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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Government gets green light to regulate traffic

An NYPD patrol car is shown in this

An NYPD patrol car is shown in this file photo taken on March 18, 2012. Credit: Getty Images

The road to improved traffic and pedestrian safety became a bit more traveled last week when the State Legislature authorized New York City to drop the speed limit on a typical street to 25 from 30 mph. For Mayor Bill de Blasio, hazardous driving has now clearly become what smoking and obesity were for his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg -- a favorite target, against which progress in recent years had already been measured.

But whether on Long Island or in the five boroughs, government actions in the name of traffic safety trigger wider-ranging political tensions centering on local autonomy on one hand and individual liberties on the other.

The state stubbornly holds the reins on the ability of localities to control street rules and install cameras designed to catch speeders and red-light jumpers. Leaders of counties, towns and villages feel they should hold the power to do so themselves.

And there are citizens who see camera-issued tickets as an infringement, meant to generate revenue but without averting most accidents -- all in a way that keeps the accused from confronting the accuser. So collection totals for traffic infractions will remain worth watching along with safety statistics.

PRIMARY CONCERN: Will Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's declared Democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout face efforts -- from someone -- to prevent her name from reaching the Sept. 9 ballot? Two possible obstacles loom. She needs 15,000 signatures from Democratic voters, with at least 100 of them from each of 14 of New York's 27 congressional districts, to be filed between July 7 and 10. Not only can their validity be challenged, but questions first raised by Cuomo allies about whether she's been a genuine state resident long enough to qualify could arise again.

FUNDING FREEPORT: Nassau lawmakers last week authorized an "emergency" $624,800 grant to Hempstead Village -- reflecting part of a three-year-old agreement that hadn't been fully executed between County Executive Edward Mangano and Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker.

Mangano's office was silent on where that left another part of the 2011 agreement, requiring $500,000 in county funds for Freeport. Now village attorney Howard Colton tells Newsday's Celeste Hadrick that the county has waived its earlier $500,000 claim on a land parcel along Sunrise Highway that the village seeks to sell -- apparently fulfilling that part of the unusual bargain.

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