Who is Richard Brodsky?

Schuerman_RichardBrodsky2V.jpgMatthew Schuerman offers up a brief but insightful profile of Westchester Assembly member Richard Brodsky in this week’s Observer. Who is the man who holds the keys to the future of New York City transportation policy?

First of all, like many on the government payroll, he’s got his own ideas about parking policy:

Already late for a meeting, he guided his deputy chief of staff, who was at the wheel, into a parking lot. "Just take the handicapped spot," he suggested, but she thought better of it and found a legitimate spot of her own.

Brodsky learned politics at the feet of Ed Muskie and Bella Abzug. He viscerally rejects the market-based, technology-driven environmental policy of congestion pricing. In his fight to maintain the free, unfettered motoring that his generation grew up with, he claims to be defending the interests of New York City’s poor and working class. And though he talks, sounds and acts like the quintessential, baby-boomer, New York liberal politician, that’s not how he defines himself:

A self-described progressive known for having a point of view on pretty much everything, he is also emerging as a key player in the battle over congestion pricing, Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to charge $8 to drive in core Manhattan on weekdays. Mr. Brodsky does not like it.

Everyone Schuerman talks to — even his opposition — seems to like Brodsky and think he’s a genuinely smart guy:

"Richard is an extremely intelligent guy who I believe could bring consensus to this issue if he really has an open mind," said Kathryn Wylde, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, and a member of the commission. "For him to become an advocate of congestion pricing is unlikely, but convincing him that the process of getting there is fair and the plan is comprehensive enough are going to be very important to making the commission work."

However, some suggest that Brodsky may be confused about what sort of transportation policy would actually benefit the vast majority of poor and middle class New Yorkers:

"A lot of it is lazy thinking-using the language of the middle class to put fear into a large segment of the population for the benefit of a small segment," said another commission member, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, executive director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. "He confuses driving with a public good without recognizing that it is the streets that are the public good."

Photo: James Hamilton for the Observer

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Maybe the next time someone is late for a dinner in his neighborhood, someone should just park in his driveway.

  • Hilary

    His eagerness to park in the handicapped spot speaks volumes.

  • Actually, that’s what i keep hearing too: that he’s a really sharp guy.

    Then again, so was Bob Moses.

    You can be brilliant and still have tragic flaws, such as arrogance, selfishness, or, more subjectively, a “bad” vision of city planning.

  • anon

    Same applies for Bloomberg, sad to say.

  • Budrick

    I really highly doubt that Brodsky is a “smart guy,” at least taking his public comments at face value. If he IS a “smart guy,” he most certainly is not well-intentioned/honest–he’s purposefully screwing over the people of New York City. Ms. Wylde was being diplomatic.

  • JF

    “Richard is an extremely intelligent guy who I believe could bring consensus to this issue if he really has an open mind,” said Kathryn Wylde

    I think she put her finger on it. That’s a big “if.” The only way I can reconcile his actions on this issue with any combination of intelligence and progressive liberalism is if someone got to him early on and convinced him that Congestion Pricing is Bad for the Poor, and he made up his mind, dug in his heels and has ignored all evidence to the contrary since then.

  • Boogiedown

    Why should he care about the poor? He represents WESTCHESTER COUNTY. Puh-leeze. His professed concern for the downtrodden is nothing but a tatty fig leaf with which he is trying to hide his true motive(s).

  • JF

    That’s true Boogiedown, although I’d like to believe that there are some true liberals and progressives in the Assembly, instead of just people who will take liberal positions as long as it won’t inconvenience their donors.

    I thought this quote from the Riverdale Press article was telling:
    Mr. Brodsky said that while he is concerned about the environment, he opposes congestion pricing not only because of the “particular concrete problems” of actually implementing the plan, but also because he “did not enter public life to enable essentially well meaning, very nice but wealthy people to decide that there are some places people cannot go,” within a city.
    The hypocrisy of this statement boggles my mind. Has Brodsky ever tried to get around Elmsford without a car? There are plenty of places in his district that wealthy people (well-meaning or not) have decided are not for pedestrians or cyclists. And the inconvenience is a lot greater than for the “poor” people that Brodsky is defending to pay $8 a day.

  • Carmobility

    Don’t you know that you can’t get anywhere in NYC without a car? How long have you lived here? Are you a freak? Everyone here has a car. They just register them out of state. Those people on the subways and buses? Didn’t anyone tell you yet? They’re all tourists.

  • Budrick

    Good one, carmobility. Everyone knows that those “people” on the subways aren’t tourists, they’re gang members, felons, perverts, welfare leeches, and other assorted misfits and miscreants.

    If they were good, honest, law-abiding citizens, they’d have cars by now.

  • Carmobility

    Subway riders are all those bad things? Not just tourists? Gosh, Brodsky could lift so many people out of this blighted car-free condition with a state “car for all” program. We could pay for it with a surcharge on all the really, really, super-rich, elitist, snobby Manhattan people who want congestion pricing.

  • JF

    People have told me that instead of transit it’s cheaper to buy a car for everyone who needs one. Why hasn’t Brodsky come to our salvation on this?

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    I just went out and bought a car! Thank you Mr. Brodsky. I have finally seen the light. I live in Manhattan so please fight that congestition pricing, I don’t wanna pay it.

    P.S. Can you do something about parking tickets? Who needs ’em.

  • Dave

    I find it interesting that Brodsky has a say in CP and the dealings of the city while none of his constituents support the city in any way. The commuter tax is gone thanks to Bruno and NYS political shenanigans, and we all know that the city pays more tax to the state than we ever get back.

    Let’s just call CP a commuter tax and be done with it. Come to think of it, why hasn’t Bloomberg tried to bring the commuter/city wage tax back?

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