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Opportunity Slipping Away In Albany For Speed Cameras Outside NYC Schools, Other Major Issues

June 20, 2018 - 2:22 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Opportunity is slipping away when it comes to traffic-watching cameras around New York City schools.

As WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg reported, pressure is growing on one state senator from Brooklyn as the legislative session winds down in Albany.

Wednesday is the final day of the state legislative session, and Bill S6046A is stalled in committee. It is being held there by state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-New York).

The legislation seeks to expand a pilot program that began four years ago, when 140 speed cameras were installed near schools throughout the city.

“Right now, the speed camera reauthorization, which would let the city expand from 140 school zones to 290 school zones, is being linked and leveraged and held hostage by a desire for lawmakers from around the state to pass usually non-controversial measures – things like renewing a hotel tax, or letting a city issue some bonds,” explained Jimmy Vielkind of Politico New York.

Amy Cohen is a staunch supporter of the pilot program, and she said Felder is as well. But he wants something in return – armed police officers outside all schools.

Cohen said Felder is holding speed cameras hostage to get what he wants.

“They both are necessary, but these safety cameras are proven to work, and they are a tool that is needed so there are not more parents who are burying their children,” Cohen said.

Cohen herself is one of those parents. Her son was killed in a car crash that was the result of speeding four years ago.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner James O’Neill have also called for the expansion of the speed camera program.

If there is no action taken by the end of the day, not only would there be no new speed cameras, the city's 140 speed cameras would be turned off, WCBS 880’s Steve Burns reported earlier this week.

One of the other reasons the bill has been held up is over privacy concerns. Some constituents have concerns over being watched by these cameras, but O'Neill said there are security cameras all around the city and that's not an issue.

Advocates are looking to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for some help, Vielkind said.

Rosenberg reached out to Felder for comment, but had not heard back Wednesday afternoon.

Vielkind told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace that many other hot-button issues also likely will not be decided in time with the legislative session ending.

There has been no action on Cuomo’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law –or “red flag” law – which would allow judges to confiscate weapons from people considered dangerous by law enforcement or their relatives. A Democratic priority of guaranteeing and re-codifying the New York state abortion rights law – taking it out of the criminal code – also has not seen any action, Vielkind said.

“But one measure that has now cleared both the Assembly and the Senate and is heading to Governor Cuomo’s desk is a reauthorization of the state’s ticket-scalping law, with some additional protections on reselling and ticket-buying. The hope, its sponsors say, will make it easier for New Yorkers to get tickets to their favorite sports games and shows. It was a pretty broadly bipartisan affirmation for those bills,” he said.

As to the possibility of legalized sports betting in New York state, for this legislative session, Vielkind pronounced it, “dead, dead, dead.”

"Both leaders of the Senate and Assembly say they will not take up a bill, and we’ll have to see when the state issues regulations that would let New Yorkers bet at our existing casinos,” he said. “Otherwise, people will just have to cross the Hudson River and go to Jersey.”