Today’s Headlines

  • Albany Hacks $140M From MTA Budget, Gives State More Control (News, WNYC)
  • Study Finds City Drivers Routinely Disrespecting Bike Lanes (MSNBC, News, NY1)
  • Sad News for Brooklyn Transpo Advocates: Teresa Toro Resigns From CB 1 (YourNabe)
  • Climate Change Cited in Shore Park Greenway Collapse; Belt Parkway Next? (Bklyn Eagle)
  • 65-Year-Old Hit by Bus Driver Is Second Pedestrian to Die on Avenue U in Three Days (News
  • SI Ped Killer Unhappy With Media Attention; Sister Arrested for Cover-Up Attempt (News, Post)
  • Upgraded Charges Could Put Det. Kevin Spellman in Jail for 25 Years (City Room)
  • Council Member Elizabeth Crowley Blames Unsafe Street for Middle Village School Bus Crash (News)
  • Bronx Business Owners Tacitly Approve of TEA Vehicle Vandalism (News)
  • Union Rep, Teen Passenger Report Chronic Fare-Beating on Bx12 Select (AMNY)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • vnm

    Here’s something that caught my eye from out of town. A columnist in the Stamford Advocate who wants to fight crushing traffic congestion on highways there offers two suggestions, one of which is good for the atmosphere and livable streets and one of which is bad:

    Since most of those commuters insist on driving to work, perhaps you, Mister Mayor, can persuade some of the city’s largest employers to stagger work hours to ease the choking traffic on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. Even better, try to persuade many of those commuters to use Metro-North rather than their cars.

    Of course, employers don’t want to or many times can’t stagger work hours in a global economy, and “trying to persuade” people into modal shift by lip service won’t do anything. The brutal traffic jams are there to stay as long as the office buildings in Stamford have multi-story garages and companies use them to offer free parking to their employees, while at the same time not picking up their employees’ Metro-North fares.

    This reminds me of one of the great things about New York: Skyscrapers without parking garages.

  • Brooklyn
  • Larry Littlefield

    The state cut funding for the MTA yesterday by $140 million.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/12/03/2009-12-03_budget_avoids_meltdown_legislature_agrees_to_trim_27b__strapped_mta_stripped_of_.html

    Which means that the MTA payroll tax, which only falls on workers and not retirees and wealth earnings and usefully allows suburbanites to blame city residents for their problems, was in fact used to allow the state to shift money to other things, probably rising pension costs.

    This is what was done by a Democratic legislature with a Democratic Governor, which will then blame the “unaccountable MTA” led by a Democratic appointee for any addition to the resulting downward spiral. That is the values of the Democratic Party. It is also the values of the Republican Party. Because it is the values of the age group in charge.

    Younger people, meanwhile, prattle on and get excited about all the great plans and proposals and studies, just like I did 20 years ago. I was a sucker.

  • fdr

    You missed this:
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bopped_bike_man_busted_VRAisz76PCrUu6nKoReAAK

    Bopped bike man busted
    The bicyclist who was knocked to the ground by a rookie cop last year was arrested yesterday in a drunken incident in Brooklyn, sources said.
    Chris Long, of Bloomfield, NJ, was “highly intoxicated” when he damaged a parked car on Bedford and Lafayette avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant just before 1 a.m., authorities said.
    Long, 30, allegedly kicked off a mirror on the 2000 Honda as the driver sat inside. The 31-year-old woman got out and a “commotion” ensued, sources said. He was charged with criminal mischief.
    Long gained attention in July 2008 when he was riding through Times Square as part of a Critical Mass rally and was knocked to the ground by officer Patrick Pogan.
    Pogan charged him with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But the charges were dropped when a videotape on YouTube showed there was no provocation before Pogan body-checked Long.
    Pogan resigned after he was charged with assault and filing false paperwork about the case.

  • J. Mork

    People aren’t paying for the express bus? Who cares! If the
    fine is $100, you only have to catch 2.25% of those to make up
    the difference (well, plus whatever you’re paying the agents)
    In other words, if you get caught once out of 44.44 times,
    you’re not getting away with anything.

  • David_K

    The authors of the study finding that cyclists cannot bike 5 blocks in a bike lane without encountering an illegal vehicle obstruction are the same authors who brought us last year’s “Cyclists Routinely Disobey the Law Study” which generated hostility to cycling from all corner — 155 comments on the Times, most of them excoriating bicycling:
    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/study-finds-cyclists-disobey-traffic-laws/

    Let’s hope the new study gets as much attention as the last year’s. (By the way, NY1 didn’t even bother to show a bike lane obstruction in their video).

  • J. Mork

    Wow, Larry. Just when I thought our state government couldn’t suck any more. (I’m not that young, but I guess I’m still naive.)

  • Thanks Larry. That is today’s top story, for sure.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Just when I thought our state government couldn’t suck any more. (I’m not that young, but I guess I’m still naive.)

    They beat that out of me.

  • LL- wasn’t there a cut in pensions for tier 5 or something also?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Yeah Glenn but,,,the devil is in the details, there were a lot of bells and whistles with that deal especially for the teachers. Through the magic of pattern bargaining most of those bells and whistles will ultimately spread to the other less influential unions. Still though Larry’s basic point is that the young got shafted again. The way pensions work means that the savings, whatever there are herein will be used to pay off the unfunded historic improvements to the other tiers. At some point in future decades, when the stock market is flush, the as yet un-hired Tier V people will claw back some of their relative disadvantage just as have the Tier III and Tier IV. It takes about 10 years at a 5% (20 year seniority pensions) attrition rate for them to achieve a majority. As the subsequent tiers ripple through the bargaining unit census though the attrition rate tends to fall so that maybe the new teachers will have more like a 4% (25 year seniority pensions) rate. Also the age of hire is an important factor in the ultimate value of any of these pension changes.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    Good point Larry. Putting the burden of transportation on workers also perpetuates the false idea that employment is the only thing that connects us as a metropolis, when it is far more. All residents of the metropolitan area are enriched by access to our diverse cultural, recreational and social resources. Mobility is what opens up the wealth of the region to all of us.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    And as far as the suburbs blaming the city where is Lew Fidler’s eloquent defense of payroll tax funding when it is needed? Or, was it ever needed?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Also the age of hire is an important factor in the ultimate value of any of these pension changes.”

    And the age of birth is the important factor in the ultimate value of Social Security and Medicare.

    “The way pensions work means that the savings, whatever there are herein will be used to pay off the unfunded historic improvements to the other tiers.”

    That can’t happen for a decade. Over the next three years there are going to mass layoffs and cuts in public services to pay for those pension enhancements (over and above those resulting from debts and the recession in general). Younger employees can’t be shafted to pay for them if there are no younger employees.

    The question is, can those younger employees be forced to pay in the future either. Or in reality, will other citizens pay, as those with lower compensation adopt a “screw you” attitude and do a lousy job. Or, in reality, is that attitude already present among those now working?

    I wonder how many city employees did a half-assed job their whole career, particularly in the city’s inferior schools, as a result in being stuck in Tier IV, and then had their pensions retroactively enhanced when they were in or near retirement? Gee, if I had known I would get to retire at 55, I would have given and corrected more written assignments!

  • Steve

    Bopped Bike Man: When was the last time that an allegedly intoxicated vehicle operator was arrested for having caused minor damage to someone else’s vehicle, had words over it, and it made the Daily News? Does anyone believe that Daily News reporters go through every arrest made in this kind of situation, on a daily basis, in the hopes of finding a “newsworthy” arrestee?

    I guess when you sue the NYPD (as Long did over the Pogan incident), it’s standard operating procedure for the NYPD to run to the press with any dirt they can find on you. More dirty tricks from Kevin Browne.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    You rang?

    Well, I surely have not run away from the payroll tax…in fact, I mentioned it proudly in my campaign literature and was criticized by my Republican opponent for it.

    I doubt that the MTA cut, unfortunate as it was, was designed to “shift money to other things”. I think it reflects the deep doo doo that the State Treasury finds itself in. BTW, forthe uninitiated, pension costs are an obligation and can’t be altered. The legislature did in fact create a new cheaper pension tier yesterday as well I believe.

    Frankly, the suburbs can blame anything they want on the City. My point in insisting on a regional tax was that transportation is a regional matter. No one makes a Nassau County resident present a passport at the City border and no one charges them a premium to ride on the IRT. Moving people to and from work knows no City or State boundaries in our region. The payroll tax, Larry’s ageism issue aside, is the fairest way of making everyone who shares in the economy to make a contribution to transportation, an essential component of the economy.

    Now, was that eloquent enough Nicolo?

    Lew from Brooklyn

    PS Anyone see Crain’s item on the Gowanus tunnel today? The 9 Carat Stone Plan lives…..

  • vnm

    Steve, actually it was the Post that had the longer article on Long, and the one that was linked to twice in this thread. And I think you mean Paul Browne, not Kevin, right?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “BTW, for the uninitiated, pension costs are an obligation and can’t be altered.”

    For those who haven’t followed by discussions on this issue elsewhere, lower pension benefits for new hires could have been matched by higher required pension contributions from earlier hires, making total compensation equal.

    NY public employees contribute less to their pensions than those anywhere in the U.S. For example, New Jersey’s pension system is going to go broke because taxpayers didn’t put in their share — I believe police officers there pay in 9 percent of their pay.

    Requiring higher employee contributions for existing employees would have provided immediate budget relief, and required those employees to share in the sacrifice, unlike a new tier.

    In addition, the pension income of state and local government employees is exempt from state and local income taxes in New York — but virtually nowhere else. Private sector retirees get a partial exemption, but only at age 65, public sector retirees get a full exemption, even at age 45. They could have been made to pay the same taxes as those with equal income who are working.

    In addition, those who already retired having not contributed to their enhanced pensions could have been required to contribute to their retiree health care instead. But the Tier V bill specifically prohibits such an arrangement, even in collective bargaining, for teachers outside NYC.

  • Steve

    Thanks vnm; I meant Paul Browne, and I got the paper wrong. But my point stands (not to mention the issue of whether the arrest itself had a retaliatory motive in the first place).

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Plenty eloquent Lew, thanks, but still wrong. Thanks regardless. And your focus on the regional character of the payroll tax in place of the payroll character of the payroll tax is preaching to the choir of the largely citified people on this blog. Nonetheless, this happens to be the exact worst moment in the extreme business cycle to tax payrolls. And what in the end did the transit rider get? Not the 9 carat stone you promised but another cut of the MTA budget while the state legislators protected the hospitals and schools. They all needed protecting and the same business cycle arguments apply to those cuts but congestion pricing and bridge tolls, by targeting those who cause congestion and promising to increase radically bus productivity remains the only option that would have actually saved money. The bus productivity elements of congestion pricing would have saved as much as the legislature just cut the MTA in order to fund everything else.

    You can’t be blamed for it though since you sat it out in the peanut gallery there in the City Council. The Democratic Senators will be however, your constituent Senator Kruger and his buddies handed the Republicans a sweet issue to take their majority back just in time for redistrictinig. You may be happy with the result and I too look forward to all those tunnels you are going to build (I’m holding my breath) but today you can’t find any Democratic Senators who like the payroll tax with the possible exception of Mr. Kruger the Republicans favorite Democrat. Success has a hundred fathers.

  • Having to choose between sticking it to the suburbs (and the city) with a tax on jobs when unemployment is soaring, or fairly charging for the use of a bridge whether you’re driving from far rockaway or east hampton, yeah I think I have to go with the latter. I hope a few of the Senate’s dithering Republicans are replaced with some that have the courage to break ranks for tolls next time around; the incumbents could have easily changed the course of events and are just as responsible for the payroll tax as Democrats.