A new bill passed by the New York City Council puts the city’s Department of Transportation in charge of “all vehicle crashes involving significant injury” rather than the New York Police Department. The new legislation, Intro 224-A, creates a “crash investigation and analysis unit” within the DOT which will also be tasked to recommend “safety-improving changes to street design and infrastructure” and to publish its car crash analyses, according to StreetsBlog.
American roads have grown more and more dangerous for pedestrians in recent years, according to a recent article by NPR, and statistics show they are especially deadly for minorities. Data gathered by the Governors Highway Safety Administration shows that “6,301 pedestrians were killed by vehicles on American streets” in 2019, an increase of 46% since 2010. The same time frame saw a 5% increase in all traffic fatalities (vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians).
According to NPR, pedestrian deaths in the US increased 20% during the first six months of 2020. That figure, the pedestrian death rate, is calculated by comparing “the number of people struck and killed” by vehicles against “the number of miles driven.” Experts suggest that the death rate increased because as cars disappeared from the roads during the pandemic, many of the drivers who did venture out engaged in speeding and reckless driving. Continue reading
A recently filed lawsuit alleges that Howard Hubbard, a retired Catholic bishop in Albany, molested “an 11-year-old boy at a carnival more than 40 years ago,” according to the New York Post, which notes that this is the seventh lawsuit alleging that the former clergyman committed abuse.
A recent article by USA Today reports that in early March, the Boy Scouts of America proposed to contribute $220 million into a trust that would “compensate tens of thousands of former members who say they were abused during their time as scouts,” a sum that may be complemented by a contribution of $300 million from the organization’s local councils. This total of $520 million—pending a commitment from local councils—would constitute a “fraction” of the Boy Scouts of America’s total value, which USA Today estimates at about $3.7 billion.
Last week the Boy Scouts of America filed a document proposing a reorganization plan as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, the Associated Press reported. The filing “envisions continued operations of its local troops and national adventure camps,” according to the report, but does not entirely address how the organization will address “tens of thousands of sexual abuse claims” filed against the organization by people who allege that they were abused when they were Boy Scouts.
The reorganization plan proposes the allocation of $300 million from the organization’s local councils, of which there are about 250, “into a trust for abuse victims,” though it reportedly does not specify “the form and timing of those contributions.” According to the Associated Press, the organization will also allocate into the fund “any unrestricted cash above the $75 million” it says it requires for operational purposes. The organization will additionally “contribute its collection of Norman Rockwell paintings to the fund,” sell a North Carolina warehouse, a “Scouting University facility,” and “rights to oil and gas interests on properties in 17 states” to raise money for the fund.
Data released by the National Safety Council found that 42,060 died in traffic violence in 2020, up 8.4% from the 38,800 motor vehicle accident deaths counted in the National Safety Council’s report for 2019. According to StreetsBlog, “because total annual mileage dropped about 13 percent during the nationwide quarantine, the one-year increase in the car crash fatality rate was the highest since 1924,” or 24%. As that article notes, this increase appears to be linked to the nationwide decrease in cars on the road in 2020, which had the side effect of enabling “the remaining drivers to race around recklessly on roads designed to prioritize speed above all else.”
The report goes on to note that certain states experienced traffic violence fatality increases that exceeded the national average. South Dakota experienced a 33% increase in traffic violence fatalities; Vermont experienced a 32% increase in traffic violence fatalities; Arkansas experienced a 26% increase in traffic violence fatalities; and Rhode Island experienced a 26% increase in traffic violence fatalities. As the co-founder of traffic violence fatality support group Families for Safe Streets told StreetsBlog, these figures represent “people: children, parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers. These are lives lost and life-changing injuries suffered in preventable crashes.” Continue reading
The Boy Scouts of America have asked the judge overseeing its bankruptcy process to prolong an injunction stopping plaintiffs from filing sexual abuse claims against local Boy Scouts councils and organizations, the Associated Press reported last week.
As it currently stands, the injunction on sex abuse claims against Boy Scouts local councils expires on March 19, 2021. The Boy Scouts has requested that the injunction be extended until July 19, 2021. The organization’s attorneys argue that if the injunction is extended, this will help the organizations’ restructuring efforts, and allow local councils to contribute to a settlement fund for sexual abuse claims against them. They also argue that if the bankruptcy court lifts the injunction and permits new sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts, this will make it “make it difficult, if not impossible, for the BSA to both equitably compensate abuse survivors” and perform other charitable activities, according to the Associated Press. Continue reading
A lawsuit recently filed in Staten Island alleges that former priest Ralph LaBelle sexually abused a boy after providing him with beer and hockey tickets, according to the Staten Island Advance. The lawsuit, one of several alleging that LaBelle molested parishioners, also names the Archdiocese of New York and St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Church in Great Kills, Staten Island.
According to the lawsuit, LaBelle’s abuse began in or around 1987, when the plaintiff was 11 years old, and continued roughly “a dozen times” over a period of two years, per the AP, which cites the complaint’s allegations: “LaBelle was a sexual predator and was engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship with plaintiff… LaBelle was a trusted authority figure within the church and community … [and] took advantage of the status and credibility afforded him by St. Clare’s and the Archdiocese of New York and exploited his position to gain plaintiff’s trust and abuse him.” The lawsuit goes on to allege that the Archdiocese of New York “took no steps” to stop LaBelle’s actions. Continue reading
Ten people sustained non-serious injuries in a residential gas explosion in New York City, the New York Times reported last week. The gas explosion took place in a three-story Bronx house, where Fire marshals and Con Edison inspectors are investigating whether the gas plumbing system may have been responsible for the incident. The Times report states that Con Edison said in a statement that the company “was not doing work at the house at the time of the explosion and that gas service had been shut off after the incident.” Continue reading
A new bill in the New York City Council would remove the New York Police Department’s authority to investigate car crashes, vesting that power instead with the city’s Department of Transportation. According to StreetsBlog, the bill is supported by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson but opposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In a statement to the publication, Johnson said that the Department of Transportation “could operate in a better way,” and that the transfer of power would professionalize the investigation of car crashes and traffic incidents. In a statement arguing against the bill, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in part: “I want to see stronger penalties for people who hurt or kill other people with their automobile. I still think we have farther to go on that front, particularly in state law. I want to see more stringent investigations that lead to consequences… my goal is to just do better with crash investigations, but I think NYPD and DOT both have a role to play.” Continue reading