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Jesse Coburn

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

Here’s Jesse Coburn interviewing a source for his Polk Award-winning series on fraudulently issued temporary license plates — a series that has already led to change in New Jersey and Georgia.

This morning, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors.

Coburn won the coveted prize in the Local Reporting category for his series on the black market for fraudulent paper license plates that exploded during the pandemic. The series, "Ghost Tags: Inside New York City’s Black Market for Temporary License Plates," was published over three days in April 2023, and has already led to legislative reforms in New Jersey, with additional bills pending in Georgia and New York.

Winning the Polk put Coburn in a cohort of the most talented reporters in the country, including the staff of the New York Times (in the Foreign Reporting category); Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, Alex Mierjeski, Brett Murphy of ProPublica (National Reporting on questionable gifts received by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas); Luke Mogelson of the New Yorker (Magazine Reporting from Ukraine); Masha Gessen of the New Yorker (Commentary); and Jason Motlagh of Rolling Stone (winner of the Polk's special Sydney Schanberg Prize for his reporting from Haiti).

We're all so proud of Coburn in the bustling Streetsblog newsroom, so we'll be sure to share some award photos on our X feed later in the day.

Until then, here's the roundup of yesterday's news:

  • The city Department of Transportation testified on the benefits of lowering the speed limit ... before the Chicago City Council. (NYC DOT Twitter)
  • Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson spotted a disturbing joke yesterday:
  • The Queens Eagle hit the main highlight of President Biden's climate resiliency grants.
  • The Council rubber-stamped the soccer stadium in Willets Point. The deal doesn't seem as much of a boondoggle as many stadium deals, but it's sort of a pity because there's a really big stadium directly across the street from the proposed site. (NY Times, amNY, Gothamist)
  • The Post had more on the grandma who was run over by her own car.
  • Let's hear it for Council Member Oswald Feliz's "Operation Green NYC"! (NY Post)
  • The Post also followed up on Council Member Shaun Abreu's bill to make sure delivery workers get the right tips.
  • Meet the Clip, an attachment to turn your bike into a limited-range e-bike. (amNY)
  • Speaking of e-bikes, Gothamist did a news-light roundup of the current effort to rein in uncertified lithium-ion batteries.
  • Council Member Bob Holden found a way to complain about the DOT's new package locker system ... which is used in many other cities without incident (NY Post). Perhaps the Council member prefers this:
There is just a ton of this in New York City.File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
  • And, finally, we ran a story yesterday which reported that a car carrying Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar had racked up 10 speeding tickets in less than a year. Both the Assembly member and her chief of staff attacked the story on Twitter, but ignored for a second day our requests for information about the car that was ferrying the lawmaker. Nonetheless, in fairness, I'm happy to offer the Queens pol's response (and my response to her response). And I'll also offer a reminder that Rajkumar has consistently argued that e-bikes are a singular threat on the roads today, when, in fact, whatever car she was in on Wednesday remains the much bigger threat:

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