Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
The de Blasio administration led a rally last week on Staten Island urging the State Senate to return to Albany to preserve and expand the City’s speed camera program.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The school zone speed camera program expired on July 25, but the debate shows no signs of pumping the brakes.
State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-L.I.) said on Friday that he would support a plan to restore the program that placed 140 speed safety cameras around city schools across the five boroughs.
“Let me say publicly what I have been saying privately for weeks and what we said in Albany: The Senate Republican Majority is willing to approve an extender of the existing New York City speed camera program,” Flanagan said to the New York Post.
Flanagan’s statement revealed a blisteringly quick political about-face. Last Thursday, Senate Republicans sought to shift the blame, blasting the Assembly in a press release that ridiculed the Lower Chamber as a destination where student street safety bills go to die.
“Year after year the Senate works to protect children from reckless drivers and it’s shameful that the Assembly has failed to act on a long list of legislation that would keep children across the state safe. While they sped out of town on the last day of session and recklessly malign Republicans, who have put forward solutions to New York City’s speed camera program including an extender and additional measures to slow drivers down in real time like speed bumps, the Assembly continuously jeopardizes the lives of students across the state. Every New Yorker from upstate to downstate should know about the Assembly’s complete inaction on critical, life-saving measures,” Flanagan said in the release.
The program sunset after GOP senators failed to vote on the matter before the last legislative session was gaveled to a close. For weeks, advocates have been slamming Senate Republicans and demanding they reconvene for a special session to vote.
“The lives and safety of our children are not partisan issues, and I call on the Senate to return to Albany and pass this common sense bill to prevent tragedies and heartbreak,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a week before the program’s expiration date.
Earlier this year, State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) introduced a bill that would add 150 cameras to the 140 devices operating under the pilot program that was approved back in 2013. Under Peralta’s measure, 290 speed cameras will operate within a quarter-mile from a designated school. The devices would initiate recording one hour before the start of each school day, and cease recording one hour after it ends. Additionally, the cameras will be operational during students’ activities, and up to 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes after the activities, Peralta noted.
“This program saved countless lives, and because of the lack of action from the Senate Republican Majority to vote on my bill, school-zone speed cameras will be turned off today. This is senseless, illogical,” the senator said last Wednesday. “This program has been tremendously successful. New York City kids will no longer be protected from reckless drivers when they travel to and from school. This is a sad day for our city, for our kids and for all New Yorkers. In September, more than one million children will return to school on more dangerous roads. This is unacceptable.”