A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Three days after walking out of a news conference as reporters shouted questions at his back, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday finally fielded inquiries about his motorcade’s caught-on-camera violations of traffic laws — but he could not resist offering reporters some pointed criticism of his own.
Addressing a City Hall press corps that had made much of his reticence after a television news report showed his S.U.V. speeding and driving through stop signs without pausing, Mr. de Blasio insisted that he would not second-guess the police officers who drive him and are responsible for his safety.
“No one’s above the law,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I think that’s a very different question, however, from the question of security for someone protected by the N.Y.P.D., and I think those two things should be separated. And my view was, that hasn’t happened enough in the last few days.
The report, by WCBS-TV, had been particularly awkward for Mr. de Blasio, because it came just two days after he announced a sweeping set of proposals intended to reduce pedestrian deaths, including increased enforcement of traffic laws and reduced speed limits.
When a reporter said on Monday that, after watching the report, many New Yorkers were questioning whether the administration followed its own policies, Mr. de Blasio curtly interjected.
“Let me just respectfully say, I’m not interested in the construct of what you as an individual think many New Yorkers think,” he said. “I say that with absolute respect. I talk to New Yorkers all the time. My colleagues talk to New Yorkers all the time. Let’s not get into this concept of any one of us will speak for all the people.”
Of course, Mr. de Blasio said, every city employee needed to respect the law, including the traffic laws, and to “comport themselves in a way that’s safe.”
But when asked if he had the discretion to tell his drivers how fast to go, Mr. de Blasio said: “I don’t tell the N.Y.P.D. how to do their work when it comes to protecting me. They’re the experts. I respect that. So, in any given moment, they may see something I don’t see, they may act in a way that isn’t immediately understandable to me, but they’re trained to handle things in a certain way.”
Mr. de Blasio had ducked questions about the WCBS-TV report since it aired. His office first referred reporters to the Police Department. Then, on Friday afternoon, after a lengthy news conference at City Hall about a settlement of litigation over Long Island College Hospital, Mr. de Blasio read a short statement and walked out. He held no events over the weekend; aides said he was on a family trip to Pennsylvania.
His news conference on Monday came at Staten Island Borough Hall, where the mayor met with the borough president, James S. Oddo, and other local officials about Hurricane Sandy recovery. A new report by a group called Alliance for a Just Rebuilding found that the city’s program for home repairs had essentially proved a failure so far: Not one of the 19,920 owners of single-family homes who had applied for help had started construction, and only three of 1,051 applicants to a program for multifamily buildings had begun repairs.
Invoking Mr. de Blasio’s key campaign theme, the report suggested ways in which he could use storm recovery to “reduce inequality,” including by directing more aid to renters and low-income homeowners and ensuring that repairs to public housing leave the buildings in better shape than before the storm. Mr. de Blasio, who expressed similar goals during the campaign, said on Monday that he still agreed with that approach.
“I think it’s about taking a moment of crisis, trying to find the transformative possibilities within it, taking the resources that are coming in, and not just spending them in a sort of narrow, siloed way, but saying, what is the most we can get out of these resources that will leave people in better shape,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Mr. de Blasio said that he understood frustrations with the slow pace of help, and that his administration was fully reviewing all Hurricane Sandy-related programs. But he offered few specifics or immediate plans.
The topic of the hurricane did, however, enable him to take a shot at the press corps for their attention to less weighty matters.
“Today we’re talking about preparing our city against further natural disasters — we’re talking about trying to help thousands on thousands of people back on their feet,” he said.
“On Friday we were talking about saving community health care and hopefully resetting a dynamic where we’ve lost over a dozen hospitals over the last 12 years. These are issues that fundamentally affect people’s lives, and I think that’s where the public debate should reside. And I think too much of the time the debate veers away into, you know, sideshows.”
Mayor De BLasio Has Another Scandal: Speedgate
Let's add them up: Snowgate; Findlaytergate; now Speedgate....
This is not a good sign, nor is Bill's arrogance in thinking that media will not frown on seeing him run away all the time from answering questions. Do we not remember when Mayor Bloomberg took the cars with sirens away from his Deputy Mayors?? I have re-posted my article on my website about that, below. Bill is sliding backward fast. real fast.
BROOKLYN (PIX11) –Mayor Bill de Blasio remained fairly tight lipped outside his home Friday morning when asked if his driver was in fact driving recklessly through the city.
“I gotta go to the gym,” de Blasio said when asked by PIX11′s Monica Morales if his driver was speeding, just days after the mayor announced his ambitious “Vision Zero” plan, aimed at ending pedestrian homicides. “The NYPD provides security protocol for the drivers. Talk to them about that. We’re very serious about “Vision Zero,” we’re very committed to it, we’re going to keep moving forward with it.”
De Blasio added that he will be holding a press conference later on Friday, where reporters can ask “all the questions they want.”
Thursday, WCBS released footage of the mayor’s SUV speeding, running through stop signs and not signaling.
The SUV was driven by a member of the NYPD on de Blasio’s security team.
The NYPD released a statement Friday regarding the mayor’s security and transportation:
“The security and transportation for the Mayor are provided by the New York City Police Department. Police Department personnel assigned to the Mayor’s Security Detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety. At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include the use of techniques such as maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections. The handling of police vehicles transporting any protectee is determined solely by police personnel based on their specialized training in executive protection and professional judgment.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio's motorcade arriving at City Hall on Monday, February 17
Mr. Mayor, taxis are going slower than you! At the same time de Blasio’s entourage was spotted speeding through Queens, The Post found cabs were treading lightly on the gas last week. This despite the mayor singling out taxis in his “Vision Zero” initiative for street safety.
As a Channel 2 news crew witnessed the mayor’s two-car caravan going 15 mph over the speed limit on Thursday, The Post observed taxis driving south out of Central Park onto Seventh Avenue at speeds below the citywide limit of 30 mph. The highest speed clocked there by The Post was 26 mph. Over on Park Avenue at 38th Street, most cabs drove from 20 to 27 mph.
On West 57th Street, most of the taxis were going 15 mph to 22 mph — even without heavy traffic. De Blasio unveiled his plan last week to eliminate traffic deaths. The proposal calls for lowering the city’s speed limit to 25 mph and for rigging yellow cabs with a device to turn off the meter if the driver exceeds the speed limit.
The initiative came about in the wake of seven pedestrian fatalities during the year’s first two weeks. “It’s also about all of us taking greater responsibility every time we get behind the wheel and every time we step out on the street,” de Blasio said. “Our lives are literally in each other’s hands.” Yet on Friday, de Blasio and his security detail were jaywalking near his Brooklyn home. And on Thursday, de Blasio’s police-driven SUV was seen blowing through two stop signs, speeding and changing highway lanes without signaling. The mayor’s office referred questions to the NYPD, which defended its drivers and techniques.
Cabbies call the mayor’s crackdown unfair. “Not all accidents can be attributed to taxis,” Robert Omari said.
And taxi driver Abdel Malek Elouazri said cabbies may drive aggressively, but not quickly. “Speeding, I don’t think so,” he said. “You see the [traffic] light system, you can’t go past 30 mph.” That’s not to say cabbies never step on it. Along First Avenue at East 42nd Street, where traffic can go through a tunnel to 47th Street, cabs regularly drove over the speed limit, going as fast as 39 mph one night last week, The Post found. A handful of cabs sped along Central Park South Thursday afternoon, but none went more than 7 mph over the limit. On Riverside Drive, there was some speeding, but not above 40 mph. And the cabs were not speeding ahead of the traffic; many cars were traveling over the limit as well.
14 Department of Education Employees Have Cars With Police Sirens, Until Friday, February 20, 2004 Parentadvocates.org
Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman was caught by CBS TV crews speeding to work at the Office of Legal Affairs from her home in Riverdale, and using the police siren on her city-owned car.
The GOTHAMist: Lights (and Sirens) Out for a Deputy Mayor
Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman, who advises Mayor Bloomberg on legal matters, had been abusing the lights and sirens on her cars to get to work faster, and after a local TV station reported this, they will now be stripped from her car. WCBS had been following Robles-Roman from Riverdale to her Manhattan offices, using the lights and sirens to drive onto the shoulder of the Henry Hudson Parkway. When the TV crew confronted her, Roble-Roman said, "I'm not a firefighter, and I'm not a police officer so I can't tell you I'm going to put out a fire." The Post pointed out that the Mayor's office has a "no-siren policy" just to cut through traffic, and Mayor himself typically take the subway to work. But that is the beauty of living in Manhattan versus Riverdale.
Feb 17, 2004 8:17 am US/Eastern NEW YORK (CBS) Sirens and flashing lights atop a city official's car will be removed after CBS 2 recorded her improperly using them to beat traffic on her way to work.
Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman acknowledged last week that she had merely been driving to meetings when her chauffeur-driven sedan was taped rushing through traffic lights with its sirens screaming. The episode was recorded by CBS 2, which said Robles-Roman had similarly misused the equipment several times over the last few months.
When confronted by CBS 2's Marcia Kramer, all Robles-Roman could say was, "We're usually going to important meetings, different meetings, I'm not a firefighter and I'm not a police officer so I can't tell you I'm going to put out a fire."
Robles-Roman herself asked to have the sirens and lights removed from the car, said mayoral spokesman Ed Skyler.
The lights and sirens are meant for use only in true emergencies.
Posted on 02/20/2004 3:21:23 PM PST by nuconvert NYC Mayor Orders Lights, Sirens Removed From 250 Vehicles The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the lights and sirens removed from more than 250 city vehicles Friday after one of his deputy mayors was caught on video routinely and unnecessarily using the equipment on her official car. Only about 70 civilians in the Bloomberg administration, including the mayor and one of five deputy mayors, will be allowed to keep their lights and sirens.
A week ago, WCBS-TV aired videotape of Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman zipping from work to home in her official car, its lights flashing and siren blaring. Her chauffeur was shown driving on the shoulders of roads to avoid traffic.
Bloomberg ordered an inquiry into which officials truly need the equipment.
"The criteria the mayor used with commissioners was, 'Is this somebody that responds to emergencies as part of their job?'" spokesman Ed Skyler said.
Almost all department heads will lose their lights and sirens, including the schools chancellor, the finance commissioner and the parks commissioner. Among the few who will be allowed to keep the equipment is the sanitation commissioner.
Mayor Bloomberg quickly removed the emergency lights and sirens of more than 255 city officials, including Chancellor Joel Klein and 13 other Department of Education employees. Why did these 14 DOE employees believe that they needed this emergency equipment on their chauffeur-driven city-owned cars?
The New York Times quotes Mr. Hirsch, the medical examiner, as stating that he had used his lights and sirens only once in 15 years, to get to the scene of an airplane crash at La Guardia Airport. "It seemed to me if I had gotten there 10 minutes later, it wouldn't have made a whole lot of difference," he said.
Mr. Hirsch said he rejected the suggestion that it was a coveted status symbol. "If I needed that to define who I am, I better redefine my priorities," he said.
Isn't it far past the time when our education personnel need to redefine their priorities?