In addition to signal problems, train traffic, and rail conditions, you can now add Mayor Bill de Blasio to the list of reasons why the subway might be delayed. The New York Daily News reveals that an R train was held at the City Hall station on Tuesday after the mayor wrapped up his press conference to insist the city would not give money to the MTA’s rescue plan.
The Daily News has come up with some fairly incriminating evidence. A reporter allegedly witnessed a cop asking a member of the mayor’s detail, “I told him to stop. Should I tell him to go?” in apparent reference to the train operator. Reporters also viewed documents that contained a dispatcher note for a “police check” stop at 6 p.m., around the time the mayor wrapped up his appearance. And then:
Another document showed when the train hit the station’s entrance and exit beacons, which are not exact measures of arrival but are used for countdown clocks that tell commuters when the train is arriving. According to the beacons, 3 minutes and 20 seconds elapsed between when the train hit the “in” beacon and when it hit the “out” one.
De Blasio’s offices denied the allegation as “nonsense.” “If for some one reason the train was being held it certainly wasn’t being held by us,” Eric Phillips, the press secretary for de Blasio said. “We don’t run the subways.”
MTA chairman Joe Lhota — who asked the city for help funding half of the $836 million rescue plan — told reporters that he’s looking into the situation.
And while subway riders experience much worse than a three-minute delay these days, this happens to be the second subway-photo-op-related scandal this week for the mayor.
The New York Post claimed that the mayor’s office had the NYPD clear homeless people from subway stops ahead of de Blasio’s Sunday ride along the F train in Brooklyn. De Blasio’s office shot down that story, but the Post later obtained an internal NYPD email that appeared to indicate otherwise:
“Once the Mayor arrives at the 4th Avenue station, he will board the N/B ‘F’ train to the Jay Street/Metrotech station. TD-30 officers are to escort the Mayor aboard the N/B ‘F’ train from the 4th Avenue station to the Jay Street station. Before the Mayor arrives at the 4th Avenue station, the officers are to sweep the station for homeless persons as well as the Jay Street station. There will be press at the 4th Avenue station.”
Phillips maintained on Twitter that, despite the email, there was “zero evidence it happened. Evidence to the opposite, literally.” (The Daily News spoke with a homeless woman who was at the station when the mayor visited, and de Blasio heard the concerns of a man in Brooklyn who described the horrible conditions at his shelter.) A senior police official also denied the report — but before the email leaked.
De Blasio, when asked Wednesday by a reporter, had this to say about the email: “Read my lips: I don’t care. It’s an irrelevancy.”
He added, “I haven’t seen any directive given, and if it was given, it shouldn’t have been.”