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Wednesday’s Headlines: Silent Treatment Edition

Two examples of stuff the public needs to know about, but public information officers won't tell us about. Plus other news.

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

In the headlights: DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez touted an upcoming “Equity Summit” in remarks at this event on Feb. 29, but no one at the agency will tell us what it is.

Good news! The city Department of Transportation is hosting an "Equity in Motion Summit" on Friday, April 19, at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown. I am sure it's going to be great.

Bad news? I can't tell you much more because the agency's press office won't answer any questions about it. Not any. Not even "When is it?" or "Who's invited?" or "What's on the agenda?" or even, "Will reporters get free snacks?"

How do I even know about it? Funny thing is, Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez mentioned it proudly during his remarks at Open Plans's Public Space Awards on Feb. 29 — where DOT was honored for expanding Summer Streets to all five boroughs.

I was so excited to learn more that I raced over (well, slowly, as I'm getting on in years) to one of Rodriguez's press officers. He didn't know, so I sent emails to the agency's press team on March 1, March 5, March 7, March 11, March 19, March 28, April 1 and again yesterday. None was answered.

Honestly, I have no idea why, given that being asked about the summit would likely give the DOT team a chance to boast about all of the agency's equity accomplishments.

Thankfully, the interweb has one reference to the summit. New York Lawyers for the Public Interest posted something about it, most likely because its Senior Organizer of Disability Justice, Eman Rimawi-Doster, will speak at a session called “Reconnecting Communities and Dismantling Inequitable Infrastructure.” That panel includes other speakers on topics of accessibility, fare access, air quality and parking and land use.

There are probably other panels, and other chances to hear about what DOT has learned during the Vision Zero years. And when I find out, you'll find out.

Speaking of other things that the city's squadron of press officers doesn't want to discuss, I learned on March 29 that the war memorial in the center of a Park Slope traffic circle had again been knocked over by a car driver. It was almost two years to the day since the same thing happened in 2022, so I sent the new picture over to the NYPD:

We asked NYPD about this on March 29. And two more times after that.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Set aside for a second that the 2022 crash was never "solved" — and believe me, I ask the NYPD for updates all the time — this time, the agency ignored three emails and one call before finally responding, "The report is not yet finalized." A follow-up email was ignored.

So if you're frustrated that Streetsblog doesn't always have the answers to your burning questions, well, it's not for lack of trying.

In other news:

  • Speaking of public information, Mayor Adams defended the NYPD's unprofessional use of social media to criticize reporters on the taxpayers' dime (NYDN), while the NYPD said it would continue the practice (amNY). Meanwhile, Hell Gate said the NYPD "has fully embraced a thin-skinned, fight-me-bro posting style that is more akin to that of a brittle social media star who lives for online drama than a municipal agency committed to courtesy, professionalism, and respect."
  • In a positive bit of information from the DOT, the agency said it would expand the number of streets that will be off-limits to cars for a few hours on Earth Day. (Gothamist)
  • Ten members of Congress from the city, including rookies like Dan Goldman and old-timers like Jerry Nadler, are demanding an expansion to the free bus pilot. The only city reps not signing? Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who don't agree on much. (Letter to Gov. Hochul)
  • Finally, the New York Times has gotten to the bottom of New York's 142-year-old steam system.
  • Speaking of the Times, that Metro section still loves cars way too much, referring to New York pedestrians as "jaywalkers" who will likely get in the way of driverless vehicles.
  • Continuing on the topic of cars, some governments are trying to encourage electric vehicle purchases through subsidies. New Jersey is going in the other direction. (Gothamist)
  • Have you been pining for more news about the Harold Interlocking? Wait no longer because former federal transit man Larry Penner has you covered. (Mass Transit)
  • The MTA is really stepping up its effort to get retail inside Grand Central Madison. (NY1, amNY, Gothamist)
  • In case you missed it, I was on the Ben Max podcast the other day, talking about congestion pricing, and was in the Christian Science Monitor on the same topic.
  • And speaking of congestion pricing and the "In case you missed it" file, we missed this Curbed "explainer," which featured a nice link to our plate scam coverage.
  • Also, don't forget that today is the first of two days of hearings in a federal court in New Jersey about the Garden State's congestion pricing lawsuit. (Streetsblog)
  • And more on congestion pricing: Jordan Klepper from "The Daily Show" did a funny piece:

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