Mayor de Blasio's $2.5 billion streetcar proposal, the Brooklyn Queens Connector, has encountered some opposition along the waterfront in recent months—from Astoria, where residents fear the shiny new mode of transit will accelerate gentrification, to Red Hook, where locals question the logic of building extensive infrastructure in a flood zone.
But with the support of his foot soldiers at the Economic Development Corporation and a newly formed pro-BQX nonprofit made up of business interests, developers, urban planners and transit advocates, de Blasio has held firm to his "noble experiment." And this week, the city appointed a BQX Director with relevant street car experience (he used to serve as chair of the Toronto Transit Commission)... who also made a stir when everyone in Toronto learned he'd been cheating on his girlfriend with a teenager—repeatedly, inside his Toronto City Hall office.
39-year-old Adam Giambrone dropped out of the race for Mayor of Toronto in 2010 after one week, when leaked text messages revealed that he'd been cheating on his live-in girlfriend (now wife), who he described to another woman as a political asset. The Post is calling him the "Canadian Anthony Weiner."
Kristen Lucas, Giambrone's then-lover, told The Toronto Star in 2010 that she started sleeping with Giambrone when she was 19. In one particularly damning text to Lucas, Giambrone reportedly wrote, "You know I will be announcing I have a partner. It is someone named Sarah [McQuarrie], who I've been involved with in the past. It is important for the campaign."
When text messages between Lucas and Giambrone leaked, Giambrone, who served as chair of the Toronto Transit Commission from 2006 to 2010, dropped out of politics for a while. (To be fair, the guy Toronto elected instead, Mayor Rob Ford, is arguably more tabloid-friendly.) More recently, Giambrone's been traveling around as a streetcar expert and consultant, New York magazine reports, helping launch systems in Montreal and Milwaukee.
As for his streetcar chops, from New York magazine:
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."
"When it comes to who will deliver on the city's next great transportation project, we're confident New Yorkers are more concerned with qualifications than years old text messages and past personal matters," said Mayor spokesman Austin Finan in a statement. "Mr. Giambrone is a respected industry expert with extensive experience planning and launching new streetcar lines, including overseeing North America’s largest streetcar system. We're excited to have him join the team."
Giambrone's salary, with the EDC, will be $160,000, according to the Post. (The EDC deferred comment to the Mayor's office.)
From a New Yorker's perspective, what's really troubling here is that, in his New York magazine interview, Giambrone apparently made a passing reference to the "Downtown East Side."