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Thursday’s Headlines: Civic War Edition

12:05 AM EDT on August 27, 2020

Photo: Jonathan Cutrer

How Streetsblog covered the story.
How Streetsblog covered the story.
How Streetsblog covered the story.

Wow, what a difference a day makes.

On Wednesday (see photo right), we reported our confusion about why Riders Alliance was tweeting negative things about a Wall Street Journal story that reported on a new lobbying group, the Campaign for New York’s Future, that sought to influence how our city is reshaped if (and that's a big "if") the COVID-19 pandemic passes. (Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum was part of the new group, after all!)

Turns out, a lot of people were confused by the new group, which appeared to mostly focused on tax policy rather than a broader vision of equity in transportation and public space, as Plum and others had apparently been led to believe.

Well, the "About Us" page hit the fan and by day's end, Riders Alliance, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NY1), Tech:NYC and the New York City Hospitality Alliance had all bailed on the group, citing the Campaign's main mission to avoid tax hikes on the wealthy:

The civic war prompted the Campaign to issue its own statement that blamed our Twitter-dominated political landscape for coming between like-minded groups who all want the best for the city. Yeah, but that's not really the case. Our sources tell us that member organizations weren't fully aware that the group was really just an anti-tax crusade dressed up as civic pride.

Wow, what a news cycle!

In other stories making headlines on Wednesday:

    • Everyone covered the return of Revel mopeds today – though all the stories would have been embargoed until 8 a.m. today but for the fact that the Department of Transportation accidentally let the news slip early. (NYDN, Streetsblog, NY Post, NY Times, WSJ)
    • The other huge story of the day is how deeply the MTA will be forced to cut service if (and that's a small "if") the federal government fails to provide any more relief funding. Like Streetsblog, the Daily News, GothamistamNY and the Times focused on the pain for transit users (and the Post added in some pain for drivers, natch, while amNY provided a second story on the likelihood of a fare hike). The Post added in a nice sidebar about how union leaders will rightly (our words, not the Post!) refuse to accept salary cuts at a time when their members are working so hard and dying so frequently — and had nothing to do with the current situation. (The Wall Street Journal also covered, but the paper's headline was weird.)
    • Wholesale cuts to New York City school buses will fall most heavily on low-income, Black and Hispanic students. Better solutions for saving money include increasing the "walk zone" around schools, letting older ride mass transit and ending busing to charter schools. (Gotham Gazette)
    • Not all businesses oppose the Fifth Avenue busway, as Vittorio Bugatti's op-ed in amNY showed.
    • When the Metropolitan Museum opens this week, there'll be a bike valet. (NY Times)
    • Here's another reminder that cops on bikes are still cops ... who often do their jobs with excessive force, whether they are on bikes or in squad cars. (NYDN)
    • The Times's Emma Fitzsimmons tweeted some praise for Mayor de Blasio and quickly learned that, these days, it’s never a good take to congratulate someone, especially Bill de Blasio, for doing the bare minimum. As many people pointed out, he doesn’t even answer most questions!
    • And, finally, our friend Tamika Butler asked bike riders on Twitter how they define themselves. The replies are worth reading.

From the assignment desk: DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is reportedly having a 1 p.m. avail on Jay Street, where our old man editor saw workers indeed constructing the busway on Wednesday (photo below) before his physical therapy appointment. And at 5:30, Streetsblog will join a team of activists gathering petition signatures on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights in hopes of making that open street (the best in the city) permanent. Can't make it? Sign here.

On Wednesday, DOT workers constructed the Jay Street busway, which is set to debut on Aug. 31.
On Wednesday, DOT workers constructed the Jay Street busway, which is set to debut on Aug. 31.
On Wednesday, DOT workers constructed the Jay Street busway, which is set to debut on Aug. 31.

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