Wednesday’s Headlines: The People Have Spoken Edition

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 11.00.41 PM

The election dominates the coverage today. Turn to the Times or CNN or even Fox News for the national recaps, but the biggest race for livable streets advocates was in southern Brooklyn’s State Senate 22, where Andrew Gounardes apparently beat street safety pariah Republican Marty Golden (who did not concede as many paper ballots remain to be counted).

Friend of Streetsblog Emma Whitford suggested on Twitter that we should to gloat about seeing the defeat of a recidivist speeder who blocked speed cameras and once ran over a woman who later died, but it’s not in our nature (or our non-profit status) to do anything but cover the issues (especially when there are so many absentee ballots to count).

But that doesn’t mean other people weren’t gloating:

  • Here are other results in key local races from our friends at WNYC:
    • Thanks to Gounardes’s win — and other Democratic victories upstate — Democratic control of the State Senate appeared late last night to be in the donkeys’ grasp. (NYDN)
    • Congressional District 11: Max Rose beats Republican Dan Donovan
    • Ballot Question 3: Community Board term limits passes

In other news:

  • Dorothy Bruns, the impaired driver who killed two kids on Ninth Street in Park Slope earlier this year, has killed herself. (NY Post)
  • Long Island City residents told amNY they were nervous about Amazon opening a huge second headquarters there. But Streetsblog found cause for optimism. The Times also weighed in.
  • Trump seems to be stalling an extension of light rail in Bergen County. (
  • This Brooklyn Eagle story points out that Dyker Heights car owners really hate it when others take “their” parking – but fails to point out the main culprit: The United States Postal Service doesn’t pay parking tickets…so it doesn’t care! (Brooklyn Eagle)
  • Meanwhile, in D.C., transportation officials have had enough of FedEx, UPS, USPS and other companies in bike lanes — though, come on, is a polite letter the way to go? (Curbed)
  • Voting was a real problem for many, thanks to machines that went haywire because of the rain. (NY Times) Our editor posted a video of his experience in Park Slope:

Meanwhile, still drunk from last night’s election, Streetsblog’s David Meyer and Gersh Kuntzman will be at the Transportation Alternatives Vision Zero Cities Conference all day today and tomorrow. That doesn’t mean we won’t be posting some pretty big news today, but it does mean that we may not do it as quickly as usual.

  • Joe R.

    It looks like Prop 3 passed. I liked it at first, but after reading the concerns of some people here who serve on CBs I’m lukewarm to it at best. We’ll see if it works as advertised.

  • Larry Littlefield

    This election was a disaster for Cuomo and DeBlasio.

    With full control of the State Legislature and City Council, their best hope of blaming someone else for the rising taxes and diminished services caused by years of deals favoring their political/union class supporters at the expense of the serfs was to “blame Trump.”

    They were setting up to do that two years ago, but aside from tax cuts, the Trump agenda didn’t pass. And the Trump tax cuts will screw younger generations at the federal level, not the state and local level, which the Republicans had been doing all along.

    Now, with Democratic control of the House of Representatives, the “armageddon” scenario from Washington won’t occur.

    So, gentlemen and New York Democrats, why are you doing this to us? On the subway. In public housing. And soon elsewhere.

  • djx

    I was very conflicted about that one – really not sure and didn’t decide till I was filling out the ballot.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m never conflicted about term limits.

    Look at who we have running the federal government, by age, and think about that in 15 years when we are facing what we will be facing.

  • Alec

    Thank you for covering Bergen County’s 20+year quixotic quest for a light rail that already has our name in the friggin title! It’s on an existing right of way with train tracks people, this isn’t rocket science! Please continue to pour sunshine on that for us!

  • Well then you should make sure the appointment pool for community boards going forward doesn’t look like the demographics of Congress. I see that everyone has pooh-poohed that point & assumed that creating board vacancies would lead to more diverse applicants being appointed. Better double check that…

  • HamTech87

    I’m heartened that Prop 3 passed so overwhelmingly. But really it is a very moderate change. Existing appointees can go 8 years more from now? Then with just a 2 year hiatus, at which they can still come to every meeting, they get yet another 8 years? And another 8. And another 8….
    A more robust proposal would have called for direct elections of CB members, strong rules for ensuring unheardfrom groups representation, and term limits like those of City Council members. Also, removing CBs from safety issues, so no more ‘vetos’ over street projects. They don’t weigh in on building firecode regulations, so why street safety projects?

  • HamTech87

    I was convinced by sitting through meetings in a CB in the Bronx. Delaying paving a multi-use path in a park because it will “cause climate change”, and overwhelmingly voting against a Protected Bike Lane that would ADD car parking spaces. WTF?!?! Something is very wrong, and new people need to be added.

  • HamTech87

    at least there will be more routine vacancies.

  • Routine vacancies filled with awful co-op board leaders are going to lead to more of the same protectionist behavior. Activists and neighborhood advocates need to go into this seeing how they’re going to add their own influence to the community boards, and not how they’re just going to take out the current NIMBYs. There is no shortage of NIMBYs, and the Borough Presidents can still lean on them for a vote in the future.

    You would have needed to do this anyway, regardless of the vote last night. There are lots of routine vacancies now.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thanks to term limits, NYC is getting better representation from its elected officials. And those elected officials will be appointing new community board members.

    Eight years from now.

  • HamTech87

    Not sure about the ‘routine vacancies’ especially on committees, is anecdotally what I’ve heard from some CBs. But you’re right, we need to organize like TransAlt has done to get better people on CBs.

  • One, there are vacancies all the time that the current BPs are filling, now.

    Two, all of the elected officials that participate in recommending and selecting CB members have cycled through several times already, and have all been under term limits for years.

    So either term limits are great and community boards are better NOW, or term limits haven’t worked to make CB appointments more diverse (since more than half of all the board members have turned over in the last 15 years, at least. The average time of service is… not that long).

    There is a massive blind spot here as to who is actually sitting on the boards & how many of them fit certain stereotypes of public servants/public nuisances. There is also an assumption – a fairly bad one – that younger applicants think about cities with a more sustainable, more livable vision. I can show you a couple examples of recent appointees under 40 who are still car-centric and not-a-fan of sustainable transportation movements.

    That doesn’t mean that term limits are awful. It just means we will be here in 10 years talking about how YOU didn’t apply to be on the boards & how you don’t like the new applicants, either. That is, unless you take further steps…

  • Joe R.

    The most important thing on the list is no longer giving CBs power to advise or otherwise interfere with what are engineering decisions. That includes street designs. Unfortunately, this wasn’t on the ballot.

    As an engineer, I’ve been on the receiving end when some of my customers stuck their 2 cents in the design process. In one case I used a part my customer insisted on using despite the fact I had to make the design way more complex just for the sake of using this part. The project was a disaster, the customer lost something like $100K. When he asked for a new design, I told him fine, but let me handle the engineering part. The new design was a success.

    Nothing good comes from laypeople making suggestions in areas where they know very little. That’s also why I would love to see prescription drug commercials banned. Doctors probably spend a ridiculous amount of time explaining to their patients why some drug they saw on TV isn’t right for them. Many probably just give in and prescribe it anyway to get the patient off their back.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ve served on a community board, in the 1980s (CB 7 Brooklyn). And run for office. And voted every time, even with no one to vote for.

    So basically, I’m one guy who in ten years when even more SHTF will be able to say I did what I could as a citizen.

  • bolwerk

    I would guess that, all things being equal, electeds have plenty of people to give favors to and more favors to give out now – at least over time.

  • bolwerk

    Term limits for electeds are seriously antidemocratic, EVEN IF THEY SOLVE A PROBLEM – which nobody has ever demonstrated, unless you think plutocrats don’t have enough say already.

    But term limits for appointed officials may at least reduce exposure to local officials arbitrarily blocking projects they don’t like. If anything, I’d think they should make community board terms very short to maximize input. This is not even a strictly policymaking position. It’s more about policy review.

  • I’m not necessarily opposed to this. I think this proposition is a little thin, and maybe you would not want to have committee management handled by the fast-cycling board appointees, but I could see that kind of thing having benefits.

    I want to throw in here that New York citizens get a truly massive amount of services but are also under-represented by official electeds when compared to… almost anyone anywhere. Although community boards are not elected (and, with the election rules and party politics we have in this city/state… maybe you don’t want that!), they are at least an attempt to fill a local representation gap. I strongly maintain that all NYC residents should be very keen to increase the representation that they get, and that the insufficiency of community boards should be thought of as a challenge to meet their goals better and NOT merely thought of as a case study in things that we should get rid of. You would THINK that the concept of a term-limit charter revision would imply that this is about strengthening the boards… most of the Prop 3 endorsements read like grievance lists against the boards themselves, arguing in haste that they are bad & they all need to be flushed out with any chance that we get. (This was overstating the case in favor of Prop 3, but it was also revealing as to how little advocates trust any community boards in the city) It would be a tragedy to just eliminate them with no replacement… not a tragedy for rich, educated, employed blogging urbanist advocates, mind you, but a tragedy for the kind of people who need someone to stop the most capitalist city in human history from destroying them.

  • bolwerk

    I’m inclined to think one of two things about community boards: either you want experienced people who understand local issues and are willing to put the time in, and you try to retain those people. This suggests no term limits.

    Or you want to hear from as wide a breadth of people as possible. This suggests few or even less than two short terms, with high turnover.

    If you want more local representation, you probably want more council districts. I’m okay with that, but have 52 now, so I’m inclined to say that’s pretty local.

  • Council districts have 165,000 people in them. Local towns and villages in the metro area often range in size from 5,000 – 25,000. If you want density of “local” representation, we’re doing very poorly here.

  • bolwerk

    The major upside I see to that is it takes a wrecking ball to current gerrymandering. But I guess I don’t really see how one person is going to hear out 50,000 (or whatever) people anymore than they hear out 165,000.

    I’d be more interested in a proportional representation system than monkeying with districts at all.


Monday’s Headlines: Jumaane Williams Never Fooled Us Edition

The man who wants to be your next Public Advocate is also a man who is statistically more likely than most drivers to kill your son or daughter. Yes, the Daily News reported Sunday that Council Member Jumaane Williams received 18 school zone camera violations between March, 2016 and July, 2018. That's worse than street safety pariah Marty Golden, who even meekly apologized for the 14 tickets his car has gotten. (Williams declined to apologize in Jillian Jorgensen's News story.) Plus the rest of today's news...