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Where’s John? Senate Leader Flanagan Spent the Day NOT Working on Speed Cameras

3:46 PM EDT on July 23, 2018

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (left, being congratulated by speed camera opponent Simcha Fielder in an unrelated 2015 event) says he will not call his chamber back into session this week to take up speed cameras — and blamed the governor, Democrats and safety advocates. Photo: NY Senate

And with two days before New York City's speed cameras go dark, the State Senate did...nothing.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk) spent Monday addressing "a number of things," according to a spokesman, but not the issue of life-saving speed cameras, which will be turned off on July 25 if the Senate does not get back to work.

Flanagan had nothing public on his schedule on Monday, the spokesman, Scott Reif, added.

"We have nothing new to report," Reif said.

It's up to Flanagan to call his Senate colleagues back into session to pass an Assembly-approved bill that would extend the cameras and double their number in the city. The existing 140 school-zone cameras will be deactivated on July 25, whenever a school's summer school session ends for the day, a source told Streetsblog. The legislature is out of session for the year.

The cameras have proven to be extremely effective at reducing speeding, with more than 80 percent of scofflaws not getting a second ticket, more than 63 percent less speeding and 50 percent fewer crashes, statistics show.

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo demanded that Flanagan call the special session. And Senator Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) said he would support a special session to pass it — though his word on the bill has been "good for nothing," as Streetsblog put it last week.

On Saturday, protesters rallied at Flanagan's Long Island home, many angered by a comment by Flanagan aide Candice Giove, who told the New York Daily News that supporters of safe streets -- including several parents whose children were killed by reckless drivers -- were politicizing the Senate's failure to pass the Assembly bill, which is backed by the governor.

“No parent should ever experience the grief that these parents bear, but the advocates’ exploitation of their anguish to advance a myopic vision for street safety is unfair to all New Yorkers,” Giove said in the article. “The Senate wanted to engage in meaningful conversation about the vast improvements we can make at every school, but the Assembly and our governor ... deliberately poisoned this issue for political purposes.”

"Words matter @candicegiove," Families for Safe Streets tweeted. "And your words caused great pain. We demand a written apology & a reconvening of the Senate ASAP. We do what we do so no others have to die in traffic. We’ve paid the highest price already. We pray you & your loved ones never do."

Giove also claimed on Twitter that advocates for safe streets were not treating her civilly, prompting more criticism.

"Why would I be civil to you?" posted Jesse Singer. "A driver going twice the speed limit killed my best friend. There's a bill that would help prevent that from happening again. You're standing in the way of it. That makes you a bad person. You don't deserve my civility."

Late last week, the NYPD tweeted its apparent support for speed cameras, posting, "From 2014-2016, locations featuring cameras experienced a 63% decline in speeding violations and an annual reduction of almost 50% of injuries to pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists involved in collisions." The tweet contrasted with the police department's rank-and-file members, whose union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Senate Republicans since 2015 and whose president, Pat Lynch, has called the cameras a "money grab."

With time running out, activists will rally on Tuesday on Staten Island in support of the speed camera bill. The protest site was chosen because it is in the district of Republican Senator Andrew Lanza, who has opposed the bill.

On Wednesday, Transportation Alternatives will gather at a location to be determined for a rally and a planning session to devise strategy to get the legislature to reconvene before public schools open in September.

"There will be no slowdown in our advocacy," said TransAlt's Tom DeVito.

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