Tuesday’s Headlines: Mayorus Interruptus Edition
We went up to the Flatiron District for a press conference with DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman … and a mayoral photo op broke out.
We had been hoping to pepper the affable commissioner with questions about multiple issues — his agency’s uninspired design for the 34th Avenue open street, a recent report about how roads are safer with bike lanes than without, if he had any reaction to our publisher’s scathing op-ed on Monday, what he plans to say at today’s City Council oversight hearing on Vision Zero, and whether he’s optimistic that he’ll get help from the state DMV in getting reckless drivers off the road, etc. — but once the mayor showed up, the presser turned into a ribbon-cutting. And that was that.
We did get a good ceremonial-slice shot, but that’s because we’re pros, but most of the day’s news came from the city’s “shared space” press release, which Eve Kessler translated into a top-notch story (amNY also covered).
It’s funny, because the mayoral photo-op came just a few hours after press superstars Katie Honan of The City and Julia Marsh of the New York Post excoriated the mayor at his daily WebEx call for continuing to keep the New York City press corps at bay using virtual pressers. Given how little contact we had with Hizzoner at Monday’s event, we’re inclined to support — for now — the current de Blasio administration strategy of daily calls. At least we get to ask our questions (and sometimes get them answered).
In other news from Monday:
- Our frenemies at the Times scooped us on something we were working on: the city is revising its Fifth Avenue bus-and-safety plan to appease rich people. The story by Dana Rubinstein and Winnie Hu is especially important because it speaks to a corrupt public policy process inside de Blasio’s City Hall.
- The death of 2-year-old Leilani Rosales should not be treated as an “accident,” as the police called it. Especially when the girl’s grandfather admitted the problem: SUVs are too damn big and our city and state literally do nothing to prevent such killing machines from wrecking havoc on our roads: “She walked in front of the car,” grandfather Castellano told the Daily News. “She’s 2 feet. You can’t see her.” The News story didn’t bother to cite the danger of SUVs — even though the paper’s transportation reporter has long covered it. (Coverage in the Post and amNY was cursory.)
- Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo continues to make Mayor de Blasio look like un imbécile de faible volonté when it comes to street safety. (Bloomberg)
- Activists from Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic on the FDR Drive to highlight the need for the U.S. to get serious about climate change (NY Post, amNY). The rally led to many ill-conceived tweets from drivers complaining of the traffic, which, as you might have guessed, was the point.
- Thank goodness the city completed the Brooklyn Bridge bike path before anti-vaxx activists stormed the roadway on the historic span to complain about essential public health measures. (The Brooklyn Paper had the best photo; the Post and Gothamist also covered)
- Asking for a friend: Can you honestly call yourself a social media “influencer” if you are taking money from Rep. Adriano Espaillat to post flatting stuff about him in your timeline? (The City)
- And finally, Gene Friedman, the “Taxi King” or taxi scumbag, depending on who you listen to, died on Sunday. The Times obit on Monday repeated a lot of Friedman’s predatory practices, but failed to include the rise of Uber and Lyft as co-conspirators (but that’s par for the Times, as we reported in 2019). Friend of Streetsblog Charles Komanoff pointed out the glaring omission (albeit with far too much praise of our editor’s earlier story):
Too true. But your paper's investigative reporter flubbed the math & blamed the destruction on predatory lenders, who were only a contributory cause. @GershKuntzman & I were on it, too bad the @PulitzerPrizes jury wasn't: https://t.co/9WH3W5uBps https://t.co/9t6tKNV98Z
— Charles Komanoff (@Komanoff) October 26, 2021
- In a sort of related story, several politicians got arrested supporting debt-addled taxi drivers during their ongoing protest at City Hall. (NYDN)