State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery Sides With Fare Hike Four

Montgomery.jpgThe Fare Hike Four have absorbed most of the fire from advocates and editorial boards for derailing the Ravitch plan, and rightfully so. But by calling so much attention to themselves, they’ve also given cover to other members of the State Senate. So, what does the rest of the Senate majority have to say? Here’s what Brooklyn’s Velmanette Montgomery, re-elected on the Democratic and Working Families Party ballot lines in 2008 (with more than 96 percent of the vote), told her constituents:

Thank you so much for reaching out to me about the MTA "Doomsday" plan. I
am working with my colleagues in the Senate to find an alternative to the
unacceptably harsh ideas suggested by the Ravitch Commission. The Senate
Majority plan provides the MTA with more operating capital than the Ravitch
plan, does so with a lower fare increase and with no tolls on bridges. In
addition it provides for the ongoing future fiscal health of the MTA by
requiring a thorough forensic audit of the MTA to root out excesses and
duplications. It is unacceptable for the public to be continually subjected
to fare increases and be denied any oversight of the MTA finances. With
your continued support for the Senate Majority proposal, we can assure the
continued responsible health of our transportation infrastructure.

The "Senate Majority plan" Montgomery touts is the same one with $700 million in accounting mistakes and absolutely no provision for maintenance and expansion. Claiming that it provides for the "continued responsible health of our transportation infrastructure" is laughable. Her position does not stray from what Carl Kruger and the rest of the Fare Hike Four have been saying.

Every day, traffic to free East River bridges overruns Montgomery’s district — which curves from Sunset Park to Bed-Stuy. Among her constituents, nearly 70 percent of households are car-free, and transit commuters to the CBD outnumber car commuters by more than 10 to 1 [PDF]. Back when congestion pricing was on the table, Montgomery said she had "major reservations." Now that her transit-dependent district faces some of the worst service cuts anywhere in the city [PDF], she’s chosen to obstruct a workable plan to keep trains and buses running by asking drivers to pay their share. This is what it means to represent "working families" in Albany?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The Senate Majority plan provides the MTA with more operating capital than the Ravitch plan.”

    More money for today.

    “It provides for the ongoing future fiscal health of the MTA by requiring a thorough forensic audit.”

    If they can find $3 billion a year in hidden money without requiring any sacrifices from the TWU, they can use that money to fund capital spending. Otherwise, let the system collapse. It will happen gradually enough that those in power now will not be blamed or affected.

    “Everybody wins.” In Generation Greed.

  • Glenn

    Speaking of the TWU, Where have they been in all this?

    TWU, where are you?

    Surely finding new and sustainable sources of transit funding is in their long term interest.

  • Ian Turner

    Glenn, they’re sitting there cashing those checks. For the TWU to speak up now would only draw attention to the fact that MTA employees get a great deal compared to everyone else. The TWU only speaks up during good times, when there is a “surplus”.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    If the New York State Senate believes that a forensic audit is needed, why did it wait until now to call for one? Are these people only capable of noticing that the roof leaks when it rains?

  • fdr

    Montgomery was re-elected with “more than 96 percent of the votes”? She’s got nothing to worry about. Maybe next time it will only be 90.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The TWU only speaks up during good times, when there is a ‘surplus’.”

    The same may be said for the advocates of lower fares. Where’s the chicken suit? Just about everyone cashed in at the MTA, yet everyone is acting as if the problem started a year ago and can be “solved.”

    Advocates for the transit system AS IT WILL BE IN 20 YEARS are few and far between.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If the New York State Senate believes that a forensic audit is needed, why did it wait until now to call for one?”

    I had hoped that the Ravitch Report would be such an audit, and pin the blame for the past problem as a way of setting the stage for whatever sacrifices were required. But to do so would involve pointing a finger of blame right at the legislature and interests it carries water for.

    By “working with” the legislature Ravitch avoided talking about the past.

    They want a forensic audit? The executive summary is right here:

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

  • It is amazing she is re-elected with so high numbers. Just about everyone I know in my district doesn’t think mega highly of her – or worse yet – doesn’t even know who she is (sad, sad voters). I’ve lived in her district for my entire NYC-life – 18 years and have only seen her turn up at two public events/rallies for bike/ped causes.

    She’s ripe to have a Martin Connor-situation happen with the right candidate.

  • Car Free Nation

    Clarence is right. Most people in the district either have no opinion or think poorly of her. But if you run as the only democrat in our district, you’ll typically win 90+% of the vote. I’d imagine that all the votes against her were write-ins.

  • Ian Turner

    It’s easy to get 96% of the vote when there are no other candidates on the ballot.

  • Clarence

    Who wants to run? Let’s find someone. I mean this issue alone could be a winner, when your elected official doesn’t understand an issue that is going to hurt 80% of those in your district, especially the poor, and you are defending the right to car drivers to get off scott free?! It is truly incredible.

  • Shemp

    Go for it Clarence!

  • vnm

    If the New York State Senate believes that a forensic audit is needed, why did it wait until now to call for one? Are these people only capable of noticing that the roof leaks when it rains?

    Jeffrey, good point. Albany acts only when it has a gun to its head. In this case, the MTA loaded up its revolver last July when it released it’s Doomsday Budget with fare hikes and service cuts. It aimed at Albany’s head in November in releasing an updated (and gloomier) version of the budget. It cocked the safety in December when they approved the budget. And they actually pulled the trigger last week. There is now a bullet flying through the air. Albany still has a chance to dodge the bullet, but why in the hell did they let it get this far?

  • joe

    FYI — This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s against the Ravitch plan or would vote against it if it came to a vote.

  • Ian Turner

    Clarence, not to diminish your enthusiasm for a project that is ultimately necessary for Albany reform, but I would encourage you to ask about Larry Littlefield’s experience running for legislative office before you embark on your own expedition.

  • Oh I am not running. No way! I don’t want to become one of those people in Albany. That would kill my spirit. But if someone halfway decent wants to….

  • What about recruiting City Council Member Tish James? She supported congestion pricing, and seems way more forward-thinking than Montgomery.

  • You mean forward-thinking as in the only way to get fresh, affordable food for people in the projects is to bulldoze historic buildings for a 400-car parking lot?

  • Cap’n Transit: Good point. I should have said that James is less than ideal, but that she’d probably vote to toll the bridges.

  • Jeffrey

    I would volunteer time, money, and zesty vigor to campaign for a strong (transit loving) contender.
    Let’s do it!
    When is she up for re-election?

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