Bloomberg Slams Albany Lawmakers for Blocking Speed Cameras
NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed the State Senate Wednesday for blocking a plan that would allow the city to install cameras to catch speeders.
City officials, including Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, had been pushing the senate to approve and fund a pilot program that would allow the city to install up to 40 speed-enforcement cameras in school zones and other areas to try to cut down on traffic deaths.
But the measure never made it into a final budget deal, which was passed by the senate before dawn on Wednesday.
"Why legislators outside the City of New York get to decide our traffic policies is one of the more irrational things," an angry Bloomberg said at an unrelated press conference at a bar near Union Square.
“Even more irrational and — frankly reckless and negligent — is some senators blocking our ability to save the lives of our kids with speed cameras," he said.
Traffic fatalities spiked to 274 in 2012 — a 12 percent increase from the year before and highest number since 2008, according to data released by the city's Department of Transportation.
Bloomberg also noted that legislators were happy to add a surcharge to city tickets for violations such as texting while driving as part of the budget deal.
"They're going to take the money, but they would not let us use speed cameras to stop people from killing our kids," he said, calling out a trio of senators he blamed for blocking the bill.
Scott Reif, a State Senate GOP spokesman, defended the decision.
"Working with the city, no one has fought harder or longer than Senate Republicans to ensure the safety of New York City children and their families," he said in a statement.
Bloomberg also slammed a plan to provide expanded school bus service to Jewish yeshiva students as “pandering to a particular political constituency."
"Make no mistake about it: If we have to provide extra busing, that money's got to come from someplace, and so we'll have to take busing away from some of the people that currently have it," he said.
Bloomberg had kinder words, however, for the State Assembly and Speaker Sheldon Silver, who helped forge a deal that he said would restore about half of the $250 million in education funding the city had been poised to lose after it failed to reach a deal on teacher evaluations with the teachers union.
"We will have fewer teachers, we will have less services in our schools because of the money that we lost. But at least it won't be as bad as it was before," he said.
The deal, which was unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week, would also prevent evaluation deals from sunsetting, and would force the city and union to accept an evaluation system imposed by the state unless they can reach a deal by June 1.
The Assembly is expected to vote on the final budget deal Thursday.