Open Thread: What Are Your Reps Saying About Pricing?

Hopefully a lot of electeds are hearing from Streetsbloggers today. We’d love to know the responses you’re getting. To get the ball rolling, here’s an account from Streetsblog’s Jason Varone:

I just got off a lengthy phone call with a staffer at Joan Millman’s Albany office. She was very pretty well versed on the subject and she assured me that Assemblywoman Millman supports the concept of congestion pricing, but is hung up on getting assurances from the mayor about the lock box, transit improvements, and handicap access to subway stations. She mentioned that the 9th Street subway station has no handicap access, and that they have been complaining about this for years, but the city says there isn’t enough money to add it.

She said that about 70% of the constituents that have emailed, written and called are in support of the plan — but they want guarantees that the money will in fact be used for transit. I told her that my personal favorite aspect to the plan is that it will be a clear signal to the public that the government does not want them to drive cars, if they can avoid it. The staffer agreed with me on that. I also pointed out to her that I was a union member, and all of my "working class" friends do not own cars, and that the argument that Brodsky types have been making do not hold any water. She agreed with that too.

Mainly, her office seems to be kind of pissed off at the mayor for not being forthright with the information they have asked for since the idea was first floated. It was my impression that Millman will vote yes, but she will be biting her lip as she does it.

  • GA

    Apparently, Hakim Jefferies has no official position. I just spoke to a staffer in his District Office. When asked about the Assembly member’s concerns about CP, she told me to find some of his writings on the Web, she didn’t have them handy. I told her that as one of his constituents, I wanted to let him know I support CP.

  • If you don’t know who your Assembly member is, you can find out here:

    Please make those phone calls! Especially if your Assembly member is opposed or on the fence, but even if he/she supports CP.

    I called Adriano Espaillat’s office which I mentioned in an earlier thread’s comments. Not much to report on. He’s already a supporter and his staff took note of my call.

  • Roboto

    How come no robo-calling by the pro-pricing side? I’d be thrilled to get a call. Haven’t gotten it nor have any friends. Many of my gang are members of enviro and transpo advocacy groups, and they have our numbers. (Yes, called my reps anyway. Thanks Streetsblog.)

  • Car Free Nation

    Wow. I’d be very pleased if Millman were to support congestion pricing. I live in her district, and all I’ve heard from her is the typical populist anti-pricing rhetoric. It’s “anti-Brooklyn,” bad for the handicapped, sprung on her with no warning, going to make the neighborhood a parking lot (Have you seen the neighborhood? It’s already a parking lot).

    If she votes for it, I’ll have to eat my words and help fund her upcoming campaign…

  • So, what’s plan B?

    Even with the best DOT in a couple of generations, there are major consequences to not doing congestion pricing.

    $3 fare next year? Second Ave Subway by 2030?

    Endless demand for cars and trucks on city streets causing traffic congestion?

    Persistently high asthma & obesity rates?

  • If you don’t know your State Reps, T.A. has a handy-dandy State Legislator lookup tool here:

    Thanks to NYPIRG for use of their CMAP program.

  • Matt

    I talked to a staff member of Daniel O’Donnell’s office. He said that O’Donnell “likes the idea but there are several specifics he is very concerned about.”

    He wouldn’t tell me what the specifics were (WTF?) so I give him my 5 minute spiel, and that was that.

  • vnm

    In response to a letter I wrote, I got a strong letter in support of pricing from Sen. Jose M. Serrano. However, it is the Assembly we should be worried about. Called Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene and voiced my support to an aide.

    Anyone here live in Silver’s district? CALL.

  • rlb

    I spoke to a staff member in Catherine Nolan’s office. She said Nolan currently has no opinion.
    A three minute spiel ensued.

  • Jon

    A staffer for Assemblyman Farrell is not sure how he leans.

  • Kathleen

    I’m an Upper East Sider and I called my State Senator and Assemblyman. Thanks for the push! Senator Serrano is for it and his staff was excited to talk about it. Assemblyman Bing is still on the fence, but his staff did explain why.

  • Funny – Bing’s position has flip-flopped so many times it’s getting funny to hear what his position is today. Back in July of last year BP Stringer publicly applauded his “unwavering” support for congestion pricing at a press conference I attended. Then a few months later he completely side-stepped the issue going into a 10 minutes lecture on everything wrong with the Mayor and his plan and how it was unfair to manhattanites and Upper East Siders.

    The person in the Albany staff at O’Donnel’s office said he’s against the Mayor’s plan but may support a better plan.

  • rhubarbpie

    I also talked with O’Donnell’s office — they’ve definitely gotten a fair number of calls.

    He said that his boss was on the fence, not against congestion pricing, so he didn’t go as far as the Albany staffer did (comment #12). We had a good back-and-forth, though, as with Matt (comment #7), wouldn’t be specific about the assembly member’s objections. It’s hard to believe that O’Donnell would be an opponent, so I hope he’s gotten a better sense of why this is the way to go.

  • rhubarbpie

    Correction to 2nd paragraph:

    “He said that his boss was on the fence, not against the current congestion pricing proposal, so he didn’t go as far as the Albany staffer did (comment #12).

  • Yakov

    Anyone know how Steven Cymbrowitz is likely to vote?

  • Moser

    Gimme a break – Millman ostensibly helps write the laws, and she wants to know how the lock-box is going to work? Look at every other dedicated tax that goes to the MTA that she has voted for during her career. Don’t let these people act like damn fools on the phone with you. It’s one thing for the City Council to hide behind: “Blame Albany – they always screw us” but it’s a bit much for an Assemblywoman to take that stance.

  • Downtown Guy

    I saw Danny O’Donnell on TV this morning, and he spoke out STRONGLY against CP.

    Now his office is saying he is on the fence??

    Danny’s nose grows longer with each lie.

  • simon

    i finally got an email back from Jeffries after a hand written letter, an email, a phone call, and a promise from state senator adams that he’d talk to jeffries about it (over the span of a month). in his email he said he was still “keeping an open mind” but that his colleagues in the assembly still had concerns that had to be addressed.

    i politely responded that the new amendments and the residential parking permit plan seem to alleviate all of his previous concerns, but that i’d love to hear about any others he has. we’ll see about that…

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    For the record, I got a call from Albany that 69 Assembly members had spoken in the Democratic Conference thus far and it was 52-17 against.

    Now I have known legislative counts to change before votes……

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Davis

    Lew, unless one those 69 speakers was Shelly Silver then it don’t count.

  • not quite on topic but thought i’d mention it.

    Workshop: “How Government Works.”
    Saturday, April 5, 2 – 5 PM

    $20 / $10 students & unemployed
    Lila Center
    302 Bowery @ Houston St., 2nd fl.
    F/V, D, 6, R/W trains all nearby
    RSVP and Questions:

    Presenters include:
    New York City Council Member Bill de Blasio
    New York State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh
    James Mumm: Executive Director, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
    Marcy Palmer: Principal Legislative Analyst, New York State Senate
    New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman

    The Interdependence Project, based in the East Village, is a grassroots, community-oriented non-profit organization. They have started a campaign against plastic bags, and have organized this workshop to educate their members and other citizens and activists. The Interdependence Project offers weekly meditation classes, lectures and discussions inspired by the Buddhist philosophical tradition as well as other contemplative education systems, guest lecturers from a variety of backgrounds, workshops and retreats, monthly arts groups and seasonal arts shows, an online multi-genre magazine, community service and responsible consumption projects.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Silver should allow a vote. If it goes down, it goes down.

    And the we can start demanding that Brodsky, Weiner and Lew come up with the $billions they promised.

    Without taking it out of the hides of those who are already paying more than they would elsewhere or accepting less in other public services.

  • otisbirdsong

    I spoke to State Senator Eric Adams Chief of Staff and was informed that he is currently against CP. She indicated Sen. Adams is against CP because the majority of his constituants take the trains and that none of the benefits of CP were going to translate to better service for Brooklyn. I brought up Asthma and she said Sen. Adams had a forum recently where there were alternative solutions to congesion suggested and he supported these, as opposed to, CP.

    I voiced my support for CP and asked her to suggest that Sen. Adams reconsider his position on CP.

    One question, right now, a Democratic Senator doesn’t matter because the GOP has the majority in the Senate and Bruno has voiced support…the real issue is the Assembly and Silver, right?

    I also called Brennan and was emailed his alternative bill press release.


  • md

    Can/will the Assembly Republicans play a role in this if the Dems are divided?

  • momos

    I called O’Donnell’s office. The staffer on the phone said he “supports the goals” of CP but “has many questions.” I gave my spiel on why we need CP.

    This may not apply to many Streetsbloggers (including me), but everyone should know that AAA-New York is actively lobbying against CP. If you’re a member, call AAA and tell them they should stop or that you’ll cancel your membership.

    I had a long conversation with their legislative director and tried to argue that many AAA members sign up for the road-side assist services, not to support anti-environmental lobbying. She was having none of it. She hit all of Brodsky’s talking points and basically suggested drivers in New York are the abused, exploited and oppressed victims of a socialist conspiracy to bilk them of their money to fund state spending on non-road related things.

  • I live in Inwood and called Assemblymember Farrell and Senator Schneiderman. Schneiderman appears to support congestion pricing. The aide at Farrell’s office did not state his position (and I foolishly didn’t ask), but from various news reports he appears to be against it.

  • Called Glick’s office. Was told repeatedly that Glick does not have a position on this issue which is bizarre because all of lower Manhattan would benefit from the reduction of trucks heading over the bridges and into the Holland tunnel.

  • “If you’re a member, call AAA and tell them they should stop or that you’ll cancel your membership.”

    Just cancel it and tell them why. Here’s consumer reports on roadside assistance coverage:

    There are options that won’t channel your money into an anti-environmental lobby.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Don’t worry about the Senate, Bruno can bring along most of the non-city Republicans and enough of the Democrats in the city and elsewhere to carry his chamber. Silver on the other hand will probably need a few Republicans to back him. As long as this is attached to the pay raises in the backroom, sealed with handshake, it should pass. After all, the City Council voted for it. Still people like Joan Millman who have long publicly supported tolling the bridges should vote right.

  • Lew from Brooklyn


    As you know I have my own plan which woukld in fact raise triple the revenue for transportation. It would share the burden among all partners in the NY region equitably as this is in fact a regional issue. In fact, I would love to invite Gov. Corzine to take a seat at the table to find a way for the NJ burbs to participate in proper regional planning and financing.

    IF and I know this is a BIG IF, CP goes down, you have my word that i will continue to fight for a fair alternative solution. Are all of you in? [and note that I said IF.]

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Jeremy Friedman

    I talked quite a bit with the staff of my Senator (Velmanette Montgomery in Brooklyn) today. They announced no official position, and said that so far, they’d gotten feedback 50-50 from constituents this week – not what I was hoping to hear!

    They were very open to my feedback, though, so I weighed in at some length and tried to respond to what I guessed some of the other callers’ complaints about CP might have been.

  • Mark

    From Upper West Side assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, in respond to an email asking him to reconsider his anti-CP stance:

    Thank you for contacting me to express your position on congestion pricing for New York City.

    As with any issue, I am very appreciative that you took the time to articulate your position. I would like to take this opportunity to explain my position, which has evolved as I had the chance to look carefully at Assembly Bill A.10406 and think about possible outcomes if it were passed. The bill was first introduced in the Senate on March 24th, and only a limited amount of time in which legislators could provide meaningful input has passed.

    I care deeply about the environment, as is evidenced by my 102% rating from Environmental Advocates, and the effects of traffic congestion on the health of my constituents. When any piece of legislation is introduced in the Assembly, it is my responsibility to carefully review all aspects of a bill before I vote for it. After carefully reading the congestion pricing bill currently before the Legislature, I concluded that I could not support the legislation as written.

    I am in Albany today, working out the final details of the 2008-2009 budget; I will be back in the district late next week and would be more than happy to speak directly with you about this important issue. Please forward your telephone number, or call my office at 212-866-3970, if you would like to discuss this further.

    As stated by Environmental Advocates: “Short circuiting SEQRA has serious pitfalls.”

    As stated by Comptroller Bill Thompson: “I would like to offer for consideration three further amendments to enhance issues of equity in the plan. . . . Every driver with EZ-Pass should be allowed three free entries after 10:00 AM per month. This benefit will allow individuals to continue to drive in at no cost for a very limited number of trips each month when using a car may be unavoidable – [for example] a doctor’s appointment.”

    Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union states: “We are pleased to see that the plan has been made fairer over the past few days, but still feel additional changes are needed. Chief among them is the creation of an oversight panel of independent experts charged with ongoing review of the program and its implementation. Citizens Union knows that much of what is being proposed is an experiment that holds the promise of success. We ask that the program be subject to independent and periodic review to ensure that the promises made are in fact achieved.”

    I fully support increases in funding for mass transit; I also fully support efforts to improve the environment and create a more sustainable New York City. I have always been very open to the ideas put forth in the Mayor’s PlaNYC 2030. My reservations stem from careful consideration of the components of the plan, some of which I strongly believe have probable negative impacts that deserve attention.

    As currently proposed, the fees charged to drivers that use Port Authority tunnels and bridges will go almost entirely to the Port Authority, not to New York City’s mass transit. The “solution” is to either charge New Jersey drivers on top of the current bridge and tunnel fees to enter the central zone, or to require Port Authority to compensate Metropolitan Transit Authority $1 billion. Governor Jon Corzine has threatened to sue if either requirement, which he views as ultimatums and violations of historical Port Authority interstate cooperation, becomes law. We clearly need New Jersey’s cooperation for this plan to work, and do not have that as the plan is configured.

    New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) demands a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for most proposed governmental projects. As written, the legislation does not require a full EIS, and truncates the statutory process that was designed to protect the environment and New York’s citizens. We know that there is potential environmental impact from congestion pricing, but without full SEQRA review, we do not – and will not – know what the impact is.

    Another issue with which I am concerned regards the treatment of not-for-profits that depend upon vehicular transportation to fulfill their mission. An organization that provides meals to homebound seniors, for example, could face financial distress with such a significant daily expense added to an already stretched budget. We can do better.

    Finally, I believe the plan is more viable if the State has the opportunity to review it after implementation and determine if its continuance is beneficial. There is not currently a sunset provision in the legislation, which means that no date is built in for review and renewal. If congestion pricing causes unforeseen problems, the State Legislature is not assured the opportunity to adjust and amend; a sunset provision should be part of legislation with such broad impact.

    As stated above, I have always been very open to the ideas put forth in the Mayor’s PlaNYC 2030. A.10406 attempts to address a very serious problem, but is ultimately fundamentally flawed.

    Again, please feel free to forward your telephone number, or call my office at 212-866-3970, if you would like to discuss this further. As stated above, I’m currently in Albany negotiating the budget but will be in the district late next week and would like to speak with you directly about your questions or concerns. Thank you again for your advocacy on this very important matter.

    Very truly yours,

    Daniel O’Donnell
    Assembly Member

  • Just got exactly the same reply from O’Donnell to my email. Not that it convinced me as all his arguments are mostly debunked or in his control (e.g., sunset clause). I think O’Donnell also needs a geography lesson: People taking hudson crossings are not only “New Jersey Drivers” but also a very sizeable amount of drivers from Rockland county…..

  • Toothless Greens

    The enviro rating groups like LCV and Environmental Advocates better flunk some of these lame asses when it comes to grading time. This is not another one of those billboard and bottle deposit bills. O’Donnell and his “102% rating” should get an “F.”

  • Environmental Advocates:
    “However, based on the likelihood of major environmental benefits resulting from congestion pricing, we recommend that State Legislators support this bill. A better bill would not include the provisions that short-circuit SEQRA, but we are reminded of the old policy adage ‘let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.'”

    There you go. I can’t find a listing of their ratings. If they go to “102%” it doesn’t say much for their respect for meaningful statistics (big surprise, coming from an old school environmental org). Anyway. He can’t brag about his rating with a group as for cover in opposing congestion pricing when the same group is telling him to vote for it, explaining precisely why the objections he puts forth are insufficient.

    Either Environmental Advocate’s ratings and recommendations mean something or they don’t; their judgment is to be trusted or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways on congestion pricing, Daniel O’Donnell. That’s the blessing and the curse of good policy. Happy voting!

  • I called my Assemblymember Micah Kellner’s office today, and the staff told me that he supports congestion pricing. I asked her to pass on the message that I think that’s a super position to have.

    This is different from what he told me when he was standing on a street corner while running for office not too long ago, so — assuming it holds up — good news!

  • Fletch was the first one to come to my mind.

    . .


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