Southern Brooklyn

Liars And Stupidity

Proof of a lie. Photo by Allan Rosen.

THE COMMUTE: I guess the two things that bother me most are stupidity and liars. An example of stupidity is proposing a cure worse than the disease. Liars are even more infuriating. They will take a position, deny having taken it, change their reasoning repeatedly or BS you to death.

Examples of stupidityAssemblyman Marcos Crespo from the Bronx proposed a law last week requiring subway trains to first pause then travel no faster than five miles per hour when entering a subway station to prevent people from getting hit by arriving subway trains. That would increase yourcommute from Southern Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan by 20 minutes when only 0.000006 percent of subway riders are struck by trains, as pointed out by Second Ave Sagas’ Ben Kabak.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in an effort to improve her popularity so she can run in the next mayoral race made two proposals last week. (1) Parking agents must prove parking tickets are legit by taking a picture of the violation (A similar proposal by Councilman Nelson several years ago requiring Sanitation agents to submit photographic proof of violations went nowhere). (2) Sanitation should reduce Alternate Side of the Street Parking (ASP) regulations from three hours, two days a week to 90 minutes, one day per week on each side of the street.

For the first bit, Quinn’s and Nelson’s ideas are good ones. Requiring photographic evidence would result in fewer bogus summonses.

As for the second part of her proposal, you might ask yourself if Quinn has been living under a rock.  Her proposal to reduce ASP to one day a week on each side of the street is already the norm in most neighborhoods and some community boards have requested to reduce it further to 60 minutes or eliminate it entirely. Many insist that streets without any ASP regulations are not noticeably dirtier than those with the regulations and that they are not needed at all on some streets.

And then comes the liars: Sanitation has rejected those proposals insisting that, where it exists, 90 minutes is the minimum time they require for street sweeping.  Last Friday I saw block after block on one street in Canarsie with ASP only on Wednesdays for only 30 minutes. (Pilot program, perhaps, or just Lie #1?)

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) claims its most important priority is safety. However, it takes years to replace broken lamppost lights on highways leading to dark stretches of road for a mile or more, and lanes are not re-striped for months after they are totally worn out (Lie #2). Several years ago when I complained about missing lane markings, DOT responded that they do not re-stripe in the winter.  Last week a small portion of the Belt Parkway was re-striped although much more work needs to be done (Lie #3).

When DOT first announced their plans to rebuild the Belt Parkway bridges, I asked the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), the state agency that doles out state funding for highway and transit projects, if the Belt Parkway bridges could be rebuilt with eight lanes instead of six to allow for future expansion of the highway between Knapp Street and Cross Bay Boulevard. NYMTC stated that would require the use of federal parkland for a highway which would not be permitted. So why is it permissible to use a city nature preserve to build a shopping mall?  (Lie #4?).

When I requested the Parks Department to open a second entrance to a playground because my elderly mother had difficulty walking a quarter-mile to the only open entrance, the reason I received was that the entrance was closed for security reasons. In case of a bomb threat, fire, or other emergency when it is necessary to evacuate people quickly, doesn’t having only one means of egress pose a security and fire hazard? (Lie #5)

Lies 6, 7, 8, etc. – The MTA is probably most notorious for making up phony excuses. When the bus stop closest to my home was eliminated, they first insisted the reason was so they can adhere to a three-block bus stop spacing guideline. Never mind the fact that all the other stops on the street remained at two block intervals with two stops that were only one block apart.

When that reason was successfully refuted, they insisted it was removed at the request of Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. When he denied it and requested the reason for its removal, he was told it was at the request of Councilman Nelson whose office also denied having requested it. The story then became DOT made the change and the MTA did not object to it because the buses would operate faster, saving the MTA money. When it was pointed out that the removal of a single stop would not save them any money, but just increased travel time for former users of that stop due to a high probability of missing a bus while walking to the next stop, the MTA finally admitted that no one benefited.  That admission, however, did not result in them changing their position.  One final attempt at reinstituting the stop resulted in the MTA claiming that the community board requested its removal, when in fact the community board requested the return of the bus stop.

When you catch government too often in its lies, they just start to ignore you. I guess that’s how the expression “Go fight City Hall” got started. How many times has someone in government lied to you?  I don’t even want to hear about stupidity.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Comment policy


  1. I’ve gotten the “I’ll get back to you” dodge from numerous parties in various agencies when I pointed out that their information was, to the best of my knowledge, wrong. You usually have to call them again, and then maybe you’ll find out that they actually checked. Most of the time they think you’ll just wait for them to get back to you, so they’re in the same place as before.

  2. The “I’ll get back to you” response when you’ve caught an agency with their pants down is the most common response. It’s just a delay tactic, because as you’ve stated, they rarely get back to you unless you follow-up. The sad part is if that reply is sent to an elected official, they usually just forget about it.

  3. All good points. Lie #47…Why is it when the Feds say preserve it means more than when the city says parkland? Because the city gives with one hand while it is stealing from us with the other hand. But talent has no boundaries, at the same time we are getting a boot up the ars.

  4. In regard to the 30 minute ASP rule in Canarsie, I can tell you that if it is a pilot program, it’s possibly one of the longest in history. They changed it from 3 hours on monday about 5-6 years ago to the current 7:30-8:00 am slot.

  5. I like the idea of 1/2 hour but…
    If one sweeper is doing the same size area (by me it is 1 1/2 hrs) in 1/2 hour he is going to make a mess spreading the garbage from driving too fast.
    If the signs could have graduating times along the route it would be better.
    Am I asking too much? No, asking people not to be pigs is too much.

  6. Allan Rosen is KILLING IT! great write up

    My ONLY complaint is if you want to be a true journalist you should NEVER give your own opinion! but i agree with your opinions and so its ok….for now! 🙂

  7. marcos crespo’s idea is incredibly stupid. it is usually the victim’s fault for going onto the tracks without permission.

  8. Is Ned Berke a journalist or a blogger? Or a columnist? Or an activist? A community builder? A naysayer? A go getter? A friend or foe?

    I am the walrus.

    And I just blew… your… mind, man.

  9. (God, it’s awful when I’m procrastinating working on my website by commenting on my website. If I had a band, I’d be the guy that wears his own t-shirt.)

  10. And even if the train moves at 5 mph, when someone really wants to go, they will jump directly in front of the train.
    What will be proposed then? No trains?

  11. I don’t see why they couldn’t have graduated times, but that is asking that they adhere to a schedule. You know when a bus misses its schedule, but do you know if the street sweeper or mail truck misses its schedule. No. My mailbox says pick up is at 1 PM, but the mail can’t talk or complain when its kept waiting. I consistently mail my Netflix movies at 3 PM and it most always arrives by the next day. That means the mail truck is always at least 2 hours late Doesn’t matter to me, but if the sanitation truck is late, cars will fill the spaces and the street will not be swept.

  12. I used to live on a street that had it 5 days a week. I moved away from there 33 years ago, and occasionally I still have a nightmare that I forgot to move my car. No joke.

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