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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

In Albany and LI, politicians still shy away from school zone speed cameras

Speed cameras in front of the Dutch Broadway

Speed cameras in front of the Dutch Broadway School in Elmont on Aug. 31, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

County Executive Edward Mangano gets props for stepping out into the open with a plea to Albany that would allow Nassau to bring back school-zone speed cameras.

There'd been suspicions -- voiced by some residents and privately by some local politicians -- that the administration might try to revive the camera program after November's elections.

That would have been sneaky.

Mangano's fellow Republicans now enjoy a comfortable majority in the county legislature. And some Republicans were fearful that voter backlash could change the balance come Election Day -- although, it needs noting, that Democrats and Republicans in Mineola and in Albany initially supported the school-zone speed camera program.

In December, Nassau lawmakers killed the program. And Suffolk, last year, decided against even implementing it.

And the tide kept turning, as Republicans in the State Senate this session proposed withdrawing authorization for the program -- a move that would bar both counties from bringing the program back.

On Monday, Mangano, talking to reporters after a photo opportunity with the county's Assembly delegation at the State Capitol, said he opposed the proposal.

"I think it should stay there for further discussion," Mangano said, according to a report from Newsday's Yancey Roy. "Clearly with the amount of violations, there's a real compliance issue there," Mangano said.

Suffolk officials, meanwhile, said they have no problem with the move since County Executive Steve Bellone has already decided against installing such cameras.

But while Mangano on Monday in Albany urged more discussion, some Republicans in Nassau on Wednesday said there's no chance that school-zone speed cameras ever will make a comeback. "That's never, ever going to happen," one Republican said.

Meanwhile, Nassau Democrats in the Democrat-led Assembly have fired off a letter to Mangano and county lawmakers asking their views on the Senate proposal to withdraw authorization for school-zone speed cameras.

"The school-zone cameras became law because this was requested by the Nassau County Legislature in a home rule message," according to the letter. "It is therefore fitting that your view on the Senate proposal is considered now."

Mangano could not be reached for comment Wednesday. And a spokesman did not respond to emails.

And while county lawmakers have yet to make their positions on the Senate proposal public, it's unlikely they will support Mangano's stance.

That's because Republican and Democratic lawmakers just four months ago unanimously killed the school-zone speed camera program. And did so over Mangano's objections.

"Revisiting this failed policy makes no sense and I would be doubtful there would be much consensus for it since the legislature already unanimously repealed it in late 2014," Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the legislature's minority leader, said Wednesday.

Besides, voter anger over the program remains potent.

Which is not what lawmakers want, especially in a re-election year.


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