NBBL Subpoenas Not Yet Sanctioned By the Court, But Embraced By the Post

Two hours after Streetsblog published a post on Monday about the City University of New York’s refusal to disclose former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall’s correspondence about the Prospect Park West redesign, bike lane opponents spun up their publicity machine and spat out a press release from their PR firm, LCG Communications [PDF]. The release informed reporters that the opponents’ “pro bono” lawyers, Jim Walden and Georgia Winston of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, had served subpoenas to NYC DOT and City Council Member Brad Lander in advance of next week’s court hearing.

It was another chance for Walden to insert easily refutable accusations about the PPW project in the press. Walden sent out some subpoenas, so Rich Calder at the Post could dutifully quote him like so: “The city is desperately trying to avoid litigating the merits of our suit because it cannot justify its misuse of data and failure to conduct a proper safety study.”

Never mind that the city’s court filing demolished the opponents’ claims about “misuse of data” and made it perfectly clear that DOT conducted its safety study the same way that other transportation agencies conduct them. There is no PR firm working that angle, and besides, that happened a few weeks ago. It’s not news anymore. Nor, apparently, did most reporters think it was news at the time. No major dailies saw fit to run a story on it.

One thing Walden didn’t mention in the press release is that the type of hearing where Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan will render a decision on the lawsuit — known as an Article 78 proceeding — rarely involves testimony. The city must only demonstrate that it followed proper procedure when installing the PPW redesign, according to legal experts who evaluated the plaintiffs’ case for Streetsblog.

Another thing the opponents’ PR firm didn’t mention: Judge Bunyan had not even sanctioned testimony at the time Walden sent out the subpoenas, though it’s possible he may decide to do so.

Mark Muschenheim, senior counsel at the NYC Law Department, said he will challenge Walden’s subpoenas:

An evidentiary hearing is not warranted in this type of case. We will move to quash the subpoena, and are confident that our motion will be granted. Moreover, the documents filed with the court provide ample information for a decision to be made on the lawsuit’s merits, and we believe that after a review of this record the court will support the City’s actions.

  • Sidney Falco

    Does Linda Gross do PR professionally?  Why is the release double-spaced on one page and single-spaced on another?  And what’s with the mix of fonts?  If I were anyone other than a New York Post reporter, I’d throw this release in the garbage.

  • Prospect Parker

    Linda Cronin-Gross: Shame on you! You seriously tarnish your otherwise nice looking client roster by working for “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” and by facilitating this ridiculous smear campaign of Jim Walden’s.

    http://www.lcgcommunications.com/aboutus.asp

  • Prospect Parker

    Wow. I just looked more closely at the client list. I know a bunch of LCG Communications’ clients — NYPIRG, Sustainable South Bronx, OWN, Municipal Art Society, UPROSE, Pratt, Bronx River Alliance… These are good organizations. 

    I am tempted to call my friends at each and every one of these organizations and urge them in the strongest possible terms to dump Linda Cronin-Gross’s P.R. firm immediately. Stop working with LCG. The work that she has done for Jim Walden on this PPW issue has been incredibly dishonest and destructive. Given her client list, I can’t fathom why Linda Cronin-Gross took this job. Her reputation and business should suffer for this.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously she thinks currying favor with Democratic power brokers and corporate law firms is a smart business move.  Greed and cynicism is what makes New York go, right?  It does seriously undermine her credibility as an advocate for progressive causes. According to her site: “Democracy works best when everyone has meaningful access to government.” (meaning: especially former transportation commissioners/wives of US senators, borough presidents, the wealthy, white shoe corporate lawyers, the privileged, landowners, etc. You know–the downtrodden.)

  • Anonymous

    “DOT can bike but it cannot hide,” said Georgia Winston, another GDC pro bono NBBL attorney.

    Time to start calling out this nincompoop too. Georgia Winston: what aspect of this incredibly public process suggests that DOT has been hiding at all? And if you think the “can bike but can’t hide” thing is cute (cute enough to approve for a press release even), then . . . how I pity you . . .

  • Fed Up

    @a7c25c667c1c26eda133d76b5c6caf6a:disqus , definitely make those calls.  Those upstanding, progressive organizations should be profoundly embarrassed to have someone who works for NBBL working for them.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I just sent this message to LCG Communication. I think they should know, from lots of progressive people, that this piece of work they are doing is shameful and awful.
    Here’s my message:

    Wow. Your client list is impressively progressive. Except your current campaign to remove a great piece of safe bicycle infrastructure in Brooklyn. This campaign is not progressive. It is reprehensible. You should be ashamed.
    Signed,Ben Kintisch

  • Breslin

    To think Georgia’s life was saved by a stranger in the Union Square subway station when she was a 15-year-old girl only so that she could dedicate herself to eliminating the kind of bike infrastructure that keeps today’s kids safe.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/23/nyregion/girl-saved-from-subway-tracks.html

  • Anonymous

    Having working in and around PR for 20 years, I can say with near-complete assurance that LCG’s impressive client list is not composed of current clients. This is common among agencies, especially smaller ones.

    By all means contact NYPIRG, Municipal Art Society, Bronx River Alliance, etc. Just don’t be too surprised or upset if the response is something like “huh?” In other words, she probably needs the coin from NBBL.

    Let’s also give LCB the benefit of the doubt; it’s possible that she
    really believes the PPW bike lane is bad news. There is still a thing
    called diversity of opinion.

    What I do know for certain is that the writing of that press release is god-awful. Not that it would stop the NY Post or Marcia Kramer from using it to advance their pre-conceived notions.

  • Rocco2121

    This is blog is so biased it is pathetic.

  • Rocco2121

    This blogger is so biased it is pathetic. 

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