Sunday, July 17, 2016
DeBlasio hires real winner to pitch BQX
From NY Magazine:
In a sign that the planned BQX rail line along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront is chugging toward reality, the de Blasio administration has hired a streetcar czar: Adam Giambrone, sometime archaeologist, ex-Canadian politician, light-rail booster, former head of Toronto’s transit system, and, for one disastrous week in 2010, candidate for mayor of Toronto. Tall and athletic with a spiky crew cut and a Boy Scout demeanor, the 39-year-old Giambrone comes to the job with both experience and baggage — and with knowledge of New York sketchy enough that at one point during an interview he referred to the “Downtown East Side.”
Since for now the BQX remains an unfunded fantasy-in-progress, Giambrone will have to push the project past the point of no return before the next mayor can quash it. That’s a hard-earned lesson: In Toronto, he spent years working on a network of suburban streetcars called Transit City that mayor Rob Ford killed almost as soon as he took office in 2010. One element of that project, the Eglinton Crosstown line, has since been revived and is under construction, but the failure of the larger plan has left the city hobbled, says Toronto Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic. “The vision Giambrone was pushing made a lot of sense, and it died for political reasons.”
It’s more than a little ironic that the de Blasio administration, which has had problems with credibility and corruption in recent months, should turn to Giambrone as a trust builder, since in Canada he’s best known for an Anthony Weiner–like episode of lies and disgrace. His 2010 campaign for mayor of Toronto blew up almost before it had started, when a newspaper revealed that he’d been cheating on Sarah McQuarrie, the woman he lived with, and sent a text message describing her as a political prop. (They have since married.) After a few days of desperate dissimulating, he dropped out of politics for a while, and Torontoans elected the corrupt, clownish, boozy, drug-abusing, brawling Rob Ford.