Pirro: Why Not Make Reckless Driving into Your Issue?

jeanine_albert.jpgRepublican lobbyist and convicted tax-evader Albert J. Pirro is the husband of Jeanine F. Pirro, the law-n-order Westchester prosecutor and Republican candidate for state Attorney General. Albert was busted the other day in White Plains for doing 51 in a 25 mph school zone – just two months after being clocked at 98 in a 55 zone.

He feels persecuted: "The cops singled out my black Mercedes-Benz," he said. "Other drivers were going just as fast."

What would Jeanine say to a mugger who complained that since other muggers get away with their crimes, he should too?

Jeanine, no doubt, feels embarrassed. The media are already dredging up past Albert shenanigans like his 2000 conviction and 11-month jail term for tax evasion, his extramarital affairs, and his stint in a mental hospital. They should use the opportunity, instead, to focus on candidate Pirro’s stance on dangerous driving.

Over 1,500 people were killed in road traffic crashes in New York State in 2003 (the most recent year with available data), many of them by speeding, aggressive or otherwise self-entitled drivers – drivers like confirmed menace Albert Pirro. Road crashes were by far the largest cause of violent death in New York, killing 64% more people than were murdered (1,581 vs. 963). Ditto for children. And yet, today Pirro re-hyped her claim that pedophiles are "the most important public safety issue of our time." For real?

New York is notorious for letting killer-drivers off the hook. Unless you are caught DUI or you kill a cop, you walk. Motor vehicle deaths are written off as "accidents" and almost never prosecuted. Would Attorney General Pirro act to change that? Will she add a get-tough-on-dangerous-driving plank to her campaign? And as AG, how would she charge a two-time, unrepentant speeder who knowingly put kids at risk for a few seconds of saved time?

The Pirro campaign’s first instinct, surely, is to try to stop talking about Albert as quickly as possible. Fair or not, Pirro’s husband has and will continue to define Jeanine’s campaign. Perhaps, the only possible way to turn the issue into a positive is for Pirro to make reckless driving into her own issue. If the Republican candidate for Attorney General is a tough as she says she is, here is a way for her to prove it to New Yorkers.

Michael J. Smith contributed to this piece.

  • Or Cuomo could totally bury her on the issue!

  • Compare the trajectory of recent NJ AG Zulima Farber – passed over once (by McGreevey) for her bad driving record, then brought down as Corzine’s AG for intervening in her boyfriend’s traffic stop. Our road culture is so bad that a traffic scofflaw can become a state’s top law enforcement official.

  • brent

    Thanks again to Streetsblog for more brilliant commentary. In just a few paragraphs you have touched on many aspects of the problem with supporting examples aplenty. It is so refreshing to finally see motorist culture put into perspective. The question is what can we do to enact real change, at faster than a snail’s pace, in a climate of a public, media, and political scene that empathize with reckless drivers? I want radical change and I want it now!

  • Brent — thanks for your support and passion. The Traffic Justice Institute, a brand-new initiative spearheaded by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, is gearing up to create the rapid, radical change you seek. You can link to TJI at http://www.bikewalk.org/tji.php. Best, Charles


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