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Interview | State Sen. Daniel Squadron - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


Interview | State Sen. Daniel Squadron


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Senator Daniel SquadronCourtesy of Daniel L. Squadron State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, with constituents last fall, said that he favors expanding the East Village’s “bike network so that it’s a viable way for folks to get around to commute and recreate.”

A new year brings a new legislative agenda for State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, who – entering his second term – says that he wants to bring issues that are important to neighborhood residents to the forefront in Albany. In an interview with The Local, Senator Squadron, whose 25th District includes the East Village, the Lower East Side and parts of Brooklyn, discussed the importance of bike lanes, renewing housing laws, cracking down on careless drivers and noisy bars, and expanding East Village parks.

Q.

Bike lanes are a hot topic right now. But there are battles still brewing. What will you do this year to help smooth out the sometimes rocky relationship between bikers, businesses, the community and the Department of Transportation?

A.

There’s an overall increase in the bike lanes use, and I think that is great. We are continuing to develop the bike network so that it’s a viable way for folks to get around to commute and recreate.

I like the idea of a bike share program. As we have more bicyclists and more access, which is a great thing, we need to increase compliance with laws. And we need to expand our bike networks for more people out there.

My frustration at bike lanes comes from two places: failure, in some cases, to be fully collaborative with communities and think through the consequences as we expand the network, and secondly, from those few who don’t follow the rules. Too often, the DOT implements lanes without preparing businesses to understand what the rules are. They’ve done it in ways that are not responsive to the community. DOT has gotten better at this; my job is to keep the pressure on. We need clarity about rules for bicyclists and members of the community, and work with community boards, businesses and residents before implementing them. We need opportunities for folks in bicycling communities and other groups to weigh in.

Q.

What’s next in your efforts to promote more affordable housing?

A.

I’m taking immediate action with housing. Rent regulation laws are expiring this year. Despite trying hard for the last two years, we weren’t able to deliver on strengthening these housing laws. We need to ensure that rent regulation laws are improved. Nothing could be more important for the future of the East Village and New York City. Our neighborhoods are defined, in many ways, by our housing laws, and having a mix of affordable and middle-income housing. If we lose those laws, it will be devastating.

Q.

What is the timetable for implementing the Squadron/Schimminger bill, designed to fight noisy and violent bars that was signed into law in August?

A.

The NYPD has been working on the guidelines to make sure implementation is strong. We’ve been pushing like crazy. Our hope was that it would be fully implemented by the beginning of the year. The NYPD has been upfront about how they have not yet implemented it. I’m pushing to get this at the top of the list. If we can get it implemented in the next few days, that would be a victory and my hope. A priority is to continue the process I’ve taken a lead on in reforming the State Liquor Authority, and getting my problem nightspots bill enforced by the NYPD.

Q.

What kind of results have you seen from Hayley and Diego’s Law, legislation that aims to prevent and punish careless driving that was signed into law last summer?

A.

The district attorney’s office has been very supportive. To my knowledge they have not yet used it, but are ready to, and it’s a tool they appreciate having. What’s important is that prosecutors can use it, and motorists will get the message about careless driving.

Senator Daniel L. SquadronCourtesy of Daniel L. Squadron Senator Squadron, third from left, and United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, third from right, at a recent news conference on the re-development of Pier 42.

I’ll continue to push on pedestrian safety, working with the Department of Transportation and making sure it continues improvement to streets and sidewalks. We need to get speed cameras pushed in Albany.

Q.

You’ve been a big proponent of expanding Pier 42 on the East River Waterfront Park. How will you improve our East Village park space?

A.

I’m working to ensure that the focus of the city and community is on having a waterfront that is a world-class park and public space that links to other waterfront parks, so that the East side isn’t left behind. In every neighborhood where you’ve seen waterfront parks, you’ve seen communities make incredible use of them. In an area like the East Village that hasn’t had enough open space, having access to this kind of waterfront park that links to other neighborhoods will be a critical link for the city. The East Village had pier use previously that it’s lost. To bring that back would be extraordinary.

Q.

What’s the biggest change that needs to happen in Albany?

A.

We need to reform how we do business in Albany. It’s going to be very hard to reach other priorities unless we have campaign finance reforms, redistricting reforms and ethics reforms. Fifty three out of 62 state senators signed a pledge that will make ethics change a reality. That should be the first order of business when the Senate begins considering bills. Then we’ll be in a better position to address other issues.

Q.

What did you think of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s first State of the State address on Jan. 5?

A.

Very impressive. I think the vision of returning New York State government to its progressive roots as a national leader is why I ran for office. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and with Governor Cuomo.

Q.

We’re bracing for another snowstorm tomorrow, and expecting up to eight inches of snow. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was heavily criticized for his handling of the December blizzard; what were your thoughts on how it all went down?

A.

I was very frustrated with the response to the storm. It was unacceptable. The snow crisis was replaced by the trash crisis. I’m pushing for more information being available to the public in real time. We need to know what has been hit, and when and which streets are fully clean. There needs to be much more information in real time for snow cleanup.