Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Department of Transportation Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, today for their egregious interpretation of legislation passed earlier this year by the State Legislature to expand the city's school zone speed camera program.
In a letter to de Blasio and Trottenberg, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Reilly criticized an announcement from the Department of Transportation pertaining to the installation of 2,000 speed camera units throughout the city by next year. He contests that their interpretation is not consistent with the original intent of the legislation, which he claims only permits the city to use mobile and stationary speed camera units in up to 750 school zones - an increase from the 140 units previously permitted.
To make his case, Reilly cites New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 1180(b), which previously stated that a "school speed zone" shall mean a distance not to exceed 1,320 feet on a highway passing a school building, or the entrance or exit of a school building abutting a highway. Under the new law though, a "school speed zone" shall mean a radial distance of 1,320 feet from a school building.
"What this means is that each speed camera unit placed represents just one school speed zone, and that the total number of school zone speed camera units in operation at any one time is limited to 750, not 2,000," said Reilly. "Their interpretation of this law is just flat-out wrong."
Reilly referenced his vote on the legislation, which was in the negative.
" [...] I simply could not support the expansion of a program that has generated millions in additional funding for the City of New York - most of which is misused by city officials to support their pet projects, instead of being used to improve pedestrian safety in our school zones," wrote Reilly. "Until real improvements are made in regard to pedestrian safety in school zones, my constituents and I will continue to see this program as nothing more than a scheme to take our money."
He also shared with them legislation he authored several weeks ago, A. 08232, which creates the New York City School Safety Fund. It would require all monies collected through the speed camera program to be earmarked for use on pedestrian improvement projects in school zones only.
Reilly warned the city that he is ready to seek an injunction in the matter should they continue with their plan to install all 2,000 speed camera units; specifically an injunction to ensure that the City of New York remains compliant with the intent of the school zone speed camera law, which Reilly maintains only permits 750 camera units to be active at one time.
"Their interpretation is either due to deliberate ignorance or sheer incompetence. I hope that Commissioner Trottenberg and those at the Department of Transportation will pause and reconsider their decision to install all these cameras," said Reilly.
Reilly continued, "We owe it to those who elected us their representatives to defend their values and views, but how can we do that when the legislation considered by the legislature and signed by the executive is not presented with truth or interpreted the correct way?"