Pricing Round-Up: Dems Conference in Albany

Assembly Democrats met behind closed doors last night to gauge their collective sentiment on congestion pricing. According to the Post, only seven of the 36 legislators who spoke during the meeting expressed support, but the one who matters most, Shelly Silver, remains uncommitted: 

Silver, who has not voiced a public position on the issue,
said the meetings will continue today, and he refused to declare the
plan dead.

Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco has proposed that pricing be attached to the budget, the Daily Politics reports, which would make it tougher to vote down. But on this count, Silver’s position is already well-known.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly is vehemently opposed to
including congestion pricing in the budget, and has said he doesn’t
want to deal with this issue at all until after the budget is passed.

After the jump, a collection of quotes from lawmakers following last night’s meeting.

From the Times:

“I think it’s going down,” said Anthony S. Seminerio, an assemblyman from Queens. “There are too many unanswered questions.”

“This is Albany, and nothing is dead until it’s dead, dead,” said
Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side and
opposes the mayor’s plan. Still, he said, “It doesn’t look good.”

“The Assembly won’t let the mayor and Senator Bruno force this into the
budget,” said Micah Kellner, a Democratic Assemblyman from the Upper
East Side who supports congestion pricing. “The Assembly is going to
stand firm on this.”

From the Post:

"Congestion pricing is not dead but it’s on life support," said Assemblyman opponent Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn). "[It] will require substantial amendments in order to revive it and even that may not be enough."

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx), another opponent of the toll
system — which is already operating in London — fumed: "The last good
idea to come from Britain was radar!"

"It’s a good plan," said Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D-Manhattan), one of the few local supporters who spoke. "Anything that reduces vehicle traffic and increases mass transit is a
good thing. Driving into Manhattan is a privilege, not a right."

From New York 1:

"It’s just a bad approach where working class citizens of the city
of New York are going to wind up having to pay either $8 or eventually
a fare increase,” said Assembly member Ruben Diaz, Jr. 

"It’s our obligation to help the city and help our neighborhood to
obtain the funds necessary to improve our system,” said Assembly member
Carmen Arroyo.

"There are some problems in the bill. I think that would need to get
addressed before I could consider voting for it," said Assemblymember
Danny O’Donnell. 

  • Josh

    Adam Clayton Powell IV said:

    “Driving into Manhattan is a privilege, not a right.”

    I like his support, but I’m concerned that pricing opponents are going to jump on his wording to argue that pricing supporters are only concerned about the “privileged”.

  • I called my State Assemblyman, Adriano Espaillat to voice my support for pricing. I think he’s already on board, but we need to do everything we can to keep this plan alive.

    Call your assemblymember: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/

  • Moser

    You guys shouldn’t flog this media-mongering so much. It’s the papers’ job to say doom and it’s the opponents’ job to hype it. They could’ve written the same stories with the same quotes about the City Council last week.

  • nobody

    News flash to Assemblymember Ruben Diaz, Jr. — the working class overwhelmingly do not drive cars in Manhattan.

  • Up for Down Vote

    All of this is just posturing and bargaining until the actual vote. The real question are:

    Can you afford to be seen as not supporting more mass transit funding?

    Do you really stand for cars and against most New Yorkers who never drive to the CBD during business hours?

    Do you really want sububanites continuing to drive through your streets and congesting your air without penalizing them.

    Should the polluter pay or not?

  • Ed

    That’s right Moser – by initially coming out skeptical, pols open the opportunity to gain whatever they can by negotiating with the supporters. Then they will seemingly weigh the decision very carefully and, against all odds, the bill will succeed and these guys will be heroes.

    This stuff makes you wanna wretch.

  • fdr

    Adam Clayton Powell IV was arrested on a DWI charge last month in Manhattan. But as he said, “Driving into Manhattan is a privilege, not a right.”

  • gecko

    Who are the other 27 Democratic legislators that oppose congestion pricing in addition to Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx)?

    The Post quotes Assemblyman Benjamin as saying that “The last good idea to come from Britain was radar” a critical part of the war effort largely — and heroically — developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during World War II.

    Do these politicians really want to be on the dark side of history like those who voted for the war in Iraq?

  • Brad Aaron

    You’re right, Konrad. Espaillat is an enthusiastic pricing supporter. But as you say, it can only help to call.

  • American and British scientists, lacking the brutish and counterproductive nationalism of NYS Democrats, jointly discovered plenty in the 20th century. The molecular structure of genetic information is certainly a “good idea to come from Britain” after radar. I’d like to see Benjamin try to carry on his lifestyle while restricted to American-only ideas, or better yet, Bronx-only.

    If Dems would take an honest look at the results of existing pricing systems and the assessments of New York’s situation instead of attacking the places showing those results and the people making those assessments, they’d find that there is no Democratic case against pricing. There’s just a collection of self-important people that want to keep driving into the zone for free every day, and they are small minority whether you’re talking about the city or the state. Drive carefully, Albany.

  • md

    Is Joan Millman still against?

  • Gary

    md, call her office and find out!

    I am really hoping Joan comes around – I think she may, depending on the final concessions made. But it helps to call and express your support for CP, because the opponents have been calling and screeching nonstop.

  • Jack Bauer

    Good for Tedisco for pushing for congestion pricing to be in the budget. Somebody has got to hold Silver’s feet to the fire on this.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Silver Calls Hearing on Pricing and MTA Capital Plan

|
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will hold a hearing Thursday on how congestion pricing revenues would figure into the MTA’s five-year capital plan. He will be joined by anti-pricing Assembly Members Richard Brodsky and Denny Farrell. The Sun reports: The MTA’s executive director, Elliot Sander, who will testify at the hearing, has said Mr. Bloomberg’s plan […]

$1 Billion From Port Authority Not Enough for Shelly Silver

|
On Saturday night, the congestion pricing bill in the State Senate was amended to include exemptions for low-income drivers and cars with handicapped plates. As expected, the changes also stipulated a way to make New Jersey drivers pay "their fair share." In the amended bill, the Port Authority is required to contribute $1 billion to […]

Assembly Dems Kill Pricing

|
Speaker Sheldon Silver, as quoted in the Daily Politics: "The conference has decided that they are not prepared to do congestion pricing," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after emerging from behind closed doors where he was closeted with members of his Democratic majority. "I think you can speak to the members of the conference who […]

Will Silver Defer to City Council on Congestion Pricing?

|
While we weren’t looking, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver apparently had a change of heart on congestion pricing, and is reportedly now willing to go along with some version of the plan, as long as it is supported by City Council Democrats. This little bombshell comes courtesy of the Sun: The good news for Mayor Bloomberg […]

Spitzer Backs Congestion Pricing

|
Is Mayor Bloomberg actually going to pull this off? Governor Eliot Spitzer came out in favor of congestion pricing this morning. Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News reports: Standing with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Gov. Eliot Spitzer this morning said he is "in favor of embracing a congestion pricing model" at a press conference where U.S. […]