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Albany Reform

Pricing Round Up: Persuasive Arguments, Rigged Polls, New Buses

1:18 PM EDT on March 20, 2008

With a congestion pricing bill now on the table and the days to get it passed quickly winding down, here is a snapshot of where a handful of electeds, including heavy-hitters like David Paterson and Sheldon Silver, stand.

First, the Times quotes Governor Paterson, following his sit-down with Mayor Bloomberg yesterday afternoon:

"The mayor, I was surprised, is very compassionate about congestion pricing - he really seems to have a thing for congestion pricing," Mr. Paterson told the crush of waiting reporters. "Is that a good idea? Can it actually be implemented?" he continued, promising to review what he called Mr. Bloomberg's "very persuasive argument" with Albany leaders. "We don't have much time to make a decision, so you won't have to wait long."

Meanwhile:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his "members believe that they would be making the wrong vote" if they supported the congestion pricing plan. "It's not all of them," he added, "but it would be a majority."

That majority would apparently include formerly undecided Upper East Side Assembly Member Micah Kellner:

[Kellner] said Mr. Bloomberg should not count on the governor to whip up support in the Assembly. "I doubt his first act as governor is going to be trying to shove this down our throats," he said.

"The message this bill sends to the people of the city of New York is if you're poor, if you don't have access to a credit card, if you don't have access to a bank account, you should pay more," Mr. Kellner said.

Also, a tipster sends this account of a recent Queens Community Board 1 meeting, featuring an epiphany from City Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr.:

Vallone said he had been pressured by the Mayor and the Speaker and the DOT Commissioner the night before at a dinner held specifically to persuade him to vote for CP. He asked for the CB to vote either for or against by a show of hands. The CB voted unanimously against it. He asked the non-CB voters in attendance to show who was in support by a show of hands. Only four (all TA members) out of approximately 30 raised their hands. He then declared he was against it.

And we have a couple of reports that a pricing poll on the web site of Queens State Senator Frank Padavan was reset after the votes began trending in favor. Seriously, now.

In related news, earlier today Bloomberg and MTA chief Elliot Sander announced a new express bus route from Throggs Neck to Lower Manhattan if "and only if" pricing is approved. The route would pick up from the end of the current BXM-9 route, offering Bronxites a one-seat ride to Battery Place.

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