Shameless Shelly Silver Claims Credit for Saving Student Fares

In an unbelievable display of chutzpah — okay, not really — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman "Denny" Farrell issued a self-congratulatory press release last Friday taking credit for "saving" student MetroCards. Here’s an excerpt:

"My Assembly colleagues and I fought hard to preserve student MetroCards, because we believe that students simply shouldn’t have to pay to get to school every day," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Many cash-strapped families do not have any room in their already-tight budgets to provide children with daily transit fare."

"Many children depend on city transit to get them to school, and the MTA Schoolfare Program offers them an affordable way to do so," said Farrell (D-Manhattan). "We cannot lose sight of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens during these tough times."

Of course the vulnerable and cash-strapped, with or without children, will end up paying for this deal one way or another, since Silver and Farrell did nothing but further compromise the MTA’s own already-tight budget to cover Albany’s student fare tab. To these guys, victory is making other transit riders eat the cost of student fares while they heap praise upon themselves for coming to the aid of poor kids and families.

  • The State looked at the MTA and said: “You can borrow to spend, while we can only tax or cut elsewhere to spend – therefore we will raise the limit on your credit card”. That’s the deal.

  • JK

    U’mm, beg to differ. Transit fares, tolls and service cuts are going to pay for student passes. The MTA is looking to borrow more to pay for capital projects — the capital plan is still more hole than plan. Problem is that MTA saves much more from every percentage cut in service than in fares/tolls. If the MTA budget was truly transparent it would show us exactly how the state subsidies operate,including the relabeling of dedicated transit taxes as 18-b operating aid. There has got to be more scrutiny by City Council of $19/ride yellow bus use and costs and of $60+/ride para-transit costs. These costs are skyrocketing compared to the cost of bus and subway service. The big losers are poor and working class people who don’t use either.

  • CityHallMaven

    I realize that the vast majority of your readers are out-of-town newbies to the City, who don’t realize the important service these free rides provide many working class families.

    Unlike the habitues of this blog, children can’t ride their nice little bikes to school.

    Let me give you a better example: Would you object if the school bus that took you to your suburban school demanded a fee? Would your parents? Would your school? Perhaps you were driven in your own or your parents; car to school?

    This story is just another reason to whine about our city’s government from people who do little to improve it but complain on a blog.

    Anyone who is not pleased that children in school and their parents don’t have to pocket up to pay for their transport is a curmudgeon in my book.

    Oh, by the way: Thanks Shelley and Denny for looking after our children, despite what you read from most here.

  • I walked to school from K to 12.

  • Andrew

    Wow, is this your first time here? The state cut the funding for the student MetroCard program; the MTA, then in the process of putting together a package of service cuts to address an already wide budget gap, responded that it was certainly not in a position to fund the program itself. (You know, the same way that, if you decide to stop paying the Con Ed bill, your lights will go out. It’s not because Con Ed wants you to live in the dark; it’s simply because you stopped paying the bill.) The near-universal opinion here has been that the state and/or city should restore the funding. After all, the state funds student transportation in the rest of the state, and there are few if any places in the U.S. where the transportation provider is expected to fund free transportation for students.

    As was pointed out here in March, the city and state would still be getting a tremendous deal even if they fully funded the MTA’s student MetroCard program. Because, in fact, school buses do charge a fee, typically covered by the state or local municipality as an educational expense.

    So, did Shelly Silver fund the program? No, it appeared that he merely allowed the MTA to enforce a few of its many bus lanes and raised the MTA’s credit limit. How will it be funded, then? Presumably by some combination of fare hikes and service cuts (on top of the ones being implemented next week).

    I grew up in Brooklyn and rode the subway to school – thanks to the program that the state decided to defund last year.

    (Incidentally, why can’t children ride bikes to school?)

    For a City Hall Maven, you’re surprisingly clueless.

  • I realize that the vast majority of your readers are out-of-town newbies to the City, who don’t realize the important service these free rides provide many working class families.

    You realize nothing, you assume everything. You disguise your cluelessness with condescension. You don’t deserve the careful, thoughtful explanation that Andrew put together.

  • Andrew

    Sorry, Cap’n.

    I should add that many Streetsblog commenters have actively supported real solutions to the problem of underfunded transit – solutions like congestion pricing and bridge tolls. They’ve done a lot more than complain on a blog. What has Shelly Silver done to solve the problem?

  • You’d think the tiny percent of citizens that bother to inform themselves on transportation policy would be appreciated by the city “mavens” in their employ. I’m no longer new to this town (and had no problem voting at my polling place when I was), but this particular back room deal does cause me to question spending my most productive years here.

    New York is overrun with cockroaches like Silver. At some point those of us that do work may have to pick up our tools and move some place where the government does not treat critical traffic law enforcement as a political currency, using some now as hush money to cover its theft of student fares while saving the rest for god knows what vile conspiracy.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The MTA appears set to borrow $1 billion to cover operating costs until after the November election, as I wrote on Room Eight. It has already borrowed $475 million, and its $400 million budget gap has ballooned to $525 million.

    Of course, much of what is called capital spending is really maintenance, too.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Nathan, the young and productive should definately leave New York to avoid getting exploited by self dealers. That I can demonstrate.

    The problem is, with the same values apparently common, and other cities lacking the assets we have that date from before the current generation took charge, I can’t come up with a place to go TO.

    It’s kind of like investing. With all the assets inflated, and the government working to get people to buy at inflated prices rather than have those prices fall to the detriment of those who hold wealth, I can give good reasons to get out of anything but no good reasons to get into anything else.

    All I can say to you and others like you is — DON’T OVERPAY SOME OLDER SELLER WHO IS MOVING OUT TO BUY REAL ESTATE HERE! Wait to buy at a price that reflects what the future holds.

  • CityHallMaven

    Gee, guys, did you bother to actually read the entire press release or just the select parts that appeared in this biased report? Read the actual PR.

    “Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr. today announced the passage of budget legislation preserving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ( MTA ) student MetroCards ( A.9705-D ). ”

    Farrel and Silver had the power NOT to include that Appropriations Bill in their legislation A.9705D. They decided it would be good for the commonweal to include that. So, it was included. They didn’t have to and could have used the funding for some other social program. Right?

    For that act, they get berated here? Any wonder that most politicians don’t kowtow to you (except Bloomie)?

    PS, Mark, so glad that you walked to school from Kto12 as I did (except when it poured when I took mass transit).
    How many of your compadres on this blog here can claim that and not admit to being chauffeured in a special school bus or the parents’ car?

    PPS Andrew: “(Incidentally, why can’t children ride bikes to school?)
    Gee, I give up. Why don’t they? Let me count the ways.
    But let me ask you, “Did you ride a bike from K to 12?”
    Patiently awaiting your response.

    Anyway, Silver is here to stay. He consistently wins any election or coup.
    Get used to it.
    Btw, calling him a cockroach isn’t the way to get him over to your side.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Anyway, Silver is here to stay. He consistently wins any election or coup.
    Get used to it.”

    Like I said, the option is to leave as things get worse and worse “due to circumstances beyond our control” which used to be within their control before they created them. So don’t lock yourself in until the future arrives by buying a house or condo.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2010/06/17/shadow-problem-home-price-declines-may-land-in-cities-that-largely-avoided-them/

    “Mortgage companies could be forced to reduce their prices on these foreclosued homes as they work through that supply, and as more of those homes sell, that could continue to put pressure on prices. At the top of the list: the New York City area, where at the current rate it would take 103 months to clear the shadow inventory of loans that are more than 90 days delinquent or in foreclosure. That’s nearly 3.5 times the national average.”

    “The big problem of course in the New York metro area is that we have not had the re-pricing that the West Coast has had,” says Daniel Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital LLC, an investment fund. “This is very similar to what happened in the early 90s where the crisis moved regionally from one area to another.”

  • CityHallNave – it’s telling you don’t actually have good points to refute any of the extremely apt criticisms offered by Andrew, just more bull. If anyone is sounding deluded here, it’s you.

    You wrote:

    > Gee, guys, did you bother to actually read the entire press release or just the select parts that appeared in this biased report? Read the actual PR…. “Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr. today announced the passage of budget legislation preserving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ( MTA ) student MetroCards ( A.9705-D ).”

    How on EARTH did they manage to “preserve” the MTA AND free student metrocards when solutions for Albany’s fiscal irresponsibility and theft of the MTA taxes seems so hard to come by? Let’s read that press release some more:

    > “Over 500,000 New York City students are provided with free and reduced prices for public transportation under the MTA Schoolfare Program.”

    Ohhh, they made it free or cheaper. Magic! Where does the money come from? You know, the money needed to run enough trains and buses for over 500,000 extra people every day? Thinking… thinking… Got nothing. MTA must have been hiding the taxes they didn’t get under a mattress. THOSE JERKS!

    > “Many cash-strapped families do not have any room in their already-tight budgets to provide children with daily transit fare.” ”

    He’s so right! Why should they have to pay twice? They AND their employers already paid taxes that went to the MTA, some of which was being used for… what was it… Oh right, the “Free” MetroCards!

    So, I should have less service and pay more for buses and trains, so that I can pay THREE times for the “Free” MetroCards – once in my local/city withholdings, once in my state withholdings, and even more fare for each ride. On even more packed buses and trains that come less often or not at all.

    Who would be so ungracious as to call this merely “preserving” the current state of the MTA?

    > “We cannot lose sight of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens during these tough times.”

    EXACTLY. That means cutting back on service all over the system to support the free riders because they money we used to have for the free riders keeps getting eaten up in Albany.

    CityHallMatron, all of this is amply documented all over this site in pieces linked from the report above and in the comments. The facts behind this are well-documented. And you’re welcome to refute them. Making shit up won’t get you very far, though.

  • CityHallMaven

    Larry, I am a native NYer. I chose to live and to die here. I ain’t moving.

    Anyway, I live in Silver’s district and he serves me well. That is why he wins elections overwhelmingly. His constituents appreciate him, although the newbies from Wburg on their bikes don’t. Why would I want to move?
    I am proud that he cares more about our schoolchildren’s transportation issues than about yet another bike lane.

    BillyG, have you taken your meds? In the meantime, I don’t respond to comments that contain scatalogical expletives.

    Finally, if anyone from Shelly’s Office is reading this, thank The Speaker for saving the free fares for our schoolchildren.

  • Andrew

    We’re still waiting. How exactly did Shelly Silver save the free fares?

  • You’d expect that in a city that’s 37% foreign-born, the rest of the 63% would show some mild appreciation instead of hyperventilating about outsider attitudes and what not. I can’t speak for the internal immigrants to New York, but I personally resent the way almost every American automatically feels superior to people who aren’t American, but then expects to be treated like a king abroad.

  • “Btw, calling him a cockroach isn’t the way to get him over to your side.”

    You’ve got it backwards, city hall sycophant. In a representative democracy it’s the politicians who must win over voters. Although in New York what we have is more like a system of reciprocal patronage, similar to and no doubt crafted with the influence of ruling crime families. I can see how you would slip up there.

    I certainly won’t beg Silver to stop suffocating public transit in plain sight. The man is just a symptom of the entrenched political corruption that is New York’s greatest liability. Otherwise I would be more hopeful; he’s quite old after all.

  • CityHallMaven

    Nathan, Nativism is not my agenda. I welcome hard-working foreign immigrants who assimilate into this city.
    It is the American-bred newbies to the city with their undeserved sense of entitlement and and incessant demands to turn the Greatest City in the World into the small burg from whence they came that are the scorn of native NYers, black or white, Christian or Jew.

    Nathan, rile all you want. Berate me personally if you chose. If ad hominem invective is your only weapon, by all means employ it. I’m a big girl, I can handle it.

    But – if Silver is so bad, then explain why the educated and sophisticated voters in his district overwhelmingly re-elect him for the past thirty years. In that community, they tossed out an long-time incumbent State senator in 2008 and an incumbent City Councilman in 2009. Yet Silver coasts to victory biennially. Why?

    I’ll tell you why! Because we like him and he works for us, and not for political naifs with a selfish personal agenda who live in Wburg or Bushwick, before they return home to suburbia to raise a family.

    Silver is here to stay and the more negative comments like yours from bloggers outside his district, the more he will listen to his constituents and their request for a real NY, not Boulder-on-the-Hudson. So keep the invective coming. It only helps us.

  • CityHallMaven

    Aaron, correction. The first two paragraphs were addressed to you.

  • CityHallMaven

    Correction on correction: The first two paragraphs were addressed to Alon, not Aaron.

  • CityHallMaven, Silver just tore a $144 million hole into the MTA’s operating budget. Therefore the conflict here is not between natives vs. those born out of town. The real conflict is between those who want NYC and the metro area to have a functioning transit system — without massive cutbacks — and those who just don’t think it’s important. The latter position certainly seems an odd one for someone who identifies himself as a native-born New Yorker!

    You seem awfully determined to distract attention away from this funding issue with your absurd attacks on “American-bred newbies.” You seemingly have nothing to say about the state’s diversion to its own general budget of dedicated MTA tax revenue levied on downstate counties, including Silver’s district.

    And your arrogant, smarmy tone sounds an awful lot like that of a Silver staffer and/or campaign worker who sprayed chunks all over this blog when Silver last ran for re-election. That was right after he killed congestion pricing by not letting it come to a vote, blowing another nine-figure hole into the MTA’s finances.

  • bicyclesonly

    CityHallMaven, I’m a native New Yorker who has been bicycling in this city since high school, about 32 years. For me, urban cycling is about taking in the fullness of the city, not turning it into a non-urban “burg.”. Now I have kids (also “born and bred NYers) and I want them to have the same holistic experience of the city as cyclists. And yes, there are plenty of times we take mass transit too (a 7 y/o can’t do a roundtrip to Jacob Riis, and it’s no fun riding to school in heavy rain). That’s what underlies my support for congestion pricing and improved cyclist infrastructure–not my desire to see the City transformed into a non-urban “burg.”. In fact, in my experience, the hotbed of the “burg” mentality you decry is Battery Park City.

    Shelly wins reelection because he showers his constituents with lavish discretionary spending, courtesy of the NYS taxpayer. I know that’s how politics works, but your attempt to portray this systematic bribery of the electorate in a noble light is laughable.

  • I welcome hard-working foreign immigrants who assimilate into this city.

    Your position is the exact definition of nativism. Your average nativist doesn’t mind other people coming, as long as they act exactly like him. Nowadays every Republican nativist worth his salt praises immigrants who act like a white Republican, and makes sure to only call all the others welfare cheats and gang members. It’s just like how 100 years ago, WASPs complained about Jews and Italians speaking languages other than English and having different religions.

    I’m going to be very blunt: I don’t want to assimilate. I don’t want to raise fat kids who believe math is just for nerds, can’t find Germany on a map, and think “Greatest city in the world” is more than cheap nationalism. I don’t think it’s normal that walkable urbanism is just for gentrifiers, ghetto dwellers, and rent-controlled old-timers. And I don’t like Woody Allen, Sex and the City, and Brooklyn literature; I find them provincial. I like New York and I hope to be able to find a permanent job in the city, but I think taking the good with the bad implies not romanticizing or whitewashing the bad.

    The same goes for Shelly Silver and Mike Bloomberg. Overall, I think that Silver’s done more good than bad for livable streets, on account of his advocacy for Second Avenue Subway, and that Bloomberg’s done more bad than good, on account of his bungling congestion pricing and his hatred of small business and ungentrified neighborhoods. If I could vote in US elections, I’d almost certainly vote not Bloomberg Thompson; whether I’d vote Silver or not would depend on who the challenger is. This doesn’t mean letting Silver off the hook for being just another power broker, who thinks bus cams and student fares are just minor issues with which to dangle power over other politicians, or not praising Bloomberg for his success with bike lanes.

  • A charge of ad hominem from an Albany courtesan whose proudest argument is that some of her boss’s critics may not have been born here. That’s rich. Excuse me if I refuse to call you “maven” or “super-smart-lady-who-uses-words-like-naif”, whichever it was, but if you ever work up the nerve to sign a real name I promise to get that right.

    And good memory Mark, but I don’t think this is “Joe Knickerbocker”[1]. He was a different kind of nasty. It’s interesting how they come out of the woodwork when Silver is criticized here.

    [1]: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/09/03/pin-it-on-shelly/#comment-56103

  • CityHallMaven

    BicyclesOnly claims, “Shelly wins reelection because he showers his constituents with lavish discretionary spending, courtesy of the NYS taxpayer”
    Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t get a dime from him. How dare you!

    I and my neighbors vote for Shelly because we like his progressive positions on labor, education, tenants’ issues, his opposition to your boy Bloomberg, his opposition to the Jets Stadium, his support for those living near Ground Zero, etc. etc.
    You sound a tad jealous. My neighbors and I elect a good politician and get results. You elect some bum, resent it, and all you can do is whine on this blog here and attack me for voting my conscience.
    Guys like you are so similar in your mistaken self-assurance mantra:
    “Every politician is corrupt, except the ones I vote for!”
    ROTFL

    Alon, what the heck are you talking about? Fat kids? Woody Allen? Thomas Wolfe? What recess of your mind did those spring from?

    However, you carefully avoided my distinction between foreign newbies whom I admire and who bring little attitude, and self-entitled, self-important, self-righteous newbies from Smalltown, USA like yourself who think NYC must change to their myopic view of suburbia.

    Btw, “the Greatest City in the World” is not “cheap nationalism”. It is the lead to David Letterman’s Show. If you want to whine, whine to David. Complain to CBS. No one else has a problem with that phrase, except you. God, have you no sense of humor? I guess not.

    Nathan writes, “if you ever work up the nerve to sign a real name I promise to get that right.”
    Coming from an anonymous blogger, this makes me ROTFL. Do you realize how hypocritical you sound? So, Braveheart, impress us. Reveal who YOU are, O Anonymous One. Or does the “H” stand for: “Hypocrite”?

    Btw, that picture of you on a Adirondack chair sitting on some suburban lawn reveals you to be the small town, suburban newbie that I supposed you were.

  • I’m not American. I grew up in a walkable neighborhood of Tel Aviv with 15,000 people per km^2. And I’m taking your distinction heads-on: I don’t want to assimilate. Deal with it. The ancestors of Shelly Silver who immigrated to New York and got looked down on by the WASPs didn’t want to assimilate either.

    And I’m glad you’ve found other urban Sarah Palins with narrow worlds and “Everyone must act like me” attitudes. That doesn’t make yours any less obnoxious.

  • CityHallMaven

    So what does 19th-century anti-Semitism have to do with this article on Streetsblog?

    Oh, I forgot.
    You are the person who also introduces fat children watching TV, Germany, and Woody Allen into the same article.

    Do you normally play left field, because that is where you are coming from?

  • “Coming from an anonymous blogger, this makes me ROTFL.”

    Yes, I am so incognito with my first name, last initial, and profile picture. But I’m happy to have helped you roll on the floor, and laugh.

    “Or does the “H” stand for: “Hypocrite”?”

    No, it stands for Hamblen. Anyone who googles my full name finds places I post under shorter names. On my own blog I see these as search referrals, along with the IP addresses of the people doing the searching. It takes some effort and technical skill to be anonymous on the internet–a lot more than typing a silly handle into Streetsblog and then attacking its readers, for example. I realized some time ago that anonymity for me wasn’t worth the trouble, or even desirable.

    “Btw, that picture of you on a Adirondack chair sitting on some suburban lawn reveals you to be the small town, suburban newbie that I supposed you were.”

    You’ve found me out Silver Succubus! I hail from the Adirondacks, and I won’t stop until I’ve remade this city according to my mountain values of generously subsidized public transportation.

    Or maybe, that picture was taken on a day trip Wave Hill. You never can tell! But can avoid jumping to idiotic conclusions.

    If you can spare some time from your inept cyberstalking, many have asked you to explain why transit riders should be thankful to Silver for arranging that we will cover the cost of student transportation through service cuts and future fare hikes. Are you able to answer to this question?

  • CityHallMaven

    Oh Nathan,honestly, don’t flatter yourself. People have better things to do than bother to search your IP address and track you down.

    As response to your final question, I’ve tediously explained already why Silver was essential in restoring fares cuts to students. I guess you didn’t do so well in Reading Comprehension. Or else, not coming from the city and having been driven to school in the burbs, of course you don’t realize the importance of these free-fares to poor and middle-class students.

    But do read today’s Downtown Express http://downtownexpress.com/de_374/silverloft.html:
    “Silver, loft tenants rejoice over new law”
    “When Mayor Bloomberg sent a letter at the eleventh hour to Governor David Patterson to try and sway him to block the passage of a new loft law, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver went into fighting mode.”

    Things like this – protecting loft tenants throughout the city as well as in his own district – is why we vote for Shelly year after year – not for “line item” dollars or Nativism, as has been foolishly bandied here, but for his support of tenants’ rights (and workers’ rights, and LGBT rights and 9/11 survivors’ rights, and etc.)

    Support your billionaire boy Bloomberg, who throws newbies like you the crumbs of a bike lane here and there.
    The rest of us will continue to vote for Silver who supports the tenants and workers of this city, people that Bloomberg disdains.

  • CityHallMaven

    Tenant Leader Chuck Delaney sums it all up:

    “There’s no question that for the last 15 years the person who has been able to keep getting it renewed is the speaker,” said Delaney.
    Delany noted the most significant aspect of the new expansion of the law is the fact that the tenants will no longer have to live in fear on an annual or bi-annual basis.”

    But you don’t have to worry about this, do you? Unlike Chuck Delaney and most of the loft tenants, you can always move back to your parents’ home in the burbs.

  • But you don’t have to worry about this, do you? Unlike Chuck Delaney and most of the loft tenants, you can always move back to your parents’ home in the burbs.

    This commenter has repeatedly made dismissive and inaccurate generalizations about the readership of this blog. I really don’t think that they’re here for productive discussion. Nathan, Billy, Mark, Alon, please stop feeding the troll.

  • Let’s do one better Cap’n. This thread is now closed.

    And no, Maven, you never answered the question.

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