Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Consider it one of those odd facts of life that local officials in New York may not install traffic-enforcement cameras as they see fit.
It provides a glaring bit of Albany micromanagement, rooted in state law, that power-conscious state lawmakers keep intact.
As a result, both Long Island counties and New York City are still waiting to know when they'll be able to expand use of cameras to catch speeders and other violators.
The issue shows how tricky a matter of street reality can become when the state Capitol gets involved.
As part of his much-touted "Vision Zero" program to cut traffic deaths, Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to add 140 cameras that could catch speeders in school zones in the five boroughs. There are now 20.
With 2,000 schools in the city, "we'd need a much bigger program" for it to be effective, said Juan Martinez, general counsel for Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group.
Starting three months ago, Team de Blasio cited free rein over traffic cameras as an "autonomy" issue that the city would work on in common with other municipalities across New York.
Even the drive for a modest increase in cameras came up during the final hours of enacting a state budget. An Assembly bill cropped up for new speed cameras in the city, Nassau and Suffolk. Cuomo on Monday did not issue a formal message that would have been needed to enact the provisions within a few hours.
Life got complicated, as it does in the final hours of a budget deal. Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) was pushing for some revenue from cameras on village roads to go to villages. What provisions were the Senate GOP ready to approve? Would de Blasio get another budget "win" so quickly after pre-K funding? By all accounts, the kind of buzz that took hold was hard to trace without video cams in private places.
But the good news for cam-fans may be Cuomo's assurance Tuesday that the measures will be taken up post-budget. "We did not get to that in this budget. But we will and we will shortly," Cuomo told reporters.
For Nassau, Cuomo's reassurance left a couple of logistical questions unanswered. The county's fiscal control board postponed approval of new employee contracts until next week -- while awaiting word on the $8 million that's projected to come as its share of fines created by 125 additional school speed-zone cameras across Long Island.
But the Senate, which needs to approve any expansion bill, has adjourned until April 23. Whether the state's Nassau Interim Finance Authority takes it on faith that the cameras and funds will come through remains to be seen.
Another state weigh station for traffic-cam plans also lies ahead: Reauthorization and possible expansion of cameras meant to catch those who run red lights.
Martinez of Transportation Alternatives notes that the state has kept red-light cameras functioning as a so-called pilot program since 1988. He said: "That's older than some people who work in our office."
On Long Island, Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tristate Transportation Campaign, expressed frustration that wider use of enforcement cameras draws fire as a revenue-raising issue.
Lynch said: "From our perspective, the ultimate goal is zero revenues and zero fatalities."