Brodsky Attacks Critics of His Congestion Pricing Study

brodsky.jpgOn the Brian Lehrer show this morning, Assembly Member Richard Brodsky brushed off reports of his parking industry campaign contributions and TA, RPA and Streetsblog’s substantive criticism of his congestion pricing study as a "personal attack."

Here’s a transcript

Brian Lehrer: Streetsblog, the website, reported yesterday that over the past five years you have accepted at least $16,000 in campaign contributions from parking garage interests which far exceeds those of any other state legislator. They are implying here that parking lot interests, being based mainly in midtown are opposed to congestion pricing because it would mean less cars and less business and you may be carrying some water for them.

Richard Brodsky: First of all, lets just assume, Brian, that I am the worst person in the world. I assume the reason they are attacking me rather than the report we issued is because the report stands as a fair, thorough, true and accurate analysis of the plan. The attack on me is silly. I raised over 2 million dollars while I was running for Attorney General…um..We raised it from a lot of progressives and a lot of left-wingers. The attempt to demonize and attack your opponents on a personal basis is something I reject when it’s Karl Rove and I reject it when it’s Transportation Alternatives or these blogs.

Brian Lehrer: Than why does parking lot industry give you more money than any other legislator?

Richard Brodsky: Part of the reason is because I have a long-standing relationship with one… uh…family..uh…friends of mine, who have been supporters of mine for years. Brian, I put in bills against congestion pricing in 1995. That’s on the public record. If…if…if what we’re about…assume I’m a crook, if you like. Lets then discuss whether the report that I put out has merit or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t than I ought to fix it and I ought to re think my position. And if it does, even the people calling me names ought to deal with that. I mean…this is…this is silliness. The…the…the decision to change the discussion to whether I am an honest person from whether the mayor’s program is good for the people of the city is not in anyone’s interest. The Mayor gives out millions of dollars to the organizations that are supporting his plan. He…he gives his personal money. Tens of millions of dollars. I don’t believe those people are supporting his plan because they are dishonest. And I’ll tell you right now, and real clearly — that the decision to raise this now is a sign of intellectual and political bankruptcy.

You can listen to the entire segment here:

  • OK, if Brodsky insists, I’ll assume he’s a crook. And now let’s discuss his meritricious study. It’s bunk.

    It’s time for a change in Westchester. I hope somebody up there runs a primary challenge from the left against this gasbag.

  • Be

    I listened to that interview and you unfairly added “um” to make it seem like he was trying to hide something. ANyone who listens to the interview will hear a very forthright answer that does not shy away from saying that a family friend donated a little more than $16,000 over a three year period.

    You also might have added that Brodsky said, “I have an objection generally for pricing mechanisms that distribute public goods” And he added on the topic of congestion pricing and healthcare: “We ought not to be making access to these goods available on ability to pay.”

    Anyone can see that Brodsky is a true progressive. You ought not to be demonizing him because he make criticisms of your plan. Take a look at the laws he’s sponsored Those are great ideas, and great environmentalist proposals. As Brodsky said on the program, “Don’t attack me, attack the report. They’re changing the discussion to whether he’s an honest person, from the debate over the plan.”

  • Bee

    I listened to that interview and you unfairly added “um” to make it seem like he was trying to hide something. ANyone who listens to the interview will hear a very forthright answer that does not shy away from saying that a family friend donated a little more than $16,000 over a three year period.

    You also might have added that Brodsky said, “I have an objection generally for pricing mechanisms that distribute public goods” And he added on the topic of congestion pricing and healthcare: “We ought not to be making access to these goods available on ability to pay.”

    Anyone can see that Brodsky is a true progressive. You ought not to be demonizing him because he make criticisms of your plan. Take a look at the laws he’s sponsored Those are great ideas, and great environmentalist proposals. As Brodsky said on the program, “Don’t attack me, attack the report. They’re changing the discussion to whether he’s an honest person, from the debate over the plan.”

  • Great job of getting the campaign finance numbers out to the press before this guy could spin them.

    It’s always important for the public to know who is contributing most to politicians and what those folks expect for their hard-earned cash.

    That’s why congress-critters and state legislators hate those darn “watchdog” groups so much.

    Well done Streetsblog!

    (Kudos from the West Coast.)

  • d

    The assemblyman doth protest too much, methinks.

    I’ve read every post on Brodsky here and none of them labeled him a crook, called him names, or said that he was the worst person in the world. But according to Brodsky, pointing out the facts is a personal attack.

    I wonder when Brodsky thinks people should have raised the issue of the money he’s received from parking interests?

  • Jim

    Thanks for digging up these figures so we could mention them on the air.

    Here’s a direct link to the audio:

    -Jim (producer at the Brian Lehrer Show)

  • t

    Send an email to Assemblyman Brodsky by using this link.

    Be polite, but tell him that you support congestion pricing and hope he will, too.

  • dave

    I listened to the segment and he definitely says “um” right where the transcript notes it. He also says it in a few places where the transcript does not note it.

  • jmnyc

    Bee – I’ll be happy to critique the report which I have read twice and is very flawed. The main point of the study is that Congestion Pricing is that it is unfair to the middle class. the main flaw is that it takes the percent of people driving from each borough and extrapolates that because the median income of each borough is X amount, the middle class in those boroughs is thereby being discriminated against. The problem is each borough has wealthy and poor neighborhoods yet that distinction isn’t made. Are the Queens drivers coming from Corona, a working class neighborhood, or are they coming from Forest Hills, a wealthy area? If Brodsky had that kind of data, I might buy the argument. However, he didn’t do any study of the actual drivers and what parts of each borough they are coming from. Instead he lumped everyone together and said based on median income the middle class is being discriminated against. Talk about playing with stats to suit your arguments.

  • Joe K.

    Mr. Brodsky’s assertion that T.A. and Streetsblog ought to have challenged the accuracy of his report instead of making public records more public is especially suspect given the order of operations in this whole affair.

    T.A. released a study critical of his report on Monday:
    and then, on Tuesday, issued the statement that upset Mr. Brodsky so:

    As for personal attacks, pointing out the way a legislator leans and the sources of his campaign funds is a far cry from the name calling that Mr. Brodsky finds so suitable in his situation, despicable in all others.

  • Hey Bee,
    I’ve read his report–it’s garbage.
    Let’s all read together:

    The entire premise is garbage–that this is a regressive tax on the middle class and poor. The middle class and poor do not drive into the CBD during the hours of CP–many of them don’t even have cars. The 5% of New Yorkers who do drive to work are on the whole not poor–they make at least 21% more than their transit riding counterparts. And the Manhattan drive to work crowd from his district?? Please! $176,000 per annum is not middle class by any stretch, and certainly not poor.

    Two specifics worth noting, he says that 72% of trips inside the CP zone will be made by Manhattanites, and 24% by the other boroughs. That means the rest of the Tri-State region will make up only 4% of the trips into the zone?? And he claims buses will pay up to $42 to enter the zone. That’s wrong and sensationalized–some tourist buses will pay $21. No MTA bus will pay, and no one will pay more than the one-time $21 fee (page 5).

    And he keeps harping on the 1000 cameras that will take pictures of the license plates only. I haven’t heard a peep from him on the 3000 cameras that the NYPD plans to add for counter-terrorism purposes. Those will take pictures of everything 360 degrees around them.

    After page 8, it’s pretty much a slippery slope of speculation and undocumented hyperbole.

    And that family friend is a major player in the parking industry, and they have repeatedly tried to thwart any effort to push congestion pricing from 1972 onward (MPA sued Sam Schwartz and DOT), Single-Occupancy Vehicle ban after 9/11, and currently. They are very worried about CP, and will readily admit it.

    Not nearly as innocent as you or he make it sound.

  • Oh,
    And I forgot, “Brodsky” spelled backwards is “Devil”

  • s

    Nut, why did you have to ruin a perfectly argued post with the very kind of name calling Brodsky said was happening, even though it wasn’t?

  • nobody

    I think it was a joke.

  • S,
    Levity, kid, levity.
    Clearly “Brodsky” spelled backward is “Yksdorb,” which in Albanian, incidentally, means “hack”.

  • s

    I know it was a joke, but why add ammunition to Brodsky’s empty gun?

  • Bee,
    I transcribed this interview myself, and yes he stutters a little when asked about these campaign contributions.

  • galvo

    mr brodsky is from Westchester , the politicians are not used to having a cohesive community critique their actions. Remember in Westchester only the poor take buses, the newly built hub of Westchester bus transportation in white plain has no bathrooms. There is no bus service at all on Thanksgiving Day,Christmas Day. The legislators let the bus lines strike for 7 weeks. They don’t want to know about public transportation , that is for the poor folk.

  • howiehedd

    I can confirm what galvo is saying.

    I lived in Westchester county for two years and it was just like a third world country, in that everyone used an automobile.

    The only real difference was that in the third world country where I lived, they drive them on the left.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I wish I didn’t always find something to pipe up about but Galvo and Howiehedd are entirely wrong on the matter of Westchester. Public transit up there really means Metro North, probably the chief driver of the Westchester bedroom economy. Senators Spano and Leibell have historically protected that constituency but Senator Spano has passed into the consultancy though his party retains control of the Senate.

    Bus utilization is growing and with the Tappan Zee project looming there are several plans that incorporate and enhance bus and BRT service while expanding Metro North. Brodsky has historically been a driving force behind actually funding the MTA, while Bloomberg was busy pushing the Jets stadium and big box stores. Given that very real history the ad hominem attacks on him come of as pretty juvenile in my book. While Giuliani, Pataki and Bloomberg were short changing the MTA of tax monies Brodsky was holding public hearings and meeting with the stakeholders to protect the riders budget.

    That said, I’m not a big friend of his since I supported Cuomo for the AG job. He is a tough, sometimes vindictive political player, its a tough business. He dropped out of the AG race to give a kidney to his son, I view him as a serious guy. I disagree with much of his analysis but this is about politics, vote counting and transfers of money and authority from the burbs to the city. Bloomberg is not going to prevail. The real political victory here will probably be Weiner’s since Brodsky is taking the bulk of the heat and making the enemies. I think when its all over Anthony will owe Richard.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I just want to stick up for Third World countries here. I believe you, Howie, but not all Third World countries are like that.

    The one Third World country I’ve been to, Mali, has a very well-developed system of buses, boats and bush taxis. Outside the cities there’s almost no such thing as a “private” car, since just about everyone who drives anywhere (by car, truck or donkey cart) will take passengers, often for a fee.

    I’m pretty sure that the Malian transportation system runs 365 days a year. Unlike Westchester, where Galvo is absolutely right. Bus service is spotty, published schedules aren’t always easy to find or understand. And some routes have no service on Sundays! If there’s anything that’ll encourage car ownership, it’s a transit system that only runs six days a week. The Suffolk and Ulster County systems are the same.

  • howiehedd

    Niccolo is right about Metro North.

    My favorite saying about Peekskill is the second best part of going there is the view of the Hudson from the train (the best part, the view of the Hudson from the train going back to NYC!)

    Can’t comment on Angus’ post since I’ve never been to Mali. I was in the Caribbean in a country one half of one percent that size.

  • Dan1

    Lets not kid ourselves
    If you think Bloomberg is not taxing the lower and middle class, then I have real estate I want to sell you, But I dont have a license.
    But since everyone knows everything lets keep it real “The Bloomberg administration takes a its our way or No way”. Considering their consultants track record you knows consultants like AKRF and their Environmental Impact Statements, You know the ones everyone say are dishonest. I welcome Assemblymen Brodsky’s report. City Hall has honesty problems . Brodskys correct that The Mayor gives out money and his plan is supported by THE REAL ESTATE BOARD OF NEW YORK. So dont give me that environment bullcrap. Developer R Randy Lee said it best “Environmental Justice left town years ago”. Take a look at Downtown Brooklyn, The Same disgusting Bloomberg administration pushed the Downtown Brooklyn and Williamburg Upzonings.They could have cared less about traffic and the environment. I was there who else was there?
    So Who am I going to believe?
    Brodsky or Iron Mike?

  • galvo

    niccollo , metronorth is great , i use it 3 or 4 days a week. however it does not serve as public transportation for interior Westchester. The oonly public transportation are the buses. In Yonkers the buses do not even stop at or near the main downtown Yonkers train station, patrons need to walk about 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile to get a bus. This area they need to walk thru is not safe at night.
    it is a insane set up. the buses used to stop at the Yonkers main station since time began, then i guess they didnt want the buses and bus people people to sully the newly redeveloped area.
    Mr brodsky mentioned that no way would permit parking be approved for nyc residents.
    what is interesting is in Mr Brodsky turf reserved residential parking permits are becoming increasing common in areas surrounding metro north stations. Public streets are now reserved for residents only. In Tarrytown, a location of one permit system, consist of 95% or more private houses with long driveways to the rear of their property, many driveways are 100 feet long.I can figure out why they need permit parking they have their own driveways. Unless the house are all illegally subdivided into multifamily occupancy or they own 5 vehicles in the household and dont want to jockey cars in their driveways, preferring to use the public streets as personal storage spaces.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    Interesting that two threads have converged on the issue of parking and transportation in Westchester. The problems there are clearly spilling over to congestion in the city. Galvo’s description of areas around stations is not typical. Usually the station areas are more densely developed – multiple family homes, smaller lots – which is just as it should be. These people do not want to have their neighborhoods turned into parking lots, which is also understandable. These municipalities – and MTA – have to help solve this problem. The city (and the region) can’t be held hostage to their short-sighted zoning and transportation policies.

  • Dan1,
    Like the characters Bloomberg and Brodsky, nor not, the merit of the plans is the question. Brodsky’s paper is so far from meritorious that it’s barely worth addressing. I tried to point out the huge flaws in it. Bloomberg’s plan was only his when he delivered the speech on April 22nd. Up until that point, the plan was developed in direct cooperation with advocacy, civic, and professional organizations that specialize in each area of the plan. I think it’s no wonder that groups such as Hudson Yards Alliance, who help lambaste and resist the Stadium plan, are now completely behind congestion pricing. It’s like I said to Shelly’s people recently: just because Bloomberg flipped and got right on the issue this side of January, doesn’t mean the issue should be tarred and feathered with the man.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I agree, Nut. A lot of the objections to the plan are framed as objections to Bloomberg, to the Real Estate Board, or to capitalism. If we only supported legislation that was backed by good people, we’d never get any laws passed.

  • howiehedd

    Galvo raises an interesting point:

    In Westchester they have “residents only” parking areas. Why not just make the congestion zone into residents only parking? (Obviously loading and unloading commercial vehicles too).

    Since residents of the area only own about one car for every four or five households, that would at least solve the double parking and people circling the block looking for a free space problems.

    Are we allowed to change our parking laws or do we have to ask Albany “Mother may I” again??

  • SPer

    Bee writes:

    “You also might have added that Brodsky said, “I have an objection generally for pricing mechanisms that distribute public goods” And he added on the topic of congestion pricing and healthcare: “We ought not to be making access to these goods available on ability to pay.”

    Yes, he COULD have added that bit of the transcript, but would it really redound to Brodsky’s favor??? My goodness! He’s comparing DRIVING INTO MANHATTAN to ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE!!! Earth to Brodsky — you’re not going to die if you can’t drive your car into Manhattan. Brodsky says we shouldn’t make access to “public goods” dependent on the ability to pay. What a clown! Driving into Manhattan isn’t a public good — it’s a public BAD. As we all well know, automobile congestion is a public health menace.

    The better analogy is to cigarette smoking. We tax cigarettes heavily because cigarette smoking is a public health problem and we want to discourage people from smoking. Similarly, traffic in NYC is a public health problem and we want to discourage people from contributing to it.

    The way you can tell that Brodsky is insincere in his reasons for opposing congestion pricing is how far he will reach to make his argument. This makes me all the more suspicious that he’s in the pocket of parking garage owners.

  • galvo

    the garrett park section of Yonkers was just ok’d for resident permit parking.
    i believe this area is close to the bronxville train station. Bronxville NY has just approved permits for its residents near the bronxville station and Lawrence hospital
    ,therefore the next block= Yonkers need permits .
    Tarrytown ny neighborhood i mentioned is a residental single family neighborhood

  • Jim

    I support CP but it has to, HAS TO, go hand in hand with residence-based permit parking in the boundary areas.

    I live on 89th St. and leave my car outside the city when I can — but when I can’t, parking is tight under the status quo. Imagine if my neighbors and I are plunged into an unrestricted competition with half the commuters from Westchester and Fairfield counties?

    On NY1 the other night, someone suggested muni-meters in the boundary areas. Are you kidding me? I’d have to fight the out-of-town park-and-riders *AND* feed quarters into a machine every day? That’s stupid. That’s worse than a bad solution; it’s an anti-solution.

    Also: I grew up in Westchester, spent some time in pretty close contact with politics there and got to know some very admirable people. Brodsky’s a prick politician out of central casting. I admire what he did for his daughter, but apart from that he’s one of those guys who treats everyone in the room like an idiot and hates any initiative that isn’t his. Failed repeatedly to get his hands on the county executive’s chair so now he’s one of these perpetual legislative obstructionists who live to give headaches to the real problem-solvers. His performance on the CP issue is shameful. Shut up and go away, Richard.

  • MrManhattan

    Silver is hosting a meeting of AWOL Assembly members at 2pm on Monday, July 16 downtown at 250 Broadway.

    Maybe he needs his employers to tell them all to get back to work !!

  • Dave


    There is a good reason that most new yorkers do not suppport congestion pricing. That is because it is an idiotic plan. The biggest supporters of reducing traffic are the people that drive to manhattan (not the people who take the train- who are not affected nearly as much)But most of the people who drive to manhattan at the same time cannot afford the financial burden of congestion pricing. Unfortunately Mayor Bloomberg cannot relate to that because he is worth $12 billion this year.

  • SPer

    Hi Dave,

    I’d say the biggest supporters of reducing traffic are people who care about public health. We have the second worst air quality in the country and it isn’t going to get any better if we don’t get people out of their cars.

    80% of those who drive into Manhattan have a mass transit option that would take no more than 10 minutes more than driving. The majority of New Yorkers who drive are government employees who enjoy free parking. People who drive are, on average, significantly better off finaicially than people who take mass transit. Congestion pricing will create a funding stream for expanding mass transit, thus benefiting the vast majority of New Yorkers, which of course includes those of modest means.

    Of course those of us who take mass transit are affected by congestion — we are affected in terms of the air we breathe, and we are affected in terms of a reduced quality of life due to excessive traffic. I’m affected when I ride my bike and there isn’t room in the street for me because it’s wall to wall cars!

    Residents of the outer boroughs will see their mass transit options increase with congestion pricing because that money will be a dedicated funding stream to create bus rapid transit, as well as many many other mass transit improvements.

    Dave, I have to say, I don’t think you’ve really thought this one through. There really isn’t any other viable way to discourage automobile use other than congestion pricing. Only those with their heads in the sand could fail to realize that reducing traffic is essential for New York City.

  • Joe

    Hi SPer

    There are other viable ways to reduce traffic.
    We can make all streets in Manhattan HOV. That would mean cars cannot operate in manhattan unless they have at least 2 people in it (with exceptions for commercial vehicles). This will guarantee that traffic will be reduced by half as opposed to Congestion Pricing which just creates financial distress.

  • wondering

    “I live on 89th St. and leave my car outside the city when I can” (31) — so what neighborhood do you leave your car in?

  • galvo

    One plus side of resident permit parking is the reduction of out of area vehicle registration with bogus insurance. Pedestrians and bicyclist incur severe physical trauma when victims of collisions, the uninsured motorist coverage is minimal compared to the injuries and medical costs. The legitimate NYC, NC and Penn. policyholder’s rates are increased due to the fraud.

  • SPer

    How are you going to enforce all cars in NYC must have two people? That seems completely impossible to me. And what about truly necessary travel? The point of congestion pricing isn’t to get rid of cars — it’s to create the incentive for people to use their cars only when they really need to. Also, we need a dedicated funding stream for increased mass transit. HOV would not do that.

  • Be

    Sper said: ” 80% of those who drive into Manhattan have a mass transit option that would take no more than 10 minutes more than driving.”

    Not true, at all. Not even factoring in the time-inconvenience of having to alter your commuting schedule to the two trains an hour on MNRR, and then go into Grand Central, and either get a cab, a bus, or transfer to a subway… this will add at the very least 30 minutes to any communte that is not adjacent to Grand Central. It doesn’t really make sense for someone who works in a doctors office on 5th Ave and 80th st. too take the train in from Westchester.

  • Jim


    Fair question. I have family in Westchester and if I’m not going to need the car for a while, I leave it up there (using Metro-North to get to/from).

    But during weeks when I do need to use the car, I park on the street in my neighborhood in the East 80s, hence my concern.

    I feel I do what I can to avoid clogging the streets with my car gratuitously, but would still like a fair shot at parking in my own ‘hood when I have to.


  • SPer

    Why couldn’t you continue to park your car where you always have? London has not had a problem with congestion zone perimeter parking. Why would NYC? And if there is a big problem with perimeter parking, then we can introduce residence parking permits.


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