Today’s Headlines

  • Peralta and DenDekker Want to Loosen Camera Restrictions and Penalize Recidivist Speeders (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Astoria Pedestrian (NewsAMNY, NY1); Man Killed on Major Deegan (DNA)
  • RPA: Shut the L Completely for Repairs and Make 14th Street a Busway (AMNY, DNA)
  • DiNapoli Says MTA Is Fudging the Data on Subway Wait Times (2ASPoliticoAMNY)
  • Full Council to Vote on Bills to Create Universal TLC License and Regulate Plazas (Crain’s)
  • Study Says Uber Is Eating Into Yellow Cab Trips (DNA); NYC Still Ignoring Problem of Driver Pay (News)
  • DOT to Detour Traffic Onto Local Streets While City Repairs Hudson Parkway Wall (DNA, Gothamist)
  • Delivery Date for George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal Delayed Again (DNA)
  • Water Tunnel Will Actually Be Completed Ahead of Schedule, de Blasio Explains (NYT 1, 2; Politico)
  • The Horse Carriage Thing Isn’t Over (Politico)
  • Post: CO of UES Precinct Known for Traffic Deaths and Bike Crackdowns Targeted in Corruption Probe
  • Robert Moses Didn’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges, But He Had a Few Anyway (NYT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • So I was thinking about the water tunnel thing

    Of course, the mayor did not offer a reasonable explanation for lengthening the access shaft buildout timeframe at any point, and it seemed like that is what he was originally doing.

    But there may be an explanation that makes sense if the delay is just on the order of months & tunnel #2 is in spectacular condition?

    I still don’t like it – I support immediate completion of all facilities on Tunnel #3 – but then here’s the real point I want to make: suddenly yesterday $300m appears out of nowhere. That isn’t easy to do! So do the rest of you really think BDB fully changed course yesterday as a response to the PR crisis he caused by intending to delay the construction, or do you think that this whole time he was fiddling with budget math but not timelines, or do you think the tunnel is really still delayed at this point in the long run?

    I honestly don’t know what to think and I’m not going to fully take Jim Dwyer’s word for it. Dywer is more Andy Rooney than Woodward/Bernstein

  • ohnonononono

    De Blasio is bad at politics. If the papers write about him critically, he changes course to try to appease them. See: every faux controversy in the Post.

  • But then, if this is just about de Blasio being clumsy, this story isn’t enough to get the attention that it now has gotten on the basis of Dwyer’s original piece.

    Yet the water tunnel is important! So he SHOULD have changed course if it means the full access to the water tunnel supply now gets done in a reasonable timeframe.

    But I’m wondering just how much he had to change course, and if this really was just a klutzy approach to applying budget allocations that was then turned into a shitshow by a press corps who, even now, want us to be continually outraged by our mayor, whoever it is this year.

    “Be angry at everyone” isn’t a solution
    Neither is “trust everyone”

  • Jim Dwyer

    Maybe this will help you understand the sequence of the water tunnel thing.

    1. Bloomberg announcement in 2013, showing completion in 2021.
    2. DeBlasio budget from October 2014, showing commencement of construction in June 2019
    3. DEP Comm Lloyd being asked at Council her thinking in halting the project in March 2015
    4. Lloyd being asked last month when it would be completed, and saying her guess was the mid-20s.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Why did this hit the newspapers?

    Somebody who can make a phone call isn’t happy. A DEP engineer, active or retired, former commissioner, or perhaps Bloomberg himself.

    Bloomberg has promised to refrain from criticizing DeBlasio, and for the most part has not done so. But if he as passionate about this as the article implies, this could have set him off.

  • Jim Dwyer

    Interestingly, it wasn’t anyone who works or worked for the city, nor has any affiliation that I know of with either deBlasio or Bloomberg. Here’s how the story got into the Times. A reporter, Emily Rueb, did a lot of research on the water system and with illustrator Josh Cochran created a multi-media story tracing water from the Catskills to the tap. It ran on-line 10 days ago. Someone at a think tank on city issues read it and was impressed. That person had been looking at infrastructure projects, and noticed that in the city’s Water Authority annual reports the Brooklyn Queens leg of the Third Water Tunnel, once listed for completion in 2018, had been deferred, according to the 2015. The think-tank person passed that information to Rueb after seeing her waterworks piece. She passed it along to me. At first the city denied that it had happened, then said that if it had happened, Bloomberg had done it. So I went through the capital budgets and saw that, while the project had been in the first deBlasio budget in October 2014, it had disappeared a few months later. Then I read two years of City Council budget testimony by the commissioner for the Dept Environmental Protection. The original reading by the think-tank person was true, but to get there, you had to get past a lot of misdirection. Here’s the multi-media story that got the ball rolling — it’s part of a series by Rueb called NYC-101: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/24/nyregion/how-nyc-gets-its-water-new-york-101.html

  • Jim Dwyer

    Someone has changed the sequence of the graphics in my original reply to Brian Van Nieuwenhoven, so they don’t correspond to numbered list and may not make sense.
    I’ll try again.

    1. Bloomberg’s 2013 statement that the project would be completed in 2021.

    2. deBlasio budget from October 2014, showing a commitment date (start date for construction) of June 2019.

    3. DEP Comm Lloyd being asked at Council her thinking in halting the project in March 2015

    4. Lloyd being asked last month when it would be completed, and saying her guess was the mid-20s.

  • I have fully accepted all of these facts, and specifically that DEP Commissioner Lloyd started speaking about construction priorities as if they had changed from the Bloomberg admin.

    Although that was a cause for concern, I did not think of it as a cause for alarm – unless the de Blasio admin would, inexplicably, fully end the project before it was complete. (A good number of people got this impression from your article. I’m sure that made the article very “viral”)

    That said: at first, it very much looked like de Blasio was stretching out the capital plan. Within 24 hours, de Blasio himself was saying that he was compressing the capital plan to the tune of an additional $300m in allocations, immediately, almost ad-hoc. He was also saying, perhaps unseemingly, that his team gave you the wrong information. And he admitted that submitted documents & statements so far were, unintentionally and inappropriately, showing a lack of commitment to the project.

    He’s a big klutz either way, but now here’s the two most likely scenarios:
    * The mayor intended to delay the project just to stretch out allocations, indeed aiming for the mid 2020’s, with no anticipated infrastructure failures in the interim. Then when he saw the outrage overnight, he made $300m appear in the capital budget.
    * Lloyd is bad at public reassurance, a public official rarely accustomed to being cited/quoted in the media, while the mayor’s team is (consistently) aloof/disconnected, the money was already on-the-way, and the project was intended to be completed roughly on-time after the usual budget-dance-of-elephants.

    Do forgive me for assuming the worst about your profession & your employer, but I know that “water tunnel never getting done, city on brink of crisis” is a great New York newspaper story, while “Mayor’s aides don’t know their ass from their elbow” is, at best, a snooze story near the back pages. Assuming the best about the mayor is never going to be the path to solvency in this media market. That said, the trap here is to tell half-the-truth and then find yourself, after new developments, not having a real follow-up.

    Bickering about whether the Times should or, should not, print a front-page follow-up thanking the Mayor for making these corrections one way or another… well that’s not the point, and it’s probably not changing anyone’s mind about BDB. (Though there are still many people who are not caught up on Day 2 of this story) The thing I’m most interested in, other than the water supply itself, is seeing whether the Times can stay focused on ensuring the city’s execution on budgeting and constructing the necessary facilities to provide the critical redundancy the city needs in its water supply. As a secondary concern, if the Times can prove the mayor lied or the mayor committed to definitely not having a tunnel finish by 2021 or 2022 (this is a very daunting task, requiring a serious breach of his inner circle at the very least), then that would be of interest before he gets a second term.

    Not that this is entirely your fault, but a little over two years into his first term, I’m a little burnt out on the “mayor is stupid” stories mostly hyperventilating about tiny issues – the damn horse carriages, pizza-with-a-fork – and I know that Bloomberg and Giuliani and Dinkins and everyone going back got the same deal. We need more than that from the Times… we need focus and clarity on the broader situation (a city executive branch that is always a little disjoint) and on the right solutions for planning and execution.

  • BTW it’s great that you & Emily & your team dug up these facts and revealed the context/possible result that the current administration was possibly putting the whole thing on hold indefinitely, a state of affairs that would deserve a lot of scorn.

    I’m also glad that the mayor addressed the issue promptly, though it remains to be seen if DEP & DDC really will follow through on making the new water tunnel available to the eastern boroughs as soon as possible.

    That said, when the mayor says his aides communicated poorly, I am inclined to believe him – if, for no other reason, due to the number of times that’s already happened. Getting facts and plans straight on-the-fly has not been this administration’s strong suit, and I do think the city took it for granted when Bloomberg ran a much tighter operation (not everything was perfect with all policies in those years, but this sort of thing rarely happened and was never tolerated)