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New York Mayor De Blasio's new headache: his scofflaw motorcade

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticeLocal GovernmentToday (tv program)Al Roker

NEW YORK -- It's enough to make Mayor Bill de Blasio wish for more snow.

The mayor appeared to settle a snow spat with NBC meteorologist Al Roker on Monday, which erupted when Roker criticized De Blasio for not closing schools during the most recent snowstorm. But De Blasio is not likely to easily shake off controversy over a video showing his convoy violating traffic laws after he vowed to make city streets safer for pedestrians.

On Monday, De Blasio's "Vision Zero" safety plan, which calls for reducing city speed limits and increasing the use of cameras to catch violators, will get its first hearing before the city's public safety and transportation committees, and not a moment too soon.

Since De Blasio announced Vision Zero on Tuesday in the wake of a rash of pedestrian deaths, at least three more people have died after being hit by vehicles. Two men were killed Sunday in separate incidents, and a woman was hit and killed by a car Thursday when she fell while crossing a street, police said.

De Blasio has called the problem of pedestrian fatalities an "epidemic," and his Vision Zero plan calls for lowering city speed limits to 25 mph from the current 30 mph, and for a number of other measures aimed at making intersections safer and holding drivers accountable. 

"We want the public to know we're holding ourselves to this standard," the mayor said at his news conference announcing the effort.

Not exactly, according to a news crew from WCBS, the local CBS affiliate, which two days later caught De Blasio's convoy violating a number of traffic laws. The large SUVs, one of them with De Blasio in the front seat, ran through two stop signs in a residential neighborhood of Queens. They turned without using their indicator lights and were clocked going about 60 mph in a 45 mph zone, according to the video, which has aired repeatedly in New York.

The push back has been fierce for De Blasio, who was still facing anger from parents and from Roker over his decision to keep public schools open during the city's major snowstorm on Feb. 13-14. 

On NBC's "Today" show Monday, the two appeared to make up after the highly publicized spat, which included Roker forecasting via Twitter that De Blasio would be a one-term mayor. 

I knew this am @NYCMayorsOffice @NYCSchools would close schools. Talk about a bad prediction. Long range DiBlasio forecast: 1 term

— Al Roker (@alroker) February 13, 2014

 

 Selfie! cc @alroker. pic.twitter.com/jZURqYOmNy

— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) February 24, 2014

De Blasio appeared briefly on "Today" to cut the ribbon on a revamped Rockefeller Plaza, with Roker at his side. He did not face any more questions on the driving debate, which peaked last Friday when De Blasio refused to answer questions about it during a news conference.

"Why won't you answer any more questions?" one reporter yelled. "Mr. Mayor, where's the transparency?" 

De Blasio has referred questions about the driving to the police department, which provides his security and transportation. The police said in a statement that the drivers receive special training and might sometimes use tactics to stick with the flow of traffic or alleviate danger.

"The handling of police vehicles transporting any protectee is determined solely by police personnel based on their specialized training in executive protection and professional judgment," said the statement.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said separately that he has seen the WCBS video and it "did not raise significant concerns."

Early Monday, De Blasio seemed happy to focus on the Roker dispute, as he and the weatherman stood side-by-side in a chilly breeze for the ribbon-cutting. 

The two bantered briefly about their disagreement over the Feb. 13-14 storm, which dumped nearly 10 inches of wet, heavy snow in some parts of the city, leaving icy mountains and deep, frigid puddles for people to wade through. 

"We had a little chat about school closings and snow," said Roker. "We both want the best for the school kids and our city."

De Blasio presented Roker with a cap from the city's Department of Sanitation and invited him to go along with plows the next time a storm slams the city. Roker, responding with the enthusiasm perhaps only a weatherman could muster when being invited on a sanitation department ridealong, said he'd "love to."

Then he warned that more snow was headed to New York on Wednesday but that it would be only a dusting, not a dumping as the winter's previous storms have delivered.

"We'll take it," De Blasio said with a laugh. "We'll take it."

  

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Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticeLocal GovernmentToday (tv program)Al Roker
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