Many folks on Twitter and in our community at large are heaving a sigh of relief that they will no longer have to find alternate strategies on weekdays to commute into the city. However, for myself and many others, we were shocked and dismayed at the other message this development sends.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s disagreements with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the last two terms has been troubling. His refusal to take responsibility for city infrastructure that is under state supervision has insinuated that he isn’t deeply concerned about the comfort or safety of city dwellers.
In the last few months, with both Amazon’s HQ2 private dealings and the L train reversal, Cuomo has revealed something even more upsetting. He truly does not seem to respect the time, expertise or experience of our local government or community advocates at all.
Cutting the local level out of the negotiations and discussion surrounding Amazon was evidence that Cuomo does not believe people who live in the city will support the things he wants to do.
That is because we actually live here and experience the impacts of development and change on a direct level.
With the L train reversal, it appears to the casual bystander that this is an act of mercy. But to those who have been involved at any level in local discussion, we know in fact that it is merely more evidence of the first sentiment.
Local organizations actually made a new group, the L train Coalition, to make sure a variety of voices were represented in the dialogue about strategies to cope with the original 15-month planned total shutdown.
This coalition included multi-ethnic and multi-neighborhood citizen organizations, worker organizations, small business organizations and transportation advocates.
This group worked with elected officials, MTA, DOT and community boards to advocate for everyone impacted.
They collectively determined that a partial shutdown would inordinately impact working-class individuals who travel long distances to work nights and weekends, and that to be equitable the shutdown had to impact everyone equally.
When the impacts are felt evenly, those with money and individual social power push for better results for everyone. With the partial shutdown, those with money and power will be less impacted, rendering the real impacts and problems invisible to those who have influence over government and major business decisions.
The fact that Cuomo preemptively squashed the work of a local collective to favor a solution that only works for the 9-5 commuting crowd should not make us heave a sigh of relief.
It is more evidence of his positioning that he knows best, and that our voice is largely meaningless to him after election season is over.
The respectful thing would have been to involve himself from the get go, to participate in a local conference and hear from the advocates and consider them. The fact that he waited three years and allowed local residents, civic organizations and government agencies to waste their money and time on the issue shows that he does not value his constituents.