minutes but it’s going to cost you. I want you to look at the New York City Council. I want you to look at those 54 members. I want you to look at their CVs. Their work history and they’re either attorneys that let’s face it they’re lower than whale s$%t I don’t mean to use profanity but an attorney is an attorney they went to law school don’t tell me you had a job that just a ball of lies my books or the community he organizers or they have never worked with political campaign, a candidate, city agency, they have always been on the payroll from the city in some form or fashion.
Steve Margarella: They have never started anything, they’ve never been responsible for anything, they’ve never done anything.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. And then they’re the ones who make the laws for everybody else. So, it’s kind of like, you know,
Steve Margarella: Thank you, thank you, then they’re [going to] tell me what I have to do.
SI-Interviewer: Everyone in my life has worked since they were kids. Including myself. I had my first job when I was 14, actually before I was 14, because I delivered papers and stuff. So, you know,
Steve Margarella: You got it, you got it.
SI-Interviewer: It’s, you never stop working and it’s kind of like, you know, being, just, not somebody who’s handed everything, you know, it’s very [strange] and it kind of seems almost counterintuitive that those are the kinds of people that end up running things for everybody else.
Steve Margarella: You want to know? That isn’t news, you want the really bad news. If it happened to you then they say that you’re privileged.
SI-Interviewer: Yea, I’ve heard that one
Steve Margarella: You’ve worked, you’ve been responsible, and you’ve created a future for yourself because of your labor, and you’re privileged. They look at guys like me like Satan, like we are the anti-Christ.
Steve Margarella: And some of us have managed to do well, with a you know, a college education, you know, the other things in life, but we are lesser than them.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. It’s, it just seems kind of strange to me. The whole thing. It’s like too much different stuff
Steve Margarella: It is and that’s how this conversation started its not logical, it doesn’t add when you look at the facts in front of you when you look at what this governor has done it doesn’t make sense.
SI-Interviewer: And then, I don’t know if you heard about this, we had actually done a story on the vape shops. You know, I don’t know if you’re familiar with any of the vape shops. It’s just tobacco. It’s very low nicotine. And they’ve built a business and they, they were allowed to [by the GRAS safety regulations of the FDA]. And the governor used this pandemic to tack on, to one of the bills that he made, that the city council ended up passing, that all vape shops can no longer sell flavored vapes at all as of [I think] June 1st. [It seems that] it is based on nothing. You know, they have not been able to establish, [the vape shops and groups] took [New York State] to court. The vape association took them to court and demanded that they prove that there’s harm from them. And you know, these are small businesses. These are people who have managed to create a small business that, you know, maybe employs a few people, not very many. And most of their sales [are] actually the flavored [vapes]. So, it’s kind of like, none of this actually makes sense. Like why put that into a spending bill for the COVID 19 pandemic? Why put that in [at all].
Steve Margarella: So, the argument was they did not want to appeal to children. But at the end of the day let’s just face it at the end of the day it’s just about this guy buying votes and I still believe that he’s auditioning to be the vice president; now you can tell me [I’m] wrong, that’s fine.
SI-Interviewer: Oh, well, we won’t find out for another couple of months, but yeah, it could well be on his [mind].
Steve Margarella: Right the one from Michigan, the one from California the one from Maine.
SI-Interviewer: I mean, I know in Wisconsin, they took them to court over all these [lockdown and shutdown orders], and they actually won just two days ago, I think it was. And, Wisconsin has to just open, [lift] their shut down. The orders were declared illegal or unconstitutional rather, and that’s it. Now, there is no shutdown there anymore. They didn’t do that in any of the other States where this is going on, but that was the first state, how do you feel about the shutdown order itself? Was it a lawful order?
Steve Margarella: That’s an interesting question, and what they did in Wisconsin they won’t necessarily get to do it in other states because each state’s legislature has its own charter. So, the reasons why the Governor did what he did [in Wisconsin] was what they used to take him to court. So, you know, people think that guys like me, they are just selfish, they don’t care, they’re greedy and they don’t give a shit about the rest of the people in the world, we just want what we want. You know, I do this thing when I speak to groups. I’d say let’s play COVID Jeopardy and they would look at me like I have 3 heads, and I tell them, I want you to name a business or an industry that you’re in and I’m going to tell you how you can open up that business safely, respectfully and sanely, and keep your clients and staff safe. It’s easily done. They think [the lockdown] was a good idea. The problem. arose when we started getting so much, you know I do this sort of thing where I’d start [this thing I called] 15 greatest texts, where he said one thing and then he said another thing a month later, or he said you got to do this or you know you can’t do that 2 months later or you have to do this this way in or that’s really not a good idea you should do it this way you should do it that way. I listened to the epidemiologists and I read the studies and the reality of it is, they just don’t know. And for every study you cite me, give me 10 minutes I’ll find 2 that disagree with you. So, there is only 2 things we know for sure, actually 3. The virus is not going to go away, that’s a given, it’s a virus, a virus doesn’t go away. The 2nd thing is people are going to continue to get sick and the 3rd one is people are going to die. You can do all the vaccinations you want in two years when you get the vaccination, that’s not going to stop it. [The flu] was 60,000.
Steve Margarella: Do you remember anything getting shut down,
SI-Interviewer: No, and it’s an every year thing. It’s like that’s, that was low actually, on average.
Steve Margarella: Yeah, 30 to 60 to 70,000 a year, that’s a given.
SI-Interviewer: Every year, every year, every single year, no breaks in it. There’s not, I think there was one year where there was an exceptionally low number back in like 2016 or 15 or something but generally, no, it’s very high.
Steve Margarella; Okay. And so, this virus is a little bit different in that the on-set is much more aggressive, I got it. You know, some people like me I will not take vaccinations anymore. I haven’t taken a vaccination in 20 years and they are finding now, and I can’t find a definitive study. So, they can’t say it to be true. But there is a lot of talk that the people that have been vaccinated routinely with the flu are the ones getting the sickest and dying more quickly. The other thing with this virus, that people, don’t understand and realize was, I had a piece of paper sent to me by, it was an internal memorandum sent to legislators in Pennsylvania. First my age and, secondly, my comorbid conditions, and it turns out that if you’re in reasonably good health and you’re under 65yrs old and you don’t have any other comorbid conditions, in other words you don’t have hypertension, you don’t have high blood pressure, you don’t have heart disease, you don’t have a recent accident where your immune system is compromised, you don’t have any other immunosuppressive problems ok.
Steve Margarella: You’re generally healthy, you have a .02 or .03 percent of catching this virus.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. Oh,
Steve Margarella: You have a .0, you can’t quote me because I can’t find the document, but you have a minute, minute possibility of dying. However, if you have 1 comorbid complication, the percentages they double again, and if you have four comorbid they double it. So, in other words if you have multiple problems, like you have asthma, you have COPD, you have heart disease, you have [lowered immunity] you’re dead, you’re going to catch the virus and you’re going to die. It’s not a maybe, it’s a given, no body want to acknowledge that.
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. Like a back a few weeks ago, there was a story on, it was Bloomberg. 99% of the people who died had co-morbidities. And there was another study that came out, it was 96% then it was 94% that had co-morbidities with, that died from it. So, it does seem like most of the people who actually die from the virus have a lot of other things wrong with them. And it’s, you know, it’s unfortunate that people would die at all. But you know, it’s also, it’s kind of like, there was somebody in Michigan who was talking about, you know, that it’s quarantine when you put the sick in their houses, you know, and this is not quarantine, and this has never been done before. And from when I was doing research on something else, that was regarding this, it has never been studied stopping the spread of any kind of virus such as the flu, any kind of sickness. There’ve been lots of computer modeling tests, but computer models are notoriously one of the worst kinds of studies because they’re usually wrong. The computer models told us 250 million people were going to die from this virus. That’s what the computers said, they said 250 million people. So, it’s, um, it’s kind of like,
Steve Margarella: Right, and it’s interesting because you know the story behind that study.
Steve Margarella: I’ll give you a summary it will take 2mins, so the guy that did all that modeling he was from Great Britain. he did a lot of studies in the past that have proven to be questionable at best. But that was the guy that for whatever reason when he came out with those numbers, those are the numbers they decided to use. Fast forward a couple of months the guy gets sick, he gets the virus. While he’s got the virus, and this is all widely documented. While he’s sick, his girlfriend even though he was married, his girlfriend comes over. So literally, if you’re the guy that’s sick, and your telling everybody else they have to do all of this stuff and you have your married girlfriend come over because you get lonely and you want to slap the pickle for a couple of days. Yet you’re the guy that’s supposed to be sending data on how to handle this disease, it’s a joke. Can I tell you something else, unless you are crazy enough like me and you study this, you’ll find that the particulate matter where everybody wants to wear a mask everybody wants… You have to wear mask, you can’t go out without a mask. The only thing is that all these little masks that these people are wearing are useless, because if you study the size of the particulate matter, it neither stops you from ingesting it, or stops you from spreading it. The particulate matter in micron size, I think 3 times smaller than the smallest particulate matter that that mask will stop. So, the masks are out the window, they’re a waste of time. Anything you touch stays on the gloves. So now you go to the store, you touch the doorknob, you buy your stuff, you give him the money, you walk out the store you touch the door knobs. Then you walk down the street, you go to another store you touch the door knobs. So, all day long you are collecting germs on this rubber glove, all day long, that rubber glove is completely contaminated. Is that the rubber glove that you’re going to take your mask off with. Is that the rubber glove you’re going to at some point rub your face with? You have to go under the assumption that that glove is completely contaminated.
SI-Interviewer: Most people don’t also don’t know how you’re supposed to take a glove off in order to make sure that it comes inside of itself. Like there’s a special technique you’re supposed to use to take off gloves if you don’t do that.
Steve Margarella: Right, right, right. [Like if you’re doing a mechanical job with grease]
SI-Interviewer: Right. Exactly. And you don’t want to get the grease on your arm and your wrist and all that stuff.
Steve Margarella: So, if you don’t do that twenty times per day that glove is now spreading germs as opposed to keeping you safe, as opposed to every time you touch the doorknobs spray your hands with Purell. Nobody want to say that you got to wear a mask that is stupid and wear a glove that you got to see it for what it is. One of my pet peeves is these reporters in an empty parking lot. and he’s doing his report with the mask on and a rubber gloves holding the microphone, I want to put my foot through the television. How phony, I mean to what degree are you going to be politically correct, ignorant stupid. Blah, Blah Blah….
SI-Interviewer: Yeah. I was actually thinking today, I’m like, those microphones have like tons of people’s like spit and germs on it. Are you disinfecting those things? That would make more sense.
Steve Margarella: Exactly. but you just spray the microphone wipe down, done. Why do you have to do the politically correct B.S. With a mask in an empty parking lot I’m like come on you’re insulting me.
SI-Interviewer: You had mentioned that you did contact the local precinct. Was there a police presence at the event?
Steve Margarella: Yeah, that’s another interesting question. I wasn’t going to, but because I didn’t want them to shut me down before I started, so I said you know what cops don’t like surprises, so I showed up and went to the local precinct the guy I went to asked me to meet him at his office and I told them my plan and how I was going to handle it and he says yeah no problem.
SI-Interviewer; Ok, so he wasn’t, he wasn’t surprised.
Steve Margarella: Yes.
SI-Interviewer: Okay, do you happen to know who was there?
Steve Margarella: CBS Online, New York One, BBC,
Steve Margarella: It was on Page two of the Sunday Post, Staten Island Advance, I don’t know who else I left out.
SI-Interviewer: My next question is, how can other Islanders interested in coming together on this issue get in touch with you.
Steve Margarella: They can come to my next rally. May 21st, at 5:30 p.m.
Steve Margarella: Jefferson Plaza, Annadale Staten Island & they can reach me on Facebook. It’s [with my] name, Steve Margarella
SI-Interviewer: Okay, is there a group that’s been formed or a group that already existed, that is organizing this? I think yesterday you had said it was kind of like, mostly yourself and a few other people, but is there a group that has been formed in order to organize this? This last one and this next one.
Steve Margarella: This one is being sponsored by Joe Caldarera who is a candidate. I think he’s a candidate for Congress, but don’t hold me to it.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. I think I saw him in the video he was giving, giving out something. I forgot what.
Steve Margarella: Probably
SI-Interviewer: And, were there any notable Islanders in attendance aside from the people who were the speakers.
Steve Margarella: The heads of several Political Parties, all Republican and Conservative, several of the parties and several Republican and Conservative Club Presidents, were there. None of the Democrats showed. You know what, wait a second.
SI-Interviewer: Sure go-ahead
Steve Margarella: This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. They should have been there.
SI-Interviewer: And I know that you had, you had mentioned that the videos that are of the event were taken, were you referring to the one taken by Mary Ellen Poblanski, or was there someone else who had taken videos of the,
Steve Margarella: Lots of people took them on their own.
Steve Margarella: And then I had a videography there that I paid to come.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. Will you be posting that on YouTube or Facebook?
Steve Margarella: Yeah if I can get someone to do it because I’m not that computer savvy
SI-Interviewer: And do you have any videos or photos of the event that you think would be helpful to article that we would be able to use that you have?
Steve Margarella: I’m going to give you a website of a guy, who’s the New York Post photographer that took amazing, amazing pictures, and couldn’t get them, didn’t get them. Let’s see, ok, alright call me from a cell phone and I will forward you the link.
SI-Interviewer: Okay. Alright, perfect and is there anything else that you would like to add about the event or about the situation in general that we haven’t really covered?
Steve Margarella: How about reopening this city, your business and this city? Come out Thursday the 21st and support the people that are fighting for you. And your rights. Alright
SI-Interviewer: So, I really appreciate your taking the time, to speak with me and, I really appreciate what you’re doing.
Steve Margarella: Thank you very much and have yourself a great night.
SI-Interviewer: You too. Thank you. Bye-bye.
Steve Margarella: Bye-bye.