Mayor Bill de Blasio’s February 2019 vow to revoke the city-issued parking placards of motorists caught parking illegally has led to just two yanked permits so far — and they aren’t even city employees, the city admitted Monday.
Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel told The Post two non-government organizations — which he refused to name — are set to lose their placards after violating de Blasio’s “three strikes” rule.
Eight city employees, meanwhile, have appealed DOT orders to return their parking passes, Gastel said.
De Blasio announced the three-strikes policy 19 months ago as part of an effort to crackdown on placard-holders who use their permits to park illegally.
The placards are supposed to give drivers reprieve from some parking regs while conducting city business. But they’re frequently abused as park-anywhere passes, often endangering the public as bearers stow their cars in front of fire hydrants, in no standing zones and bike lanes.
Hizzoner’s 2019 announcement also heralded the formation of a 116-officer NYPD unit to crackdown on placard abusers — which City Hall nixed in July amid COVID-19 budget woes.
In July, city officials told The Post they’d issued warnings to just 389 city employees — a small fraction of the 125,000 placards distributed annually to municipal and state employees as well as non-profit organizations.
The effort’s puny outcomes were first reported by The City, which also obtained records showing illegal parking citations for three city council transportation committee members — chair Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) and reps Chaim Deutsch and Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) — issued before the program began.
Deutsch picked up one $115 ticket for parking in a no-standing zone, according to the city. His spokesperson told the website the councilman “immediately moved his vehicle, and then watched the traffic officer pull into that same ‘no standing’ spot, park his car, and go get lunch.”
Levin, meanwhile, was flagged for driving with a state DMV registration sticker and parking in a no-parking zone, according to the report.
Committee chair Rodriguez told The City he has always sought to follow parking regulations “to the best of my ability.”
“If I have parked in a non-standing area, I have paid off those tickets,” he said.
All three councilmen have since paid the tickets, The City noted.
United becomes first US airline to offer passengers COVID-19 tests
United Airlines announced Thursday that it will become the first US carrier to offer a rapid-response coronavirus testing program – with passengers flying from San Francisco to Hawaii having an option to order home kits or be tested at the airport.
Fliers who test negative on either test will not be subjected to the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement, according to United, which plans to roll out the program on Oct. 15. It said it plans to eventually extend the pilot program to other destinations.
They will be able to choose between taking a test from Abbott Labs at the airport on the day of their flights — with results available in about 15 minutes – or use an $80 mail-in test prior to their travel, United said.
Those who prefer the home test, which will be administered by clinical testing company Color, are advised to request the kits 10 days before their departure date and submit their sample within 72 hours of their flight.
“Our new COVID testing program is another way we are helping customers meet their destinations’ entry requirements, safely and conveniently,” Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United, said in a statement.
“We’ll look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and US airports later this year to complement our state-of-the-art cleaning and safety measures that include a mandatory mask policy, antimicrobial and electrostatic spraying and our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems,” he added.
The company also teamed up with GoHealth Urgent Care, which will administer the tests along with Dignity Health.
“We are excited about expanding our partnership with United and continuing to support their proactive safety measures,” GoHealth CEO Todd Latz said.
“Our on-site, real-time testing for passengers is yet another example of GoHealth’s nationwide efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 and ensure a safer return to normal activities and business operations,” he added.
The announcement comes as Hawaii is seeing 70 percent fewer flights, 91 percent less TSA checkpoint traffic and 94 percent less travel into the Aloha State compared to usual, according to CNN, which cited numbers from Airlines for America.
Cuomo, Whitmer ask Congress to probe Trump’s COVID-19 response
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are asking Congress to launch an investigation into whether President Trump politicized his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The question of, ‘What did they know and when did they know it?’ cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today,” wrote the two Democratic governors, who have sparred with the president over handling of the pandemic, in a press release Thursday.
“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country,” they wrote.
“The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence,” Cuomo and Whitmer continued.
As evidence, they claim that Trump has spurned advice from scientists and health experts and instead put the health and safety of Americans in the “hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results.”
They also pointed to reports that claimed the White House blocked a plan by Health and Human Services to send five masks to each American household via the Postal Service.
“Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time,” they asked.
“Even more dangerous,” they alleged, is that political appointees over the objection of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance that said asymptomatic people should not be tested for the coronavirus.
And then the CDC reverted to previous guidance and removed a warning that COVID-19 can be spread through airborne particles.
“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts,” they said in the statement.
Trump and Cuomo have traded barbs about each other’s handling of the coronavirus since the outbreak rocked New York hard in the spring.
Earlier this month, the president bashed the governor for acting too late to reopen restaurants in the city and blamed him for Empire State residents moving to Florida to escape the high tax rate.
“One of the WORST governors in the USA. Caused 11,000 deaths in nursing homes alone due to his bad moves and incompetence. At least he said I ‘did a phenomenal job’. But he didn’t!!!” Trump said on Twitter.
Cuomo also hit back at Trump for his proposal to cut off federal funds to “lawless” cities like New York that did not do enough to quell Black Lives Matter protests over racial injustice.
The governor said the president had “better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Trump has called Whitmer the “failing Michigan governor” and urged that protesters – many of whom were armed – “liberate” Michigan when they descended on the state capitol in May to rally against extreme coronavirus measures.
Whitmer has called Trump’s response to the pandemic “reckless” and said “the biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that’s coming out of the head of state. And the biggest threat to the American people is the American president right now.”
Spokespeople for the White House and the White House coronavirus task force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Steven Nelson
Milwaukee immigration attorney shot dead in dispute with cyclist
A beloved immigration attorney, Army veteran and father of two has been shot dead in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when a traffic dispute with a bicyclist turned deadly, according to reports.
Jason Cleereman, 54, was in the passenger seat as his wife, Evanjelina, was driving home Tuesday night when they encountered the cyclist, who was riding recklessly on the Holton Street bridge, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing the victim’s sister, Vanessa Maldonado.
Cleereman’s wife “got nervous” and thought she was going to strike him, Maldonado told the news outlet.
“At some point there were words exchanged between this guy and my brother,” she said.
The cyclist approached the car and punched Cleereman in the face and then gunned the attorney down when he stepped out of the vehicle, Maldonado said. The shooter then fled on a bike path, she added.
Police said the shooting occurred about 7:45 p.m. near the bustling Brady Street, where people sat outside and enjoyed food, drinks and an NBA playoff game during the mild evening,
“We’re all just really shocked and confused,” Maldonado told Fox 6 Now. “I have so much pain for my sister-in-law, her children, my niece and my nephew. I mean, that has to be the most painful thing to be going through right now.”
Evanjelina Cleereman called the shooting a “senseless act.”
She told Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV that her husband was a kind man who worked tirelessly for the community as an immigration attorney.
“He was a very generous kind man with his time and attention very giving man,” Evanjelina said.
In his career, Cleereman had helped advocate for families navigating the immigration process, three members of the city’s Common Council said in a joint statement, according to the Journal Sentinel.
“Anyone who met Jason instantly knew how much he cared about his family, friends and the community,” José Pérez, Nik Kovac and JoCasta Zamarripa wrote.
“He worked tirelessly in service of others, left a positive impact on those around him, and will surely be missed,” they added.
Cleereman also helped organize a local farmers market, was a member of the South Side Organizing Center and a leader in the Walker Square Neighborhood Association, according to the outlet.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Pedro Colón called the slain lawyer “a great neighbor, lawyer and family man” in a Facebook post.
“All those of us practiced law with him experienced his passionate advocacy and dedication to his clients and the law,” Colón said.
Shaleigh Fitzpatrick, who said she had known Cleereman for more than 20 years, on Wednesday afternoon brought flowers to the bridge where he was killed.
“I came out here today because I just wanted to say my goodbyes. I spoke to him a few days ago and I’m pretty sad that that’s the last time I’m going to get to talk to him,” Fitzpatrick told WTMJ-TV.
Police said the homicide remains under investigation.
Cleereman was one of two people killed in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
In a separate incident, 57-year-old Kirt Davis was also shot and killed along Greenfield Avenue in circumstances that remain under investigation, according to the station.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said that 2020 is on track to be one of the deadliest in the city. If the homicide rate continues, it could see more than 200 homicides by the end of the year.
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