Will Pro-Pricing Council Members Suffer for Their Votes?

Should City Council members who voted for congestion pricing fear for their political futures? According to a story in today’s Daily News, some do.

City Council members, pressured to approve Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, are left to wonder whether their votes will come back to haunt them.

In the days leading up to the vote, members were promised special projects for their districts and even fund-raisers during sitdowns with City Hall staffers, insiders said. Those who opposed it received not-so-veiled threats.

Several Queens members, including Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) and Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), voted for the plan after initially opposing it. Other members of the Queens delegation who voted for the plan were John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Transportation Committee, James Sanders and Thomas White.

Thing is, none of the council members above are quoted in the story — except lukewarm Liu, who says many of his colleagues "were thrown under the bus" by being "forced to make a hasty decision" (after a year of countless hearings and constant debate).

Liu said he was unhappy with the way negotiations were handled. The Council was promised it would only be asked to vote if state lawmakers were committed to taking up the issue.

Aside from Liu, who seems to favor something along the lines Albany’s brand of decision-making, the article hinges its thesis on anti-pricing reps like Tony Avella and this anonymous pol:

[O]ne Council member angrily noted that even those who "sold out" their districts by voting for the plan will reap the rewards, whether it’s a fund-raiser with Bloomberg or a special project in their district.

"I guess they got their 30 pieces of silver," the Council member fumed.

Sounds more like someone who didn’t vote for pricing and now wishes s/he had.

  • I spoke to a staffer at Bing’s office yesterday and he couldn’t give me a clear answer on whether he would have voted for it or not – “he was undecided until the very end”. He will be releasing a statement soon….

  • I don’t think council members who voted in favor will have as much to worry about as they think.

    1. The majority of their elections won’t be until next year, it’s hard to think people will be as upset about their votes then. So in 2009 it’s possible most voters won’t care about this one vote.

    2. Its very possible that the state will continue to drop the ball on funding mass transit and that things will get worse. Bad for all of us, but good for those who voted for CP. They can say they supported doing at least something for mass transit without the fall out of actually having to implement CP. So their votes for CP could be beneficial in 2009.

    It’s time for guys like Avella and Weprin to stop beating the anti-CP drum and deliver on mass transit improvements, otherwise they will be the ones dead in the water in 2009.

  • Mark

    Will anti-pricing council members suffer for their votes — especially in districts where the majority of their constituents use transit?

  • joe

    I’ll tell you one thing for sure..The people of Staten Island & South Brooklyn won’t forget that Councilman Domenic Recchia sold us out for a promise of a ferry service that will get off the ground when pigs can fly. He’s finished in the CD 13 race with Steve Harrison. He’ll have to get work with Bloomberg LLP, after he’s term limited in 2009.

  • Mark – I agree. Manhattan Assembly Democrats that did not take a strong stand will be vulnerable, particularly if they decide to run for any other office. Bing, O’Donnell, Glick should worry about their future.

  • Recchia is finished for a lot of reasons, not just CP. You won’t get that ferry service because the State won’t pay for it, with CP or without CP. What the state has proven is that they aren’t interested in funding mass transit at all. Recchia for all his flaws was at least trying to get some improvements for your area.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Recall that the MTA has been living off real estate transfer taxes:

    http://www2.nysun.com/article/74469

    “During the first quarter of 2008, fear of recession and a scarcity of financing are causing a significant reduction in investment sales, perhaps the most precipitous drop in decades. It is difficult to comprehend that during the first 90 days of the year contracts for sale were signed for only two prominent office buildings.”

    “Based on the current climate in commercial real estate, investment sales brokers can take off for the entire year,” the chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, Steven Roth, said last week at a conference on real estate investment trusts at New York University.”

    OK, so what will be going on in 2009 — if the MTA can hold off until after the election. Massive fare increases, service cuts, desperate attempts to get givebacks from labor, borrowed money used for operating expenses, etc.

    All while state transit $ are going down, not up, because of their own financial disaster that they just postponed to the election.

    Those who voted for CP locally will be able to say “we tried to fight off disaster” — but my shortsighted opponent has shoved your future down the toilet.

    As for Quinn, let’s chip in and get that woman a bicycle.

  • Stuck With ODonnell

    Assemblymember ODonnell is emailing people who railed on him after the pricing debacle and offering to meet with them in person. A friend emailed O’D on Tuesday and told him he would never vote for him and would volunteer and contribute to anyone running against him. O’D’s office offered the meeting on Wed. People should write him and tell him how pissed they are. Then meet with him and tell in person. They are counting on everyone giving up in disgust.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (They are counting on everyone giving up in disgust.)

    No doubt people will be giving up. But read my posts on MTA, city and state financing. The disgust is just beginning.

    Remember, don’t let them say they would have voted yes.

    And I think the council yes/no map is a template for emergency transit service cutbacks, especially for buses which (thanks to free transfer) don’t bring much revenues. Good thing I’m biking in now Mr. Deblasio.

  • Anon

    Pricing Advocates: You’d better ID not only who you want to punish, but who your allies are, and get ready to back them up when they take heat. That means cash, noise and boots on the ground. Identify the electeds in queens who are genuinely with you, and make them need you.

  • Brooklyn Dad

    Manhattan Assembly Democrats that did not take a strong stand will be vulnerable, particularly if they decide to run for any other office. Bing, O’Donnell, Glick should worry about their future.

    I don’t know, Glenn. Where is the political organization that is mobilizing to make these assembly members feel pain in 2010? Who is raising the money, knocking on doors and making alliances with interest groups in their districts? Who, for that matter, is setting up shop to run against them? Where are the alternative candidates? I hope it comes about but I don’t see it happening right now in any concerted way. If we’ve learned one thing from this congestion pricing debacle it’s that the livable streets side has lots of good policy ideas but not enough real-world political power to get them done.

  • I think the coalition/movement is still forming. Remember, two years ago this was just a pipe dream in Contested Streets. The environmental, business and labor coalition that formed around this issue is not going away. They do have other interests, but this is getting higher on their list of demands.

    Putting the issue on the agenda has been the most significant achievement of the movement and it has already penetrated the city DOT (remember Weinshall was still commissioner this time last year).

    I can see Gov. Paterson and either Mayor Quinn or Thompson pushing mass transit proposals in 2010 in a more friendly way…The next mayor will have to have a pretty good plan B to congestion pricing even if it is Weiner.

    While the legislature “won” this battle, all they did was turn back an ambitious proposal…for now. They are already on the defensive in that they will now have to explain where the money for the MTA will come from.

    I can definitely see insurgent primary or Republican candidates with a more transit focused agenda. Or the political winds continue to shift and they will evolve.

  • Jason A

    I agree with Glenn – I think in the long run this is a “win” for livable streets advocates.

    Thanks to the mayor, the genie is now fully out of the bottle with congestion pricing. From this point forward, support for CP will only grow among transit users with every crowded train, every delayed bus, every fare increase etc…

    As the MTA moves to stall, or roll-back service improvements – all the while increasing fares – I suspect more and more resentment will rise against freeloading drivers.

    Of course the same old “the MTA stinks!” arguments will resurface, but I doubt there will be any political retribution for pro-CP votes. It’s an unavoidable solution for the MTA’s nightmare finances…

    Wishful thinking, maybe?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    So wishful thinking amounts to awaiting crisis in mass transit?

    Is that like Lenin, “the worse the better” or “you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs”?

  • Spud Spudly

    Kind of like “We had to destroy the village to save it.” But I think Glenn (mostly) and Jason absolutely correct. This is on the agenda now, consciousness has been raised.

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