Tuesday’s Headlines: Big Ydanis is Watching Edition

Big Ydanis is watching.
Big Ydanis is watching.

That chill wind you felt yesterday wasn’t the weather.

Our colleague Jesse Coburn got a hold of a memo that Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez sent out warning the entire DOT staff against speaking to the press. Here’s Coburn’s tweet about it:

Now, it would be easy to dismiss the memo as a classic case of “nothing to see here”; after all, agency employees are long told never to talk to the press, lest they contradict officials’ well-oiled spin.

But it’s also wrong to threaten city workers for exercising their First Amendment rights so that we in the press can exercise our First Amendment rights to analyze city decisions and agencies’ delivery of services to the public they serve. Rather than be threatened with punishment, workers should be encouraged to share the truth about what goes on inside their agencies if agency officials are betraying the public trust or even merely tarnishing it.

That’s why whistleblowers have long been afforded protections — and why reporters guarantee anonymity for their sources (a promise we take very, very seriously).

So we hope Big Brother will back off and allow city employees to do their jobs, and let the walls come down when things go wrong. We’ll defend workers’ rights to talk, and we’ll protect their anonymity. Please send tips (from your personal email address!) to tips@streetsblog.org.

Oy vey.
Oy vey.

Of course, distrust for the press is an increasing theme of the Adams administration. Two weeks ago, the mayor was so bitterly complaining about how he’s covered by the media that he started his own newsletter. And on Monday, as we were writing this editorial about Big Ydanis, we got a press release from the mayor’s office announcing that Adams would be hosting the new “Get Stuff Done-cast,” a podcast that will consist of “conversations with New Yorkers from all walks of life about the challenges we face and the solutions to be found in the heart, hustle, humor and heroics of the greatest city in the world.”

So instead of doing, for example, a weekly “Ask the Mayor” on Brian Lehrer (like his predecessors), Adams is going to basically interview himself and declare that he’s getting stuff done … without having to face pesky things like questions or fact checking.

Well, at least we’ve identified the middle word in Adams’s slogan, “get shit done.”

In other news:

  • Curbed, with a hat tip to Kevin Duggan’s exclusive last week about the vendor eviction, joined the call for a master plan for the piecemeal changes going on at the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • The MTA’s plan to bring Metro-North service from The Bronx into Penn Station has been delayed. (The City, amNY)
  • And so are the elevators in the Clark Street station in Brooklyn Heights. (NY Post)
  • And, um, $480 million for one new bus depot in Jamaica? Sure, it’s electric, but, um… (amNY)
  • We’re happy to see Council Transportation Committee Chair Selvena Brooks-Powers enter her second full year in office with a much fuller throat on the issues we care about:

  • Car carnage in Queens (NYDN) and Manhattan (NYDN). The Post rolled them into one story.
  • Casino Steve Cohen had another “visioning” session at City Field. (amNY)
  • Gothamist raised some questions about the mayor’s promise that all Ubers and Lyfts would be electric by 2030.
  • The Times did a photo spread on the restored Americas medallions on Sixth Avenue.
  • Plate number crimes are on the rise in London because drivers don’t want to pay the ultra-low emission toll, reports The Telegraph, which reminds us: our old man editor caught two more cops defacing their plates to avoid speeding tickets. Embarrassed yet, Mayor Adams?

Filed Under: DOT