Monday’s Headlines: Cuomo Backlash Edition

post flip flopWell, that was fast!

One day after declaring Gov. Andrew StatusCuomo the savior of Brooklyn and Manhattan commuters, the Post pulled its head back out of its assurance to finally start reporting out the story that has dominated the headlines since: Why was everyone suddenly trusting the late-arriving Cuomo over MTA engineers, who have been studying the L-train shutdown for three years?

The weekend provided a broad range of opinions on both sides of that question, so let’s do a quick recap before getting to the news of the day:

  • The Post’s coverage has been excellent, featuring a skeptical take on Cuomo’s Friday morning conference call with reporters, a skeptical take on Cuomo’s call for “Tesla-like” technology, a skeptical editorial that likened Cuomo’s decision making process to that of President Trump’s, and a very skeptical take on Cuomo’s supposed engineering experts — who aren’t engineering experts at all. And that was just Saturday’s paper!
  • The Daily News has been invisible, offering only a Bramhall cartoon. (And while we’re on the subject: what’s with the paper’s print layout? It is high school-level bad.)
  • The Times put some serious reporter-power on its takeout on how the three-year L train plans crumbled in just three weeks. The key takeaway: “The new repair plan relies on an unproven technology that has never been used in the United States, raising questions about whether it can work without causing major disruptions.” (That’s a four-letter word in Times-speak.)
  • After the Times published its story, klieg-light-worthy columnist Jim Dwyer put out an epic Twitter thread that basically sided with the “late to the party” Cuomo over the “broken” MTA. Epic!
  • Streetsblog continued to hammer home that Mayor de Blasio must keep the L-train bike and bus improvements, despite pressure from the car-owning minority.
  • Borough Presidents Eric Adams (Brooklyn) and Gale Brewer (Manhattan) had a press conference on Sunday to complain that no one is answering their L-train questions (join the club!). The omnipresent Rep. Nydia Velazquez was also on hand. (amNY)

And the other news:

  • Despite our broadside on the Daily News’s tabloid layout above, the paper’s Stephen Rex Brown took a great angle on the just-concluded corruption trial of Jeremy Reichberg and ex-NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, focusing on the high-level crimes started with the entry-level graft: parking placards. The article wisely quoted Friend of Streetsblog @placardabuse, who said, “Parking placards are an advertisement that New York City is for sale.”
  • Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi has resigned. She did a good job, but (like our own Charles Komanoff) disagreed with Mayor de Blasio over the taxi congestion pricing fee. (WSJ, though Dana Rubinstein broke the news in a tweet) Vin Barone at amNY spun the news forward with a look at what the next commish should bring to the table.
  • Add pickpockets to the list of subway crises. (WSJ)
  • Amazon printed an open letter to New Yorkers in the Post and the Daily News over the weekend. And guess what? It’s all going to be fine (the company says).
  • The Post claimed (implausibly, if you ask us) that 100 car crashes on Staten Island were caused by deer last year.
  • And, in case you missed it, there was car-caused carnage in Flushing and Flatbush over the weekend that resulted in injuries. A cyclist was also killed in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. (Streetsblog)
  • Larry Littlefield

    OK, so if we are going with the patch things up option rather than the gut rehab, how about still having a shutdown — but make it three months over the summer? Instead of interminable repairs.

  • ortcutt

    He should really change his first name to Dunning-Kruger, not Amazon.

    It’s deeply unsettling to have a President and a Governor who think they know everything about everything and actually know nothing. Can we please have normal, sane people in charge of things?

  • HamTech87

    Much has been made about the fact that cables don’t need to be installed inside the bench wall, but isn’t the bench walls other important purpose as an escape route for people from the tunnel? Will the Cuomo proposal for it make it safe to walk on?

  • Larry Littlefield

    First thing I thought of. The issue is clearance.

    Wherever you see red and white striped signs, that’s a no clearance area where maintenance workers can’t stand when “clearing up.”

  • Fool

    I actually do not think the cables they are planning on using are tested for a subway tunnel. As I understand those cables are the lynch-pin of the entire plan.

  • Normal sane people do not run for elections, just like normal sane people do not raise billions in venture capital…

  • Brilliant .. and all week ends .

  • ortcutt

    “normal sane people do not raise billions in venture capital…”

    Not really sure what this means. Plenty of normal, sane, very capable people have raised VC money become major entrepreneurs. It’s a mistake to think that you need to be a dumb lunatic to be an entrepreneur. The thing that Cuomo and Trump have in common is that like most con-men they have massive self-confidence, but it’s a bug in the human brain that makes that seem like a qualifying rather than disqualifying character traits.

  • I was in venture capital and the overconfidence factor is critical to succeed. Although I admit not to the level of Trump and Cuomo where it reaches the con level.

  • Joe R.

    The election process is what vets out most normal, sane people. There is likely no shortage of very smart, sane people who would do great things if put in charge. The problem is most of them are too poor to fund an election and/or they lack the personality type to appeal to voters. Basically, how does a nerd, which is what most good nuts and bolts leaders are, successfully go through a process which requires months of dealing with people on a very superficial level? Answer is they don’t. End result is you have empty suits like Cuomo and Trump getting elected instead.

    I think the problem is the concept of having the public elect leaders. Frankly, they’re not qualified for it. I think a better way might be using AI to select leaders based on a bunch of factors, such as experience, intelligence, education, flexibility, etc. Unlike humans, AI isn’t going to give charisma or campaign promises much weight.

  • Joe R.

    I’m honestly shocked that venture capitalists would be swayed by overconfidence rather than the merits of the idea itself, which really should be the only deciding factor. This just shows how people in general are awful at making unbiased decisions.

  • Joe R.

    The larger problem is whether or not the bench wall is in such a state that it will crumble and cause a derailment. If it’s sound enough not to do that, then it’s sound enough to walk on.

    I would really like to know more about exactly how they’re going to determine if what’s underneath the bench wall and tunnel is structurally sound. If they don’t, it’s just patchwork, much like our street repavings where the same potholes reappear over and over because nobody bothers to fix the issues which cause them before repaving.

  • ortcutt

    Overconfidence can probably enhance the success of some very competent people. But you really need to start with the advantages of great inherited wealth (Trump) or a very famous and beloved father (Cuomo) to get through life with so little ability. In the case of Trump, when his actual abilities had led to the natural conclusion, bankruptcy, reality television came along at the right time to save him and play to his natural strengths. It’s really puzzling how Cuomo has managed to get by so far. He has a good amount of charisma and strong political sense even though he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to policy. Put enough smart people around him and he can get by. It’s only when he opens his mouth and you hear the nonsense come out that you really understand how scary it is.

  • the investments success ratio is one company in ten ..

  • cjstephens

    I’m not going to defend Cuomo about, well, anything, but I find it amusing that the same people who are saying we shouldn’t use Cuomo’s engineers’ solution because “it’s never been tried in the US” are probably also demanding that we build long-distance high-speed rail, even though that technology has never been tried in the US, either. There are plenty of reasons to be appalled at what Cuomo did here; trying something that’s new to the US isn’t necessarily one of them. You know what else had never been tried in the US until recently? Fixed-dock bike share. Sometimes those foreigners know what they’re doing!

  • AMH

    Yes–I’ve been wondering how they determined that the concrete is in such great shape that new racks and sensors can be bolted onto it. The salt is still in there, and it sure looks like it’s about to crumble.

  • Joe R.

    The tunnel actually has a cast iron liner behind the concrete. Maybe they intent to drill all the way through the concrete and bolt the cables to the liner? Or perhaps break away the concrete where the cable will be mounted, weld hangers to the liner, then replace the concrete. Obviously bolting hangers into crumbling concrete isn’t going to work.

  • AMH

    The cast iron rings are actually the tunnel structure (and the concrete is the lining) so any tampering with the iron sounds like a terrible idea. But the Columbia dean says the concrete is in great shape, and Andy Byford hasn’t corrected her.

  • AMH

    Andy Byford went on Brian Lehrer today and said that they originally rejected racking because it wouldn’t be structurally sound, but they’ve found ways to fasten the racks without bolts, whatever that means.

  • Joe R.

    Epoxy? I can’t think of anything else. It sounds to me like the major difference between the two plans is where to put the cables. Other than that, they sound similar.