Reckless politicians

Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou spoke at an Aug. 21 Lower East Side press conference calling on Albany Republicans to extend the schools speed-camera legislation. Behind her, partly hidden from view, is City Comptroller Scott Stringer. At right is Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. Photo by The Villager

Another week, another press conference to try to hammer some sense into the state Senate’s Republicans to return to Albany and “turn on” the school speed cameras again.

This Tuesday it was Comptroller Scott Stringer, joined by Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Transportation Alternatives and local school advocates, at ABC Playground, at E. Houston and Essex Sts., who announced a new petition drive to ratchet up the pressure.

The state Legislature ended its session in June without reauthorizing an extension of the program that put speed cameras in school zones.

The urgency to extend the legislation to reactivate the cameras has been mounting ever since, with students now set to return to school in under two weeks.

In fact, the cameras are actually still on. Yes, they’re running — and collecting data — though speeding tickets are not being issued, thanks to the state Senate’s G.O.P. “leaders,” and we use that term loosely.

The New York City Department of Transportation recently found that more than 132,000 drivers have been observed exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour during school hours since the cameras were “shut off.” (Again, technically, the cameras are still on — but the program, like the Albany Republicans, is nonfunctional.)

To date, 120 speed cameras are on hiatus. The final 20 are set to “go dark,” on Aug. 30, again, just days before students start school.

Comptroller Stringer’s Office recently released an analysis on reckless drivers. Among its findings are that 121,000 New York City vehicles received more than five tickets for speeding near schools and running red lights in just the past 26 months alone — and 1,107 times per day a vehicle with multiple violations blows through a red light or speeds through a school zone.

The comptroller’s analysis also highlighted that, since 2016, more than 3.5 million tickets have been issued to drivers caught by traffic cameras speeding through school zones or running a red light. That also represents a huge amount of revenue that the state is currently losing.

And, the most important fact: Since 2013, more than 46 children have been killed on our streets by reckless drivers.

Niou said that, up in Albany, “We see these strange arguments from Republicans about privacy. … I just don’t get it,” she said in exasperation. She noted that the majority of voters in the Republicans’ districts actually support the lifesaving cameras.

“They are risking their political career every day they don’t go up there,” Stringer said, referring to a special session at which the state Senate would vote to restore the camera program. “I believe parents are going to hold every politician accountable if these cameras are not turned on by primary day, Election Day,” he predicted, adding there are “other professions” for Republicans if they shamefully continue to refuse to simply safeguard the public’s safety.

The key point is that 35 state senators reportedly support the bill to get the camera program functioning again, and to extend it to additional sites. Only 32 votes in the Senate are needed for approval. The bill has already passed the Assembly.

Basically, Senate Majority John Flanagan, and notorious scofflaw Marty “Speed Racer” Golden, are why this bill is locked up in the Legislature.

Apparently, they just can’t hear the protests and press conferences — which is, sadly, why it’s now time for the next step, the petition. To sign on, go to comptroller.nyc.gov/speed-camera-petition/.

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