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Families for Safe Streets

Families for Safe Streets Activists are Marching — Well, Walking, Really — All Day Around Marty Golden’s Office

Judy Kottick (left) and Mary Beth Kelly start the marathon in front of Marty Golden’s Bay Ridge office. Photos by Gersh Kuntzman.

They've talked the talk, now they're walking the walk.

Four Families for Safe Streets activists, each of whom with a loved one who was killed by a motorist, are walking a slow marathon — 26.2 miles — around the office of State Senator Marty Golden on Thursday to once again draw attention to the failure of Golden and his Republican colleagues to pass an Assembly bill that would have extended and expanded New York City's life-saving speed camera program.

Amy Cohen (right with fellow activist Bob Lesko) on the back end of the block.
Amy Cohen (right with fellow activist Bob Lesko) on the back end of the block.
Amy Cohen (right with fellow activist Bob Lesko) on the back end of the block.

The cameras went dark on July 25. Golden said he supported the Assembly bill, but later proposed his own bill that would have terminated the cameras in six months. Golden has been cited for speeding 14 times in school zones and received more than $19,000 in campaign contributions from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, a police union that opposes speed cameras. He also ran over a woman in a crosswalk in 2005. She died soon after.

"We don't know if Marty Golden will find his moral compass or not, but we are going to continue to do what we do — walk, protest, get arrested — to educate the public that our culture of the automobile brings death and destruction," said one of the marathoners, Mary Beth Kelly, whose husband Carl Henry Nacht was killed by a truck driver on the West Side greenway 12 years ago. "The more we tell our stories in public, the more the public becomes aware of these issues. Marty Golden is putting people at risk."

Kelly, Dana Lerner, Amy Cohen and Judy Kottick began the marathon at Golden's Fifth Avenue office at shortly after noon and are expected to keep at it until 9 p.m. At .4 miles around the block, the group will have to do 66 laps. Andrew Gournardes, one of the two Democrats vying for the chance to take on Golden in November, did a few early laps with the group. His opponent, Ross Barkan, was expected to join later.

These Families for Safe Streets volunteers have been, forgive the pun, around the block a few times, so they did not think Golden would come out and address their concerns (nor did the senator respond to Streetsblog's request for comment on Thursday). He certainly did not speak to activists when they delivered pudding to his Bay Ridge office (as in "the proof is in..."), when they held a 24-hour vigil, or even when schoolkids offered him coffee early one morning (as in "wake up and smell the...").

"He avoids us intentionally," said Cohen, who founded the group after he son, Sammy, was run down on Prospect Park West in 2013. "He doesn't want to be called out in front of his constituents."

Lerner, a psychoanalyst, had a different diagnosis.

"He's a sociopath!" said Lerner, whose 9-year-old son, Cooper Stock, was killed by a driver in 2014. "He is constantly being caught on camera speeding. He killed a woman with his car. Yet he says he supports the speed camera bill. That suggests has a personality disorder. No other explanation makes sense. And I want people to know what they are electing — a duplicitous person who thinks he is above the law."

If Golden does see himself as above the law, he's not alone. From 2014, until speed cameras were shut off on July 25, 4,679,872 summons were issued to drivers. But none of the speeders, we imagine, signed his or her name to a bill that would extend and expand the cameras — then did nothing to get the bill passed.

State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes joined the marathon on the all-important Gino's leg.
State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes joined the marathon on the all-important Gino's leg.
State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes joined the marathon on the all-important Gino's leg.
Dana Lerner (right with John Mason) diagnosed Golden as a sociopath.
Dana Lerner (right with John Mason) diagnosed Golden as a sociopath.
Dana Lerner (right with John Mason) diagnosed Golden as a sociopath.

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