NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A resident quarreled with Mayor Bill de Blasio after an event on Staten Island Thursday, accusing the mayor of mounting speed cameras to bring in revenue.
Surrounded by reporters including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond, the man, identified in published reports as Chris Altieri, claimed a speed camera at Hylan Boulevard and Burbank Avenue is placed illegally.
He told the mayor and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg that a school must abut the highway where a speed camera is located, and the nearest school does not meet those qualifications.
Further, Altieri said he thinks the camera is there just to collect revenue anyway, and not to save lives as the mayor argued.
“If you wanted to save people’s lives, you’d have all 140 cameras up and running,” Altieri said.
“Trust me, we want to save people’s lives. That’s what the motivation is,” de Blasio said.
“No, you don’t. You want the revenue,” Altieri said. “I have to walk in the street all the time.”
“How do you say that to someone?” de Blasio asked. “Can you really look me in the eye and say we don’t want to save people’s lives? Do you really believe that?”
Altieri went on to claim he has to walk in the street because some roads in the neighborhood do not have sidewalks, and said sidewalks and police officers save lives while revenue cameras do not.
“I’m asking you to listen to one thing. I’m asking you to listen to one thing,” de Blasio said. “I believe you want to save people’s lives. I believe this is also saving people’s lives.”
He said a number of pedestrians’ lives had been saved as a result of the program. But Altieri insisted that they are set up just to raise revenues, and he argued that there was evidence in the fact that only some of the speed cameras are up and running now, rather than all 140.
“Nassau (County) had them up and running in how long?” Altieri said.
“Nassau’s got torn down because they didn’t do it right,” Trottenberg replied.
“No, because the residents there recognized it’s a revenue scheme. It’s a revenue scheme. It is,” he said. “You guys have big contracts to buy those things. They make campaign contributions; probably kickbacks; if you want to be realistic, probably kickbacks.”
The mayor came to Staten Island to help lay asphalt on a stretch of Tysens Lane in New Dorp. His administration plans to spend $242 million more for road repaving in all five boroughs over the next two years, following the pothole crisis brought on by the harsh winter.
De Blasio has been taken to task by Staten Island residents who accuse him of not visiting the borough frequently enough.