Brodsky Presents Dems With a Choice: God’s Love or Al D’Amato

Richard Brodsky is using this letter to rally opposition to congestion pricing.

To get a sense of the issues that congestion pricing advocates will have to address in the State Assembly, download this letter that Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky circulated to his fellow Democrats yesterday.

In it, Brodsky repeats the debunked claim that congestion pricing is a "regressive tax" on middle class New York City residents, he suggest improprieties in "the Mayor’s tactics," and even manages to bring in Alfonse D’Amato, the ultimate New York State Democratic bogeyman.

Brodsky’s letter also includes a prominent two-page attachment from Karen Pearl, the president of God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization that delivers cooked meals to about 3,000 seriously ill people throughout the metropolitan region. With a fleet of 16 vans and a headquarters in SoHo, Pearl estimates that the congestion charge could cost her organization between $30,000 and $80,000 a year.

Pearl asks Brodsky merely to argue for "appropriate adjustments and/or exemptions" for organizations like hers. But if you saw the Assemblyman’s debate with Kathy Wylde on NY1 last night, then you know that Brodsky is trying to turn God’s Love into something like the Willie Horton of the congestion pricing campaign, the symbol of all that is wrong with Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal. The choice, as Brodsky presents it, is clear: It’s Creepy Republican lobbyist Al D’Amato and his big business interests vs. God’s Love We Deliver and the AIDS patients they feed. Whose side are you on?

The tactic might even be working. I chatted with a Deborah Glick staffer last night and God’s Love We Deliver was one of the first points he hit in explaining why his boss, who represents one of the districts that stands to gain the most from pricing, is still "uncomfortable" with the plan.

  • fdr

    On page 2, item 2 says “It is a permanent plan. It’s no longer a pilot.” Is that true? One of the arguments for the plan has been that it is a pilot that can be adjusted down the road.

  • Spud Spudly

    It may be adjusted, but if it’s implemented it’s never going away no matter what effect it may have. Politicians will not allow revenue streams to dry up.

  • Spud Spudly

    Pardon me, except the Commuter Tax of course.

  • Mark

    Mayor Weiner may beg to differ. Which is why the next mayoral election will be just as important as the upcoming state legislature CP vote. If we lose Sadik-Khan, we lose a lot.

  • Mark

    God’s Love We Deliver pays on toll roads now, yet they survive. Their employees must pay a subway “tax” to ride. Traffic congestion adds to their delivery time and the cost of the goods they buy. I pay a subway “tax” every time I take the Q train. It is only possible to drive in congested Manhattan because 95% of commuters like me take transit. We get off the streets into trains so others can drive. If CP fails to pass, we should all get cars, fake placards, and then people will see that transit is the backbone of this city. If you love this city, fight for congestion pricing.

  • Briefly:

    – It was clear long ago that anything smaller than a tractor-trailer would pay the $8. No way that God’s Love We Deliver will pay $80K

    – 16 vans * 250 CP days * $8 = $32,000.

    – From the letter, you would think that the God’s Love vans never get stuck in traffic. How many additional AIDS patients could they feed for that $32,000 – without hiring an additional driver?

    – According to Charity Navigator, God’s Love We Deliver spends 22% of their revenue, almost $2 million out of their $9 million budget, on fundraising. Their ED makes over $200,000. They can’t spare $32K?

    – Al d’Amato lobbied on behalf of private buses, which Brodsky calls “the Greyhound exemption.” Who takes Greyhound? The poor. The fact that Brodsky is including the name “Greyhound” in his talking points shows how out of touch this “crusader for the poor” is.

  • By contrast, City Harvest spends only 13% of their revenue on fundraising. The main point is that $32,000 is 0.3% of God’s Love We Deliver’s income from last year.

  • Stuck with O’Donnell

    According to his staff, Volvo driving Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell remains:
    very concerned about social equity
    very concerned about the transit funding lock-box
    Not at all concerned about transit, traffic congestion or the 95% of people in his district who don’t regularly drive into the CBD but are stuck on buses and jammed onto overcrowded subways.

  • God’s Love Volunteer

    For all those who have volunteered at God’s Love in the past, preparing meals around Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatnot, (myself included!) it’s time to call Volunteer Services and urge them to recalculate their math. Less time in traffic equals a direct increase in AIDS patients fed (assuming same fleed.)

    Having done this math, they should issue a revised letter, addressed to Silver and Glick, in STRONG support of CP. And then go on NY1 Inside City Hall to articulate same message!

    Volunteer Services
    (212) 294-8104

    God’s Love We Deliver
    166 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10013
    Phone: (212) 294-8100

  • Ed

    I hate to counter what GLWD is saying, because they’re such a great organization, but…

    Given 262 “congestion days” in a calendar year, if all 16 of their vans had to leave and re-enter the congestion zone at least once every one of those days, the total annual cost would be maximum $33,536, not “$30,000 to $80,000”. However, for each van that could operate while staying inside the zone for the day, that annual cost would drop by $2,096, so it could be less than $30,000. For a company with $8.2 million in assets and $9.4 million in annual revenues, $30K doesn’t seem like that outrageous an increase.

    They could also move their base of deliveries from Soho to somewhere outside of the congestion zone and only have to have one or two vans operating in the zone each day, lowering their costs to $4,192/year. Having fewer vehicles driving in the congestion zone is, after all, the true goal of CP and this is proof that the financial incentive would work.

    Unfortunately, there are going to be challenges for some groups to adjust, but I don’t think that just because you are a worthy cause you have the right to congest the downtown and pollute the air more than others. Maybe if there was less pollution in the densely populated area of downtown Manhattan, there would be fewer people with cancer who need free meals delivered to them. Am I right or am I being a bastard here?

  • Lars

    Every day Brodsky is looking more and more like a lunatic. That is why NY1 loves to have him on. People love to watch the train wreck he is becoming.

  • Larry Littlefield

    From facts about SEQR the NYS DEC website:

    3. Are there any agencies excluded from complying with SEQR?

    In enacting SEQR, The Legislature specifically excluded some decisions by agencies.

    These include the Adirondack Park Agency for actions on private land within the Adirondack Park (the “Blue Line”) and the Public Service Commission for actions involving Articles VII and X of the Public Service Law (e.g. pipelines, transmission lines and power plants). This was done because these two agencies already had a SEQR-like analysis process.

    In addition, there are a few narrowly focused exclusions:

    The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has an exemption for most actions it takes on land that it already owns;

    The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has the potential to be excluded from the provisions of SEQR only to the extent that compliance with SEQR is inconsistent with the terms and purposes of Section 1014 or the Public Officers Law.;

    The Long Island Power Authority is exempt for actions involving the decommissioning of the Shoreham Nuclear Plant.;

    The Thruway Authority was granted an exclusion from SEQR in 1990 for the acquisition of Interstate 287 which connects the Tappan Zee Bridge to the New England Section of the Thruway;

    The Hudson River Waterfront Area was similarly excluded from SEQR requirements in 1990 for the designation of certain portions of the Hudson River shoreline in Manhattan as portions of the Hudson River Waterfront Area, and their simultaneous removal from the West Side Roadway Construction. Area; and

    The New York State Department of Transportation was granted an exemption for certain actions involving addition of travel lanes and other projects on the Long Island Expressway.

    OK, that last one was added long after SEQR was created. Everything passes the state legislature unanimously. Who voted for it? It must have been sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I’ll be Ms. Konheim knows.

    Like I said, the environmental review process has been so hijacked that it is routinely discarded if something is thought important.

  • silver, no pun intended, lining

    Okay, I have just about had enough of Brodsky. So let me say that I have never (in over three decades) voted a “litmus test” issue but I’m taking names…. No way I vote for Brodsky, Weiner, deBlasio, Barron–uh, oh, now what do I do?–or anybody else who opposed CP. And, you know what? I am grateful for the issue no matter what the outcome.

  • Streetsman

    The SEQR process is heavily flawed and should not be exalted. For example, it requires that all plans accommodate existing traffic levels, and makes no allowances for mode shift to non-vehicular travel – exactly the change that CP is intended to generate.

    SEQR is overridden by actions that are voted on by the State Legislature. If congestion pricing, crafted by the City’s top transportation experts, with a promised EIS prior to implementation, is approved by the City Council and the State Legislature, why then should it be subjected to the rules of SEQR? Isn’t the approval of the Mayor’s Office, the DOT, and City and State elected officials enough to justify a pilot program? If you require SEQR, you miss qualifying for the federal money AND you then have to pay for all the additional studies, reports and filings for SEQR. What a waste of $360 million.

  • I have a feeling some of God’s Love board members would be disgusted if they knew their organization was being used as a Brodsky bully pulpit.


    Michael Sennott
    Sylvia Vogelman

    Vice Chairs
    José A. Belizario, M.D.
    Blaine Trump

    Jeffrey M. Krauss

    Vice Treasurer
    Jeffrey V. Diglio

    Barbra Locker, Ph.D.

    Linda Fairstein
    Richard E. Feldman, Esq.
    Jon Gilman
    Jennifer Goodale
    Desiree Gruber
    Ann Jackson
    Star Jones Reynolds, Esq.
    Debby Landesman
    Alan G. Levin
    Michael Meagher
    R. Michael Moran
    Donald R. Mullen
    Joan Rivers
    Alan J. Rogers
    Lisa Sherman
    Judith Siegel-Baum, Esq.
    Reginald W. Smith
    Don M. Thomas
    Paul Wilmot

    President & CEO
    Karen Pearl

    Current and Former Board Chairs
    Richard Feldman 1992 – 2001
    Sylvia Vogelman 2000 – Present
    Alan Levin 2001 – 2003
    Michael Sennott 2003 – Present

  • fdr

    I can’t wait to hear what Star Jones and Joan Rivers have to say about congestion pricing.

  • curmudgeon

    Dear God,
    Please deliver us from having our vans stuck in increasingly congested traffic while they try to deliver food to the needy.

    P.s. Lunch: it’s the new breakfast (the next morning)

  • Hilary

    What is actually involved in accommodating an exempt class? I guess if they have special EZ-passes or license plates it can be done electronically? Or will it require separate lanes on the bridges? We should know the full cost of processing, infrastructure, etc.for complicating the system. Like intrazone fees, it may turn out not to be cost-effective.

    The non-profit exemption seems big enough to drive a tractor trailer through. I mean every one of us would probably qualify using some affiliation. Or worth forming your own church.

  • Anon


    GLWD and other critical human service organizations can front the fees, and get rebates come tax time. Is that so tricky? Next topic?

  • Hilary

    Anon – not so tricky, but not cost-free (to organization or government) either. What non-profits will be considered to provide “critical services?” Trips will have to be documented, especially if personal cars are used. Getting a rebate from the state is 100 times as much of a hassle as a refund from the IRS — not just to guard the public purse but to keep the state in business!
    Keep it simple. Consider a road fee the cost of doing good work and business, just like gas, tolls, telephone, payroll taxes.

  • Mark

    The CW11 10 o’clock newscast picked up the GLWD story tonight. No mention or airtime for Brodsky. Main point seemed to be GLWD demanding an exemption. Anchor Jim Watkins smarmily seconded the motion. It was an outrageously biased story, but then, CW11’s CP coverage has been almost uniformly one-sided, starting with the original stories where the “man on the street” interviews consisted of sticking a microphone in car windows and asking drivers what they thought. As if peds and transit users didn’t exist. This station should have its license challenged by the livable-streets movement — it clearly isn’t operating in the public interest, as it’s required to do by the FCC.


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