David Weprin: The Parking Garage Industry’s Valet?

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The Post finds that Queens City Council Member David Weprin has been raking in campaign contributions from parking garage owners, all the while serving as one of the loudest critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. This ought to sound familiar to Streetsblog readers. Back in May we found that Weprin had taken in at least $20,500 in contributions from the parking lobby. The Post identified an additional twenty grand:

Records show that David Weprin, chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, received 28 contributions totaling $40,650 from garage companies and their owners. Garage operators are worried about losing customers if the city imposes an $8-a-day fee on cars entering Manhattan, and they want to stop the mayor’s plan in its tracks.

Austin Shafran, a Weprin spokesman, said the contributions had "absolutely nothing to do with his opposition to congestion pricing."

A survey conducted last week by The Queens Tribune found only two of 27 Queens state legislators who backed the mayor’s plan. But one key Queens legislator, Rep. Joseph Crowley, who also serves as the Queens Democratic chairman, is in the mayor’s corner. The Metropolitan Parking Association, which represents 800 lots and garages, contributed $5,000 last year to the Queens Democratic Party.

In this May 10 op-ed for the Queens Courier, Weprin argues that his Eastern Queens constituents will be "devastated" by congestion pricing.

Photo: Larry Greenberg, QCLDA

  • I take it the garage operators are not from Queens?

  • The poor parking industry. The 1973 Clean Air Plan for NYC (which I wrote) put a cap on off-street parking below 96th Street. The parking industry went crazy–until they found they could increase rates five fold. Those folks who can afford to pay their rates today can easily pay a toll. Especially when they impose a cost (congestion delay, increased traffic accidents, environmental damages) of about $40 for every trip into Manhattan. We all suffer those losses.

  • Spud Spudly

    I’m all for investigative journalism of this type, and I’ve known Dave Seifman for years and know that he’s a very good reporter. I’m also loathe to defend Weprin. However, did anyone see whether the parking industry has donated to other politicians as well? I mean, it’s not like Weprin is all alone on this one as the vast majority of his fellow Queens pols also oppose congestion pricing.

  • Brad Aaron

    Spud,

    I searched the city database for parking contributions to local candidates, and though there were others, Weprin lead the pack by far.

    It should be noted, however, that even Weprin’s “take” from the parking industry is miniscule compared to his total contributions. What was most significant, I thought, was that several parking garage owners contributed the maximum allowed by law — and that some of these folks were literally writing checks to Weprin’s campaign committee as he was compaigning against pricing.

    Also, the Post found twice as much in contributions to Weprin as I did, so it could be that others have taken in more than I was able to discern.

  • Spud Spudly

    Good job Brad. The only way to get an accurate accounting of contributions by parking interests is to know the names of all the parking interests, the parking companies, whatever industry groups they’re represented by and the key players. The Campaign Finance Board database — while far and away better than most similar databases — doesn’t let you search by industry, so research like you attempted is difficult.

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