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Cars and trucks park everywhere because the buck stops nowhere



traffic jam

Ever wonder why delivery trucks so casually double-park or linger curbside for extended periods, then proudly display the stacks of tickets they collect under their wiper blades? No fewer than 17 violations—including double-parking and overstaying a time limit—carry zero penalty for companies participating in the city’s Stipulated Fine Program. Crain’s senior reporter Matthew Flamm noted last week that those infractions will cost $25 or more beginning Dec. 3, but it should never have taken so long to figure out that a ticket with no penalty deters no one.

The breakdown helps explain why the city has been unable to manage surface-level transportation. Numerous agencies play a role, so the buck stops nowhere. Getting everyone on the same page is like herding cats. The Department of Transportation is supposed to control the streets, but the Stipulated Fine Program is run by the Department of Finance, which discounts penalties so violators won’t contest tickets. The Department of Buildings oversees the construction projects that often take over sidewalks, curbs and travel lanes. Traffic and parking enforcement is largely dependent on the Police Department, whose priority will always be crime. And dozens of government offices have staff members motoring around in city vehicles with windshield placards that they use to park for free virtually wherever they want. Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to address the issue, but it’s hard to detect any progress on that or his year-old “congestion action plan.” Meanwhile the city fleet has grown by 20% under his watch and for-hire vehicles have flooded the central business district.

With the tangle of bureaucracy and agendas, cohesive policymaking and enforcement are impossible. The result is an urban Wild West. Even drivers without placards park illegally without repercussions by adorning their car with a pylon, a reflective vest, a helmet, a PBA card—nearly anything.

The other half of the problem is in Albany, where state legislators have lacked the vision and courage to impose congestion fees. They ignore the business leaders and 6 million daily subway riders begging for new trains, signals and tracks but kowtow to motorists who cry poverty while paying $28 to park their SUV in a Midtown garage.

On a bright note, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week restarted his effort to enact congestion pricing, calling it the only hope to fund subway upgrades that are expected to take 10 years and cost some $40 billion. Passing it might require him to drag lawmakers by the scruff of their neck, but he is capable of that. When the economy is losing billions of dollars to delays above ground and below, only one strategy will do: whatever it takes.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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