Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson let stand a report that she called a precinct commander to quash a ticket for dangerous driving — in string-pulling that demonstrates unfitness to continue as chair of the City Council Public Safety Committee.
Officer Michele Hernandez says she pulled Gibson over after spotting her talking on the phone behind the wheel in 2014, a scant three months into Gibson’s term.
Gibson faced a fine of up to $200 and five license points. But, unlike typical New Yorkers, she had the pull to dodge accountability, Hernandez revealed in a lawsuit that accuses the NYPD of retaliating against her for failing to meet summons quotas.
The NYPD denies such quotas exist but has said nothing to dispute its officer’s account of the Gibson encounter.
Hernandez says Gibson used the cellphone to call a precinct commander , sparking an order to nix the ticket. Gibson even put Hernandez on the phone with him to make sure she got the message.
Asked for comment by The News, Gibson refused the chance to call the cop’s account false. She said that she “does not recall” any such incident, but “always takes very seriously and complies with all of our traffic laws.”
Amnesia sets in with disclosure of a double dereliction. Dereliction one: Gibson anointed herself above the law by virtue of her position and special access to NYPD brass, demanding special treatment unavailable to her constituents.
Dereliction two: Driving while speaking on a phone is not just a violation of state law; it is downright deadly, increasing fourfold the chances of a crash.
Gibson well knew how deadly, because just two weeks prior to her NYPD run-in she had presided over a City Council hearing on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities.
Her opening remarks spoke of safety’s urgency: “ We must do more to ensure that these horrific accidents no longer happen across our streets.”
Family members of pedestrian crash victims then tearfully recounted their loved ones’ horrifying last moments.
Said the uncle of a child mowed down by a cabbie: “There’s no moral difference between driving drunk and driving in an incompetent manner for another reason, whether you’re smoking pot, using a cell phone, road rage, impatience or turning into a crosswalk without looking.”
Gibson might not recall that lacerating message, however. She had left the Council chambers. Now, she should leave her committee chair.