It’s Driving While Legislating.
New York City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal attended a finance committee hearing virtually on Tuesday — while driving in her car.
Rosenthal, who lives and serves the Upper West Side — one of the densest, most transit-rich neighborhoods in the world — videoed from her car to comment on school class size and education funding.
She began looking directly into the camera — then appeared to shift her eyes to the road as the car started moving, rotating her left hand and glancing to her right at one point before making a turn.
“We’re not being honest when we talk about smaller class size if it doesn’t come along with more physical space,” she said as her gaze shifted back and forth between the road and the video camera.
When the car stopped, Rosenthal returned her gaze to the camera — then shifted her focus back to the road when the car resumed its forward lurch.
She was reportedly headed to an event for mayoral candidate Maya Wiley at the Phelps House, which is located in Rosenthal’s Manhattan district.
Rosenthal’s communications director did not immediately return a request for comment.
The two-term Democrat has been a vocal proponent of improving bike lanes and mass transit on the Upper West Side, where just 20 percent of residents own cars.
As a council member, Rosenthal has supported speed camera expansion and congestion tolls to reduce Manhattan traffic. But her personal travel habits diverge from those of her constituents.
Since 2013, the license plate tied to the former city official’s car has racked up 62 traffic violations. The rap sheet includes three tickets for speeding in school zones in 2020, all in Manhattan.
New York City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who lives and serves the Upper West Side — one of the densest, most transit-rich neighborhoods in the world — videoed from her car to comment on school class size and education funding. (New York City Council)
Rosenthal’s plate was also ticketed for running a red light in Brooklyn in 2019. Her most recent ticket was on March 29, for parking in a commercial zone.
Legislating-from-the-car has become popular among New York City Council members in the pandemic — even for those who ostensibly promote alternative modes of transportation, according to photo stills of other hearings seen by The Post.
Council members Vanessa Gibson, Paul Vallone, Robert Cornegy, Stephen Levin and Brad Lander have all participated in Zoom hearings from the car, a quick review of recent hearings showed.
Levin and Lander, who have both Zoomed in from the driver’s seat, are outspoken supporters of city policies that make it harder to park and more expensive to drive.
“The hypocrisy of car-hating elected officials zooming by in their cars while legislating or campaigning as their constituents struggle to make ends meet is a driving force for why there is little confidence in the City Council,” said Councilman Bob Holden (D-Queens).
“Legislators are elected to represent their constituents at hearings, not drive around campaigning for themselves or others. This is a vital job, and we must take it seriously.”
Additional reporting by Sam Raskin and Julia Marsh