Marty Golden a No Show at His Office While Demonstrators Hold 24-Hour Vigil Demanding Speed Cameras

Is this how a legislator who supports the expansion of speed cameras would act?

Marty Golden never showed up, so demonstrators stuck notes from constituents in support of speed cameras to his storefront grate to get his attention. Photo: Ben Fried
Marty Golden never showed up, so demonstrators stuck notes from constituents in support of speed cameras to his storefront grate to get his attention. Photo: Ben Fried

Where was State Senator Marty Golden yesterday? Not in Albany. The legislative session concluded last week without a deal on the speed camera bill Golden ostensibly supports.

Nor did Marty Golden enter his district office in Bay Ridge, while New Yorkers staged a 24-hour vigil outside, urging him to support a special legislative session to take up the bill before New York City’s speed camera bill expires.

“Someone said they saw him a block away,” said Amy Cohen, the leader of Families for Safe Streets who camped out by Golden’s office overnight. “It is our belief that he heard we were here and went somewhere else.” (A spokesperson for Golden said he was “in the district attending community meeting and functions” yesterday.)

State Senator Marty Golden
State Senator Marty Golden

Instead of shepherding the speed camera expansion bill through the Senate, Golden and two speed camera opponents spent the end of the session floating a bill that would have ended the program after six months.

If Golden had shown up at his office yesterday, he would have had to confront constituents irate over his failure to get the speed camera expansion through the State Senate — the same speed camera program that’s issued $700 in fines to Golden for driving at least 11 mph over the limit through school zones during school hours.

“Unconscionable,” said Carol Brys, a 50-year resident of Bay Ridge, passing by Golden’s Fifth Avenue office this morning.

“He’s disrespected basic driving laws,” said her partner, Charlie Fellows. “Isn’t he supposed to serve us as well?”

Members of Families for Safe Streets expressed a sense of personal betrayal. “He put his name on the bill,” said Harold Kahn, whose son Seth was killed by a bus driver in 2009. “We were in his office, I was there.”

“He promised me to my face that he would do everything in his power to pass a bill to expand speed cameras,” said Cohen.

All day yesterday, people walking by the vigil stopped to write messages to Golden about the speed cam bill on Post-it notes.

“We got a huge positive response from the community,” said Cohen. “A lot of people stopped to talk for a long time about their experiences with reckless drivers.”

At first, Cohen and other demonstrators directed passersby to go into Golden’s office and talk to his staff. Then his staff locked the door and stopped letting constituents inside, she said.

This morning, a crowd gathered for the end of the vigil. Andrew Gounardes and Ross Barkan, running in the Democratic primary to take on Golden in November, were both on hand to lend their support.

The vigil was supposed to conclude with an act of civil disobedience as demonstrators blocked entry to Golden’s office. But neither Golden nor anyone who works for him had arrived by 8:30 a.m.

Five demonstrators — including Dana Lerner, Debbie Kahn, and Jane Martin Lavaud, who’ve all lost children in traffic crashes, and Council Member Brad Lander — blocked Fifth Avenue car traffic instead. They were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Golden’s office insists that he “is strongly advocating for the Senate to return to Albany to approve the bill he has co-sponsored, S. 6046-C, that will double the number of speed cameras to 290.” At the same time, on Twitter his staff have been busy attacking participants in the vigil.

Families for Safe Streets will believe Golden when the Senate is back in session. As the top Republican representing New York City in the State Senate, Golden’s support should be enough to enact a bill that has lined up enough votes to pass.

“If he wanted this bill to pass,” said Cohen, “we wouldn’t be at this point.”

Photo: Ben Fried
Photo: Ben Fried