Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Never Stops Deflecting Responsibility for the MTA to de Blasio (PoliticoNews, AMNYPost)
  • Police Didn’t Try to Track Down Driver Who Injured Brandy Williams, Now Two Kids Are Dead (News)
  • Thousands March for Justice for Saheed Vassell in Crown Heights (News)
  • RPA Breaks Down Where New MTA Revenue Will Go
  • DOT Studying Fare and Service Changes to Make LIRR/Metro-North More Useful to New Yorkers (Crain’s)
  • MTA: Rockaway Beach Branch Reactivation Study Coming Soon  (QChron)
  • Daily News: If the BQX Doesn’t “Pay for Itself” Don’t Do It
  • Union Turnpike Getting Repaved as the Same Old Dangerous Urban Speedway (QChron)
  • DOT Starts to Fix Curb Cut Chaos at Gas Station By Sunset Park School (Bklyn Paper)
  • Damned E-Bikes (BxTimes)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The attitude seems to be this: New York City politicians want higher taxes, and want the unions to be allowed to deliver less in return. So we’ll do that, and have the city also pay for the rest of the state to have lower taxes, more services, and just as much featherbedding, if not more.

    Transit is only part of the big picture.

    Why did the state underfunded NYC schools for years, and only change this in association with a massive retroactive pension increase for NYC teachers that sucked up all the money? (And why does Cynthia Nixon demand more money for schools when they already got it, and there was not one year when school spending in total didn’t go up).

    Why do NYC residents pay for a higher share of Medicaid expenditures with local taxes than to residents of any other area of the state?

    Why do NYC residents have to pay more in state taxes so that every other area of the
    state except NYC can get municipal aid — including wealthy, exclusive suburbs that wouldn’t want to be associated with NYC otherwise?

    Why is NYC not allowed to limit its local government employment to city residents, but every other area of the state is allowed to have such limitations to prevent NYC residents from getting those jobs?

    Why is it likely that as part of that IDC deal, there will be yet another pension increase for those cashing in and moving out at the expense of even more service cuts and tax increases in the next recession.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    If the rest of the state is going to ride on the backs of younger and poorer people in NYC, they should at least be forced to face the fact that they are doing do. Instead of also being treated to “we’re tired of being ripped off by New York City” rhetoric.

    The unions, the seniors, the rest of the state. No one in public life can say a word against them, and challenge all the deals in their favor. It’s all under Omerta. Wall Street and the one percent pillage too, but at least people are allowed to say so.

  • Fool

    If only we were not run by Democratic Machine Politics…

    Billy b should propose all MTA fares go up to costs (including overhead).

    Then wrap that bitter pill in fair fares movement.

    Then maybe pressure on costs will actually materialize. Hiding costs as a public good with tax revenue is what let this happen. The middle class directly paying (instead of indirectly paying through taxation) $6 Subway rides and $50 LIRR rides will have a impact.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Fine, but a whole lot of the costs are not actually the cost of service at all. Disclose that, as I suggested for New Jersey, and maybe younger generations will realize what older generations have done for them.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/will-new-jerseys-phil-murphy-be-the-first-to-tell-the-truth-about-generation-greed/

    “Your fare is $3.00. And your Generation Greed surcharge is $1.50.” “You paid $60. You have a $40 Metrocard, and paid a $20 Generation Greed surcharge.”

    We have a whole edifice of fraud and lies designed to prop up the entitlement and self-regard of those born before 1958 or so. They want those costs from the past mixed in with services from the present, and it’s bi-partisan.

    The MTA needs “more money.” The schools need “more money.” All for less. Why? They don’t want this discussed. You are a fool to think it is a fair solution to stick it to younger and future public workers to make up for what those older have done to us, while exempting the latter from the future they have arranged.

    The alterative might be a change in attitude “we don’t want that to be our legacy, and we’ll share the sacrifices.” By perhaps one-quarter of them.

  • Fool

    “Where does the money come from?” asked Cuomo. “There’s only three
    options in life. You can raise fares and tolls. You can expand
    congestion pricing, but that would probably take you about three years
    if you expedited it. Or government is going to have to ante up and put
    more money in the pot, which is the simplest and cleanest option.”

    That Is not an option! More money is the only option!

  • Larry Littlefield

    It is for retroactive pension increases that were already passed, and debts that were already incurred, in the past.

    Unless we want to talk about bankruptcy and default. Which is why the unions and political class wanted to squealch that constitutional convention, and why these realities are under Omerta.

  • This troll continues to belch out anti-worker hate speech, shamefully spitting in the eye of those who built our civilisation, and refusing to acknowledge the fact that a society owes its public workers a comfortable retirement.

    The generation which this troll monomaniacally maligns did things the right way. Subsequent generations failed to follow that good example; and that’s entirely on them.

  • Ian Turner

    There’s nothing wrong with pensions per se, but money should be set aside for them at the time the work is done. Otherwise you’re just making promises for others to keep.

  • The level of pensions for public employees should not be untouchable, because no one can know what conditions will prevail in the future.

    And of couse it amounts to promises for others to keep. In a sane society, we would recognise that every generation has the obligation to support the preceding generation in its retirement.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Except for Generation Greed, which inherited things, and cashed them in but didn’t pass them on.

    Like I said maybe a quarter, or if one wants to be optimistic a third. But with Donald Trump, THE MAN of his generation in the White House, it’s hard to be optimistic.

  • AnoNYC

    A New York City Bus camera program expansion, increasing the time of day such camera program (from 7am-7pm to 6am to 10pm), and the installation of at least 50 new traffic monitoring cameras to enforce bus lane violations that impede mass transit service and create congestion. It directs the MTA to equip New York City Transit SBS buses operating below 96th Street with at least 50 new traffic monitoring cameras to enforce bus lane violations. Cameras will only be put on buses on already authorized bus SBS routes. The clause will still sunset in 2020 (which is unchanged from the previous authorization language).

    So the city is limited to a certain number of bus lane cameras per route as well? Insane. 6-10 am is an improvement too.

  • Vooch

    gov’t employees did not build our civilization

  • The people who worked for our public institutions in the middle part of the 20th century did indeed create what we know as civilisation. That cohort were in their prime at a time when working for our public institutions was seen as the honourable work it is; and they did their jobs with pride. Their excellence created the expectations that we carry with us to this day. We owe those people a comfortable living in their retirement. Nothing can remove our moral obligation to the heroic generation which did things the right way.

    What’s more, they did things the right way not only as employees, but also as workers. They as workers defended their class interests by being part of good strong unions, and thereby securing appropriate compensation.

    Unfortunately, the generations who followed were too stupid and too selfish to follow this example. We forgot our class interests, and we swallowed absurd individualist fantasies that did nothing but disempower us and strengthen our class enemies.

    When we workers notice that our standard of living is lower than that of the people who worked in the mid-20th century, we need to blame ourselves and no one else. We as workers failed ourselves by letting unionisation slip. We’re chumps who handed back every gain that our predecessors had won.

  • Vooch

    Ferdinand,

    Sorry to disagree.

    Gov’t employees never ever create value by definition.

    Their activities are paid via involuntary extractions ( aka taxes ). If they created value, they would be easily paid through voluntary exchange.

    Just try and ask Eric Garner about the civilizing effect of gov’t employees and their involuntary extractions

  • kevd

    Light Rail with dedicated rights of way on heavily used routes = Good!
    Convoluted Light Rail in mixed traffic that parallels nearby existing (superior) options and that only serves to increase real estate values = Bad!

    Hopefully de Blasio hasn’t poisoned the Light Rail well with his BQX horseshit, because light rail could be extremely useful in many parts of NY City.

  • kevd

    “civiliZation”
    This is America, buddy! you can keep your Trotskyite “sations” in Ingerlund where they belong!

  • kevd

    What’s funny to normal human beings not intellectually hamstrung by doctrinaire ideologies is……

    You’re both wrong!

  • Vooch

    Eric Garner ?

  • kevd

    PBLs?

  • Vooch
  • kevd

    So PBLs do create value, or they like, don’t man?

    put another way, they ARE value or they are not value?

    you know. man…

  • I opt for British-style spellings on aesthetic grounds.

    And I am no Trotskyite. Trotsky was a counter-revolutionary traitor who was justifiably eliminated.

  • kevd

    oh good god.
    I find it hard to believe, but I was actually giving you far too much credit with my humorous “trotskyite”

  • Fred

    Trotsky was a political refugee who was assassinated by your hero Joseph Stalin.

  • Killer cops are a whole different subject. I thought that you were smart enough to understand that. Clearly I was mistaken.

    Attacks on the idea of taxation have no legitimate place in discussions on public policy. We have public institutions that fulfill important functions and serve the common interest. These institutions are rightfully funded by taxes.

    The problem is that these institutions are being starved, as Americans refuse to accept an appropriate level of taxation. Every time you hear “about cash-strapped local governments” you are hearing evidence that our taxes are far too low. Our taxes should be several times what they are, with no loopholes.

    The lack of a government, which is what irresponsible anti-tax rhetoric promotes, would be a nightmare. The private sector, unfettered by laws and regulation, would produce a dystopian society with levels of inequality far more extreme than anything we see today. It would be a society in which the trappings of civilisation would be available only to an elite stratum, with the majority living under violent repression carried out by private armies.

    When our publicly-employed police forces go bad, there exists the remedy of reform by means of electing leaders who will implement change. The obstacles to this are politicians who game the system and ill-informed voters who languish in ignorance; but the remedy still exists to be used, if voters choose.

    By contrast, when private security forces act in a murderous fashion, absolutely no means of redress is available. If you are so concerned about Eric Garner, then understand that you are advocating a system in which Eric Garner-style murders would be everyday occurrences, and there would be absolutely nothing that anyone could do about it.

  • Stalin is by no means my hero. His megalomania brought about the end of the proletarian state in the Soviet Union. And his purges initiated a system of state terror which replaced the former responsible governance by members of the working class.

    There are historical lies and distortions connected to Stalin, the most serious being the Ukrainian famine. The lies enshrined in Western orthodoxy hold that this was an intentional policy on the part of Stalin. In reality, the famine was mainly a natural disaster whose effects were exacerbated by sabotage on the part of the private owners who oppressed farm workers and whom Soviet state policy was trying to eradicate.

    But Stalin’s murderous excesses were inexcusable, as he failed to distinguish between threats to the proletarian state and personal grudges. For every actual threat to the proletarian state who was killed on the order of Stalin (such as Trotsky), there were thousands more who were simply personal enemies or who ran afoul of his many irrational prejudices.

    Stalin hated Jews, so Jewish persecution became Soviet state policy. Amongst the earliest victims of his purges were Esperantists, as the language’s creator was a Jew. Esperanto in the Soviet Union went from being celebrated and being featured on postage stamps in the 1920s to being outlawed in the 1930s.

    The point here is that noting the appropriateness of Trotsky’s killing implies no broad support of Stalin. I senounce Stalin, speaking both as an Esperantist and as a Leninist.

  • Everybody has an ideology. The act of labelling mine “doctrinaire” (while yours is not, of course) illustrates an endemic Western narcissism.

    Ideology is the basis of morality. But a rational person rejects dogma.

  • Fool

    Taxation and civil servant pay is a discussion about marginal changes.

    It can easily be argued that civil servant pay and taxation in OK being increased world be a net benefit to society.

    It can also be argued that civil servant pay and taxation being increased in NY would be a net detriment to society.

    I am definitely civil servant extremely broadly, both direct and indirect employees. And fluctuations between subgroups clearly exist.

  • Vooch

    The state currently consumes 42% of GDP. You believe that isn‘t enough ?

    If you have involuntary taxation, by definition you have Eric Garner.

  • Joe R.

    The so-called “greatest generation” were the ones we had to thank for the rise in middle class living standards. They sacrificed to win WWII, rebuilt Europe and Japan after the war into stable, prosperous democracies, and helped enshrine basic worker’s rights into law. They also installed a basic social safety net. Most of them are dead now but we did take care of them in their old age.

    The generation Larry complains about are the children of the greatest generation. They undid much of what their parents did in the name of enriching themselves. When you look at the legislation they passed, it was all done solely for their benefit at whatever stage of life they happened to be in.

    Some examples:

    1) They went to school, often helped by student loans which many later defaulted on. Of course, they didn’t care about the taxpayers on the hook for their unpaid as they spent much of their youth smoking pot and going to protests instead of working or defending their country, as their parents had. Once they started paying taxes, they resented anyone doing what they did, so they passed as series of onerous laws which make it virtually impossible to get out of paying student loans. Part of the system they helped put into place includes collection fees which can increase the amount a defaulted borrower owes by multiples. And not coincidentally they’re the ones who own collection agencies, and hence benefit greatly off the misfortunes of people who often through no fault of their own can’t repay their students loans.

    2) When the hippies of the 1960s become the yuppies of the 1980s they resented the amount of money taken out in taxes. This started the Reagan revolution and all that followed. They knew well trickle-down economics was BS but they didn’t care. As high earners they benefited the most from tax cuts. So blame the present starvation of public institutions to them.

    3) Many who worked in public service were represented by unions who brokered deals which were unaffordable in the long term. They knew this, but used smoked and mirrors like using the return in boom years as the basis for pension funds. When the shit hit the fan they kept their benefits in place, but added tiers (or more appropriately “tears”) which gave lower pay and benefits to new workers.

    4) They grew up in a time when the motorcar was ascendant. As a result, transportation policy was directed to building highways and keeping oil prices low. Several trillion dollars for two wars is one reason the national debt is so high. After all, they were the primary beneficiaries of these wars but heaven forbid they actually paid for them. Instead, they passed the cost on to future generations. You also have this generation to thank for the current animus to forms of transport other than private autos.

    5) They passed another round of tax cuts which not coincidentally will expire just as they’re ending their working years.

    6) They cut Social Security benefits for those in the generations that followed by raising the full retirement age. There may well be further cuts, but not for them.

    Doubtless Larry has loads more examples but those were the ones I could think of off the top of my head. If you want to pick a generation to admire, it’s the greatest generation. They were the selfless heroes who sacrificed to make things better for those who followed. Their kids were the polar opposite. It will take 100 years to undo the damage they did.

  • Joe R.

    I hope you know a Stalin is the inevitable result of a top-down, state-run system. Communism and planned economies sounds great in theory, but most people won’t voluntarily pull their weight unless there’s something in it for them. That’s why you end up with a state-run apparatus to use force to coerce people into producing. Or you end up with near universal poverty when people remain idle because they have little to gain by producing, followed by the collapse of the system. The USSR remained viable for so long only because of the state-run system of terror courtesy of people like Stalin. Eventually that system exists solely for its own preservation. Better yet just read the following quotes from 1984 which put it much better than I can:

    “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

    “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

    “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    And of course you have the infamous “Room 101”.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, sometimes I think Ferdinand might have been right at home back in 1920 or so. Of course, we all know how the great communist experiment turned out. In defense of those who started it, they had no way of knowing this. Honestly, I think communism was something which had to be tried. The mistake was clinging to it for so long after realizing it was an abject failure because it was counter to the human spirit. You can’t create true equality because people aren’t equal. You also can’t expect those who can produce a lot more to be content with the same standard of living as those who produce very little.

    I’m also pretty sure capitalism will join communism in the dustbin of history. Granted, it has had much better results for much longer, but the basic premise of capitalism, namely unfettered growth, can’t continue indefinitely so long as humans have a planet with limited resources. Not sure what will replace capitalism, but it might be something resembling socialism, but with robots producing most goods and services, coupled with extreme limits on reproduction.

  • Joe R.

    I agree a private sector unfettered by laws and regulation would be a monumental disaster but a system with huge government intrusion is nearly as bad.

    And I’m curious exactly what you think is an appropriate level of taxation. I personally think the wealthy should be paying a lot more and many working stiffs a lot less. Tell someone just getting by on an average salary, and paying maybe 25% in taxes, that they should be paying several times what they are. In my opinion you shouldn’t pay any income or payroll taxes until you’re making at least twice the federal poverty level. Those taxes you do pay should be highly progressive. I might have tax brackets something like this:

    0 to 2x FPL (Federal Poverty Level): 0%
    2x to 5x FPL: 10%
    5x to 7.5x FPL: 15%
    7.5x to 10x FPL: 20%
    10x to 15x FPL: 30%
    15x to 20x FPL: 40%
    20x to 25x FPL: 50%
    25x to 30x FPL: 60%
    30x to 35x FPL: 70%
    40x to 45x FPL: 80%
    45x to 50x FPL: 90%
    above 50x FPL: 100%

    FPL is about $14K for a single person. Under this system most working stiffs would be paying a lot less in taxes than now, and most of those making Wall Street salaries or higher would be paying a lot more. There would be zero reason to pay anyone over 50x FPL (about $700K) because 100% of the excess would go in taxes. That alone would help reduce the pay disparity between CEOs and line workers. A CEO should make more than line workers, but not 50 or 100 times more.

  • By quoting that intellectual charlatan, you lose. There is probably no one whom I despise more than Blair, an ideological opponent of the organised working class, of Esperanto, and of rationality in general. He was a troll before we had the word for it.

  • Joe R.

    Regardless, the fact is communism only works if force is used. To be fair, the same can be said of capitalism, except that you need a lot less coercion to get people to produce when they’re rewarded in proportion to the fruits of their labor.

  • Fred

    Wow, the one who is always lecturing people about the moral imperative of stopping at red lights turns out to be OK with murder! That is quite a flexible moral system.

  • I am neither a pacifist nor an anarchist. Therefore, I accept the proposition that a state may defend itself — no less so our proletarian state, the world’s first state based not on the historic evils of gods, kings, or property, but on self-government by workers. It is on these grounds that the killing of Trotsky is justified.

    By contrast, the vast majority of the killings carried out under Stalin’s orders have no possible justification.

  • First of all, do not cast management on the part of the public administration as “government intrusion”; in fact, that is precisely why we have governments. A government is not something apart from us; it is simply our tool for managing the affairs of life.

    You could easily tell someone who is getting by on an average salary that his/her taxes should be several times higher by mentioning that, in return for those taxes, there would be no out-of-pocket expenses for health care, education (primary, secondary, vocational, university, post-graduate), or public transit.

    What’s more, municipalites could buy up properties as a means of keeping rents in check. Public housing should not be synonymous with “housing for the poor”; ideally the majority of renters in any city would be living in housing that is owned and managed by the municipal government.

    Of course, housing for the poor is an important thing; and public coffers that are flush would allow those units to be comfortably inhabitable. Appropriately high taxes would also make it possible for governments to provide other benefits enabling impoverished people to eat more healthily, which in turn would alleviate strain on the health-care system. And overall better living conditions would drastically reduce the likelihood of people turning to crime as a means of supporting themselves, thereby returning a benefit to the entire society in the form of safety and security and a more peaceful life.

    As far as capping the top earners at $300,000 in take-home pay, and a progressive tax that rises eventually to 100%, I am completely on board with that. The top earners are ripping off the rest of us by means of their tax avoidance.

  • kevd

    It requires an obscene level of willful self-delusion to regard Lenin as anything other than a blood soaked, murderous despot. A bit like climate change deniers today. Whenever facts get in the way, pretend they don’t exist or pretend they are lies.
    Leninists were crying “Fake news” long before, and far more effectively than the orange buffoon in the oval office.
    Not that the Russian empire wasn’t sorely in need of revolution of course (like Cuba a few decades later).
    How one combines a self-professed leninism with a preference for British spelling conventions I have no idea. American English may not have the orthographic efficiency of Russian, but its miles ahead of British English.
    The Z in civilization and our preference for -er over -re are two of our most sensical spelling conventions. I’m not sure what is more aesthetically pleasing about -re, -our and -sation….
    A slavish devotion to aristocracy, possibly?

    One of the few decent things the soviet union ever did (along with save the world from the Nazis and build the Moscow metro) was eliminate the hard sign from the end of nearly every Russian word. The old saying is that doing so cut War and Peace by 50 pages but I have no idea if that’s true.

  • Lenin was the galvanising force in history’s greatest revolution. He was a former political prisoner who heroically led the vanguard party that unified the masses to achieve the toppling of an oppressive regime and the founding of the first state that was not based on any of the traditional evils of gods, kings, or property, but instead on self-government by workers. This represents the high point of human history.

    While the Soviet Union was far from perfect, it worked very well in the interests of workers for quite some time, despite being menaced internally by terrorists and externally by foreign agression. (The U.S. and Britain invaded in 1920, aided by the remnants of the White Army.) The Soviet Union recognised the equal rights of women well before the U.S. or any European country did, thanks to the removal of the backward influence of the church. State policy strove to weaken the institution of marriage, which allowed women to initiate divorce proceedings and even to obtain abortions. (Stalin reversed much of this, amongst his innumerable bad acts.)

    Any class-conscious worker must hold dear that period when we workers actually ruled, before our functioning proletarian state was destroyed by a madman who betrayed every principle which had driven the Revolution.

    Regarding the British-style spellings, my preference for them is based mainly on those forms looking nicer: “colour” is prettier than “color”; “centre” is prettier than “center”; and the words in -ise have a serenity to them, while the ending -ize appears downright barbaric. These were feelings that I had had for a long time; and then, perhaps twenty years ago, I just decided to give in and start using my preferred forms on an everyday basis.

    I also have a longstanding love for various aspects of English popular culture. So my adoption of British spellings has to do not with Lenin but with Lennon, as well as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, the Who, and Black Sabbath. I am also very much into English comedy such as Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Two Ronnies, The Goon Show, and also the Douglas Adams books.

    Then, about fifteen years ago, I started watching English football and reading English newspapers daily. It was then that I discovered how great The Guardian is; for example, I first saw Glenn Greenwald in that paper. And, in the past several years I have read at least a dozen of the Jeeves books by the genius P.G. Wodehouse, whom I now call my favourite author.

    So, in additon to the aesthetic angle, the choice to use British-style spellings feels like a tribute to all of these wonderful English cultural expressions that I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy.