Jeffries Declines to Field Questions at G Train Rally

The Observer reports from last night's G Train rally, organized by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries:

Almost 100 G riders kicked off a month-long campaign to increase service on the "forgotten stepchild" of the New York subway system, as Mr. Jeffries and others have called it.

"It's important to increase the intensity of the public campaign," Mr. Jeffries said, "to stress to the M.T.A. that G train service enhancements are absolutely necessary."

The story does not mention the disconnect between Jeffries' words and his deeds, perhaps in part because the Assemblyman felt it necessary to tightly orchestrate the proceedings. Streetsblog reader Maxwell Ciardullo tells us that, when he approached Jeffries' chief of staff prior to the event, she asked him not to bring up congestion pricing. Ciardullo popped a question at the end of Jeffries' speech anyway, but the Assemblyman quickly ushered him aside. More from his account after the jump.

So after everyone spoke and Hakeem came back up to the mike he gave a few action steps and moved to close things up. At that point, I stood up and asked him if he would take a question from a constituent. He started waving me over to the side of the room, but I asked anyway hoping the entire crowd would hear it. Essentially I said: As a constituent, you seemed largely antagonistic to CP, which would have been the largest boost to the MTA budget and capacity in years, so how do you expect them to take you seriously after you cut their budget?

And by that time he was at my side shaking my hand. He never did answer the question about what he actually expected from the MTA, but instead wanted to debate CP with me. He cited the lack of an environmental impact statement as a sticking point for him and pawned off some of the blame on the poor relationship between Silver and Bloomberg.

He also tried to call me irresponsible for shouting my question over the applause. I countered that it was irresponsible for an elected official not to take questions from his constituents.

When I pressed him on his public statements about CP he said that he sometimes has to present one way in public and work another way in private. He also portrayed himself as a driving force behind the residential parking permit program.

I kept emphasizing that as a constituent he certainly appeared to be nothing but critical of the plan from the start and that it came across every time I saw him in the papers as well as in communication with his staff. I actually emailed and called his office numerous times this spring and only got a response after emailing with State Sen. Eric Adams and asking him to nudge Hakeem to get back to me. Hakeem didn't really have an explanation for that one, but at that point he told me I should make an appointment with his office and come in and talk so we could continue the conversation.