Upper West Side Pol Caught Zooming While Zooming

Helen Rosenthal addresses a Council committee as she drives through Manhattan.

UWS Council Member zooming while zooming. Photo: New York City Council
UWS Council Member zooming while zooming. Photo: New York City Council

This is not what they mean by Zoom call.

Upper West Side Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who claims to be a supporter of safe-streets initiatives, was driving her car as she testified before a Council committee this morning about public education, putting the lives of students and others at risk.

Rosenthal joined the council’s Finance Committee hearing while driving from her apartment on the Upper West Side to a press conference at the Goddard Riverside Center for mayoral candidate Maya Wiley nearby in the very same relatively small neighborhood. (Rosenthal lives on W. 83rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam and the presser was at Columbus Avenue and 88th Street, a distance of a half mile on foot.)

Rosenthal told another reporter at Wiley’s press conference that she “should have walked,” but didn’t want to be later than she already was, according to Politico’s health care reporter Amanda Einsenberg.

Rosenthal appears to be either stopped or parked for at least a few seconds during her spiel, but it’s clear from the video of the testimony that she is speaking while in motion because the scenery changes as she speaks. 

“[I]f we’re serious about reducing class size, we have to get more space in our schools or build more schools, we’re not being honest about smaller class size,” Rosenthal said while momentarily taking her eyes off the road to look into the phone that was likely mounted on her dashboard.

Rosenthal has a history of improper driving. The license plate associated with the pol’s car, which was shared with Streetsblog, has racked up 62 tickets since 2013, mostly for illegal parking, but also including three speeding tickets last year and one red light ticket in 2019.

Rosenthal did not return Streetsblog’s calls or texts for comment, allowing advocates to seize the high ground.

“Given that we know distracted driving kills, it feels rather disingenuous for an elected official to claim they care about preserving life and dignity while Zooming and driving,” said Lisa Orman of StreetopiaUWS. “Naming streets for our dead children and seniors, people who were killed precisely because of distracted driving, is not what makes a leader. True leaders understand their responsibility to keeping everyone safe and leading by example.”

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