On Monday, 11-year-old Richard Glanville was struck by a car while riding his bike in the early evening in Far Rockaway. The video of the scene is horrific and gut-wrenching, especially if you are a parent (like every member of the Queens Tribune editorial board). The accident happened blocks from two school zones, areas where there would most likely be speed cameras if the state legislature had acted on common sense legislation earlier this year.
Democrats have blamed the Republican-led state Senate for not taking up their bill. It’s been a signature campaign issue this year, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo getting in the mix as well as pretty much every state Senate Democrat in a close primary or heated general-election race in a swing district.
While it is fair to level some blame at Senate Republicans, this whole affair smells more like an election-season political stunt than an ideological difference. If this is the case, then we seriously question if Democratic leaders can sleep at night after seeing that horrible video of a child on his bike being sent flying 10 yards through the air by a speeding car.
We say this not because we disagree with Senate Democrats; speed cameras are the best bet to keep our streets safer. Statistics back this up. But instead of making this a political shell game that leaves the people exposed, Democrats should have taken the higher road, accepted that we have a split government and considered passing alternative legislation proposed by Senate Republicans—like state Sen. Andrew Lanza’s (R-Staten Island) bill that would have phased out cameras and replaced them with speed bumps and other safety measures over the next six months.
Lanza’s bill isn’t as good as just extending and expanding speed cameras, but it would do something to make streets safer and protect our children. The Democrats’ path has led to political gamesmanship and endless press conferences, which do nothing to keep the streets safe. Somehow, the party with the better idea and arguably a stronger desire to keep our kids safe managed to fail them, when it could have done something.
In the final day of the session, the Assembly could have easily introduced and pushed through a bill with the same language as Lanza’s S9107. Assembly members could then have walked over to the fatigued capital reporters and said, “We passed this bill because we have to do something to keep the streets safer, but we don’t like this bill and we still call on the Senate to extend speed-camera legislation.”
Yet they didn’t because they wanted the issue. They wanted to go to voters and tell them, “It is the Republicans’ fault that the streets are not safe. Give us money, so we can fight them. Volunteer to help us. Turn out to vote.”
This is traditional politics and it is broken. It is why working-class people in the millions tune out elected officials and don’t show up when those officials need them.
Democrats need to watch the video of Monday’s hit-and-run and internalize its horrific and tragic violence. And then they need to drop the gimmicks and games, and simply go out and deliver for the people. If they do not, they will continue to lose, even when they are holding winning cards.