Thursday’s Headlines: The Personal is the Political Edition

Here's Ingrid Lewis-Martin with the boss. File photo: Kevin Duggan
Here's Ingrid Lewis-Martin with the boss. File photo: Kevin Duggan
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Personal opinions are like butts. We all have them, but most people are eager to hide them.

We were reminded of this the other day when we saw an interview that Mayor Adams’s right hand woman, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, gave to City & State.

“Me personally, I hate congestion pricing. I think it sucks,” mayoral Chief Adviser Lewis-Martin said on the publication’s video interview series “Political Personalities with Skye.”

In an earlier cover story for the magazine, Lewis-Martin even claimed credit for killing former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal in 2008, but she refused to elaborate, saying she was saving that for her memoir. (At the time she supposedly helped kill congestion pricing, Lewis-Martin was a “senior adviser” to then-state Sen. Eric Adams.)

City Hall spokesperson Charles Lutvak told Streetsblog on Wednesday that it “was clear” that Lewis-Martin “was speaking personally, as others in the administration are allowed to do.”

He reiterated that Mayor Adams supports congestion pricing “so we can invest in mass transit and reduce traffic.”

Lutvak added something interesting: “We are working closely with our state partners to get this right — ensuring congestion pricing is rolled out fairly and equitably and that the program is structured in a way that will improve our environment, economy, and quality of life.”

Let’s parse that: If the mayor’s top adviser personally thinks that congestion pricing “sucks,” presumably she thinks it is inequitable and unfair. So clearly her “personal opinion” matters a lot more than City Hall cares to acknowledge.

We’re obviously familiar with politicians offering hot takes on important issues of the day — and then walking back the resulting controversy by saying, “Oh, it was just my personal opinion.” We saw that a few weeks ago when Council Speaker Adrienne Adams — asked in an interview about outdoor dining in her capacity as speaker — said she didn’t like the idea of dining sheds in the so-called parking lane. When Streetsblog questioned her about this pro-car position, she retorted that she was only expressing her personal opinion — even though said opinion wouldn’t matter to anyone but for the fact that Adams is one of the most powerful officials in the city.

Our point? If a person is in a key decision-making role, his or her personal opinion is more than just personal. It’s business. So we’ll obviously be following this story as it develops.

In other news:

  • The transit workers union has a new president. Meet Richard Davis. (NYDN)
  • So much for properly disciplining rogue cops. (NY Post)
  • The Post and The City followed our scoop on two Queens legislators’ plan for free buses.
  • We covered the mayor and governor’s “New New York” panel report with two stories, while the Post, amNY and the Times went with a broad overview.
  • State Sen. Leroy Comrie wants a better plan for Penn Station from Gov. Hochul. (Crain’s)
  • Gothamist covered the internal trial of cops who drove into protesters during a George Floyd protest on Flatbush Avenue.
  • Crain’s did an explainer on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway debacle.
  • We’ve been big fans of the effort to turn the W. 103rd Street open street into a mini-Paseo Park — but apparently some people don’t want a little slice of paradise. (I Love the Upper West Side)
  • WNYC is the first media outlet out of the gate to cover our old man editor’s award-winning “criminal mischief” social media campaign, with reporter Stephen Nessen calling the series a “crusade” (he also said our editor has a “trim salt-and-pepper beard,” which was flattering).

That story came out even before Kuntzman’s magnum opus for the day from the 78th Precinct:

  • And finally, people are always asking us, “Hey, Streetsblog, I want to donate several hundred dollars to your site, but all I ever see is some donation widget and I would just rather send you a hefty check.” Well, that’s so nice of you — and it’s no problem! We take cash, digital donations and, of course, checks — just mail your paper products to Streetsblog c/o Open Plans, 377 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10013. In fact, today’s honor roll of benefactors begins with special thanks to Cynthia and Irving, who indeed sent us a check yesterday. Thanks, Cyn and Irv! Also, thanks, Patrick! Thanks, Timothy! Thanks, Bill! Thanks, Michael!

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