Hakeem Jeffries Responds to Congestion Pricing Critics

From today’s Crain’s Insider:

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who is holding a rally this evening for better G train service, is drawing fire from transit advocates because of his opposition to congestion pricing. Streetsblog commenters plan to confront him at the rally. "Simply because one did not support the mayor’s version of congestion pricing does not mean we shouldn’t do everything possible to improve mass transit," Jeffries says.

"The mayor’s version." One supposes this leaves open the possibility that there is some version of congestion pricing that Hakeem Jeffries wouldn’t have opposed. But despite their attempts to pawn off the coming transit finance crisis on Mayor Bloomberg, Assembly Democrats killed a version of congestion pricing that differed markedly from the mayor’s original plan. The final bill reflected the recommendations of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, which, lest anyone forget, was created with Albany’s blessing.

  • Competitive primaries

    I can’t wait for Mr. Jeffries version of a detailed plan for reducing traffic congestion and funding the MTA capital plan. That’s what a grown-up would do to help solve a problem. Children just complain and complain for someone else to solve their problems.

    Any grown-ups running against Mr. Jeffries have my support and $$$

  • Josh

    It’s nice to see that Crain’s is paying attention.

  • Dan

    In Albany I guess they pay for transportation projects with candy and farts so “doing everything” for transit doesn’t actually mean providing money through progressive fund raising proposals like CP. Perhaps we could all ride ponies to work.

  • Mark Walker

    If you take a bite out of Jeffries, will he taste like chicken?

  • rhubarbpie

    Is it at all possible that someone could support transit funding and not support congestion pricing? I guess not, at least not here.

    Strangely, though, I’ve met respected environmentalists who did not support congestion pricing and who do support adequate transit funding. I hadn’t realized that they were like children, as contributor Competitive primaries suggests (#1), but I’m happy to know that now.

  • Cap’n Transit

    Well, Rhubarbpie, I’d be willing to believe that Jeffries supported transit funding if he’d done anything else to fight for it – such as making a speech on the floor of the Assembly protesting the $53 million reduction of MTA funding in the most recent budget – and the corresponding $50 million increase in road-building funds. But no, not a peep out of him.

  • huh

    “everything possible to improve mass transit” – without money? that doesn’t make very much possible, does it? these intentionally or unintentionally dimwitted politicians drive me nuts.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I actually read PlaNYC. It had the CP revenues going to the city for all kinds of goodies, with the city bestowing some of it on the MTA.

    The Commission’s plan, which was based on acknowledgement of the MTA funding disaster, had all the money going to the MTA, a state agency.

    If that isn’t a concession, what is?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Moreover, when the $30 billion shows up without coming from higher fares (other than those needed to keep up with inflation), higher taxes on wages, higher taxes on jobs, or higher taxes on property, I’ll be pleased and no longer criticize the opponents masquerading as supporters on the money end.

    They now have to make good. It’s all they have to do.

  • mr. transit

    I don’t see why everyone is beating up on the Assembly, when the Senate didn’t take congestion pricing up for a vote either. Why can’t anyone believe that the Mayor’s plan was built on smoke and mirrors — it would have cost much more than he said, it would have reduced traffic less than he said, and no one could have delivered all of the promises that the Mayor and his minyons made to get CP passed.

  • Jack

    Mr. Transit, Bruno tried to bring it to a vote, but Senate Democrats refused to leave their conference. On bills that impact the budget, three-fifths of the State Senate must be there to bring about a vote. Check it out here: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/04/congestion-pricing-chaos-in-th.html

  • JF

    “Mr. Transit,” Streetsblog is beating up on the Senate:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/05/21/state-sen-martin-connor-secretly-supported-pricing-all-along/

    Nobody really cares that the Assembly didn’t pass “the Mayor’s plan,” whatever that was. It’s that they didn’t pass any plan, and in fact cut $50 million from transit.

  • rhubarbpie

    Larry Littlefield writes (#9): “Moreover, when the $30 billion shows up without coming from higher fares (other than those needed to keep up with inflation), higher taxes on wages, higher taxes on jobs, or higher taxes on property, I’ll be pleased and no longer criticize the opponents masquerading as supporters on the money end.”

    That’s a pretty tall order. What you’re saying is that if the legislature enacted taxes to benefit transit on wages over, say $500,000, or taxes on major real estate transactions or on holdings valued over, say $2 million, you wouldn’t be satisfied.

    It would bring in a ton of dough. And could be pretty progressive, no?

    It’s very likely that a bunch of regressive taxes will in fact be enacted to pay for transit. No question. So maybe instead of fighting the last battle we should focus on making the next round of transit funding as fair as possible.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    A big part of fighting the next battle is reminding these legislators that we’re holding them accountable, that we paid attention to what they said during the last battle, that we’re still paying attention, we’re keeping up the pressure and we’re willing to go after them in a variety of ways.

    I think this is jarring to some because it’s almost entirely foreign to the go-along get-along political cultures of both the state legislature and the neigborhood-level politicos.

  • George Wallace

    Rhubarbpie,

    Thank you for pointing out that one doesn’t have to support the mayor’s plan in order to be pro-transit. Many people don’t realize that I was always in favor of civil rights, I just didn’t support “LBJ’s version” of it.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I’m thinking October would be a great time for a fare increase that would cover the debt. Just in time for the election.

  • Mike D.

    Looks like StreetsBlog is under attack at something called CommuterOutrage. Check it out…

    http://www.commuteroutrage.com/2008/05/21/car-haters-streetsblog/

    These guys are ridiculous. They are against congestion pricing, higher taxes, toll increases … and they are pro SUV! What a bunch of jerks. Destroying the environment.

  • Pete

    Mike D – that site is almost adorable in its’ ignorance. Reminds me of Powerline, LittleGreenFootballs, FreeRepublic, and all the other right-wing echo chambers that were full of vitriol, hatred, and general anger about the fact that the world didn’t work the way they believed it would for them. They’re all pretty anachronistic these days.

    Few comments, few ideas, and little if any constructive thought processes. It’s easy to be angry and insult everything around you. It’s a lot harder to put together solutions.

    And that’s the difference between here and there – we’re sick of the status quo, but at least we’re kicking around solutions, and trying to make some progress. We’re tired of the standard political pandering that passes for “achievement” in government – let’s see some actual solutions from the people who should consider themselves fortunate that the people felt they deserved the chance to represent us in office!

  • Mike D.

    Haha, looks like some of our readers are starting to give it back to them. Check out the comments thread….

    http://www.commuteroutrage.com/2008/05/21/car-haters-streetsblog/#comments

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Looks like StreetsBlog is under attack at something called CommuterOutrage.)

    Get used to it.

    The outrage will only grow as gas prices increase, property values in auto-dependent places fall relative to those with transit access, and poor and troubled people start moving to those places because it is cheaper there.

    Public policy recommended by weenies is the least of their problems.

  • rhubarbpie

    Re: Comment #15 — Amazing! George Wallace has written us from the grave!

    Do you really think that the ONLY way to support transit is through congestion pricing?! Wow! Some folks have really swallowed the kook-aid.

  • Spud Spudly

    As an opponent of CP and a supporter and daily user of mass transit I ask (again): What’s the plan for filling the other two-thirds of the MTA capital budget deficit that was never going to be addressed by CP? Say there was CP today — tomorrow we’re still going to wake up with something like a $12.5 billion gap, right? (My numbers may be a bit off but you get the idea.)

    Seriously, was there EVER a plan for that? Or should we stop thinking about the MTA as an agency with a $29 billion capital plan that’s $17 billion underfunded and just think about it as an agency with a $12 billion funded capital plan?

  • I hope the Democrats get their act together. I’m shocked that so many didn’t support the congestion pricing plan. It’s a basic progressive idea that could really help the city. I’m certain they will come around if we keep the pressure on them. They just didn’t understand it, I guess. The failure of congestion pricing is the biggest failure of the year, no make that of the past 5 years.

  • JF

    Rhubarbpie, can you stop with the straw man arguments? I don’t see anyone here suggesting that supporting congestion pricing is the only way to support transit. The fact is that Jeffries has done precious little to support transit in any way.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (As an opponent of CP and a supporter and daily user of mass transit I ask (again): What’s the plan for filling the other two-thirds of the MTA capital budget deficit that was never going to be addressed by CP?)

    As a supporter of CP and someone who fears doom for mass transit, may I point out that the same people who voted down CP also ran up those billions of dollars in MTA debt over the past 15 years!

    The state legislature. Pataki, Bruno, Silver, and their appointees and beneficiaries. Spitzer ducked the disaster before flaming out.

    What are you saying? Support your incumbent state legislator, because they had already wrecked the future before turning down CP, so turning down CP is really not a big deal? I agree that is what happened, but I hardly see that as a reason for support.

  • Corporate Tax for Transit

    Big business was a big backer of congestion pricing. Let’s see if they are willing to do their share for the MTA capital plan and agree to some form of higher business taxes. Sub prime and all, Wall St is still making huge money.

  • Spud Spudly

    Where’d you get that from? I used to be against term limits but I’m all for them now when it comes to Albany. Throw them all out and start over again. I’m not saying that at all. I’m asking a real question that I’m really curious about and which I’ve asked on Streetsblog at least three times before and never got an answer for.

  • rhubarbpie

    JF (#24): “…can you stop with the straw man arguments?….”

    Let me clearer: of course one can support transit funding other ways. But the clear implication on this blog is that if you didn’t support congestion pricing, you have betrayed the transit cause. So it’s not that congestion pricing’s the only way to support transit, but that if you aren’t with us on this one, you’re agin us.

    That’s how I read it at least.

    Beyond that, I continue to be surprised by the lack of planning for the next step, other than thinking about handing out leaflets at pro-transit rallies.

    Beyond that, those who are thinking of blowing through hundreds of thousands on assembly campaigns — and I’m all for challenging some of these guys, mostly for the amusement factor — might better spend their cash on putting together a real grassroots effort that organizes around the city — in Jeffries’s district and others.

    Because at this point, in spite of what is probably some basic sympathy for the Streetsblog goals throughout the city, we’re mostly talking to ourselves.

  • Spud Spudly

    Larry, reading again what I wrote in #27 I have to apologize for being a bit disingenuous. While everything I said is true, I also use the question to divert attention from CP. But it’s still a legitimate question and I still have heard no answer.

  • drose

    Looks like Jeffries has now become the front man for the Save the G campaign, at least in the eyes of this Observer reporter. No mention of a Streetsblog-led protest in this account:

    http://www.observer.com/2008/g-train-rally-kicks-campaign-improve-m-t-s-forgotten-stepchild

  • Larry Littlefield

    (It’s still a legitimate question and I still have heard no answer.)

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/the_2008_to_2013_mta_capital_plan_is_there_a_way_out.html

    following

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/the_2008_13_mta_capital_plan_our_sold_out_future_is_here.html

    and

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/the_2008_13_mta_capital_plan_the_costs_are_out_of_control.html

    The other alternative is to accept that, given our leadership, its debts, and the power of producer interests, the decline of the transit system, the road system, and public services in general is inevitable, and the only sane response is to plan to work around it personally.

    This won’t help.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/business/21pension.html

  • Tom Buckley

    CommuterOutrage.com has delivered a full post in response to Pete (#18) above:

    http://www.commuteroutrage.com/2008/05/22/pete-at-streetsblog-few-ideas-at-commuter-outrage/

    Looks like these guys are really going at it. My question is how could any rational sane CONSERVATIVE be against congestion pricing? It’s a market based solution – aren’t these guys supposed to worship the free market?

    We should keep an eye on Commuter Outrage, since it looks like they’re going to be targeting us more in the future. This is the hard, uphill battle that we face. Making our case to people like this that a sustainable lifestyle is the only way out of our current predicament….

  • I think we should do the opposite of keeping an eye on that pipsqueak weblog that is trying to bait Streetsblog into driving them some real traffic. If they want to engage in a debate over Pete’s comment, that’s what this thread is for. If they want to keep making enraged demands to the gummit while being enraged about whatever taxation the gummit requires to meet those demands, they can continue that important work for whatever readership they’ve earned.

  • Mike D.

    I couldn’t disagree with you more, Doc. If you read the threads at CommuterOutrage, these guys are actually very smart, and willing to go head to head with us in serious discussions.

    Now to be clear, I think they’re completely wrong – dangerously so! And the over-the-top outrageousness is a bit much.

    However a few Streetsblog readers have been leaving comments, and they’re been responding with long, series posts that reveal that they’re not just angry wingnuts.

    One thing that is troubling. They’re also saying that their comments on Streetsblog have been taken down. Does this go on here?

    If so, that’s not good. A debate should never be silenced because we don’t like what the other side says. Plus it means that our positions aren’t being challenged.

    Why not let them post their comments here?

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