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Wednesday’s Headlines: NYPD Budget Blues

They still can’t breathe: Corey Johnson (center) with the Rev. Al Sharpton and others at an anti-chokehold rally in June. Photo: NYC Council

The City Council passed Mayor de Blasio’s $88 billion budget, even though the mayor did not cut the $1 billion of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget that he said he would and that many legislators had championed. Rather, he removed some responsibilities from the NYPD, such as school-safety agents, school-crossing guards, and homeless-outreach services. The mayor also cancelled the July police cadet class, and said he would slice police overtime by $350 million.

Even so, the moves  didn’t mollify critics, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said they were “budget tricks or funny math.” Richard Buery, Jr., a former deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives, used a barnyard epithet in denouncing the plan. "This budget is BS," he tweeted. "These aren't real cuts to the NYPD & don't reflect a fundamental shift in the nature of policing in NYC." 

A “disappointed” Speaker Corey Johnson said that he had tried to scale back the NYPD’s portion further, but had gotten pushback from some Black council members who weren’t comfortable with the idea. "There were some members who didn't care about getting to $1 billion," he said at a press conference before the budget vote, also faulting the mayor for “not budging." Johnson said the cuts to the NYPD amounted to about $880 million. 

One such member was Daneek Miller, co-chairman of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “We can’t allow folks from outside our community to lecture us about Black lives and what we need in our communities,” the New York Times quoted Miller as saying.

In other budget angles, The Post noted that, even in the general climate of budget austerity (the COVID-19 pandemic blew a $9 billion hole in city revenues) the mayor still shoveled $62 million into his money-losing boondoggle, the NYC Ferry. The News, meanwhile, found a ray of sunshine in the partial restoration of summer youth programs.

Streetsblog and AMNY highlighted the mayor’s $65 million cut from the projected $200-million Fair Fares program, which provides half-fare transit for almost 200,000 needy New Yorkers — with another half-million meeting the eligibility. The News also reported that the budget envisions millions more revenue from traffic tickets, especially from enforcement against cars blocking bus lanes and bike lanes.

In other news yesterday:

    • The MTA will start charging bus fares again in August, when it will have outfitted the fleet with plastic barriers to protect drivers from coronavirus. Enjoy the free rides for now (Gothamist, NYP, NYDN).
    • Now you can get masks and other PPE in the subway, thanks to new MTA vending machines (NYP).
    • In a case of “Whoda thunkit,” New Yorkers are ignoring instructions to walk only one way on narrow Downtown sidewalks (NYP)  
    • The new alternate-side parking rules are causing confusion (NBC).
    • Sally Librera, the first woman to run the subway as NYC Transit senior VP, is leaving (ABC).
    • And, finally, the Daily News and The Post both hailed the city's announcement that it would open “half” the city’s pools by Aug. 1. But there are more than 50 pools, meaning the 15 to reopen represent less than one-quarter. Both stories were later updated.

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