Today’s Headlines

  • Trump’s Budget Threatens Big New York Transit Projects (NYT)
  • Drunk, Unlicensed Driver Kills Cyclist Gelasio Reyes in Sunnyside (News, ABC7)
  • Meanwhile, NYPD’s in Bike Crackdown Mode (ABC7)
  • Pedestrian Islands and Signalized Crossings Coming to Busy Stretch of Jamaica Ave (DNA)
  • The State of Subway Elevators and Escalators Is Not Acceptable (Post)
  • Chinatown Bus Company Yep Tour Sues City for Discrimination (DNA)
  • Turning Bus Driver Seriously Injures 52-Year-Old Woman in Ridgewood (News, DNA)
  • Drunk Driver Who Killed Bus Driver Convicted of Manslaughter, Not Murder (News)
  • Abolish Parking Placards (Post)
  • The Times Did an Empathy-for-Trump-Voters Story About Queens CB 4 Member Ann Pfoser Darby
  • Most People Who Kill With a Car Never Face Penalties as Steep as These Cyclists Who Rolled Reds (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    And yet with no federal funding at all, New York City has $13.5 billion to replace Rikers Island.

    Because the buildings there have been abusing and tormenting prisoners.
    (Couldn’t be unionized, politically active public employees, who would also be staffing the new facilities. Or politically appointed management. Must be the buildings.)

  • Fool

    Yes but they vote as a block!

  • Vooch

    The Parking Placard story in the Post is a good one – described a Doctor buddy of Bratton who got his placard yanked for abuse

  • Larry Littlefield

    Them and the judges they caught knocking off early, rather than finishing all their bail/no need for bail hearings, so those arrested on these type of minor crimes had to spend days in jail.

  • ohnonononono

    “Tear down the buildings and start over” is a really compelling easy answer to a lot of complicated questions. See: this country’s urban renewal era, where we imagined that people could rise out of poverty if we only removed the “obsolete” housing stock. The fact that rich people now pay top dollar to live in former Manhattan tenements would be confounding to the progressive reformers of the era.

    How do you shake up “unionized, politically active public employees” that refuse reform? I’m sure some of the cynical underlying motivation– not publicly stated– is that physically moving things can be used as an excuse to reorganize management and labor and break old habits by creating new physical correctional locations.

    We also have the idea that “smaller is better” — conservatives hate big government; liberals hate big corporations. Everyone loves local control. Rikers is a big, infamous, scary place, but with jails in each borough it feels like we could never allow such abuse to go on so close to home!

    The activists who have little to no interest in the day-to-day annoyances of local government are saying to close Rikers now. There is no unified opinion on what to do beyond that, but de Blasio knows supporting this broad goal is likely very popular. The ins-and-outs of how it’s done is of course the hard part. Much like supporting affordable housing, homeless shelters, etc. is easy but actually building any of it is opposed by the neighbors who also broadly support it being built anywhere but there.

  • Joe R.

    The little problem those who say “tear down Rikers” are forgetting is going to be exactly what you mention in your last sentence. I remember the fierce local opposition when then-mayor David Dinkins proposed building homeless shelters throughout the five boroughs so the city could close the big, “scary” homeless shelters. That opposition will likely pale next to what you’ll see when people hear a jail is going to be built right around the corner. I’m personally not familiar with the present state of Rikers but if indeed it’s becoming physically decrepit or functionally obsolete maybe the best solution is to just build new facilities in the same location. If need be, make several smaller ones instead of one large one. I’m pretty sure the idea of making local jails in every borough will be DOA. People complained about drug clinics or facilities housing AIDs babies. I’m not seeing any chance of them allowing a jail to be built.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure a jail would necessarily be viewed WORSE… Not good, so perhaps moot… but… a giant homeless shelter can be much more menacing because the frightening population is free to come and go!

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I’m sure some of the cynical underlying motivation– not publicly stated– is that physically moving things can be used as an excuse to reorganize management and labor and break old habits by creating new physical correctional locations.”

    Didn’t really work with the schools. Or merging all those agencies into the “superagencies” under the Lindsay Administration by just adding a layer and keeping everything the same underneath.

    I saw an interview with a former corrections manager about the problems. She said that closing Rikers won’t solve anything if you end up with all the same problems in a new location.

    And $13.5 billion? Come on!

  • ohnonononono

    Of course… and if you look back, moving the jail to Rikers was supposed to solve all the infamous problems it had on Blackwell’s Island. And the “close Rikers” report also recommends that once the jail is moved, Rikers Island’s name will need to be changed because of its bad association, just like we did with Blackwell’s!

  • AMH

    “police are cracking down on dangerous riding.”

    No, they’re cracking down on riding.

  • AnoNYC

    IT’S ALL HAPPENING: MTA Board Approves 15-Month L Train Shutdown

  • Joe R.

    Probably true but it’s a given nobody is going to want a jail near where they live. Or a homeless shelter. And frankly I can’t blame them. Between the high taxes and high housing costs, those things are adding insult to injury. If you could still find apartments for a few hundred a month, then maybe you might expect those things in your area. The hard fact is one of the reasons people are willing to pay a lot for housing in this city is the expectation that the city will deal with its problems somewhere else. In that respect, Rikers Island is really the perfect location for a jail.

  • bolwerk

    You probably hit on something akin to sublimation or displacement. BdB probably can’t admit (to himself) that agents of the state can abuse power, nor can those agents serve a purpose that is hostile to the needs of the public.

    Well, strictly speaking, we have the money. No jail at the scale of Rikers is necessary, and I doubt any other first world city has a jail at that scale. I know New Yorkers Are Very Ill-Behaved is a popular meme with purportedly liberal New Yorkers, but ultimately Rikers is just part of the poverty pimp welfare system. Without it, and with nothing replacing it, we would only be better off.

  • bolwerk

    Close it now, don’t replace it, and stop arresting people over bullcrap.

    The real challenge really is what to do with all the civil servants. Not just prison guards at Rikers, but cops who arrest people to put them there, prosecutors who contrive charges and plea deals, and public defenders who urge those deals to be accepted.

  • bolwerk

    Except by and large the shelter population is not particularly menacing. The “menacing” homeless are the mentally ill who can’t find their ways into shelters, and they probably just need more professional help than our society is willing to offer them.

  • First, court-appointed attorneys are not civil servants, as New York City has no office of public defender. Those attorneys work either for a nonprofit institutional defender that has a contractual relationship with the City (either the venerable Legal Aid Society or the latter-day groups that exist in the four significant boroughs), or else as part of a panel that is staffed by private attorneys and whose members are paid a flat hourly rate (“18-B attorneys”).

    Second, these defence attorneys control absolutely nothing about a process that is absurdly weighted against the interests of defendants, notwithstanding the (largely fictitious) Constitutionally-mandated presumption of innocence. The advice to take a plea in any given case is always a strategic move that is based on a comparison to the likelihood of losing at trial, a calculus which is inextricably tied to the aforementioned anti-defence weighting of a system which condones systematic prosecutorial misconduct such as overcharging and the undermining of the guarantee of a speedy trial. It is only in the Bronx, where the realities of police terror are most intimately understood across the population, where defendants can sometimes get what approximates a fair trial. But abuse of speedy-trial laws is no less rampant there than in any other borough.

    Defenders would welcome an end to overpolicing on the part of an unaccountable and brutal police force, and the concomitant reduction in caseloads to a reasonable level; and they would absolutely flip out over real oversight on the torture of prisoners (including sexual abuse) that is endemic at the Rikers Island concentration camp.

    Do not group the defenders who protect the interests of victims of state terror with the monstrous perpetrators of this terror.

  • bolwerk

    I’m aware. I more or less agree with you and was glossing over the details because I was tired. But while I agree Legal Aid is a good group, but there is a fair amount of lazy defense in NYC too – though perhaps that all goes back to underfunding.

  • That lazy defence is spelt “18-B”. The private lawyers who work on the Assigned Counsel panel make a lot less per hour on their assigned cases than they do on their private cases. So their economic interests dictate that they devote more attention to their private clients.

    What’s more, 18-B lawyers are usually from small offices or are solo practioners. They thus lack the supervisory overview that lawyers from Legal Aid and the other institutional defenders enjoy. The institutional defenders also have specialised units that handle investigation and research, providing a support structure that is not possible in a small private firm.