Bloomberg: NYC is Poorer Today Thanks to Albany Inaction

Mayor Bloomberg had harsh words for New York State’s Democratic leadership at today’s press conference in Brooklyn. Here is an abbreviated transcript of some of the question-and-answer period with the press:

Is congestion pricing dead?

I don’t know that it’s dead or alive. I think what is clear is that we have not submitted a proposal by the deadline that the US Dept. of Transportation said we’d have to submit it to be in contention for a share of the $1.2 billion.

Maybe we can do something to reduce congestion without that funding but [MTA President] Lee Sander is going to have a much tougher job. We won’t have $300 million per year in found money to spend on transit. We won’t have extra revenues for the MTA.

It’s fair to say that we have suffered a major set back. We’ve jeopardized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something with someone else’s money.

I think it’s a disgrace.


What was the nature of Sheldon Silver’s proposal at the end of the day yesterday?

The only thing I saw was a proposal to do a study which would not qualify as the kind of proposal that the US DOT wanted. They wanted to fund proposals that would act as demonstration projects for the rest of the country.

Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about the politics of congestion pricing and how it was a difficult lift and a dangerous one, politically. Well, some people have guts and lead from the front and some don’t. [Senate Majority Leader] Joe Bruno was willing to vote. [Assembly Minority Leader] Jim Tedesco had all his members up in Albany. Unfortunately the majority leader was down here in new York City and he didn’t want to vote on it.

Want to see some guts? Look at the City Council here in New York City. Think about what they’ve done: The smoking ban — talk about things that are politically difficult. The solid waste management plan. How’d you like to have the courage to vote for something that makes a lot of people say "Not in my backyard." What about trans-fats? That wasn’t an easy lift. People are still complaining. But we’re getting it done. 421a, the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning – all of those things took courage.




Does the demise of congestion pricing pretty well guarantee a transit fare increase?

Even with congestion pricing you can’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be a fare increase. But with it there would have been a lot more money for transit. [The mayor turns to MTA President Lee Sander] Lee, do you want to duck the issue? [Sander laughs and, well, ducks the issue].

Lee has a difficult row to hoe. We all want more transit and better transit. I don’t know anyone who thinks we don’t have to find another source of revenue.

But keep in mind, congestion pricing wasn’t just about bringing in money to pay for transit. It was about reducing the amount of time it takes to get from one place to another. It was about the air that we and our children are breathing.

I don’t understand how anyone can look a parent in the eye and say, "We’re going to do another study, until then, just don’t breathe deeply."


How are you taking this loss? Do you feel let down?

I’m gong to be fine. I’m going to fight for New York City for the next 898 days of my administration. I’ll tell you who should feel let down: the people breathing the air, the people trying to do business in the city, the 95% of people who commute by transit into this city. Those are the people who lost yesterday.

New York City is poorer today because of Albany’s inaction yesterday. Sadly, it appears that we lost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and demonstrated, once again, that Albany does not seem to get it.

  • greg

    time to secede from the state
    heck maybe even the union

  • Unfortunately seceding from NY State would not be a good idea because our water supply is controlled by people upstate. What we need to do is get the voters of the Lower East Side to give Sheldon Silver the pink slip. This is the same guy who torpedoed the renovation of Penn Station. For the transit-conscious, he is public enemy number one.

  • Aaron, did you hear the mayor say this at the press conference?

    “Remember, congestion pricing is something the city has the authorization to do,” the mayor said. “The only thing we can’t do is we can’t institute fines or fees. That’s what we went to Albany for permission to do so, that’s what they didn’t give us.”

    What does that mean exactly? The city doesn’t need Albany to authorize the charge, but they are needed when the city attempts to enforce the charge? I don’t understand what the mayor was eluding to there.

  • Congestion pricing is not dead.

    What took a beating is Mayor Bloomberg’s colossal ego.

    There’s no reason that the legislature can’t pass a plan, one better thought out than the Mayor’s.

    The $500MM federal funds and the $3 MTA fare amounted to bullying and fearmongering. These can be effective political tools, but the gambit failed here.

    We need congestion pricing and we need it done well. Let’s stay on the legislature to get a bill passed, and get it passed right.

  • jmnyc

    NYC needs real home rule. We are forced to get approval from Albany for Congestion Pricing and Commuter Taxes which is ridiculous. The NY City Council should have been able to address both these issues. It is really unfortunate and hopefully this will be an impetus to get these types of changes made.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Thats rich jmnyc.
    And as for the City Council, the Mayor’s plan wouldn’t have passed the City Council in its My Way or the Highway form. But we’ll never know now.

  • Mark

    Today, I am ashamed to be a Democrat. No more fundraising from me for local Democrats.

  • Jake

    Transportation and environmental advocates need to take off their rose shaded glasses.. congestion pricing is a great idea and many legislators wanted to do all they could. Reliable Senate Democratic liberals weren’t supporting yesterday’s legislation, which says more about how clueless the Mayor and the advocates were than about the dysfunctional legislature.

  • Dan

    Jake,

    I agree that the mayor did a poor job selling the plan but the true shame lies in the degree to which the legislators demanded that he get down on bended knee in front of them. Now, surely nobody wants to be made to look weak in politics and the Democrats, facing a strong mayor from the opposition party, didn’t just want to look like they take their marching orders from Bloomberg, and yet, the idea that nobody could figure out a way to save face AND pass this legislation speaks volumes about the nature of NY politics. For far too long the state has wielded it’s power freely over the city and now that the Mayor is presiding, with high approval ratings, over a resurgent city he wanted to assert some authority.

    The thing that bothers me though about this is the degree to which the issue was always framed as a matter of power sharing and politics rather than doing what’s right. Let’s have a debate on the merits. Let’s talk about congestion. But instead the state’s representatives demanded more respect from the Mayor and more details and studies. The legislature had a tough issue to debate and they ducked it so they could accuse the mayor of not being nice to them.

  • Dan

    Jake,

    I agree that the mayor did a poor job selling the plan but the true shame lies in the degree to which the legislators demanded that he get down on bended knee in front of them. Now, surely nobody wants to be made to look weak in politics and the Democrats, facing a strong mayor from the opposition party, didn’t just want to look like they take their marching orders from Bloomberg, and yet, the idea that nobody could figure out a way to save face AND pass this legislation speaks volumes about the nature of NY politics. For far too long the state has wielded it’s power freely over the city and now that the Mayor is presiding, with high approval ratings, over a resurgent city he wanted to assert some authority.

    The thing that bothers me though about this is the degree to which the issue was always framed as a matter of power sharing and politics rather than doing what’s right. Let’s have a debate on the merits. Let’s talk about congestion. But instead the state’s representatives demanded more respect from the Mayor and more details and studies. The legislature had a tough issue to debate and they ducked it so they could accuse the mayor of not being nice to them.

    http://dencity.wordpress.com

  • Jay

    Gary is completely in lala land…Yeah, lets hold our breath for Albany to take action on congestion pricing now that the Mayor’s plan is out of the way. PLEASE! The ONLY reason the governor, the speaker, and certainly Bruno even tolerated the discussion was because of the Mayor’s muscle.

    If the Mayor goes away on this, so goes congestion pricing. Let’s not fool ourselves here.

  • t

    Yeah, it seems unlikely that whoever becomes the next mayor will make this happen. While people like Quinn eventually supported congestion pricing, the initial reluctance seems to indicate that this will not be an issue taken up in a future administration, especially not without $500 million in free money.

    One wonders: if the subways and commuter rail lines hadn’t been constructed when they were, would we have the political will to get them built today?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Interesting you would say that, T. Yesterday when I was looking for documentation about the Murray Hill/Park Avenue ex-streetcar tunnel, I came across Joe Brennan’s fascinating history of the Beach Pneumatic Railway. Talk about the political will! People were trying to construct subways for at least forty years before August Belmont finally got the IRT built in 1904.

    http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/beach/index.html

    Bonus: how’d you like to have one of these running up the Bowery?

  • rex

    Jake wrote: “Reliable Senate Democratic liberals”

    Ba Haa Haa, there is an oxymoron. If this journey proved anything it proved that the aboved referenced do not exist. How many of the above pretended that poor people drive in NYC, and that they would burdened by CP. Ha hha ha ha ahahah ahahaha

  • Congestion Pricing? No, not yet

    Under Bloomberg’s watch, NYC has lost $46-million a year for the past 5-6 years due to illegal placard parking abuse, specifically parking meter abuses [Bruce Schaller report 2006 – go ahead, Google it]. This is the elephant parked in the meter spot that Bloomberg only gives lip service to. Congestion pricing is a scheme to raise money, but in the meantime Bloomberg lets $46-million a year slip away to 150,000 parking placarded vehicles (Transportation Alternatives study). The way I figure, NYC has lost $250-million in the last 5-6 years because of illegal parking which Bloomberg will not clamp down on. We don’t need this driving tax called congestion pricing, we need Bloomberg to enforce aleady existing laws and stop illegal parking placard abuse.

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