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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Subway premonitions and mayoral town halls 

A special edition of amExpress to catch you

A special edition of amExpress to catch you up on NYC news.  Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Hello from amExpress, where we’re delivering a special three-part edition to catch up on some city-related news ahead of Labor Day: 

President to subway: Go ahead

This one’s just incredible. Entering the G-7 international summit in France, where topics included climate change, fire in the Amazon, trade war with China, and other specters of war and peace, President Donald Trump tweeted this on Saturday: “Looking forward to helping New York City and Governor @andrewcuomo complete the long anticipated, and partially built, Second Avenue Subway. Would be extended to East 125th Street in Harlem. Long in the making, they now have the team that can get it done!”

Unfortunately, for straphangers, state and city officials still seem to have little idea Monday regarding what Trump was tweeting about.

The Second Avenue Subway has, indeed, been long anticipated. After decades of talk, an extension finally opened in 2017, and riders are looking forward to the rest.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s communications director, Dani Lever, said Cuomo “continues to have ongoing discussions with the President and Federal DOT over advancing major infrastructure projects including Gateway, LaGuardia Airport and the Second Avenue Subway.”

But New York is still waiting for federal funding to help move the project along.

“The President's tweet suggests good news but we have no specific funding or approval and that is all that is relevant,” Lever said in a statement.

What’s going on? Trump watchers and transportation sources have some speculations: that perhaps the tweet implies some internal decision.

Or maybe a political game is being played, as with previous infrastructure projects that Trump has alternately used as cudgel or never-appearing carrot (remember infrastructure plans?).  

Or maybe he picked up a mention of the crucial NYC project in an article or conversation, and just tweeted. It wouldn’t be the first time.

De Blasio 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio is still running for president.

Hizzoner had a crucial moment in the spotlight on Sunday, nabbing an hour-long CNN town hall event (a little less after commercials, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock went first). 

It wasn't a ratings bonanza, though we should note that there was also a big Yankees game on Sunday.

De Blasio is still trying to make it to the big stage for the next debates, and he has hinted at needing something like a big viral moment to make it happen.

That doesn’t appear to have happened, at least not in a good way, with Sunday's town hall, where de Blasio was interrupted by an audience protest about the Eric Garner case, even though the police officer who put Garner in a chokehold in 2014 has been fired from the NYPD (other officers who responded haven’t).

The tough business of running a city sometimes means de Blasio falls short of his soaring rhetoric. For example, he suggested that "every police officer in America" should receive implicit bias training and noted that officers have received such training here, though the tally as of July is 74 percent of uniformed members, according to Sergeant Jessica McRorie, an NYPD spokeswoman.

De Blasio eventually got to his favored populist lines, including one about how Wall Street and big corporations should bear the blame as opposed to immigration for making people’s lives worse.

With other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates making similar arguments, he’s still waiting for the money and recognition to pour in (other than from the hotel industry).

Speaking of hotels

Other than tweeting about the Q train, Trump spent his France trip boosting the idea of using his Doral golf resort outside Miami for next year’s G-7 meeting.

This is a bad idea in many ways, legal and otherwise, and we wrote an editorial about the issue, and suggest that the president look for one of the fine establishments in New York State that don’t have his name on them. 

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