Pricing Round Up: Persuasive Arguments, Rigged Polls, New Buses

With a congestion pricing bill now on the table and the days to get it passed quickly winding down, here is a snapshot of where a handful of electeds, including heavy-hitters like David Paterson and Sheldon Silver, stand.

First, the Times quotes Governor Paterson, following his sit-down with Mayor Bloomberg yesterday afternoon:

"The mayor, I was surprised, is very compassionate about congestion pricing – he really seems to have a thing for congestion pricing," Mr. Paterson told the crush of waiting reporters. "Is that a good idea? Can it actually be implemented?" he continued, promising to review what he called Mr. Bloomberg’s "very persuasive argument" with Albany leaders. "We don’t have much time to make a decision, so you won’t have to wait long."

Meanwhile:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his "members believe that they would be making the wrong vote" if they supported the congestion pricing plan. "It’s not all of them," he added, "but it would be a majority."

That majority would apparently include formerly undecided Upper East Side Assembly Member Micah Kellner:

[Kellner] said Mr. Bloomberg should not count on the governor to whip up support in the Assembly. "I doubt his first act as governor is going to be trying to shove this down our throats," he said.

"The message this bill sends to the people of the city of New York is if you’re poor, if you don’t have access to a credit card, if you don’t have access to a bank account, you should pay more," Mr. Kellner said.

Also, a tipster sends this account of a recent Queens Community Board 1 meeting, featuring an epiphany from City Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr.:

Vallone said he had been pressured by the Mayor and the Speaker and the DOT Commissioner the night before at a dinner held specifically to persuade him to vote for CP. He asked for the CB to vote either for or against by a show of hands. The CB voted unanimously against it. He asked the non-CB voters in attendance to show who was in support by a show of hands. Only four (all TA members) out of approximately 30 raised their hands. He then declared he was against it.

And we have a couple of reports that a pricing poll on the web site of Queens State Senator Frank Padavan was reset after the votes began trending in favor. Seriously, now.

In related news, earlier today Bloomberg and MTA chief Elliot Sander announced a new express bus route from Throggs Neck to Lower Manhattan if "and only if" pricing is approved. The route would pick up from the end of the current BXM-9 route, offering Bronxites a one-seat ride to Battery Place.

  • Tom S

    Is it just me, or does Silver sound like he’s making a thinly veiled threat to Assembly members?

  • fdr

    Paterson said the mayor is very “compassionate” about congestion pricing. I assume he meant “passionate”. I don’t think the mayor is going to be very “compassionate” toward the opponents if it fails.
    Interpreting Shelly Silver is almost impossible, but I read it as a signal to Bloomberg that the deal needs to be sweetened, whatever that might be.

  • “The message this bill sends to the people of the city of New York is if you’re poor, if you don’t have access to a credit card, if you don’t have access to a bank account, you should pay more,” Mr. Kellner said.

    I have a hard time swallowing this logic from an assembly person from the UES (no offense UESers–this would be equally ridiculous coming from my assembly person). Besides, it’s just ignorant garbage–I’d be willing to wager that the New Yorkers who are so poor that they don’t have access to a credit card or a bank account are also the same NYers who don’t have cars. In which case, congestion pricing is not going to affect them.

  • Correction, congestion pricing will affect them, it will improve mass transit.

  • Heffron–Indeed. And that is, of course, an important point.

  • Max

    It hurts my brain that we can have people as patently stupid as Mr. Kellner in office. Think, man!

  • Larry Littlefield

    (It hurts my brain that we can have people as patently stupid as Mr. Kellner in office.)

    He’s not stupid. The thinks most people are either stupid or irrelvant. The relevant people drive and park for free. The arguments are just a side show, and always have been.

  • I wrote to Micah although I didn’t address the EZ Pass point directly since it seems like a red herring. Systems work best with one payment type – Metrocards, tokens, EZ-Pass, it’s all the same thing really.

  • [Kellner] said Mr. Bloomberg should not count on the governor to whip up support in the Assembly. “I doubt his first act as governor is going to be trying to shove this down our throats,” he said.

    Doesn’t the free Queensboro Bridge empty out right into Kellner’s utterly abused-by-traffic and transit-poor district? God forbid Mayor Bloomberg would try to shove a solution to that problem that down Upper East Sider’s throats.

  • Yeah, he knows – I think this is a classic example of politicians choosing to keep a grudge against a successful rival. The first reply from most politicians I have talked to is how much they hate Bloomberg – Billionaire, the Stadium,

    If Bloomberg wasn’t the driving force, but rather Quinn or Silver or any other heavy-hitting Democrat, this would probably sail through. But it’s coming from an independent thinker outside the inner circle of Democrats and putting them in a difficult position they would rather not be in.

    But then again, no insider would ever propose something so radical. They’d rather making parking free on Sundays.

  • Dave

    If CP fails I’m going to start a fund for placing an ad in the NYT/WSJ and elsewhere listing those politicians who voted against CP and placing the blame on them for losing $354 million in Federal Funds.

    What are these small-minded Silvers, Weiners and others thinking? Nothing in life is risk-free and they will lose this $354 million because of some nit-pick objection.

    This is a TRIAL basis to see if CP works while the EIS and other fine-tuning is worked out.

    DO NOT LOSE $354 MILLION BECAUSE OF YOUR IGNORANCE OR UNWILLINGNESS TO CHANGE.

  • rhubarbpie

    I love this part of the article in today’s New York Times describing Mayor Bloomberg’s rhetoric on his tour yesterday in support of congestion pricing: “…Mr. Bloomberg traveled by sport utility vehicle, ferry and bus around Manhattan and Staten Island labeling opposition to his plan stupid, sick and insane.” The reporter then reports the mayor’s comments on Congress Member Weiner’s objection: “Are you kidding? It’s insanity.”

    Sounds like the mayor learned a thing or two about cogent and persuasive argument from our dear departed friend, Eliot Spitzer, no?

  • HIlary

    It’s a little late, but Dave’s suggestion suggests another — advertising (public education) in the subways themselves.

  • Ian D

    Hilary – not sure if I understood you, but there currently is quite a bit of pro-CP advertising on the subway. I was on a (subway) car yesterday that had a Spanish-language ad…

  • jmc

    This Kellner argument is madness. I’m sickened by the Democrats, they obviously care nothing about the people of this city.

    I think they dislike Bloomberg because he’s so successful and does novel and progressive things.

    They also live in a distorted world as they can park for free in Manhattan. The council members should have all their placards rescinded. I can understand why police, firemen, or doctors on house call might need placards, but I can’t think of anything so important that city council members do that gives them the right to a placard.

  • James

    The bottom line is that something has to be done! People are choking out there.

    Its just a trial! Give Congestion Pricing it a chance! If it save one life then its worth it!

  • Upper East Side Assemblyman Micah Kellner is correct in questioning Congestion Pricing. The London Times recently pointed out that Congestion Pricing has not solved the traffic problem in London. Kellner’s constituents do need, however, additional transportation options for the overcrowded IRT Lexington Avenue Subway line and the slow-moving, uncomfortable articulated buses on 1st, 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, the MTA and the Democratic political establishment are supporting the wrong solution. They’re spending $4.65 billion for a four stop 1.7 mile Second Avenue Subway that is now projected to be finished in 2015 and the construction is causing considerable destruction in the neighborhoods.

    The best remedy for traffic congestion on the Upper East Side is to spend $500 million on street level boarding, good for the disabled and elderly, non polluting Light Rail on 1st 2nd and 3rd Avenues which can be up and running in less than two years. Similar solutions have worked in Portland, Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix, Houston and other Metropolitan Areas in North America and Europe. But Light Rail is a 21st century method for solving traffic congestion and air quality problems that is unfortunately ignored by Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, the MTA and the Eastside Democratic Party establishment.

  • Spud Spudly

    Go George! Good to see that you’re still out there giving them hell.

  • The best remedy for traffic congestion on the Upper East Side is to spend $500 million on street level boarding, good for the disabled and elderly, non polluting Light Rail on 1st 2nd and 3rd Avenues which can be up and running in less than two years.

    Sounds great, George! How do you plan on raising money for it? And what do you do when people who are used to driving down Second Avenue complain that you’re taking their lanes away?

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