Assembly Member Deborah Glick: Angry Fence-Sitter

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New Jersey traffic headed toward Chelsea Tuesday evening

Constituents of Lower Manhattan Assembly Member Deborah Glick have a lot to gain from congestion pricing, but they should not assume their representative will vote for the plan once (or if) it reaches Albany.

Meeting with a group of advocates who traveled from the city yesterday, Glick reeled off a list of grievances, both with pricing and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whom she described as an "out of touch billionaire."

Lawmakers who had issues with pricing as proposed last year were greeted with "arrogance and dismissiveness," according to Glick. "We asked a lot of questions," she said, "we got no answers." Even after innumerable public hearings and the months-long Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission process, which she is in part responsible for, Glick says communication from the city is "only slightly better" now.

If the Bloomberg administration really wanted to raise money, Glick said, it would not offer so many tax breaks for developers. Instead, the mayor is more concerned with building luxury high rises for the wealthy, who she said will constitute the majority of new residents expected to settle in the city over the next two decades. Glick believes the original congestion pricing plan was more about Bloomberg’s legacy than a workable program to reduce traffic and fund transit.

But enough about the mayor. Here’s what Glick thinks of congestion pricing today:

  • The toll credit for New Jersey commuters offers them "no disincentive" to drive.
  • The effort to implement pricing without an Environmental Impact Statement is part of a larger plan to undermine reviews for future development.
  • The city could have taken 100,000 cars off the streets over the past year via placard reform, had it wished.
  • New York could do without 1,000 yellow cabs. And all those double-parked limos.
  • Congestion pricing is "lacking in thoughtfulness about real issues," like exemptions for doctor visits, and for health care employees who work from 4 p.m. to midnight, arriving at work too early to avoid the congestion charge and getting off too late to rely on train service.
  • The proposed credit card based payment system discriminates against the poor, who will not be able to pay congestion fees as conveniently and who will be most vulnerable to "disgusting and outrageous" late charges.

Despite her misgivings, which don’t seem to have changed much since last year, Glick still describes herself as "decidedly on the fence." And unlike most legislators, who — judging from the chatter among advocates who spent Tuesday working the halls of power in Albany — don’t want to talk about pricing, Glick spoke at length and in detail.

"It’s totally in my self-interest to get more money for mass transit," she said.

  • vnm

    I used to work the 4-to-midnight shift, for about five years. NEVER had a problem relying on trains and buses to get me home. The trains run all night, and they often run just as crowded as in the middle of the day. You have to wait a little longer and deal with service changes, but they are totally reliable.

    Here in the only city in the world where the trains run 24/7 (LIRR, PATH, Subway, everything except Metro-North, which closes down at 1:30 a.m.). How can people look you in the eye and claim that you can’t rely on trains late at night? Only those who have never tried it.

    Glick’s not the first to make this argument, by the way.

  • Sheila

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but Glick is just awful. What a shame.

    A new or existing political club needs to start developing some candidates to run against Glick immediately. It will probably take a few election cycles but she needs to go. It’s time for these old school, Liberal, identity politics-oriented Democrats to be pushed out the door and replaced with new school, progressive, sustainability-oriented Democrats.

  • md

    Too late for mass transit? Not for city residents. Like vnm, I worked the 4-12 for years. The trains still run at that time and are full of people who work that shift.

    I wonder if Glick would write to the MTA, asking them to give fare exemptions to people who take mass transit in to Manhattan for doctor visits. I’m still angry about the $4 roundtrip I paid for my vasectomy last year.

  • SPer

    I do agree that the disincentive for Jersey drivers is not strong enough. And that there’s little in the Mayor’s plan to deal with all the chauffeured vehicles that do clog the streets

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I can’t believe I’m saying this but Glick is just awful. What a shame.)

    Why vote against Glick on congestion pricing when you can vote against here on the solid waste management plan? Oh that’s right, it’s illegal to run against incumbent state legislators, so you don’t get to vote.

    Glick represents her constituents, like the all do. There are very few of them, and they probably include more people from outside her purported district than in it.

    Does Glick have a placard?

  • JF

    This is bullshit. You know what, Assemblymember Glick? I’m angry too. Angry that you care so little about congestion, pollution and safety that you’re content to ask picayune questions, focus on minor issues, passively obstruct any move for change, and complain about process and your poor bruised ego.

    Don’t like Bloomberg’s plan and the way he introduced it? You’ve had almost a year to come up with a workable alternative. Instead you sit on your ass and complain, and let Brodsky invent ridiculous non-solutions.

    Clearly, Glick doesn’t give a shit about the environment. If she did, she’d make sure that something happened. What a disappointment.

  • Josh

    It’s a shame that I agree with Glick about tax breaks for real estate developers, because I think she’s being really petty with her comments about Bloomberg.

  • Lulu

    I live in Glick’s district and I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here- she needs to go!

  • “It will probably take a few election cycles…”

    If she and others keep on about how the first/only element of traffic that should be (further) cut back is the New Yorker’s yellow cab of necessity, maybe not. The mayor might be a billionaire with jets and stuff, but something (occasional commutes on the 4/5?) has kept him better in touch with the needs and daily experience of Glick’s district than she is.

    She is wrong about what “real issues” are, she is wrong about people that have cars in NYC not knowing how to pay credit cards (they don’t get enough practice with the car loan?), she is on another planet when she equates congestion pricing to real estate development, and in a fantasy land when she wishes away parking abuse by those in charge of parking enforcement. She as much as admits that her dislike for the mayor inclines her to be against congestion pricing, as if he had invented it instead of jumping on the international bandwagon just 18 month ago. And even if he had, um, prejudice on a crucial policy? Not something to brag about, actually!

  • Petty comments about Bloomberg from Democrats = He gave money to Senate Republicans

  • Dave

    That picture isn’t of the Holland Tunnel, BTW.

    Aside from her non-relevant comments about tax breaks for development (what exactly does that have to do with CP?) there are answers to her other issues.

    – Let her spearhead a campaign against placard-abuse. Bloomberg has tried but how about she openly support RPP and/or the installation of placard-free zones in her district. Don’t just complain about it; do something about it!

    – Too many cabs? Is she kidding? How about the creation of taxi-stands and a prohibition against cruising by taxis?

    – “Real issues?” I think the late-night bus/subway issue has been addressed and this non-issue of doctor-visits annoys me. How often are we talking and the $8 fee is the same as two round-trip non-discounted subway fares. She’s pandering to the old here; shame on her.

    – A way to solve the Canal St issue and the New Jersey “fairness” issue is re-installing two-way tolls at all crossings. Why doesn’t she take on Molinaro who is dead-set against them because he wrongly thinks this will worsen traffic on Staten Island (where the traffic back on an expressway instead of surface streets in Manhattan.

    Rather than complain Deborah why don’t you actually do something useful like tackle placard-abuse like Chinatown did, solve the toll-shopping issue that makes Canal St a mess….DO SOMETHING!

  • Mark

    “The proposed credit card based payment system discriminates against the poor, who will not be able to pay congestion fees as conveniently and who will be most vulnerable to ‘disgusting and outrageous’ late charge.”

    So they’re too poor to have credit cards, but not poor enough to own and maintain cars? Of Glick’s impressive collection of straw men, this one is the most transparently fictitious.

  • Batty

    Why do they keep wanting to take cabs off the roads? In effect they’re like a rental car for 15 mins – take the other cars off the roads.

  • vnm

    This is the Windsheild Mentality speaking for you.

    As a member of the Legislature and therefore a Very Important Person, Glick and I am sure her senior staffers enjoy free parking everywhere courtesy of the placard. Therefore, it only makes sense for her/them to drive everywhere. Once you start driving everywhere, you forget what it’s like for the rest of us. I.e., most New Yorkers.

  • Dave

    Who has Glick’s e-mail? Let’s start a campaign to ask her to give up her placard, and those of all her staffers, as a symbolic start to ending placard abuse.

  • Dave H.

    typo: should be “out-of-touch”

  • Heffron

    I was at the Glick meeting and just so you know, she claimed not to have a placard and that she takes mass transit, again attacking Bloomberg by saying, “And I don’t have someone drive me to an express station and take the train from there”. So that’s what she’ll say if you start writing her about placard abuse without proof.

    It did seem that her number one issue with the plan is her dislike of Bloomberg.

  • Dave

    Heffron:

    Thanks for the head’s-up; I won’t write to her asking her to give something up she doesn’t have….except maybe her horrible attitude.

    If she can’t put aside her personal emotions she has no business being a politician. Her inability to stop the garbage transfer station debacle; her inaction on solving the Canal St mess (that is her district isn’t it?) those are to be expected.

    But not supporting legislation that would help her constituents because of her dislike of the mayor is appalling.

  • Shemp

    In addition to Glick being a big disappointment over the years, it equally disappointing how many streetsbloggers consistently buy this “no NJ disincentive” fakery. An $8 toll is an $8 toll, regardless of how long it’s been in place or in what direction it’s pointing. The disincentive has just been applied to New Jersey for far longer. Stop being such gullible, tribalistic fools.

  • Ray

    Assemblywoman Glick. I am an angry constituent. live in your district and I urge you here to get off the fence and support this $354 million Federally funded pilot project. NOW. Frankly, my vote now depends on seeing such support.

    Your concerns are largely addressed –

    NJ Drivers have had a disincentive to drive. They have had it for decades. NY State receives 50% of PA revenues. The $8 toll is enforced 24 hours a day for cash paying customers – far more draconian than the CBD congestion plan.

    There are provisions for placards and cabs. I am convinced the city is serious about addressing these contributors to congestion.

    The assertion that the poor will not be able to pay the charge with cash is rather incredible. Moreover, drivers (those who can afford insurance, parking, fuel) usually maintain a standard of living which includes some form of electronic payment capacity. Further, there are solid plans for cash payment in place. And those without such instruments are usually ON the bus or train and will benefit from the plan.

    Finally, we can speak about special populations and exceptions all day long. Yet, let’s consider if the MTA or the NY State Thruway Authority provides such exceptions for residents who travel to jobs or doctors appointments? Let’s get real.

  • Scott K

    I was at the meeting with Glick where she raised issues about congestion pricing. Her concern about health-care workers and lack of train service stemmed from an example of a worker living in LI who drives to work because his/her shift ends at midnight (frequently extended) and LIRR service outbound is unavailable at this hour. Glick’s valid point is that his person has no real alternative to driving, is a low-paid worker, and will be significantly hurt by paying $160/month in congestion pricing fees.

    I am an enthusiastic supporter of congestion pricing and strongly urged the Albany lawmakers to support it. But, many raised legitimate concerns exacerbated by the absence of an actual bill to consider.

    For what its worth, Glick told us that she is a daily subway commuter, is not “picked up and driven to subway stations,” and only uses her car to visit her family in NJ.

  • Brad Aaron

    Glick initially said she only uses her car to get to Albany and back. Later she said she also drives to NJ to visit family.

    She said she has never had a placard, though it would be very easy for her to obtain one.

  • Dave

    I still find fault with Glick in that she complains about the proposal but has come up with no proposed solutions.

    Also the fact that she would not support CP due to ONE worker from LI (not her district, right?) who would be inconvenienced is absurd.

    As a politician she is supposed to represent the wishes of all her constituents and be a leader. By bowing to an extreme example of one person outside her district she fails miserably at this.

  • rhubarbpie

    I agree with Assembly Member Glick that the decision to delay an EIS is a worrisome sign. Beyond that, I suppose that we can always hope that politicians will not take their personal animosities, etc. into account when making decisions, but I suspect that only Assembly Member Spock will meet that expectation.

  • Lisa

    The situation facing many people who work late in terms of taking mass transit is REAL. What about people who live in areas served by Metro North? The Harlem line’s last express train is at 1am, as an example. Miss that and you are likely to get home after 3 or 4 taking the local train. And what about people who live far out in Brooklyn on the notoriously slow R train, as another example. Add to that the fact that riding a train at 1am is not always the safest thing in certain neighborhoods, especially for a woman alone, and I understand that part of the argument.Driving into Manhattan may not be the answer, but then what is?

    The fact that our current public transportation system falls very short of adequately serving a large portion of the commuting public is something we have to consider in relationship to this argument.

  • The part that considers it is the part that funds public transportation with congestion pricing revenue. Eventually the driving disincentives should improve late night regional rail schedules, as ridership increases generally. In the short term, I bet a lot of people will just move. If $160 per month is make or break, it’s time to sell the car and move back to a smaller city apartment like the rest of us. Monthly fuel costs for daily drivers will go up that much in a few years, regardless.

    Individual problems come down to individual choices; good policy works off the aggregate. In that respect pricing is excellent for the poor and low income. Their supposed champions need to get off their butts and support it instead of making decisions based off their one in a million (or two in 8 million) anecdotes.

  • JF

    Amtrak makes nine daily round-trips between Penn Station and Rensselaer, a quick bus or cab ride from the legislative office building. Greyhound has six runs each way per day from the Port Authority, and Adirondack Trailways has seven. The Dragon Deluxe bus line has seven runs a day from their stop in Chinatown (a few blocks from Glick’s district), and AABus has four from theirs. Why does Glick need to drive to Albany and back?

  • jmc

    Metro-North is more than 160/month, and the people who use Metro North often drive to the station, so they’d still need to maintain their cars. This argument doesn’t hold much water

  • Dave

    rhubarbpie:
    Is the decision to delay an EIS a $354 million problem, especially when CP is touted as a pilot program and we still get to keep the money?
    And really, the environmental impact will be positive as fewer people will be driving in the city. I do not buy the argument that more people will drive up to the CP and take transit from there. It’s a smokescreen thrown up by the NIMBY, no-change-is-good types.
    Lisa:
    People who decide to live way out in the boonies and work in the city made a conscious decision to do so (probably more for their money or something financially driven). I refuse to accept the argument that the city as a whole should lose the benefits of CP because of their flawed decisions.
    Somebody always lose when any major decision is made; if CP fails it is the transit-riders in the city (millions of them) who would benefit from the $354 million.

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