De Blasio Takes No Questions On Traffic Violations By His Caravan
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Following a lengthy news conference on another subject Friday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “committed” to traffic safety in New York City, but left it to the NYPD to comment about how his caravan went through stop signs and broke other motor vehicle laws.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, just two days after he announced a massive plan to prevent traffic deaths slow drivers down, CBS 2 caught the mayor’s two-car caravan on Thursday blowing through two stop signs in Queens, changing lanes without signaling, blowing through stop signs, going 40 mph in 30 mph zone and then nearly 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.
De Blasio read a statement on the subject at the end of an unrelated news conference.
“I have great respect for the NYPD security training and protocols. I’m committed, obviously, to traffic safety on and state streets of New York City. That’s why we put forward Vision Zero (traffic safety plan),” the mayor said. “Commissioner Bratton addressed the topic of my security detail earlier today. I’m very comfortable with what Commissioner Bratton said, and I refer you to his comments.”
WATCH: Mayor de Blasio Issues Statement On Motorcade:
De Blasio did not answer any questions about the subject. Reporters tried to ask questions after de Blasio’s statement, but he left the room.
“Mr. Mayor, why won’t you answer any more questions?,” Kramer said as the mayor left the room. “You say you’re transparent. Why won’t you ask any more questions?”
The statement followed a lengthy news conference Friday afternoon about a deal reached by the state to keep Long Island College Hospital open, but allow the State University of New York to hand it over a new operator. He called up an array of elected officials, union representatives and others to speak, and took only on-topic questions.
Kramer reported the head bobbed and weaved during the hour-long news conference, among reporters trying to ask about the traffic violations.
When one reporter asked if he could ask an off-topic question before the statement, de Blasio said no.
“We’re talking about a major moment in the history of health care in this city. I think people are interested in that,” he said.
As de Blasio noted, police Commissioner Bill Bratton earlier Friday was out defending the mayor’s caravan. He said he was not “overly concerned” about the traffic violations that were caught on tape, and it is not the mayor’s job to tell police officers how to drive.
Speaking to reporters Friday after his weekly meeting with the mayor, Bratton defended the security detail, which is operated by NYPD detectives, saying the officers did “what they’re trained to do.”
He added that the video “did not raise significant concerns.”
But the number of violations all caught on camera by CBS 2 would have resulted in a suspended license, Kramer reported.
When the mayor got back to City Hall, he stayed in his car in the parking lot. The second car was unable to enter City Hall Plaza and ended up blocking the intersection and the crosswalk, forcing pedestrians to walk around it.
De Blasio was in the front passenger seat of his NYPD-driven SUV and apparently did nothing to urge his driver to obey the law, Kramer reported.
This came after de Blasio vowed on Tuesday to take personal responsibility for driver safety with his “Vision Zero” traffic safety plan, a 62-point safe streets initiative which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph. He said the likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 mph.
The plan also calls for adding more officers to enforce speeding and other traffic violations.
“We’ve put a very bold plan before you, and we want the public to know we’re holding ourselves to this standard,” the mayor said Tuesday.
But as to the traffic violations de Blasio’s detail committed, Bratton said people need to keep the mayor’s need for security in mind.
“He’s the mayor of New York and his security is paramount, much the same as the President of the United States, the governor or even for that matter the security that’s provided to me,” he said. “I’m sorry that’s the way it is.”
When asked if de Blasio could tell his security detail to slow down, Bratton said Friday he could raise it, “but the security concerns would override any of his concerns.”
“Let’s get real,” Bratton said. “Security issues are going to be paramount.”
But while Bratton said he was not concerned, when Kramer showed the video to Zoraya Torres, she started crying. Her mother, Angela Hurtado, was killed in a traffic accident in Maspeth, Queens – not far from where the mayor’s detail went through the stop signs.
She had some words for the mayor.
“For him to be doing this — someone could have been crossing at that precise moment. Even if you honk, it defeats the purpose,” Torres said. “Just the thought that someone could have been crossing — it could have been a child, it could have been an elderly person, it could have been anybody at that precise moment. It’s upsetting because that’s how — my mom was crossing the street on her light, and a man decided to take an illegal left turn and took her life.”
Torres asked the mayor to be more considerate.
“Whatever you’re preaching, you need to practice it,” she said. “Please be more precautious. I know that you’re in a rush to get places. My mom was just crossing the street, and her life was just taken away. I don’t have her no more.”
The story has also created a buzz on social media. Minutes after the story broke, many took to Twitter with suggested hashtags including #speedgate, #vision60mph, #deSpeedio and #FastAndFurious.
Jacob Kornbluh, a political reporter for Yeshiva World News, said he came up with the #speedgate hashtag.
“I dubbed ‘speedgate’ because it’s the best hashtag that describes what Mayor de Blasio did,” Kornbluh told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “He talks about speeding and reducing speed in residential neighborhoods and he was the first one violating that ‘Vision Zero’ plan.”
On the CBS New York Facebook page, one woman commented: “I hope DMV or traffic cops treat him the same as us regular people – take those 5 points off his license – even if he was not the driver, he sat there.”
“Not surprised many in the NYPD do the same. Those who are supposed to uphold the law often times believe they are above it,” another woman posted.
But others disagree.
“The people who are paid to protect the mayor can go through as many stop lights… if it’s a matter of safety for our mayor. we have not even given our mayor… a chance yet,” said one person.
Kramer reported the detail could have used lights and sirens, or blocking vehicles if there had been an emergency. But the mayor was not headed anywhere that appeared to be an emergency, Kramer reported.
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