#CrashNotAccident

Leave a comment

091117_CitiBike.jpeg

We have all kinds of tremendous problems in our city, our country and the world.  I’ve concluded that we speak out most effectively against harm and injustices to the innocent that hit close to home.

I am angry about the pace at which people on bicycles and walking are getting hit, mangled, mutilated and killed.

Yesterday, there was a mistrial despite overwhelming evidence against Marlon Sewell, who mowed down Victoria Nicodemus on Brooklyn’s Fulton Street with his Chevrolet Suburban in late 2015. Mr. Sewell ‘s vehicle had gas fumes, he was on medication that made him drowsy, and he lied to police about the circumstances of his losing control. Yet one juror decided this trial had to be about race, not justice and  called it an accident. The judge had no option but to declare it a mistrial. #CrashNotAccident

A few Sundays ago, my family and I were marshals in the inaugural 15-mile family ride of the 28th annual NYC Century Bike Tour. It was a beautiful day, and most riders had a great day.

Five riders didn’t. At 9am, while waiting at a red light in Borough Park, they were hit by a drunk driver. One woman is in very serious condition after being dragged under the driver’s minivan.  Her injuries include liver lacerations, intra-abdominal bleeding, traumatic brain injury and a spleen removal.

My brother-in-law came upon the horrible scene. He said he was reminded of how a precious human life can be altered in seconds.

In this case, the driver has been charged with driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol level of .266 was twice the legal limit. He was also driving with a suspended license.

The ride’s organizer, Transportation Alternatives, is doing everything it can to ensure that the NYPD’s investigation is thorough. That isn’t always the case. Too often, the attitude of police investigators is that most of these crashes are “accidents.” They’re not. #CrashNotAccident

The very next morning, an unidentified woman riding a Citi Bike was struck by the driver of a ten-wheel truck on 7th Avenue near the corner of 30th Street on Monday morning. The victim was pinned under the vehicle and transported to Bellevue Hospital with body trauma. The driver and victim yelled at one another after the crash, witnesses told DNAInfo. Six pedestrians have been injured at the intersection of West 30th Street and 7th Avenue since 2009. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. #CrashNotAccident

In my home town of Oceanside, New York, a high school freshman was hit by a car that apparently didn’t stop at an intersection. The severity of her injuries suggest that the driver didn’t even slow down to a reasonable speed. I know that intersection well, both as a cyclist and a driver.  At times, the Nassau County Police have stepped up enforcement to keep it safe there. But no one was there that day. #CrashNotAccident

Remember children like Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, Cooper Stock and Allison Liao. They were hit and killed by reckless, inattentive and/or speeding drivers. #CrashNotAccident

Whenever these tragedies occur, there are inevitably online comments about the rudeness of cyclists who don’t stop at red lights, who are aggressive, who threaten, who jump ahead of motor vehicles at stop lights. My response to that is, what’s your point? Does that justify the harm to them?

Thousands of drivers in New York City are injuring and killing their fellow New Yorkers, yet our city’s District Attorneys let them get away with it. According to a report issued by Transportation Alternatives, fewer than 1% of the drivers involved in roughly 4,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 that resulted in injury or death were charged with a crime.

“Not a single one of the DAs offices is really doing its job when it comes to holding dangerous and reckless drivers accountable,” TA director Paul Steeley White says. “The DAs are just not present for a whole class of serious injury and critical injury cases,” “They’re just not paying attention.”

82113cab.jpg
In 2013, cab driver Mohammed Himon jumped the curb outside of Rockefeller Center and struck tourist Sian Green, causing her foot to be amputated. Himon admitted to being agitated at a cycclist when it happened, but he was never charged by Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Jr.

In all this, motor vehicles are the chief maimer and killer. Almost every day, we hear about a driver who plows into a sidewalk and crashes into a storefront. The police call it an accident, or say that it is somehow the vehicle’s fault rather than the driver’s. It’s not. #CrashNotAccident

I am a cyclist, but I am not anti-car. Motor vehicles aren’t going anywhere. But the pro-automobile environment we live in is changing. We cannot have carnage, we have to get along, and Share The Road has to start somewhere. That starts with law enforcement officials who treat drivers in crashes as suspects, the same way they are supposed to treat drunk drivers.

As it stands now, they look for ways to blame the victim. That is particularly galling when the victim is dead.

Last week, my first-grader was proud of herself. for being able to ride the length of our city block by herself. I’m proud of her too. What I want now is her to be safe doing so in any community. The same goes for any rider or walker.

#CrashNotAccident

We Did It For The Boys: Let’s Give Megyn A Chance

Leave a comment

Yesterday on Facebook I posted a snarky take on the disastrous first week of Megyn Kelly’s much-hyped Today Show hour. I called it “a perfectly Trumpian bowlful of Not Good.”

On her Monday debut show, Kelly asked a “Will & Grace” superfan if the popular sitcom had made him gay. Kelly also told him that she hopes “the gay thing” works out for him. Yes, she said that. “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing must have screamed at NBC publicists for being a part of this. She says she was “dismayed” about the comments and regrets going on the show.

Then came yesterday. Look, at this point Jane Fonda is a Hollywood legend, not a radical firebrand. Pressing her about plastic surgery is mean stuff, and pretty tone-deaf. It’s 2017. Most of Kelly’s viewers aren’t shouting “Hanoi Jane” at the screen.

Pushing Jane Fonda to say “let’s not go there” about plastic surgery proves Megyn Kelly isn’t fully transitioned to morning TV yet.

For these missteps, Megyn Kelly is being mercilessly criticized. http://time.com/4955569/megyn-kelly-today-show-review/ It’s not undeserved, but let’s be fair. Anyone who works at Fox News needs deprogramming before re-entering civilized society. And it’s really hard to consider NBC News to be civilized society.

Still, let’s give Megyn a chance. If NBC is patient, history may well be on her side.Take a look at the boys who have walked a mile in her shoes.

– Jay Leno. Even if he had handled the transition well — which he didn’t — Leno took over for JOHNNY CARSON. It was inevitable that he would pale in comparison, and he did. It took about 3 years for Leno to get sea legs. Conan O’Brien was equally adrift for a few years.

– Jon Stewart. When he took over “The Daily Show” from that smirky guy whose name I cannot remember back in 1999, Stewart was not an A-lister. He was not considered a first-rate standup comic nor a political mind. We all know that Stewart proved otherwise and made that show an institution for the next 16 years.

– Trevor Noah. Stewart’s success meant that his successor would be unfairly measured in comparison. It took Donald Trump to help Noah find his sea legs. He is sharp, insightful, funny, yet very different than the last guy. Yet many still miss Stewart.

– Stephen Colbert. When he took over David Letterman’s slot on CBS, Colbert was being compared not just to Letterman but…Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.” The initial disappointment in his new show probably had to do with viewers still expecting that mock-Bill O’Reilly character. But like Trevor Noah, Colbert found his voice in 2016. The show is his now.

Megyn Kelly says she doesn’t want to “be political.” That’s consistent with a 9am network show. But it’s going to be hard. Kelly made her bones being castigated in the most vulgar way by Trump. How long can that be resisted?

But I do see a way out of this. Her producers have to first recognize that Megyn Kelly is considered an ice queen. She is not Kelly Ripa. She cannot get away with prattling endlessly about herself, her kids, sex with her husband, shopping, etc.

No, my suggestion is that Megyn Kelly show some humility, humanity and vulnerability. How about a week in Puerto Rico – living in tents and helping to provide food and aid to hurricane victims?

Which Cabinet Members Will Turn on Trumpie?

Leave a comment

Remember the first “Ocean’s Eleven” movie? George Clooney lays out the casino robbery plan and asks the assembled crew, “are you in or out?”

Which members of Trump’s cabinet would turn on him because he’s nuts?

Given our dire situation, Vice President Michael Pence may have to find his cojones  very soon. If the President is that mentally ill,  Pence can invoke Amendment 25, Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution. That means he can tell Congress that the President is   unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

To do this, Pence needs the backing of 8 serving Cabinet members of the Trump Administration.

Donald_Trump_Cabinet_meeting_2017-03-13_01

So who would do this? Personally, I think Pence would have nine who don’t want their reputations further tarred by Trump. Here they are:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This guy ran Exxon/Mobil to record profits. Now he walks a dangerous line every day, wondering what the lunatic a few blocks away will Tweet! With the White House dictating foreign policy, Tillerson is clearly tired of having his hands tied. And yeah, Trump saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis. This is a general who talks to other generals. We know that all of them are nervous with Trump having the codes. And yeah, Trump saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin. Shulkin is a government mainstay, a bureaucrat in the best sense of the word. He has a reputation for actually caring about his job and genuinely wants to make VA better. With budget cuts, non-action and phony talk, it is likely that Shulkin sees Trumpie as not helping his agency. And yeah, saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. Trump has been saying that her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, should resign. Aside from the fact that she can’t get anything done either, that doesn’t go down well. And yeah, Trump saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. Acosta realizes that one cannot be an effective Labor Secretary when your President hates working people. And yeah, Trump saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. While Zinke is not opposed to use of public lands for development, Trump’s language and lack of actual policy on it is too roughshod for Zinke. While he wants to swing back at regulation like the others, Zinke also understands that wholesale slaughter of public lands isn’t a good legacy for him. And yeah, saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Treasury is hamstrung by a White House without any time to do analysis of economic policy. Many jobs are vacant and many programs are on hold. Mnuchin is close to Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, who has given up on Trump. Oh, and he’s Jewish and said not to be thrilled with Trump saying that there are some good Nazis.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Billionaire vulture capitalist Ross saw this job as a prestige move, as did most of his predecessors. It’s not with Trump in the White House. He already divorced one political whack job.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions is temporarily back in Trump’s good graces. Still, it is hard to believe he doesn’t want revenge for being dissed so publicly. He supported Trump before anyone in Congress, and THIS is what he gets? On top of which, if he stays on and Mueller’s report goes easy on his Russian meetings, Sessions might reclaim some small measure of moral ground. At least as much as someone like Jeff Sessions can. I don’t get the sense he cares about the Nazi/KKK stuff that much.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry are probably fine with Trump staying. They are active destroyers of their own agencies. They hold locked ideological mindsets and very little understanding of their mission. Given that Trump gave them their jobs as favors, they seem unlikely to defect. OK, perhaps Carson could be swayed by Vice President Pence. On the other hand, he is just as likely to forget how he meant to vote.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue are unknowns. Since General John Kelly took over as White House Chief of Staff earlier in August, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security is Elaine Duke. I have no idea what she’d do if faced with something so daunting.

What do you think?

 

 

 

.

Another Way To Interpret “Demon”

Leave a comment

Though he can come off as an opinionated boor, I quite enjoy reading Peter DeLorenzo’s Autoextremist column on the auto industry. Snark aside, he’s smart, knows what’s going on and pulls few punches. I’ve been on his bad side and still respect him.

But I think even “Sweet Pete,” as some call him sarcastically, didn’t realize there would be awful parallels between his take-down of Dodge’s “Roadkill Nights” and the tragedy in Charlottesville.

Earlier last week, salivating auto journalists got a media preview of high-performance Dodge Challengers and Chargers in “Roadkill Nights.” Here is what they do: shut down the famed Woodward Avenue in Pontiac, Michigan, and allow the media fanboys — sorry ladies, but they’re almost always boys — to do real live smoky “burnouts.” It’s like the Sixties, Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys, all over again.

In particular, auto journalists have been salivating over the Dodge Challenger Demon, which has an 800-horsepower V-8 engine and only one front seat. The Demon is not allowed to be legally drag-raced on tracks. That is because Dodge did not install the safety equipment as roll cages and fire extinguishers as required by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

The fact that this performance potential (0-60mph in under 4 seconds; 11 second 1/4-mile) will be used in the street — and quite illegally — seems to be something that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is proud of. They are even doing “halo” advertising that — wink, wink — suggests hard-core drivers will use a Demon on the street as intended. To drag race, of course.

It’s quite an image, this Dodge Challenger Demon. The engineers did their jobs well. After “Roadkill Nights,” recounts DeLorenzo, the FCA/Dodge marketing mavens all high-fived themselves over the excitement they managed to create for the aged Dodge Challenger platform.

Are you pumped? Do you wish you’d been at “Roadkill Nights?” Good. Now shift focus to images that involve this more beat-up Dodge Challenger.

“Roadkill” indeed. I wonder how the Dodge boys feel now?

 

Blame the Banks: Could They Have Stopped Trump?

Leave a comment

So how does a lousy businessman who declared bankruptcy several times bounce back and become President?

The phenomenon of “The Apprentice” in 2004 is the easy answer. But what took place 12-15 years earlier really set the stage for Trump’s revival. You know what would really be great memoir? One from a former banker who did business with Trump during his 1990-1992 bankruptcies. Then we could really understand how they let him get away with it.

By 1992, the banks could have castrated Trump economically. They could have turned him into a pauper. Instead, upper management feared being soiled by his sleazy businesses and HIS special brand of negative publicity.

In the early Nineties, I was involved on the re-marketing of distressed real estate, mainly due to the savings and loan crisis. The FDIC even formed a government corporation for this, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC).

While in bankruptcy in 1991, Trump had $450K in monthly living expenses, keeping all his homes, cars, the yacht and running the casinos.

Working with RTC vendors, I got to meet a lot of bank and insurance people. Many quietly discussed Trump and his bankruptcy. There was frustration that he was allowed to operate his cash-generating casinos. He got to hold onto his cars and mansions, drawing $450,000 per month in living expenses. When an insurance premium was due on the yacht he bought from an arms dealer, he told the banks to take the thing away or pay the premium themselves — which they did.

Like the pastor who doesn’t want to be caught at the whorehouse, these banks did not want their association with Trump to become known with blaring headlines.

Trump is not the smartest guy in the world, but he is extremely cunning at knowing when something works to his advantage. This did. So essentially, Trump became the guy who got away with it — without paying back the banks much of the principal. He even bragged about it, as with everything else.

Sure, those institutions blocked him from further credit. But there were always others — like Deutsche Bank, now in the eye of the Russia investigation.

Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg covers some of this well in his excellent 2005 book TrumpNation — for which Trump unsuccessfully sued him.

It’s a great book, but wouldn’t you also want to hear from an ex-banker who was there? The real behind-the-scenes story of WHY Trump was allowed to walk away would help us understand how he continues to perpetuate his stink on a global stage.

Trumpie or no Trumpie, Enjoy Your Life

Leave a comment

For 6 months, I’ve been incredibly angry about Donald Trump. Like millions of you, it’s affected my sleep, my moods, my life outlook and my personal relationships.

Yet starting with January’s Women’s March, I’ve been heartened by the men and women resisting the plea of others to give this aspiring despot a “chance” or go along to get along. Fortunately, few of us listened.

Instead, we pledged time and energy to dissent, which I considre the real patriotism. Better yet, it seems like it’s about to pay off. Trump is faltering. He’s screaming at TV sets, belittling his top Department of Justice people and acting like a rat who’s been cornered.

I certainly don’t know what the outcome of the Mueller/FBI investigations will be, but I am confident that the people of this country, its government or even Trump himself cannot withstand 4 years of this.

We’re a great country but we get a little angry and crazy sometimes. This time it went too far, but I am confident the good people will win the fight.

But….”winning” means nothing if you lose yourself.

It is disheartening to see lots of agile, smart people with good minds letting their anger take over. Instead of carrying on with their lives, they are railing against varied stupidities of Trump shills and media bloviators on cable, social media or news websites.

Here’s a suggestion: Don’t. Take care of yourself. Get off social media. It’s finally summer. Go outside. Do fun things. Walk or take a bike ride. Get in a boat. Take a road trip. Spend time with those you love. Garden. Be with your friends, families, pets, etc. Read good books. Watch TV shows. Go to movies.

Finally…don’t stay glued to the news for your day. There’s work to be done and life to be lived. I can say this much from experience….it’ll be there when you get back.

Annual Rerun: Remembering My Father on Deer Lodge Day

Leave a comment

deer_lodge

74 years ago today, my father Nat Engel was a U.S. Merchant Marine radio officer on the S.S. Deer Lodge.

At sea on the Indian Ocean, the ship was bombed to smithereens by a German u-boat. Several were killed and he was injured before making it to shore in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. From there, he was hospitalized and sidelined for several months. made lifelong friends, served out his time on other ships, came home, met my mother, raised my sisters and I, and lived a full, interesting and sometimes eccentric 84 years until 2007.

That’s why February 17, 1943 is always special in our family as Deer Lodge Day. I don’t have many examples of my father’s writings of that time except a diary he kept on the following ship, the S.S. Edward Burleson. Here are two passages:

“During the early portion of this outward lap, I came to know the second mate pretty well. I share with him the unhappy distinction of being the only other man on board who’s been sunk by the Germans. He’d been on the Morremac Rey when she was divebombed and sunk off Murmansk, and had the gray hair to prove it. He spoke freely and often of his experience, and knowing what it must have been, I felt for him. But despite his 15 years at sea, he spoke of little else. On the basis of that one trip, he tried to tell Lt. (JG) Ralph Boches how the gun crew should be run, the signalmen how to hoist their flags and me how to take a time tick.” Dad then goes on to say how bored he got with the fellow.

OF HIS LONG WAIT FOR A SHIP IN NEWPORT NEWS: “I won’t plunge into the well-worn theme of servicemen in southern towns. I’ll simply say that despite a three-week stay, my most pungent memory is of a loverly ballad that was beginning to sweep the country, and second best is my short stint as second fiddle to a discharged WAC who was waiting for a paratrooper from Topeka who’d promised to marry her. The song haunted us everywhere, from the jukeboxes in the beerless taverns to the groups of soldiers trying to drown their boredom in a sea of noise. I’ll think of the Hampton roads Port of Embarkation and its canteens and environs (visits to Norfolk included) whenever I hear “Pistol Packin’ Mama”…..

Older Entries Newer Entries