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Friday’s Headlines: Steve Levin Takes on the Placard Class Edition

12:05 AM EDT on August 14, 2020

Council Member Steve Levin (disembodied arm at right) gestures towards a family that is being forced into danger by an illegally parked, FDNY-placard-bearing car. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Placard perps are on notice (you know, like the time before and the time before that).

We finally got a chance to go outside and cover something yesterday — and it was like Rip Van Winkle was our assignment editor: There was Council Member Steve Levin on Jay St. in Downtown Brooklyn complaining of illegally parked NYPD and FDNY vehicles beneath a clear, dark red, "No stopping" sign.

The specific FDNY car in question — blocking the temporary "protected" bike lane, whose barrels had been tossed onto the sidewalk — had 17 speeding tickets and three red-light camera tickets on its record.

"Enough is enough!" Levin said, promising action (beyond the existing City Council effort and the mayor's promise of an entirely new placard crackdown system next year, that is). As he spoke, cyclists, including a family with two young kids, were forced into the roadway to get around the illegally parked placard perp. (We reported the car to 311, but the case was closed an hour later by the NYPD without so much as a cop checking out the violation. So clearly 311 isn't working.)

Levin's promise to find a solution comes months after he also promised to end the placard corruption on nearby Schermerhorn Street. His frustration with the NYPD — who continue to park in that crucial downtown bike lane — is palpable.


"I have 16 months left in the council," he said. "I'm done with this. I'm just done."

Our guess is that the NYPD, FDNY and all the holders of fake placards will outlast the Williamsburg lawmaker's tenure.

The good news is that Levin vowed to propose new legislation, including perhaps empowering the public to bust these villains themselves (just as regular people can report idling vehicles under the "Billy Never Idles" initiative).

In other news:

    • Were you having trouble making heads or tails of President Trump's racist tweet last month about how he was going to protect the "suburban lifestyle dream" from Obama-Biden "low-income housing"? Well, let Paul Krugman explain it all to you.
    • The U.S. Senate went into recess until Sept. 8 without passing more pandemic relief. Here's hoping we still have a functioning subway system by then. (The Hill)
    • Guse from the Newsuh followed our story on how Twitter disabled the @howsmydrivingny bot. He added in some nice details — like unrepentant homophobe Ruben Diaz Sr.'s atrocious driving record.
    • In yesterday's headlines, we took The Times to gentle task for providing very few details about the Industry City rezoning proposal. On Thursday, Ross Barkan added some more details, some more political intrigue, and even a great hockey reference from Council Member Robert Cornegy. (Gothamist)
    • Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard learned the hard way why free on-street car storage is such a disaster for cities. (NYDN)
    • The Grand Concourse is looking grander. (Norwood News)
    • This is a terrible time to cut the budget of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, but Mayor de Blasio is doing it anyway. (Gothamist)
    • The New York Film Festival will feature more of those drive-ins that make us insane with rage. (Gothamist)
    • Gridlock Sam has all of this weekend's protests. (NYDN)
    • Crain's is behind a paywall, but apparently the business site has a barnburner of a taxi story, per Charles Komanoff's tweet:

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