Monday’s Headlines: More Municipal Hypocrisy Edition

Crowds of people enjoy a street fair on 6th Avenue on July 18th.
New Yorkers enjoying a car-free street fair on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, July 18th, 2021. Photo: Streetsblog.

Et tu, Justin Brannan?

Late Friday afternoon, the New York Post’s Sam Raskin reported that the Bay Ridge Council member has racked up at least 16 school-zone speeding tickets, including six violations over the last five months. Brannan, who has been a reliable advocate for safer streets and who scolds reckless drivers on Twitter (“Slow the F down“), also displayed his city-issued placard while illegally parking his 2013 Ford SUV on Thursday, according to the tabloid.

“Although I was driving much more than normal during the pandemic, there’s no excuse and I take full responsibility,” Brannan told the Post. “All of us who use cars need to slow down, be more aware, and do better to keep our streets safe. I continue to support expanding cameras in school zones, and will take this opportunity to improve my own behavior behind the wheel.”

Sadly, Brannan is in august company. As Streetsblog reported last month, Eric Adams has racked up 15 speeding camera tickets on his city-issued vehicle since 2019, and has a total of 40 traffic violations since he became Brooklyn borough president in 2014. (The mayor-in-waiting admitted that it didn’t look good: “I can’t be an advocate about stopping vehicle crashes, and my drivers are speeding.”) The Post also exposed Brad Lander’s rough driving record this spring — eight speeding violations in five years, plus a slew of parking tickets — and the future comptroller answered in Streetsblog with an apology and a promise to relinquish his city placard.

“Privileges often encourage worse behavior,” Lander wrote in his mea culpa, which doubles as an argument for eliminating the placard system, which remains rife with corruption years after Mayor de Blasio promised a clean up. Given Adams’s penchant for using placards near Brooklyn Borough Hall, the prospects for reform seem dim. Politicians voluntarily giving up their placards would at least show they are serious about changing the culture of impunity that exists on our streets. We also asked Brannan if he’d ditch his placard, and will update this post if he replies.

  • Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz reported on the NYPD’s abysmal 23 percent clearance rate when it comes to catching hit-and-run drivers. The rate for murders is nearly double.
  • Clayton Guse of the Daily News reports that despite the MTA’s claim that it is doing everything in its power to move congestion pricing along, the agency has yet to meet with its counterparts in New Jersey. David Meyer at the Post has a broad overview of how congestion might stifle New York’s post-pandemic comeback. On Friday, Streetsblog broke down the jaw-dropping costs of an 18-month delay (some 27,654 years worth of wasted travel time!)
  • Freed of his COVID-era party-shaming responsibilities (for now), New York City Sheriff Joe Fucito seized 43 vehicles that were using bogus, paper temporary plates, according to the Post.
  • The Times profiled NYC Mesh, a nonprofit that aims to provide high-speed internet to underserved neighborhoods. Some 1 million New Yorkers lack a broadband connection, and small, volunteer-driven organizations like these have stepped in where businesses and the city government have failed. If the paper of record appreciates scrappy community groups standing in the breach of official inaction, it should check out some open streets!
  • amNY ran coverage on two serious traffic crashes: a 45-year-0ld Citi Bike rider was seriously injured after being struck by a driver in Murray Hill at 6 a.m. on Sunday, and police arrested the 22-year-old driver for DUI. A pedestrian who was lying in a crosswalk on Menahan Street in Ridgewood was struck and killed by a driver earlier that same morning, cops said. No arrests have been made in that case.
  • The Daily News has horrific photos of an early Saturday morning fatal crash in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Police said the speeding driver of a Maserati lost control and hit a concrete median, splitting the car in half. The driver died, while the passenger is gravely injured, Bronx12 reported.
  • Gov. Cuomo’s Empire State Development reps are urging Midtown residents to get on board the governor’s sweeping vision for a new Midtown, WNYC/Gothamist’s Stephen Nessen reported. Gale Brewer and other electeds are demanding that the $300 billion project come with more affordable housing and fewer Empire State Building-sized structures. “If we’re going to do this, it has to be done differently,” Brewer said. (Nicole Gelinas’s story refers to the project as a “monstrous boondoggle.”)
  • Maureen Dowd does her best to make Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sound cuddly, but clearly he thinks he’s a master of the universe: “Our system is called capitalism. It’s designed to optimize for long-term growth of capital. When people wonder, ‘Well, are capital owners advantaged over labor?’ It ain’t called laborism.”
  • Dangerous weather caused by climate change is ravaging the planet’s wealthier nations, which are also most responsible for the climate change (see: reaping, sowing). Hundreds of Germans died in historic flooding this week, leading one person there to sum up the catastrophe with a myopic, if telling, quote: “You don’t expect people to die in a flood in Germany. You expect it maybe in poor countries but you don’t expect it here.”