Tuesday’s Headlines: People Should Not Assault Open Streets Volunteers Edition

Only rigid barricades keep cars out. But the DOT wants to try something else. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Only rigid barricades keep cars out. But the DOT wants to try something else. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

We published a bombshell story with multiple scoops yesterday — including how an open streets volunteer had been attacked by an open streets opponent last week, how open streets equipment was vandalized by open streets opponents, how two DOT workers had been verbally assaulted by open streets opponents, and how some open streets opponents appear to be organizing to apply to run open streets (and then do it badly) — but one of the biggest eyebrow-raisers was the lack of comment from City Hall and the Department of Transportation.

Well, fortunately, late in a very busy day (more on that later), City Hall finally got back to us. And given all the craziness that our story revealed, you can forgive mayoral spokesman Mitch Schwartz for his colorful language:

“We condemn assault and people should not fucking do that,” Schwartz said via email. “We’re very grateful for that volunteer’s work, and the facts of the case as you’ve described them (I’ve been running around today and haven’t had time to look into it myself) are disgusting and unacceptable. DOT will work with NYPD to make sure people are safe on open streets.”

He also said the de Blasio administration would “step in” if any open street opponents stage “some sort of false flag sabotage job.”

Glad we asked. Glad he answered. (DOT also got back to us, but the agency’s answer is going to prompt a follow-up of its own! We call that job security.)

Now, in other news:

  • About that aforementioned busy day to which Schwartz was alluding: It all started when Bloomberg posted a story about why it is so crucial to save the subway. The story had lots of obvious points — the subway is one reason why New York’s greenhouse gas emissions are so much lower, per capita, than other cities’, for example — but it included a broadside against Mayor de Blasio. “This City Hall generally thinks of the subway system as out of sight, out of mind,” NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said. “Frankly, this mayor doesn’t ride the subway.” (OK, as broadsides go, it was pretty fair, but still, Schwartz had to respond … and diplomacy is hard work! “Interim President Feinberg’s personal attacks against the mayor are bizarre, but they won’t affect City Hall’s good-faith partnership with her agency,” he said.)
  • For the City Hall press shop, that was just the opening salvo. The MTA issued a survey on Monday claiming that a large segment of the riding public is scared away from the subway because of crime, not COVID. (NYDN, NY PostABC7, WSJ)
  • Andrew Yang walked back his dashed-off comments about street vendors that we referenced in yesterday’s headlines (NY Post). Mayoral rival Scott Stringer had already gone on the attack (Gothamist, amNY).
  • How great is President Biden’s infrastructure plan? It’s so vast and detailed that even the New York Post couldn’t make it sound bad!
  • We kid the New York Times a lot, but the paper has done a service with its coverage Gov. Cuomo’s many recent scandals. Yesterday, the paper turned its attention to the larger toxic male culture of Albany.
  • Wow, the Daily News editorial board hates Gov. Cuomo’s wrong way AirTrain almost as much as we do!
  • Changing restrictive zoning should be a key part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan so that people can live where there are the most economic opportunities, Edward Glaeser argues in a NY Times op-ed.
  • The demise of the Staten Island Yankees leaves the city with a gorgeous white elephant of a stadium on the borough’s waterfront. Perhaps that will change? (The City)
  • Finally, sorry, but no, Dippin’ Dots are not the ice cream of the future.