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Queens Chronicle

Speed cameras will be back for school

Cuomo, declaring an emergency, signs executive order; city bill on Wednesday

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Posted: Monday, August 27, 2018 3:04 pm

Gov. Cuomo on Monday morning signed an executive order that, combined with a bill expected to pass in the City Council on Wednesday, will reactivate 140 speed cameras around a number of schools in the city.

Cuomo, joined at a press conference by Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and Amy Cohen, one of the founders of Families for Safe Streets, signed the 30-day order under his emergency powers.

“An emergency is, by definition, something that may cost human lives,” Cuomo said at a press conference streamed by the Chronicle. “If we do not put speed cameras back in an operational capacity, I think inarguably there is a high probability that there will be loss of human life.”

The cameras have been in place since 2014. A bill expanding the program to 290 locations passed the state Assembly this past term but failed in the state Senate. So too did a subsequent bill that just would have extended the use of the cameras already in place.

The law permitting their use expired on July 25. Cuomo placed the blame on the Republican-controlled Senate for refusing to either pass a new law in session and then to return to take a vote.

“I always believed that the Senate Republicans would come back and pass this bill,” he said, calling the delay irresponsible and tone-deaf. He said he did not think the issue still would be open with the start of school just over a week away.

“I never believed it.”

Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) sponsor of the stalled bill, applauded the move in a statement on Monday morning.

“It’s been proven over and over again that speed cameras are one of the most important and effective tools we have available to slow down drivers and keep our kids safe on our streets,” he said. “That’s why I continue to call on the Senate to return to Albany so that we can pass legislation that I’ve introduced to expand the speed camera program and once again codify their use.”

A spokeswoman for the Senate leadership said the body is more than ready to do so.

“We have said all along that our Majority supports extending this program to keep speed cameras on,” she said in a statement emailed to the Chronicle. “In fact, we’d even consider codifying the Governor’s executive order into law. The real question is will the Assembly join us.”

Cohen said there still is a dark cloud hanging over the Senate.

“When your child dies, it’s hard to be grateful,” Cohen said. “Today there is a little light. We know the cost of not acting.”

The governor said his order extends the camera program with the same rules and the same fines as before. It also authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to perform the necessary functions that will enable the city to enact the Council’s mirror legislation once it passes.

The system will kick back in the day before school starts in order to make sue there are no glitches.

Johnson said Mayor de Blasio will issue a message of necessity on Wednesday prior to the vote.

“The city has a legal strategy on how we can move forward in a responsible manner,” he said.

Johnson also is calling for an expansion of the program.

Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), in a statement issued by his office, fully supported Cuomo’s and Johnson’s actions.

“The Assembly voted in favor to continue the speed camera program. It’s a shame how the Republican run Senate could not do the same,” he said. “Instead, the GOP majority put politics first and jeopardized the livelihood of New York City students. I hope moving forward the Senate will do better and work with the Assembly to pass legislation that will ensure the commute for all students to be a safe one.”

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