Today’s Headlines

  • The Nation Shames Cuomo, and de Blasio, for Neglecting the Subway
  • Lhota: System Fixes on Hold Until Cuomo’s “Geniuses” Weigh In (WNYC)
  • Meanwhile, Here’s Another Rave Review From the Tappan Zee Times
  • New Countdown Clocks Welcome E and G Riders to the 20th Century (NY1)
  • Cops in Radio Car Seriously Injure Cyclist Near Union Square; NYPD, News Blame Victim
  • Driver Critically Injures 61-Year-Old Man on Clove Road, Leaves Scene (Advance)
  • Unless He Got a Ticket — Unlikely! — This Driver Still in Good Standing With the TLC (Q Gazette)
  • DOT Is Testing Free Public Bike Pumps (Gothamist)
  • Better Bike Infrastructure May Be Coming to St. George (Advance)
  • Albanese Goes After de Blasio Over Fleet of New Diesel-Burning DSNY Trucks (Post)
  • Nice Voice Primer on the New York Constitutional Convention

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • As much as I long for new rules regarding New York City’s home rule, to hold a constitutional convention at this toxic moment when right-wing loonies are on the rise would be utter madness.

  • Vooch

    Why would NYPD need to DRIVE to Union Square to check out a suspicious package.

    Isn’t it faster to walk ?

    aren’t there dozens of patrol officers in and around Unuon Square always ? It’s great to see the patrol officers on foot, so why aren’t they used ?

  • Larry Littlefield

    On the rise in New York?

    “Labor” has no protection in New York. Special labor has privileges at the expense of other labor. What they are afraid of, and perhaps you too, is…

    1) Term limits. The only “initiative and referendum” item ever passed in NYC in nearly 30 years I&R has been on the books.

    2) An end to the special exemption from state and local income taxes for retired public employees.

    3) An end to a situation where any moment their could be a deal to retroactively increase public employee pensions by any amount, even for those already retired, and those pensions could never be subsequently reduced regardless of how devastating the consequences for the other workers, the ones who do not count.

    There is also the threat of the possible addition of an apparently necessary “and we’re not kidding clause” to provisions requiring equal taxes for similar businesses, help for the poor, etc.

    Finally, how about repudiating all that debt? I’ll vote for it.

  • Vooch

    plus sell off excess assets to use to pay down debt.

    the city owns hundreds of billions of excess assets which could be sold topas down debt

  • Komanoff

    [Jarrett’s “Nation” article initially appeared in “City Limits,” which he edits. No paywall! I posted this comment there. — CK]

    Jarrett, there are many reasons to be grateful for this superb piece, but none more than for defining the fault line between old-line “progressives” like Bill de Blasio and transportation advocates whose view of transportation is more holistic and, ultimately, more inclusive and truly progressive.

    You did this by offering up Mayor de Blasio’s Aug. 15 exhortation to pass his millionaire’s tax to fund transit improvements:

    “We need a millionaire’s tax so that New Yorkers who typically travel in first class pay their fair share so the rest of us can get around, so the rest of us can get to work, so the rest of us can live our lives here in this city.”

    The mayor evidently divides New Yorkers between a 1 percent who travel first class, whatever that is, and a 99 percent who “get around” some other way. Congestion-charging proponents divide New Yorkers going to Manhattan’s Central Business District — the zone we would charge drivers to enter — into the 20 percent who use motor vehicles and the 80 percent who use subways and other forms of transit.

    We would rewrite his statement thus:

    “We need a congestion charge so that New Yorkers who typically travel first class — in motor vehicles — pay their fair share to enter the CBD and give the subways the funding they need so the rest of us can get around, so the rest of us can get to work, so the rest of us can live our lives here in this city.”

    Note that my 20/80 split is actually 15/85, since a quarter of the 20% arriving by vehicle already pay a toll to enter via the tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers (and will not pay an additional entry toll). So in effect, congestion pricing proposals such as the Move NY plan are asking merely that the 15% of CBD “arrivals” do what the other 85% already do: pay a charge.

    It’s stunning that de Blasio denies this frame. In doing so, he is casting his lot with 600,000 individuals who pay nothing to drive into or through the heart of Manhattan, compounding traffic gridlock and waste, and feeding the 3 million who arrive by transit an outmoded, faux populism that can’t deliver the equitable and sustainable subways you and the rest of us long for.

    There’s more to be said, including the fact that the Move NY plan would generate twice as many dollars for transportation as de Blasio’s tax, while also delivering double-digit improvements in street travel times by discouraging some non-essential auto trips. Indeed, it’s the potential to solve transit and traffic in one bold stroke that makes us hopeful that Gov. Cuomo’s forthcoming congestion pricing plan will build on Move NY’s structure.

    As you say, “The moment demands a vision for the progressive force mass transit can be.” Let’s hope your terrific piece inspires Mayor de Blasio to join with the governor and seize the moment.

  • William Lawson

    “A bicyclist smashed head-on into an NYPD cruiser” — it doesn’t get more victim blaming than that. “The cruiser was headed east, in the middle of the street, with lights and sirens activated, but was moving slowly, police sources said.” — well of course it was moving slowly. Of course! I mean if it’s such a big emergency that you’re prepared to drive into oncoming traffic then logic dictates that you’re going to be driving slowly, right? I have no doubt whatsoever that they are lying through their teeth, and shame on the Daily News for enabling and supporting their fabrications.

  • William Lawson

    It may seem like there are dozens of patrol officers around Union Square judging by the number of vans and cruisers that are always parked right there on 14th street, but in reality they’re just using that space as parking. I’ve seen a few assaults taking place in Union Square in which I looked around for a cop and despite there being at least 5-6 police vehicles there, they are nowhere to be seen.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Central Park?

    I think that’s a myth. Kind of like the MTA doesn’t need money, it can just increase advertising of sell off — the train yards.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Let’s hope the Mayor and Governor don’t have a secret agreement to shoot down each other’s plans so they can do nothing, blame in a circle, and keep on selling off the future.

    We’ve been gamed and gamed and gamed by people who are pretending they are not all on the same side.

  • The loony right is emboldened everywhere; if these people are given an opening by a constitutional convention in New York, they will mobilise with enormous resources behind them, and they will reframe discussions in such a way that will hurt the interests of all workers. In addition, the harm to women’s rights, gay rights, environmental protection, and the due process rights of people accused of crimes will be catastrophic. This is simply the wrong time to be messing with this shit.

    Also, term limits won’t cure corruption. It will only create a revolving door between industry lobbyists and the legislature.

    If you are going to use your shameful disrespect towards our heroic public-sector workers (expressed by incessant diatribes against the collective bargaining agreements that our workers secured in a fair and correct manner) as a basis to vote in favour of leaving us all vulnerable to the gutting of our basic legal framework, then you are even more detached from reality than I had previously believed.

    Get it straight: these are dangerous times in America; fascism is on the rise. And New York State is in no way immune to this poisonous movement. Do not be part of the problem.

  • djx

    “(expressed by incessant diatribes against the collective bargaining agreements that our workers secured in a fair and correct manner) as a basis to vote in favour of leaving us all vulnerable to the gutting of our basic legal framework, then you are even more detached from reality than I had previously believed.”


    (PS disclosure – I don’t work for any government, but my mother did)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Sorry, but those deals were the political/union class bargaining with itself. Those deals are like the executive pay negotiations between C-suite executives and their boards.

    And they blackmail too. Remember, if we didn’t bail out the rich in 2008 and 2009 it would be worse for all of us?

    So any complaints about the fairness of the executive/financial class are “socialism.” And any complaints about the fairness of the political/union class are “fascism.” Meanwhile we move further into serfdom and feudalism all the time.

    “Also, term limits won’t cure corruption. It will only create a revolving door between industry lobbyists and the legislature.”

    That’s your description of the City Council? We’ve got a test of your theory right here in NYC, with one legislative body that is term limited, one that is not.

    Disclosure — I worked for the government too.

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, by state law pension increases are acts of the state legislature, and may not be part of any collective bargaining agreement.

  • Vooch

    the land currently blighted by on/off ramps for the Brooklyn Bridge would sell for $1 billion an acre

    how much would the land currently blighted by the FDR sell for ?

  • John

    $1 billion an acre is $23 thousand a square foot. If you really believe that, I have a bridge to sell you…

  • Vooch


    how much is a acre worth on wall street

  • bolwerk

    If the air rights are included, he might not be so far off.

  • bolwerk

    IMHO, the effect of term limits has largely been more corruption. What they mean is nobody can possibly build up a powerbase that is independent of wealthy donors, as a popular politician might occasionally be able to do. Every seat becomes a revolving door, so even the most self-indulgent political goalpost changes from what can I do to keep my seat (or get a better one)? to how much can I do for my donors before my xth term expires? They address absolutely nothing, and probably have the (deliberate?) effect of throwing out the few very good people there are. It’s no coincidence that they are largely favored by right-wingers, either.

    In 2009, the most inept and corrupt people in NYC deemed themselves experts on crisis management and voted themselves extra terms anyway.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Has there been more corruption at the City Council than in the state legislature? I’d say the reverse is true.

    Nobody in the state legislature has an independent power base. They rely on the legislative leaders and certain interests to keep challengers off the ballot.

    Most of them aren’t even first elected in contested elections. They are appointed by the machine in special elections few know about or vote in, generally with just one candidate. We’ve seen that this year, and in years past. Especially in NYC.

  • bolwerk

    If you mean the state’s legislature and the City Council are your test, you’ve probably failed by your own standards. It’s a bit hard to imagine a politician even in Albany who is more aloof from the needs of the citizenry than the current and prior speakers of the City Council. Both Albany and the CC dole out patronage like it’s Miller Lite – except you probably need to be 41 instead of 21 to get any. And Cuomo and de Blasio don’t even seem that much less guilty of, eh, campaign funding irregularities.

    The solution isn’t term limits. Let’s see those cowards introduce proportional representation at a constitutional convention. That’ll shake things up. But small-D democrats would be banned.

  • bolwerk

    If the City Council has less corruption, it’s only because it’s statutorily constrained from doing things that Albany permits itself to do. Term limits can’t be shown to have a measurable relationship to less corruption, but they can be shown to increase soft corruption.*

    In any case, you can say much the same for the NYC Council. The elections are rarely competitive if there isn’t an open seat due to someone finishing out their term.

    * Barack Obama is actually a great example. What message do you suppose big Wall Street speaking fees after he finishes his terms sends to future White House occupants?

  • bolwerk

    The date is troubling. 2019?

    It’s a gamble, but a better year to consider would be 2020, perhaps in the late summer when people are actually politically engaged. Much as fascists are marching again, there has also been a palpable rise in people identifying with progressive policy movements (single payer) and even anti-authoritarian center-left (Sandernistas) and hard-left (antifa) groups.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “In any case, you can say much the same for the NYC Council. The elections are rarely competitive if there isn’t an open seat due to someone finishing out their term.”

    Beats zero elections.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not even sure what you mean. Are you saying that, because term limits might encourage party members to finish out their terms rather than retire at the party’s convenience, that there is an election? The Democratic Party is cynically undemocratic, but primary voters haven’t been shown to make much of a difference in candidate outcomes.

    Again, if you want reform, support proportional representation of some sort.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There are zero real elections for state legislature. Over and over again, those who are leaving do so mid-term, timing it to allow their successor to be, in effect, appointed.

    My former assemblymember provided the closest thing to an election we get. He suddenly announced he was retiring as the month petitioning to get on the ballot started. His designated replacement was tipped off and provided with signatures by the machine. Any other would be Democratic competitors were caught off guard and had no chance to collect all the required signatures to get on the ballot. So the designated replacement ran unopposed.

    The option? The Republican, if there was one. And in the history of this city, the only decent governance we’ve gotten has been from Republicans for the most part. But they don’t seem to be much of an option anymore.

  • bolwerk

    Well, there you go, your city council member. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire too. Yours probably involved a power spat.

    I really can’t think of a decent Republican government in the history of New York City. The closest thing to that is probably too-rich-to-be-called-corrupt Bloomberg, who might have managed to at least be remembered as a good mayor if he didn’t wage a war on black people being in public. LaGuardia liked to break things and call it progress. Giuliani might seriously have been a fascist for reals.

    You can’t possibly mean John Lindsay? Any besides those four is basically a historical footnote.

  • Fool

    I think you misunderstand who has been advocating for a new convention and who has been spending influence money.

    Various union group have been outspending the NYS Bar (really the only organization advocating for a new convention) by about 5 to 1. No real amounts outside money, apart from labor, has been spent lobbying or advocating for a new convention.

    I cannot really find certified evil in the Bar’s lobbying. I can think of many reason to take the risk to end the triumvirate form of government we have today.

  • I guess it is possible to take that optimistic view. But, I still fear the distorting power of the Kochs and of Fox News. For this reason, I am really unwilling to roll the dice in the current climate.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Have you forgotten Andrew Green?

    (Like everyone else).

  • Larry Littlefield

    I think you don’t grasp which way the wind is blowing. Yes they have distorting power, but that power is mostly in Generation Greed and a few young knuckleheads.

    Donald Trump, on most pocketbook issues, ran to the left of the rest of the Republican Party. What happens when he disappoints them and they find out they were conned I do not know.

    And in a more open process, he would have been going up against Bernie Sanders.

    The current administration even feels the need to lie and say the next round of tax cuts for the rich will be revenue neutral and “cost nothing,” just as all those retroactive pension increases and early retirement incentives all over the country “cost nothing” or “saved money.”

    In each case the question is how stupid are people, when will the realize they have been lied to and cheated and rise up to do something about it, how easily can they be diverted to scapegoats, and for how long? Forever? Can’t fool all of the people all the time.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure that is strengthening your claim about Republican governance of this city. 😀

  • The thing that LaGuardia broke was Tammany Hall corruption.

    Lindsay was a principled and passionate advocate for the poor. (In other words: he actually was what de Blasio claims to be.)

    Bloomberg had a genuine concern for public health. Toward that end, he reclaimed huge swathes of land for use by the masses in the forms of bike lanes and pedestrianised zones. Despite his very real flaws, this is his lasting legacy.

    But, even though New York’s three greatest mayors were Republicans none of these three had much in common with typical Republican values — values which were all too frighteningly displayed by the monstrous Giuliani.

    There are no Republicans like the compassionate Lindsay or the democratic (small D) LaGuardia or the fervently public-sprited Bloomberg in New York today. They are all backward racists and anti-worker, anti-gay, and anti-reproductive-rights zealots. Compared to one of them, any hack Democrat is preferable.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure Tammany Hall was ever half as bad as Robert Moses alone. New York would have a lot of neighborhoods it doesn’t have anymore without LaGuardia. It might also have preserved some of its streetcars. It’s possible the subway would be more extensive.

    Morally, Lindsay is probably one of the better NYC mayors, but in our entire history we arguably never even had an effective one who wasn’t supremely evil.

  • Vooch

    “Donald Trump, on most pocketbook issues, ran to the left of the rest of the Republican Party”

    mostly true

  • Vooch

    thank you bol. – for backing me up

  • sbauman

    “We need a congestion charge so that New Yorkers who typically travel first class — in motor vehicles — pay their fair share to enter the CBD …

    Let’s be more precise. What you’re advocating is a cordon toll around the CBD. Whether or not this results in a congestion charge depends on the relation between congestion within the CBD and the number of vehicles that are tolled.

    There was insufficient data to establish such a relation in the past. Placing GPS devices in yellow cabs has overcome this problem. There’s now easily obtained and consistent data to match the cordon counts. Does this new data support the hypothesis that reducing the CBD cordon count will increase vehicle speed or reduce travel time within the CBD?

    NYCDOT’s 2017 Mobility Report does not show such a relation between 2010 and 2015. These are the only years for which data is available.

    The number of vehicles entering the CBD is shown in the top row of the figure in the link, referenced above. The average travel speed is shown in the bottom row. The correlation between them is 85%. What this means statistically is: an increased the number of vehicles entering the CBD is actually associated with increased travel speed within the CBD!

    This is exactly the opposite relation that congestion charging implemented by cordon tolls is supposed to produce.

  • bolwerk

    He ran to the left of the Democratic Party, in fact.

  • bolwerk

    Optimistic, pessimistic, I don’t know. Timing counts though. The wrong time benefits bad guys.

    Eventually the risk would have to be taken, or we’d have to stick with the status quo.