Assembly Dems Kill Pricing

Speaker Sheldon Silver, as quoted in the Daily Politics:

"The conference has decided that they are not prepared to do congestion pricing," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after emerging from behind closed doors where he was closeted with members of his Democratic majority. "I think you can speak to the members of the conference who have made that determination."

"Many of them just don’t believe in the concept," the speaker continued. "Many of them think this bill is flawed. So an overwhelming majority of the conference that opposes congestion pricing, and for that reason, the congestion pricing bill did not have anywhere near a majority of the Democratic conference, and will not be on the floor of the Assembly."

"They made a decision," Silver said of his members. "If I were making the decision alone, I might have made a different decision."

Assuming this is truly the end and not an exercise in brinkmanship, Streetsblog will post a more complete post-mortem soon.

If you’re feeling outraged at this news, may we suggest a constructive way to vent?

  • the New York League of Conservation Voters, has started a Climate Action PAC to target congestion pricing foes.

    UPDATE: NYLCV’s Dan Hendrick wrote in to note that the PAC’s focus is not just on candidates who are for or against congestion pricing – although that is a big component – but rather on the broader issue of the state’s lack of a comprehensive energy plan.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/04/sheekey-people-who-dont-help-n.html

  • Time to set up the Streetsblog Political Action Committee. Maybe there’s a billionaire out there to help fund it.

    I’ll repeat what I put in the headlines this morning:

    I took great comfort last night in reading a portion of the Power Broker. History does tend to repeat itself and this situation might have echos from the earlier tolls for transit battles. Right after Mayor Lindsey lost the pitched battle over merging Triborough with the transit authority to Robert Moses in the state legislature, Governor Rockefeller came in with his own plan and swept Moses aside.

    This is not the end, but it does mean that a whole new strategy is needed.

  • Mark

    As I have said previously, congestion pricing has triggered a longterm attitude change in my attitude toward electeds and other aspects of NYC politics. In my mind, this is not over. This will never be over.

  • Josh

    I guess now is when everybody who was opposed to pricing starts to whine about how bad transit is and that’s why they need need need to drive. “We want service improvements but we don’t want to pay for it.” Pathetic.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ll vent on Room 8, but let’s understand the possible outcome. Congestion pricing, or anything like it, is not coming back, just as the Jets Stadium and the Olympics are not coming back.

    But to placate people after that turndown, the legislature and city council later went along with funding three other stadiums.

    The right response is to demand just about everything.

    And to refuse to accept any sacrifices at all — fare increases, tax increases, debt increases, service reductions, money tranferred from other priorities, deferred capital projects — anything.

    If the $billions Brodsky and Weiner promised in lieu of congestion pricing fail to come through, they and the legislature will just have to come up with something else. After all, all those debts and deferred pension costs are their fault too.

  • ddartley

    In the third quoted paragraph, Silver sounds like Clinton explaining her vote for the Iraq war–shamelessly playing both sides of the issue to avoid liability. What courage. What leadership. What a load of dead weight our State leadership is.

  • Dan

    Congestion Pricing (CP) was just another Manhattan-centric scheme. For the approx 81% of NYC that does not live in Manhattan it would have been a disaster. CP only enjoyed majority support in Manhattan. Residents of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx were opposed to it. Even my borough of Staten Island was opposed to it and we would have been exempt from the congestion fee because of the $10 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll.

    Other schemes like Residential Parking Permts (RPP) were part of the plan too. RPP was designed to “help” neighborhoods near the congestion zone by issuing permits to local residents only. How would that nightmare be administered? The NYCDOT can take a year to install a traffic signal, and you would trust them to manage a huge project like Congestion Pricing.

    Bloomberg is smart but too stubborn. We are still a democracy, even he has to learn to take NO for an answer.

  • Thomas Grant

    For those living in Joan Millman’s Assembly district, please remember that she was against this important plan since last year. When you contact her office they will give you some run-around about how she never actually voted against it because it didn’t leave committee. Please don’t let that deflect the truth- this pathetic representative of ours was against the plan. I hope we all remember this and mobilize to elect a new Assemblymember this fall- one who has a much more refined and intelligent take on the matters that are most important to our community.

    Please send your letters to:
    Hon. Joan Millman
    Member of Assembly
    341 Smith Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11231

  • Josh

    “Congestion Pricing (CP) was just another Manhattan-centric scheme. For the approx 81% of NYC that does not live in Manhattan it would have been a disaster. CP only enjoyed majority support in Manhattan. Residents of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx were opposed to it.”

    I live in Brooklyn and I was in favor of it. So were other folks on here from Brooklyn and Queens.

  • epc

    I think every assembly member and state senator should be challenged in their respective primaries and elections this year, regardless of party or rank. We’ve proven quite successfully in New York that we won’t get change by re–electing the same people every two years.

  • nobody

    I find no end in amusement from people like Dan (#7), who seem constitutionally unable to realize the blindingly obvious reason why congestion pricing would toll private motor vehicles coming in and out of Manhattan — that’s the region’s Central Business District, and where most of the congestion is, and where there is currently high quality public transit. Still, opponents whine on and on about the plan’s being “Manhattan-centric”, as it was an arbitrary choice of boroughs.

    If the pro-congestion whiners had any more vision and fortitude, they would have worked with the administration to plan congestion pricing within Downtown Brooklyn, or Flushing, or other appropriate areas of the City.

    But instead, they did nothing. They don’t really want to do anything about traffic congestion. They want to continue to sit in their cars and breath in the ever-increasing exhaust fumes.

  • Damian

    Dan:
    Congestion pricing is (was) Manhattan-centric, but so is New York City’s traffic problem and New York’s economy. I live in Brooklyn and have since I moved here 10 years ago. I have never owned a car, and of the dozens of friends I know in Brooklyn, only a handful own cars. And of those few, I don’t know anybody who drives into Manhattan to commute.

    Take a look at the next Manhattan parking lot you pass and tell me the owners of all those Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus SUVs can’t afford $8.

  • (Did Assembly Dems kill Streetsblog too? No we’re back up because I was able to post this message.)

    If “the youth” are out to vote for a certain presidential candidate this year, it will increase the effect that sites like this one can have in the election. I haven’t paid much attention to local politics until this disaster; now I’m sick from watching it. Not voting. Not even voting on congestion pricing. And this is apparently the norm. But we won’t be shy about voting in November, and campaigning and donating before that.

    As registered Democrats, most of us get to vote twice against the jokers that did not take a position (like my rep). This is the year for any transportation-minded Democratic or Republican hopeful to get into the Assembly. Hey, that’s another way to dethrone Silver the Congestion Pricing Strangler: deprive his ideologically bankrupt state party of its Assembly majority.

  • Mark

    Dan’s post seems strikingly similar to multi-graf posts written in a similar style under a variety of names. If my suspicion is correct, this person has wasted a remarkable amount of our time.

  • Curious

    Regarding Millman,
    I hope that someone runs against her, but I dont see any contenders. She missed a great chance to champion a policy that would tremendously aid almost all of her constituents. If these people do not want to vote on policy and instead shirk any chance to lead, why are the elected officials? I dont get it.

  • Spud Spudly

    I’m sure you guys were praising Shelly when he killed off the west side stadium plan. Well, I’m going to send him some hamentashen this year. Prune, probably his favorite kind.

    Actually, I get the impression Shelly would have gone for CP in a lukewarm fashion but just couldn’t wrangle his people.

    Anyway, before any Streetsblog newcomers accuse me of being anti-anti-congestion, I still support other efforts to decrease car use in the city just so long as they affect all car users and not just those who can’t afford to pay. As for MTA funds, how about a one percent tax on millionaires?

  • Seb
  • brent

    Yes, if the issue had made it to the voting stage and been defeated, I would have been upset. To kill it by not voting at all, however, is totally unacceptable. There are a lot of people who supported this measure and worked hard to take it this far. Besides being an act of cowardice, not voting is a direct snub against all of the citizens who are genuinely concerned about the future of New York and are working to take action to improve things. For the dems to take no action really says a lot about what they think of us.

  • disgusted

    CP hasn’t looked like it was going to pass the state legislature even before the council voted. But to not even put the bill on the floor is appalling. The assembly killed the bill without even having the guts to let the public know who voted for and against. Hey, I used “even” in every sentence. Now it’s time to get even.

  • Mark

    This just in from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters: “New York’s mounting traffic and environmental woes point to congestion pricing as an inevitable solution, even if not in the next few months or with the assistance of federal Urban Partnership dollars.” An inevitable solution — I like the sound of that. I’ll take my optimism wherever I can get it.

  • aaron

    What’s the next best thing the city can do without asking for Silver’s wrongheaded opinion? How about doing everything in its power to make driving in Manhattan EXTREMELY inconvenient. Let’s raise all fines by a whole order of magnitude and actually enforce the laws we have. So much as pulling into a bike lane to pick up or let off a passenger should be an automatic $500 fine. If those kinds of measures don’t serve as a deterrent I don’t know what will.

    Want to have a cheap huge house in an environmentally unsustainable low-density suburban neighborhood? Pay the price in the form of more time on the bus/train or huge fines should you choose to drive and commit the slightest moving or parking violation. Or do like the rest of us do and get a compact yet comfortable shoebox apartment with good transit and cycling options. The city needs to send the message that when it comes to suburban living, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Do that and we’ll also see affordable high-density housing in close proximity to Subway/PATH sprout up at a lightning pace.

    For born and bred Manhattanites with asthma like myself, this “fundamental right” that Silver, Glick, and other faux liberal traitor dems are trying to preserve is injurious enough. Suburban SUVs don’t just road rage around our island and shit asthma-inducing pollution into the air we breath 24×7, though. Adding insult to injury these vehicles bring with them drivers (and occasionally passengers) who, stemming from their distorted perception of reality, have values and priorities entirely antithetical to our own. No time to enumerate the most common suburban attitudes, but suffice it to say racism, classism, “Support Our Troops” gas guzzlers, and the God-given right of excessive resource consumption factor prominently. This is not to stereotype everyone who lives in suburbia, but is more an observation of the mindset that suburban living tends to encourage and of a recognition of the beliefs out of which suburbia grew. The city should do less to accommodate that lifestyle, congestion pricing or not.

    Bloomberg and Quinn: You can start by reigning in Ray Kelly and our out of control police department. Stop harassing cyclists and start punishing unnecessary driving instead. Make it clear that pedestrians, cyclists and buses are the prioritized users of our public spaces and that the rights of the motorist are subordinate. Investigate and penalize pro-car cops who turn a blind eye. Eliminate placard abuse and issue placards in only the most unusual of circumstances. Replace street parking with green space and car lanes with automated, bollard-protected BRT routes. (and partner with private bus companies to add service that the MTA cannot afford to offer)

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Great rant Aaron until the last parentheses. You lost me there, but I’m not a one issue guy.

  • jmc

    It’s really indecent that they didn’t allow a vote. Parliaments are allowed to bring up a vote in totalitarian countries.

    Albany is disgusting and useless. There’s really no point in New York City staying part of the state.

    The Democrats are ideologically bankrupt and are not a force for good in the State of New York.

  • aaron

    Niccolo – the part about partnering with private bus companies was just a preemptive way of dealing with the trolls who would try to shoot down any suggestion of BRT on the basis that the MTA doesn’t have the resources or the willingness to implement it. The successful Bogota TransMilenio BRT system is also based on private buses. I would have no problem with this kind of privatization if that’s what it takes to get BRT set up quickly, so long as the fare is consistent and the buses use the same fare card system as public transit. (Metrocard until we get something better)

  • Jason A

    To anyone in Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island and Eastern Queens who fought congestion pricing, congratulations on preserving you little corner of Orange County in NYC. In a city of 8 million, you insist on forsaking the smart planning, and dense development that makes mass transit affordable – yet demand the rest of us subsidize your wasteful, car-centric ways. You keep the American Dream alive – asking for everything and paying for nothing…

    And a big sarcastic “thank-you” to all the class-warriors out there who insisted CP would be an “unfair tax on the middle-class!” As a middle class stiff myself, I’ll be grateful for all your obstructionism of my behalf the next time I have to wait more than 20 minutes for a G
    train… or see yet another over-crowded, over-burdened F train pass me by…

  • JF

    On the positive side, it should be a piece of cake to implement effective parking permit reform, given the number of people who have publicly come out in favor of it.

  • James

    All so very sad! It meant so much to so many people! Not to put Congestion Pricing to the Vote is a disgrace!

  • DAVID

    Clearly there are alot of drivers in the outer boroughs…but many of us supported congestion trafficing. Anything incentive to make driving outrageously expensive (like cigarette taxes) I whole heartedly support. We have too much street traffic, pollution…and a fairly decent mass transit. I’m sick of these LI, Jersey, and Westchester commuters clogging up manhattan with their daily commutes. Too bad this is was killed by Silver and other Democrats. Hopefully next time CP comes on the table, it will be a higher tax and a wider circumference.

  • DAVID

    The idea that CP would have been a disaster, creating park lots in communities like brooklyn heights and fort greene is absurb. It is already difficult to find parking there. Those LI commuters they have a hard time stepping out of their cars. I can’t imagine them circling around neighborhoods in fort greene searching for parking for 45 minutes then running back to the atlantic avenue subway or LIRR to get a train. That would have added a good hour to many commuter routine. They would have eventually taken the subway like more respectful human beings.

  • Nick from CA

    jmc wrote:

    “Albany is disgusting and useless. There’s really no point in New York City staying part of the state.”

    Yes, New York City should become its own city-state of Gotham, taking Nassau and Westchester Counties with it.

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=40.709792,-73.681183&spn=0.811967,1.834717&t=h&z=10&msid=116444341505082638663.00044cabf47400b802cec

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