Actually, Senator Flanagan and His GOP Cronies ARE the Speed Camera Villains

Aiming to rewrite history, the golfing Senate leader hits a bogey by declaring himself blameless in legislative mess.

Jane Martin-Lavaud protested outside Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan's golf club as the Republican played golf instead of working to reauthorize the city's speed cameras. Photo by TransAlt.
Jane Martin-Lavaud protested outside Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan's golf club as the Republican played golf instead of working to reauthorize the city's speed cameras. Photo by TransAlt.

As State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan prepared for a $1,500 golf fundraiser in Troy on Tuesday, he decided to rewrite history. Taking to the no-question-zone of the Daily News op-ed page, Flanagan penned the column, “We’re not the speed camera villains,” that was a cross between gaslighting and sandbagging — which, conveniently enough, combines to windbagging.

So as the body count from Flanagan and his fellow Republicans’ failure to reauthorize New York City’s speed cameras gets too high — at least one dead and counting! — let’s make sure the truth of what happened in Albany is not forgotten.

Flanagan’s piece opens with the gaslighting. “We are more than willing to extend New York City’s speed camera program,” he wrote, apparently believing adjourning without considering an Assembly bill is the same as being “more than willing” to do something. “We believe the current cameras should stay on in order to discuss the issue with all stakeholders, something that never occurred.”

This is Albany malarkey. State lawmakers had been discussing the imminent demise of the speed cameras for months. And the Assembly — a stakeholder, no? — passed a bill that would extend the cameras and double their number to 290. That number reflected a compromise — discussing the issue, no? — with Republicans — also stakeholders, no? — who thought that 750 school-zone cameras was too many.

Even with a majority of Senators supporting the Assembly bill, Flanagan refused to bring it to the floor, where it would have passed and speed cameras would still right now be ticketing the million-plus speeders annually in New York City and deterring countless more.

Then the sandbagging: Flanagan, still pretending he wants speed cameras in New York, posed a fake question to his Democratic colleagues, “Will you put public safety over politics and extend the program or not? It’s a yes or no answer. Any refusal to answer tells everyone your priority.” (Actually, Sen. Flanagan, no one is refusing to participate in your rhetorical game: the Democrats’ “priority” is, in fact, to expand speed cameras!)

Of course, it’s all windbagging as Flanagan unwound “a story that Assembly Democrats and Cuomo don’t want you to understand.” The “story,” as Flanagan tells it, consists of Governor Andrew Cuomo occasionally leaving Albany to campaign for re-election (which is what Flanagan was doing at his $1,500 golf fundraiser on Tuesday, by the way) and for failing to “bring the Senate and Assembly together to complete legislative business.”

The senator needs to look in the mirror: Legislative business is his job, not the governor’s. And the Assembly had done its part by passing a reasonable bill that had already been molded through compromise with the GOP. True, maybe Warren, Greene, Cattaraugus and Essex counties didn’t get the “tax extenders” that Flanagan wanted, but he conveniently forgets that his own partner in slime, Senator Simcha Felder, held speed cameras hostage to his insane proposal to put armed guards in city schools. Tax extenders, armed cops — all these games are being played by the Senate.

The simple fact is, Flanagan, who collects thousands in donations from the anti-camera police union, didn’t want to double the number of speed cameras in New York City.

That’s why a handful of city activists tried to crash Flanagan’s golf outing on Tuesday, staking out the Country Club of Troy as Flanagan spoiled a good walk with his rich pals.

“I went to demand Flanagan reconvene the senate and pass the speed camera bill that’s been sitting in front of him,” said Jane Martin-Lavaud, whose then 24-year-old daughter Leonora Lavaud was killed by a speeding driver in Gravesend in 2013. “His failure will threaten 1.1 million kids by September 5 if he doesn’t do his job. Instead of playing golf at $1,500 a head, he and his conference should hop in their cars and drive down the road to Albany. They could do it today.”

And Lavaud’s fellow activist, Amy Cohen, reminded Flanagan that he’s not some Albany duffer.

“Flanagan seems to have forgotten who controls the New York State Senate,” said Cohen, a founder of Families for Safe Streets. “The bill before his chamber has the support of 77 percent of New Yorkers and 34 Senate co-sponsors, including three Republicans. Senator Flanagan could have passed the bill to renew and expand New York City’s speed camera program, but he chose not to bring it to a vote. Now he finds himself backed into a corner, spouting off an embarrassing litany of excuses, desperate to distance himself from his decision which has resulted in the dismantling of a life-saving public safety program. Children are going to die because of the choices made by Senator Flanagan, and the blood will be on his hands.”

Not the speed camera villains, Sen. Flanagan? You are quickly becoming the only person in the state who thinks so.