Monday, January 30, 2017

The NYPD, illegal parking and false 311 reports

Some time ago, I reported a pesky set of vehicles which were illegally parked on Bridge Street in Lower Manhattan  This has caught the attention of a Twitter account @Placardabuse who for the last year has been tirelessly posting pictures of varying degrees of illegally parked cars and encourages others to do the same. You can read more of @placardabuse  on Streetsblog.   What I found out about the parking abuse, selective enforcement and false 311 reports - - all by the NYPD - - is very, very interesting.

  • NYPD issues parking placards to thousands of vehicles, many of which have expired placards, have no plate number assigned on the placard, wrong plate number assigned on placard and even illegal license plate covers are being used in some vehicles to evade red light, speed, bus-only lane and EZ Pass cameras.  One NYPD vehicle had an expired placard from 2011.  Many of these scofflaws are parked around the NYPD's Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza.  The parking abuse has been going on for years, herehere and here.  The NYPD Patrol Guide Procedure 219-29 (go directly to page 1898, it's a HUGE .pdf document) clearly states that a placard is issued to only ONE vehicle, cannot be laminated and cannot be used to park in No Standing Zones, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, blocking driveways, bus stops, double parking, etc.
  • Selective enforcement is the mantra at NYPD, where Traffic Enforcement Agents issue summonses to some illegally parked vehicles while ignoring others.  At one construction site in Lower Manhattan, on Water and John Streets, I observed as many as twenty illegally parked vehicles, many with construction vests from Trade Off, a construction company, used a "placards" where they park everyday, robbing NYC of meter revenue and parking spaces for drivers who want to visit Lower Manhattan.
  • NYPD files false 311 reports, claiming that "action was taken to correct the condition", when the vehicle continues to illegally park at the same location, for months.  Sometimes the 311 responses would be of varying degrees for the same vehicle illegally parked in the same exact spot.  One day, NYPD would "find no evidence of a violation" while the next day "action was taken".   I even observed a Traffic Agent walk past an illegally parked car, then he tells another driver who was illegally parked to move his car.  
  • The parking abuse and corruption reported by @Placardabuse, has caused the Bronx 49th Precinct to block his account.   (and the ire of myself preparing this blog post).   How can an NYPD command block someone who not only did not violate policy, but was reporting fraud and violations of the law? 
  • The parking abuse has caused the ire of some NYC Council Members, particularly Councilwoman Margaret Chin who grilled NYPD Police Commissioner James O'Neil of the placard corruption.  
Let's start with some of the pictures around Lower Manhattan with the illegal use of NYPD placards.  Please note that this will be a multi-part report as there is plenty of discussion on this topic.  These pictures are taken by me.

Placard with no plate # assigned, illegally parked on Fulton St between Water and Gold Streets

NYPD Vehicle with illegal license plate covers

Placard expired from 2015, apparently an NYPD Captain, illegally parked on Water Street. 

Plenty of illegally parked vehicles around this construction zone at Water and John Streets - - just buy a vest from Amazon and park in Lower Manhattan for free. 

And try calling 311 to report an illegally parked vehicle.  If the vehicle is on the "no hit" list by the NYPD, not only they will not ticket or tow the vehicle, they will file false 311 reports claiming the "took action to fix the condition",  Take one vehicle, a red GMC - NY Plate HLR 8917 illegally parked on the south side of Old Slip, in a 24/7 NYPD vehicles only zone.  I would report the vehicle to 311 via. the mobile application, an hour or two later, NYPD says they corrected the defect, but I see the vehicle still illegally parked the next day.

Really?  How about this list, date of complaint, 311 reference number and result, going back to September 2016.  NOTE:  All ending times are the times when the 311 report was generated by the NYPD to "close" out the complaint, not when NYPD arrived at the scene.

  • 9/27/2016 at 12:44 PM  - - C1-1-1310607461 - - took action at 2:08 PM
  • 10/5/2016 at 12:38 PM - -  C1-1-1313753081 - - no violation observed at 1:10 PM
  • 10/6/2016 at 12:16 PM - -  C1-1-1314176431 - - those responsible were gone when NYPD arrived at 7:55 PM  - - seven hours later (LOL)
  • 10/12/2016 at 12:45 PM - - C1-1-1316477011 - -   no violation observed at 1:19 PM
  • 11/16/2016 at 12:37 PM - - C1-1-1330846931 - - took action at 2:42 PM
  • 12/8/2016 at 12:50 PM - -   C1-1-1340002771 - - vehicle was gone at 3:33 PM (but the vehicle was there at 4 PM)
  • 12/14/2016 at 1:38 PM - -   C1-1-1342666521 - - took action at 2:49 PM
  • 12/15/2016 at 12:51 PM - - C1-1-1343133931 - - took action at 2:17 PM
  • 12/16/2016 at 12:40 PM - - C1-1-1343673101 - - took action at 12:52 PM - - 12 MINUTES LATER????
  • 12/20/2016 at 12:50 PM - - C1-1-1345364321 - - vehicle was gone at 12:53 PM- - 3 MINUTES LATER - - THEY RESPONDED THAT QUICK???
  • 1/4/2017 at 12:59 PM - -     C1-1-1350869821 - - took action (they allegedly "warned and admonished" the driver) at 4:11 PM
  • 1/5/2017 at 1:08 PM   - -     C1-1-1351327881 - - previous tour???  (so much for the warning) at 5:15 PM
  • 1/6/2017 at 12:45 PM  - -    C1-1-1351759541 - - took action (again) at 2:08 PM
  • 1/11/2017 at 12:34 PM - -   C1-1-1354001831 - - police action not necessary at 2:57 PM
  • 1/17/2017 at 8:09 AM - -    C1-1-1356175191 - - vehicle was gone at 8:55 AM
  • 1/27/2017 at 12:22 PM - -   C1-1-1360707501 - - took action at 1:49 PM
  • 1/30/2017 at 7:42 AM - -     C1-1-1361651501 - - took action at 9:44 AM

And this vehicle CONTINUES to illegally park to this day.  To be continued........

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

President Trump's fact checking and lies

Wow, just wow.  Not since Bill Clinton has a U.S. President lied to the American public so much as our 45th President, Donald Trump.

First, to be honest and fair (and I am not fake news), I wish our Commander-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump, all the best in his tenure as our U.S. President.  I won't praise or criticize Trump about his proposed policies.  However, when Trump and his staff make false statements to the public about the crowd size at his Inauguration last Friday, or retracts a statement about who is paying to build a wall across the U.S. Mexico border, I have serious reservations about his fitness to serve as our 45th U.S. President.

1.  Trump calls CNN "fake news"  - -  MIXTURE:  On January 11, then President-elect Trump held a press conference where he directly called out CNN's reporter Jim Acosta for fake news in response to a unverified CNN report that the Russians had a dossier on Trump along with intelligence reports on his personal and financial information which may have compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.  Let's get one thing straight, the information was not verified to be true.  However, by Trump calling out CNN "fake news", does not mean that all of CNN's news is fake.  CNN, along with most news outlets does take a liberal slant and is biased against conservatives.  But that does not mean CNN is a bad source of news information as Trump walked out from an archived CNN interview from 1990  with Charles Feldman when asked about Marvin Roffman's allegations that the upcoming Taj Majal Casino in Atlantic City would not survive 3 months after opening and Trump's questionable managerial practices in his casinos,  Long story short, Roffman's allegations was partially right as the Taj Mahal went into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection only 16 months after the casino opened in March, 1990.     On the other side, the news media was caught with their pants down when Zeke Miller, a TIME magazine reporter, falsely reported that Donald Trump removed the bust of Dr. Martin L. King from the White House Oval Office.   The story was quickly retracted but it's false reports like this which President Trump does have a valid point when it comes to fake news.  However you can also Google conservative "news" sites yourself which post satire and fake news.

2.  Trump claims in his tweet that his inauguration looked like the largest ever with over 1 million people - - FALSE:   He is a pathological liar to claim that there appeared to be over 1 million people.  Let's be clear, he did say "it looked like one million - a million and a half people",  but a side-by-side comparison of Trump vs. Obama's 2008 inauguration clearly showed not even close to the 1 million Trump assumed.  Even the ultra-conservative FOX News read between the lines in Trump's lies when correspondent Chris Wallace questioned White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about the crowd size and called him out    And the Washington (WMATA) Metro rail system recorded less than 200K trips at 11 AM on Trump's Inauguration Day with most stations have plenty of parking spaces available.

3.  Trump wants Mexico to build the wall, all at their expense.  - - FALSE:  Trump now wants to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall using OUR government money and OUR taxpayer funds - - then he will send the bill to Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico President.   Considering Trump's fiery accusations that all \Mexicans are rapists and murders, I don't think the Mexican government will pay a penny for Trump's wall - - no, no not the way to build foreign relations with incendiary and false accusations like this.  Good luck Mr. Trump, you'll need it.

There are other statements which Donald Trump has made, some true, some false and some as Politifact has pointed out  - - "pants on fire".  Politifact has awarded Trump the 2015 liar of the year.  So, here is a full list of Donald Trump quotes which came under scrutiny.  Mr. Trump you were elected by the American public, regardless on whether there was voter fraud in the polls or not - - it's your turn to prove in your bold, cocky statements that you promise in "Making America Great Again".   Prove us that you are for real or shut your Twitter infested mouth up.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What's next after Phase I of the Second Ave subway

On a side note - the NY Post has a good article of the restaurants along Second Ave, check them out.

With the first Phase of the Second Ave Subway open  the attention is now drawn to Phase 2 of the four phase Second Ave Subway Line, which is now from 96th Street to 125th Street and Lexington/Park Aves, along Second Ave then turning west onto 125th Street where it will bridge (or tunnel I should say) the gap between the 125th Street Lexington Ave stop with the Metro-North Harlem-125th Street stop.  The good news is that over half of line's tunnels are complete from the 1970's construction.  The bad news is that only a little over $1 billion of the $6 billion is needed to complete Phase 2 and construction won't be complete until 2027 at the earliest and the section at 116th Street has to be reconstructed to add a station there.   Then you have Phase 3 and 4 to deal with as the cost will escalate as the years progress,  

But let's look at the "what if" scenario after all 4 phases are complete?   Why not build across 125th Street, linking the 2 and 3 lines at Lenox Ave and the A/B/C/D lines at St. Nicholas Ave?  But first the MTA should make Phases 2 through 4 of the Second Ave Subway a top priority because the key is providing an alternative service to lower Manhattan,   I also think that under phase 4, another station should be built, South Ferry to properly connect with the 1 and R subway lines as well as the State Island Ferry, giving riders from Brooklyn and Staten Island another viable transit option.   Presently, there is no free transfer proposed on the Second Ave line south of Grand Street.   The MTA should press on the Feds and NY State for as much funding as possible to get these projects going for the next 10 years.  

I have some more suggestions - - of course nothing will happen for the next 30 years but you never know:

1.  Extend the line into the Bronx with stops under Third Ave at East 138th Street to connect with the Pelham 6 and < 6>  subway lines, 149th Street to serve the busy Hub shopping area and the 2/5 lines.  Then the line would stay on Melrose Ave instead of 3rd and turn west onto 161st Street with a stop at Morris Ave before merging with the Concourse B and D lines along the Grand Concourse.  The western section of the Bronx has the 4 line as the only East side option and that is so crowded now.  Having a line from the nearby IND Concourse segment travel on the East side may take some burden off the 4 line.  And then extend the D and the second line across East Gun Hill and Bartow Ave to Bay Plaza in Co-Op City.

2.  Branch off at East Houston Street and connect with the G line in Brooklyn.  That sounds outrageous but the G line is the orphan of the NYC subway system, the only full length subway line which never touches Manhattan.  But this would be nothing new for a subway line from East Houston St. in Manhattan because in 1929, NYC Independent Subway System (collectively known as the IND) proposed a South 4th Street subway line as well as the Second Ave subway which would connect with the G line at the Broadway-Union Ave station in Brooklyn station then continuing through Bushwick and down as the Utica Ave line.  In fact, there is a subway shell atop the lowest point of the Utica Ave A/C lines as well as an unfinished mezzanine area.  You can see the station shell by looking at the top of the platform walls on the C local tracks.

3.  And something not related to the Second Ave subway - - the 7 line.  There has been a lot of talk from officials in NY and NJ about the 7 line should go out to New Jersey - - well I say NO - -  bring he 7 line downtown.  The 7 line's Hudson Yard terminus is facing south, send it down 11th Ave and West Street then turn onto Battery Place where it would connect with the 4/5 at Bowling Green and the R/W at Whitehall Streets.  That would entail ripping up the Joe DiMaggio Highway for the next 20 years, that I feel was a mistake to build this so-called "highway" at street level instead of replacing it with a new elevated highway which would be a better version of the Miller Highway.  

Of course these are my thoughts.  Anyway, here's to a great 2017 ahead for all of you.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The subway comes to Second Ave, finally (with lots of photos)

It's finally here - after 87 years of planning, false starts, and a work stoppage in 1975 - - a portion of the Second Avenue subway finally opened for passenger service on New Years Day, 2017- let THIS sink in.

With that in mind, let's stop the history lesson and go right to the photos on the first day, as well  as other photos taken a few days later. Enjoy them

NOTE:  The first revenue train, departed 96th Street/2nd Ave shortly after 12 Noon.  Car #8957 was the lead car in this train and it traveled southbound on the northbound track to south of 72nd Street where it switched over to the normal southbound track.  This was because two Q trains were starting on the southbound track, one each at 86th Street and 72nd Street stations and placed into regular service.  The first northbound Q, from 57th Street and 7th Ave (not from Coney Island) entered the 2nd Ave corridor around 12:20 PM.  

96th Street - 2nd Ave, including opening day and when I attended the PM open house on December 23rd.

86th Street - 2nd Ave

The Q train with the colorful Second Ave Subway wrap

An Q train (left) with an N train (right).  Some rush hour N trains run to/from 96th Street/2nd Ave instead of Astoria-Ditmars Blvd

Now 72nd Street station:

NEXT:  What I think the MTA should do in the next phases of the Second Ave Subway