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Brooklyn Assemblyman “Protects Families” From Pricing

12:13 PM EDT on April 2, 2008

colton.jpgRichard Brodsky may have lost on Monday, but today his colleagues in Albany are parroting his talking points. A tipster sent us this constituent letter from Assemblyman William Colton, who represents Midwood, Bensonhurst and Gravesend in Brooklyn. Incidentally, a glance at this morning's map reveals that the City Council members who represent those neighborhoods, Simcha Felder and Domenic Recchia, voted in favor of pricing.

We apologize in advance for subjecting you to the barrage of misinformation that follows.

Dear Friend,

I do not support the congestion pricing plan which has been passed bythe City Council.

The biggest problem with this congestion pricing proposal is that itsets a very bad precedent by setting aside the SEQRA requirements foran environmental impact study before undertaking a major project. Therequirement that an Environmental Impact Study be completed before amajor project is approved is critical to protecting people from theconsequences of bad projects.

I believe the refusal to do such an EIS is because this proposal doesnot really achieve a reduction of congestion but rather seeks toimpose a regressive tax on families. It fails to include elementswhich might be effective at reducing the environmental impacts oftraffic congestion, such as favoring green low gas and hybridvehicles, encouraging cars with two and three riders, making a feeprogressive with income, targeting black cars and taxis (which equal40% of all cars in the Manhattan congestion zone), and enforcinghigher fines for illegal and double parking in congestion zone,eliminating the credit for tolls (which will exempt most of thecongestion fee for New Jersey and Conn. drivers), establishing someform of rationing such as prohibiting vehicles with odd or evenlicense plates to odd or even days, thereby encouraging car pooling, etc.

But the real goal of the proposal is to provide a new revenue sourcefrom the middle class and working poor. Even worse, the failure ofthe plan to require such additional revenues be used to make publictransit more accessible and affordable for the families of ourneighborhoods instead of allowing it to fund major capital projectsfavored by developers is hypocritical and dooms any hope for makingpublic transit more accessible and affordable or for any real hope ofa reduction in congestion.

In fact passage of this plan will almost guarantee a large fareincrease because whatever monies which are given to the MTA will notbe used to pay for public transit improvements but instead will beused to collateralize borrowing which will result in higher futureinterest payments which public transit users will need to repay withhigher fares. Therefore it will not encourage people to use carssince use of mass transit will be almost as expensive. The congestionfee will impact on those with low and middle incomes and will havelittle impact on the wealthy who will simply use it as a business deduction.

There are many more arguments against this plan but these are somevery major ones which require me to vote no in order to protect thefamilies of our neighborhood.


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