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Interview with Councilman Kalman Yeger

12 Jan 2019 8:03 PM
Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) discussed legislation he introduced to abolish the office of the Public Advocate and the city’s DOT construction affecting Boro Park residents in an exclusive interview with Boro Park 24.
Yeger: “I introduced a bill a number of weeks ago because there was going to be a vacancy in the Public Advocate’s office. This just changed since because the Public Advocate, Letitia James, was elected to be Attorney General. I waited until after her election and then I introduced a bill that would allow a question on the ballot at a future election to whether or not we should keep the Office of Public Advocate. My reason is that I don’t think anyone in New York knows what that office does. I don’t think anybody in New York can say that now that we don’t have one, it’s a terrible thing. We’re about to spend tens of millions of dollars to have at least three elections this year, in 2019. It’s going to cost us an enormous amount of money to have this person, whoever wins, elected. We’ve already spent, on the office a couple million dollars a year. It just doesn’t make any sense anymore. So I’m trying to get that conversation started and I think it’s a real conversation to have. We have had this office for 30 years, and I don’t think anyone in our community has any idea that this job exists, what it’s for, and why it’s there. It has no authority whatsoever. It’s a nice job for whoever gets it, but it’s really meaningless and that’s why I introduced that bill.”
Yeger, who got elected in 2017 to replace former Councilman David Greenfield, pointed out that he sees himself as a “voice of reason” as a representative from one of the Outer Boroughs to “reflect the common-sense attitudes of people in the city,” noting that he was the only Councilmember who voted against the City Council’s budget last year. “I put your money where my mouth is,” he said. “I think the idea that we should continue spending as if the money grows on trees is outrageous. I think that our community benefits from less government spending.”
On DOT construction: “The problem, for the most part, is that the DOT issues permits recklessly. They don’t check up on it to make sure that people are complying with the permits and they refuse to put into the permits that people should not work on Fridays. It’s something that we’ve asked for very specifically, and they said they won’t do it. And it’s not just on Erev Shabbos. It’s also the idea that when the DOT issues a permit and says you can do construction of a street, they specifically state that you can’t block the street but they don’t check. So it’s running, it’s like Whack-a-mole.”
“I wrote a bill that was introduced last year that anybody who does any work in the city with a street permit has to have a permit to close the street – everybody on the job. And if you’re asked by an officer for the permit and you don’t have it, you’re subject to a fine and arrest. I hope this year we get a hearing on it. My point is not to get the bill passed. My point is to get attention to the topic. We’re constantly being abused by the DOT and it’s something that it’s very difficult to get our hands around. The DOT has no concern for us whatsoever. It’s incredible. I asked for speed bumps on certain blocks, they say no and then I find out that they put up a speed bump on the block one over from the one I asked. Why couldn’t you do this one? I asked for a stop sign on an intersection that’s a very, very busy intersection – where people speed through it all the time to catch the light – and their answer to me was that there are not enough accidents at that site for us to put a stop sign.”

“That’s the big problem with the DOT,” the Councilman concluded. “They truly don’t care about our community. They demonstrate it. They terrorize us, they do it deliberately, I think, in many respects because they think they can get away with it and unfortunately in many respects they can.”

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