Anti-Pricing Lawmakers Dismayed by Potential Backlash

State legislators who opposed congestion pricing are shocked — shocked! — that the New York League of Conservation Voters may hold them accountable for their positions on one of the most important environmental initiatives in recent history.

The Times reports that about a dozen lawmakers, including Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, are refusing to complete the NYLCV’s candidate questionnaire, and have notified the league preemptively to say they don’t want its endorsement.

What has irked some lawmakers is what they saw as a threat in the cover letter accompanying the questionnaire. In the letter, the league said it would use its new political action committee, Climate Action, to support candidates who advanced the group’s agenda. Some legislators said they viewed that as a veiled warning that the league would use the money it raised through its committee to defeat candidates who opposed Mayor Bloomberg, above, and his congestion pricing plan.

The league or its political action committee "has the right to contribute to any candidate it wants," wrote Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democratic assemblyman from the Bronx, "but I am deeply troubled by the very clear implication that a candidate will be rewarded or punished based upon a legislator casting a specific vote the way you would want it cast."

Yes, assemblyman, an interest group basing its support on a candidate’s record is indeed troubling. Oh, wait … 

For the league’s part, NYLCV Chair Charles S. Warren says lawmaker positions on congestion pricing will not be a "litmus test," but adds, "we’re going to look for concrete accomplishments in furthering the environmental agenda.”

Mr. Warren, who said he did not know how many legislators had responded
to the league’s questionnaire, added that the league was dissatisfied
with the Legislature’s environmental record lately. “There’s a
frustration on our part and on the part of a lot of other environmental
organizations,” he said.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The league was dissatisfied with the Legislature’s environmental record lately.)

    I’ll have to add the environment to my list of reasons to be dissatisfied with the legislature. I’ll put it down at number 20 or so.

    I’ll say it again — as bad as it was, and as much as I disagree with the result, the legislature’s handling of the congestion pricing issue was better than the way it has handled any issue in as long as I can remember.

    If those upset about this issue were aware of what has gone on otherwise, they’d be nuts.

  • It’s a group project – if you don’t get the job done as a team, you fail. Just “supporting” something isn’t enough anymore – action and leadership is required.

  • floyd

    Why do the pols need to represent special interests? They are suppose to represent the citizens in their districts.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Why do the pols need to represent special interests? They are suppose to represent the citizens in their districts.)

    Because the special interests are organized, pay attention, and give money, and the citizens don’t. In general citizens have no voice because there are no contested elections. Cross the special interests, and an election there may be.

    Right now just about every special interest is making an all-out effort to keep the Republicans in charge of the State Senate. On the other side, they are content to own Sheldon Silver who owns the members via the flow of money. There is no ideology.

  • gecko

    #3 floyd, If you mean by “special interests” environmental organizations can you explain why since it seems that the air, water, life-on-earth, etc. belongs to everyone?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I think “special interests” have to be considered in the same way “terrorism” is considered. One persons terrorist is anothers freedom fighter. Attaching the pejorative to it only matters if you are already a partisan. Much like the pejorative “lobbyist”. Lobbyist = special interest = advocate = progressive = revolutionary = freedom fighter = terrorist. People have political positions and they choose from a menu of methods to put those positions across. The deeper you are drawn into this web determines how much any single issue will determine your political activity and preclude any further coalitions or coordination with other groups or individuals.

  • Soundview Sten

    Just wait and see what happens to Jeffrey Dinowitz next year when he has no viable candidate to replace the term-limited Oliver Koppell in the New York City Council. Each day Assemblyman Dinowitz gets more and more isolated, and his political world grows smaller and smaller. Now all the main members of his Benjamin Franklin Club are going to run against each other for Koppell’s seat. What a mess. The Bronx Democratic machine should just finish Dinowitz off.

  • orloff jimmy

    yup. dinowitz made a dumb move on congestion pricing and it’s going to come back to bite him big time. #5 soundview is right. if that little club of his cannont keep the local council seat, dinowitz is really going to be exposed as worthless. i heard that koppell is going to back one of his own guys against some stooge backed by dinowitz. it would be really funny if both of their puppets lost!

  • Delto

    Remember another dumb move. Dinowitz has been working to get Senator Clinton elected president, not Senator Obama. Some of us also remember that Dinowitz endorsed Fernando Ferrer for mayor instead of Michael Bloomberg. A good bookie would say that the safest bet is always the candidate that Dinowitz decides not to endorse.

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