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Troubleshooting: Electeds tie faster BQE fix with deploying gun-toting cops in schools

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They’re pulling out the big guns for this infrastructure fix.

Some state pols want to fast track work on the deteriorating Brooklyn–Queens Expressway — but only if the city puts armed cops in every school.

Republicans in the state Senate proposed a fiscal plan on March 14 — following Gov. Cuomo’s two budget drafts issued in January and February — that allows the city to use the streamlined design-build process in its job to rebuild a 1.5-mile stretch of the three-tiered expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, but inextricably ties the authorization to a provision that would require firearm-carrying officers in learning houses across the five boroughs.

But after kids across Kings County walked out of classrooms that same day as part of a nationwide call to reform gun laws following last month’s devastating shooting that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school, linking the unrelated law to the road’s repair is a slap in the face to students and teachers who don’t want more weapons in safe spaces, a Brooklyn Heights pol said.

“I find it very distressing that they would connect these two issues,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, whose Democratic majority in the lower chamber released its own one-house budget that included authorization for design-build without any conditions. “I don’t think the recent events inspire confidence in that approach — this is a very troubling proposal.”

And days before the upper chamber’s Republicans introduced their budget proposal tying design-build with more boots on the ground, Brooklyn state Senators Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Simcha Felder (D–Midwood) — a long-time supporter of armed cops in schools, who sits across the aisle with the Grand Old Party to give it a majority in the Senate — along with a colleague from Staten Island drafted a similar bill authorizing the faster process to fix the expressway on the condition that pistol-packing police are stationed in every city school.

Golden, the main sponsor of the March 5 bill — and another law that would bring security scanners to schools across the state — is a strong proponent of design-build, since transit gurus claim it would slash more than $100 million from the $1.9-billion job to make over the road and shave two years off its timeline, allowing work to finish before the city would need to send the thousands of trucks that traverse the triple cantilever daily down local streets to avoid its collapse.

The Bay Ridge pol, however, twice previously introduced legislation to green-light design-build without any conditions, so it makes no sense why he’s now combining it with more firearms in learning houses, Simon said.

“Sen. Golden has been a strong supporter of design-build, particularly for the BQE, I don’t know why he is doing this,” she said.

Brooklyn Heights’ state Senator questioned why his colleagues would connect the two completely different issues, suggesting the pols’ package deal may be a cruel ploy using the threat of havoc on local roads to get armed cops in schools with a reference to the now notorious e-mail an official in distant New Jersey sent that led to the lane-closure scandal on the George Washington Bridge, or “Bridgegate.”

“Is this an example of the majority, if they don’t get their way on a certain policy issue, however legitimate, suggesting that perhaps ‘it’s time for traffic problems in Brooklyn,’ to borrow a phrase from New Jersey?” said Democrat Brian Kavanagh.

But Golden thinks the best way to spend the money saved by using design-build — which solicits one bid for a project’s design and construction instead of separate proposals for each — is to allocate it towards gun-carrying officers and improvements to the beleaguered subway system, according to his rep.

“Sen. Golden believes that assigning armed police officers to schools is undoubtedly the direction we must now go,” said John Quaglione. “He intends to get the present legislation for design-build for the BQE enacted into law this year, and we would expect the seriousness of the issue to garner the support of the Assembly and the governor.”

There are already Police Department–employed school-safety agents stationed at all public schools in Brooklyn and the outer boroughs, but those officers are not armed, according to a police spokesman and a rep for the Department of Education.

Earlier this month, Cuomo expressed his support for allowing design-build in the city-led expressway repair, calling it “essential” to the job after releasing his two budget drafts that did not include authorization for the process.

And now, state legislators will begin negotiations — some behind closed doors — until both houses and the governor agree on a final budget, which Cuomo must sign by April 1.

Felder did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:47 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Polly Psy says:
It is not possible to be "a strong proponent of design-build" and then handicap the legislation like this.
March 19, 8:07 am
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
design-build is that like that bridge they built in Florida.
March 19, 10:20 am
Tyler from pps says:
Marty Golden sure is a horrible person, isn't he?

I don't care if there's "negotiation." But when two issues are so ridiculously unrelated, the furthest these negotioations should go is something along the lines of: "I will support X, if you also allow Y to be introduced and considered as a separate bill." If you can't argue the merits of Y on their own, then Y probably doesn't have merit.
March 19, 11:16 am
Frank from Furter says:
Design build is not like the bridge in Florida. That was prefab on site and then move into place. Something went wrong...btw you should read the article about bridges collapsing in the US. The Kosciisko bridge and the Tappan zee bridge are both design build...48 states use design build as the norm.
March 19, 11:55 am
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Senator Golden, have you no shame? Long past time for you to hang it up, old boy. You
have disserved the people of Brooklyn way
too long. Guns in schools? What rock were
you born under? Design/build yes--Golden
no.
March 19, 1:23 pm
ujh from downtown Brookllyn says:
Blogger Bill from Boerum Hill has it exactly right. Shame on Golden, surely not one of them golden apples that kept Freia et al. young.
March 19, 10:39 pm
ujh from downtown Brooklyn says:
Blogger Bill from Boerum Hill has it exactly right. Golden isn't one of them golden apples that kept Freia and her kin young.
March 19, 10:43 pm
Mike from Slope says:
Just let the BQE fall apart and then tear it down. It's an eyesore that divides neighborhoods and adds tons of pollution to our air with constant traffic. Let the suburbanites take the train like we do.
March 20, 9:16 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Tearing down the BQE is a bad on so many levels. What it will really do is just relocated the traffic onto local streets, which we can blame those who wanted it torn down for that. If you thought asthma rates were bad now, they will get worse as a result of that. Let's not forget why the anti-car fanatics lost on wanting the Sheridan Expressway torn down. Burying it will be too expensive, which is why the Westway never happened, plus after what happened with the Big Dig in Boston shortly after it opened, I'm sure many don't want to go through something like that again with it leaking shortly after causing it to be closed up and repaired for cutting corners. Overall, as much as some of you really do hate having the BQE, it's not going away anytime soon.
March 20, 3:55 pm
Tyson White says:
Tearing down the BQE would be a huge improvement for Brooklyn.
March 20, 5:20 pm

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