Friday’s Headlines: Message Received Edition

Both 311 calls were accurate: The abandoned car was there, and the car next to it had an abused FDNY placard.
Both 311 calls were accurate: The abandoned car was there, and the car next to it had an abused FDNY placard.

Somebody was trying to send our old man editor a message the other day, filing two 311 complaints against car owners in the who-knows-what-to-call-it part of Queens between the Amtrak tracks and Astoria.

Those complaints from 30th Avenue used our editor’s well-known email address as the contact information, prompting our editor to receive the 311 reports as if he’d filed them himself.

It sounded like an episode of “Murder She Wrote,” and, given our editor’s advancing age and increasing resemblance to Angela Lansbury, he got excited for the intrigue.

It wasn’t that exciting: The first 311 call filed on Sept. 14 complained of an illegally parked placard perp. The NYPD closed that case in about an hour with the explanation, “The Police Department responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary.” The NYPD’s quick case closure is no surprise, given Streetsblog’s award-winning coverage of how few 311 complaints lead to any action at all, except, we found, lies about it.

The second complaint, filed early on Sept. 15, was against an abandoned Mercedes. Looking for a ride on a nice day, our editor rushed over and found both cars exactly where the tipster said they’d be: the placard perp was an FDNY officer who was abusing his placard to park in front of (wait for it!) a hydrant. He also has six camera-issued speeding tickets on his record, so it’s unclear why the NYPD would be protecting this guy. There was no ticket on the windshield.

The other car — an abandoned Mercedes C300 — was also in front of 51-28 30th Avenue: it had no front or back plate on it (and, perhaps worse, had an LA Dodgers cap on the back seat). It has a value of around $35,000 so it’s unclear why someone would just leave it like that.

The Sanitation Department still has a few days to respond, so we’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here’s a reminder of why you shouldn’t file 311 service complaints in other people’s names — cops don’t like it when they are asked to provide 311 service. Indeed, sometimes they harass the complainants.

On the plus side, Kuntzman ran into this dog, and for a brief moment, the world actually looked good:

Who is a good boy? This guy.
Who is a good boy? This guy.

In other news:

  • Subway ridership has finally gotten back to where it was just as the pandemic took off in March 2020. But suburban rail ridership still trails its pre-pandemic numbers by double-digit percentages. Overall, ridership on all MTA transit is down about 30 percent from its pre-pandemic highs. The reason is that just 49 percent of Manhattan office workers are showing up — and just 9 percent do so every day of the workweek. (NYDN, The Post broke it up into a separate office story and a transit story; amNY, )
  • Gothamist was a bit late on this news, but it’s good to see more coverage of Amazon’s decision to stop selling illegal plate covers.
  • Jose Martinez had an interesting story in The City about how Midtown garage owners are worried there won’t be enough cars needing spaces once congestion pricing kicks in. On the one hand, the story points out that less driving is a good thing, given that the main goal of congestion pricing is to boost transit. And on the same hand, why should we feel sympathetic towards garage owners — congestion pricing is going to raise property values in the central business districts, which could lead to garages being converted into something far more useful. And the initial increased demand for parking just north of the congestion could mean higher prices, which will, eventually, discourage driving, too.
  • Wow, Hell Gate had the hottest take of all yesterday: Ban dogs. (Clearly, Christopher Robbins and Co. didn’t go out with our editor on his story yesterday!)
  • A judgment error on an MTA repair effort wasted $3 million, the inspector general said. (NY Post, amNY, Crain’s)
  • Cops arrested the driver who caused the crash that killed two men on an Upper Manhattan sidewalk last month, which we covered in all its horror. (NYDN, amNY)
  • It’s no small footnote, but the head of the Partnership for New York City — basically a Chamber of Commerce, but for the richest machers — called for the elimination of placards. Maybe Kathy Wylde read Streetsblog’s placard census last month? (amNY)
  • And, finally, our own Jesse Coburn was named a finalist for an award for Accountability Journalism from the Local Independent Online News, an association with more than 400 member publications in the U.S. and Canada. Coburn’s deep investigation about the dangers of school streets is up against The Maine Monitor and the Wausau Pilot & Review in the small publication category.