Tuesday’s Headlines: Horse Long Gone, De Blasio Locks the Barn Edition

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Perhaps it’s fitting that Mayor de Blasio spent the weekend in Iowa — because upon his return on Monday, he promptly locked the barn door after the horse had escaped. Yes, one day after the Times’s future Pulitzer winner Brian Rosenthal blew the lidtwice! — on the decade-long taxi medallion Ponzi scheme, Hizzoner returned from the presidential campaign trail to pronounce himself shocked — shocked! — that such things were happening in the New York he’s overseen for more than five years (reminder: the Daily News opined about this more than a year ago).

“Today I ordered a joint investigation by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Department of Finance and Department of Consumer Affairs into predatory practices by brokers in the taxi industry,” the mayor said in statement (the Post did a story). “The 45-day review will identify and penalize brokers who have taken advantage of buyers and misled city authorities. … It’s unacceptable to prey on hardworking New Yorkers trying to support their families and we’ll do all that we can to put an end to it.”

The mayor isn’t the only one deciding to act. State Attorney General Letitia James — wasn’t she once Public Advocate? — has opened an investigation. On the plus side, according to Rosenthal’s latest follow-up, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Member Mark Levine want the city to buy out the bad medallion loans to re-level the playing field. They’re onto something, but a city bailout seems unlikely from a mayor who won’t even find a few hundred dollars to convert illegal e-bikes into legal ones for exploited delivery workers.

In any event, stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s what else happened yesterday:

  • NY1 blew up the expense budget sending Bobby Cuza to London to review city’s 16-year experience with congestion pricing. Cuza’s solid report lays out a few cons (for some drivers) and a lot of pros (for everyone else). Tally ho!
  • Vin Barone at amNY and David Meyer at Streetsblog took a similar angle on the MTA bus cuts. (Hint: They’re bad.)
  • Gov. Cuomo’s L train fix is looking better and better. (NYDN)
  • Jose Martinez at The City had a nice scoop that revealed that many of the subway system’s worst elevators and escalators are maintained by private landlords, not the MTA.
  • Gothamist — again! — maintained its leadership over the “weird ads floating in the East River” beat.
  • Hoboken started its e-scooter pilot days after the devices became legal in New Jersey (everything is legal in New Jersey). (PIX11)
  • Here’s a long read about the history of women and cycling. (Curbed)
  • The MTA was again urged to put a bike and pedestrian path on the Verrazzano Bridge. The agency says the $300-million plan is infeasible, but advocates say that dollar figure is inflated. Guse at the Newsuh had the story.
  • And, finally, everyone’s pal, Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal, posted an epic Twitter thread about how unsafe de Blasio’s New York remains for cyclists. (We loved it, of course, but our self-promoting editor was also quick to point out that if Gay is making a run for Bike Mayor, he better get in line behind Doug Gordon and Gersh Kuntzman.) “New York City officials likes to slap itself on the back for becoming a better cycling town, and it’s loads better than it was decades ago, but it still has a TON of work to do to be safer for cyclists,” he started, before continuing…

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NYC’s Taxi Regulations Are Obsolete. How Should They Change?

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The de Blasio administration’s proposed slowdown in new for-hire vehicle licenses for a one-year study period could be the opening move in a major rewrite of the rules governing the city’s taxi and livery industry. The current system is an anachronism, and a big overhaul could harmonize the city’s growing array of medallion taxis, green cabs, and Uber-type services in a way that lessens the […]