Glick’s Excuse: Everything But the Kitchen Sink

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Welcome to Glickville

As Deborah Glick herself would tell you, no state legislator had more reason to support congestion pricing than she did. In a district where 95.4 percent of working residents would not have paid the charge, where households with a car are outnumbered by households sans vehicle three to one, and which nonetheless finds itself in hellish, fume-choked purgatory largely due to transient car commuters lurching their way to and from the Holland Tunnel, the city-initiated program to reduce gridlock and clear the air while improving transit should have been a gift.

But to Glick, it wasn’t. To the contrary, when the Lower Manhattan Democratic Assembly member said anything about congestion pricing — which, publicly, wasn’t all that often — it was likely to be negative. Rather than tout its obvious merits and work to amend its shortcomings, Glick remained a skeptic throughout the eleven months of the plan’s life, repeating often unfounded criticisms spouted by the likes of Richard Brodsky and Anthony Weiner while adding a few zingers to the canon for good measure.

Now that she and fellow Assembly Democrats have killed pricing in its original iteration, Glick has issued her own post-mortem in the form of a constituent letter. After the jump: a breakdown of each of her anti-pricing points, followed by the letter itself.

Here are Glick’s "concerns about congestion pricing," as enumerated by the author:

1. Congestion pricing would hurt small businesses. Glick cites "concern" from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce that the $21 truck fee would harm homegrown entrepreneurs. Never mind that these businesses share the annual $13 billion burden imposed by congestion, or that pricing was endorsed by a coalition of small business groups from across the city. These realities don’t mesh with Glick’s narrative.

2. The MTA can’t be trusted with the money. In her letter, Glick says the city refused to make changes in the pricing proposal as requested by state lawmakers (a ridiculous charge we’ll get to in a minute). But this complaint — that the MTA, with its "abysmal management record," can’t be relied upon to use pricing revenues as promised — is but one example of how those same lawmakers set the plan up to fail. The original pricing proposal included the creation of a separate SMART authority to monitor and allocate pricing revenues. This was one of the first elements of the plan to be seized upon by opponents, and the city, in spite of its supposed stubbornness, dropped it without a fight. In fact, in a March meeting with pricing advocates in Albany, Glick herself mentioned her distaste for the SMART authority (though it had long been removed from the proposal). If neither a separate board, nor the MTA, nor even a lock box set up by the Legislature itself was good enough for Glick et al. to ensure that pricing revenues would be used as promised, it’s difficult to imagine that a satisfactory funding mechanism can ever exist.

3. Congestion pricing is a Bush conspiracy. Here, Glick quotes a Washington Post article claiming that congestion pricing is part of a Bush administration plot to "leave a legacy of new tolls roads across the country, a growing number of public roads leased to private companies, and dozens of stalled commuter rail, streetcar and subway projects." You mean as opposed to now, Assemblywoman Glick, when commuter rail, streetcar and subway projects are stalled as motorists wear out publicly funded roads and bridges at no charge? That Post story was truly the gift that kept on giving, providing pricing’s Democratic foes, particularly Congressman Anthony Weiner, with a Bushian bogeyman to point to at every opportunity. But a close reading of the piece, as reported on Streetsblog, showed no connection between congestion pricing and reduced transit funding. Instead, its appropriation by Glick and Weiner epitomized a topsy-turvy political scenario in which a lame duck Republican administration’s push to apply free market principles to road use clashed with liberal Democratic dogma that regards unfettered automobility as a righteous social construct.

4. Congestion pricing could hurt the environment. In her letter, Glick likens congestion pricing to the controversial Catskills resort development proposal, which would have undermined the SEQRA process had it been approved prior to environmental review. While New Yorkers should certainly be wary of setting a precedent for bypassing such analysis, the congestion pricing legislation dictated that the program would have been monitored after implementation and adjusted as necessary. This is nearly beside the point, since the purpose of pricing is to attach a fee to behavior that harms the environment. At this moment in history, do we need years’ worth of analysis to tell us that fewer people driving is a good thing? The baselessness of this argument was laid bare when Glick said one of her concerns was all the dust that would be raised by subsequent transit construction projects. Get real.

5. Congestion pricing wouldn’t really reduce traffic. According to studies cited by the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission — the body that Glick had a hand in creating (and which the supposedly intransigent Bloomberg administration went along with) — the revised pricing proposal would have reduced traffic in excess of the 6.3% VMT required to qualify for the $354 million in upfront federal funds passed over by Glick and her fellow legislators. But rather than listen to local experts, Glick deferred to critics of London’s pricing program for guidance, and conveniently found "differing accounts of effectiveness." No matter that London’s program is by and large considered a major success, or that pricing has proven itself effective in other cities. Like so many of Glick’s beefs with pricing, this one has the marks of a conclusion in search of supporting evidence.

6. Congestion pricing would have cost too much to administer. Though the mechanics were simplified in the TCMC proposal, reducing the number of cameras by eliminating fees for traveling within the pricing zone, Glick believes operating costs would still have necessitated an increase in the congestion charge. Even if this is true — and Glick offers little more than supposition (based on the otherwise discredited London model) to back it up — so what? Did Glick stand up for straphangers when the MTA had to raise fares to cover its rising costs? Where will she be when transit customers are again asked to bear the brunt now that she’s helped take away the hundreds of millions in net revenue that pricing would have provided? Stuff costs money. Why should drivers continue to get a free ride while everyone else keeps paying?

7. Congestion pricing lets Jersey off the hook. Do we really have to go through this again? Despite Glick’s claim that out of state car commuters would have been "largely exempt" from the congestion fee, the fact is these drivers are already paying to drive into the CBD, and to the benefit of New York state. In addition, contrary to Glick’s assertions and assumptions, and her distrust of data that doesn’t back them up, the recent toll hike has resulted in a 2.9 percent drop in bridge and tunnel traffic. Oddly, while Glick is frustrated that New Jersey and Connecticut motorists seem undeterred by tolls, she empathizes with the constituent "of moderate income" who drives to his job outside the city because it’s faster, yet who was "very concerned" about "the additional $2,000 yearly burden he would have faced under congestion pricing." And what of the millions of transit users who can’t afford cars and have no choice but to trip-chain for hours each day, and whose commutes would have been improved with pricing in place? Apparently their stories don’t register. But while 95 percent of the city’s working population continues to pay to get around on an underfunded transit system, at least Glick can sleep easy knowing she has spared one motorist from having to join them.

8. Deborah Glick doesn’t like Michael Bloomberg. All right, this isn’t in the letter. But it could be. At that March sit-down with pricing advocates in her Albany office, Glick spent the better part of the time railing against the mayor, whom she clearly dislikes and does not trust. Truth be told, all the significant demands to which the Bloomberg administration consented — moving the cordon from 86th Street to 60th, removing fees for travel
within the zone, adding a tax credit for low-income drivers, turning
the entire plan over to a Legislature-driven commission
— were meaningless to Glick, as evidenced by her unsubstantiated claim, repeated to this day, that lawmakers’ suggestions fell on deaf ears. Regardless of its obvious benefit to millions of present and future New Yorkers, to her, congestion pricing was, is, and always will be a vanity project of the moneyed mayor — another example, as she put it to the group of green-shirted citizens who’d given up their day to try to convince her otherwise, of Bloomberg’s "out-of-touch billionaire bullshit."

Here is the letter in its entirety, including Glick’s "proposed solutions to congestion and mass transit challenges." Check out how many of those challenges would have been addressed by congestion pricing, and note how Glick actually scolds the city for not implementing measures that pricing would have helped pay for, like Bus Rapid Transit. Have at it.

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for contacting me regarding congestion pricing. I appreciate that you took the time to write to me about this important issue and I apologize if there has been a delay in my response.

Traffic congestion has long been a particular challenge in my Assembly district and, consequently, an issue of great concern to me. Unfortunately, a serious joint city-state effort to alleviate this problem is long-overdue. Similarly, adequate funding for and management of our mass transit system has been a persistent problem. While I appreciate that congestion pricing may have addressed these issues in some small ways, I believe it would have given rise to a host of other issues and I remain convinced that there are a number of other strategies which could be implemented much more easily and better meet these goals.

For these and other reasons, the sentiment in the Assembly, after 8 hours of discussion, was overwhelmingly not supportive of the congestion pricing plan. In fact, even members in support of congestion pricing wanted significant changes and these changes were ones of which the City had long been aware. And as you are most likely aware, in the end, neither the State Senate nor the Assembly took action to approve congestion pricing. During the past few weeks, I have heard from constituents urging me to reject congestion pricing and ones urging me to support it. I realize that some constituents continue to strongly feel that congestion pricing was an appropriate solution and are very disappointed that it was not approved by the Legislature. But I believe that the impassioned debate about congestion pricing will have a positive lasting and important result- that is, the debate has cast a spotlight on the issues of congestion and mass transit needs, something that I am hopeful will help bring state and city officials together to seriously address these issues and craft appropriate solutions. I am committed to being a constructive part of this dialogue and, at the end of this letter, I present a way that you can join me in this effort.

Below, in addition to outlining some of the major concerns about congestion pricing which prevented me from being an advocate for the plan, I have listed a number of solutions that I will not only support, but that I will work fervently to make reality.

*_Concerns about congestion pricing_*

1. One of the most frequent complaints I hear from constituents is about the closing of small, neighborhood stores. Consequently, I share the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s concern that the planned $21 fee for trucks would seriously hurt small businesses. In London, the Chamber of Commerce has been vocal in its belief that congestion pricing has been harmful to retail, but particularly to independent stores, whose profitability has reportedly decreased 53% since congestion pricing was implemented in London. For these reasons, I fear that congestion pricing would have exacerbated the struggles that small businesses already face. It is these small businesses that have made our community a neighborhood, not a mall.

2. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a long history of not delivering on its promises, regardless of safeguards that were put in place to ensure that funds were spent in particular ways. From the 1951 bond issue that was approved specifically for building a 2nd Avenue subway to the recent transit fare increase for which the MTA had promised, but then rescinded, transit improvements and expansions in return, the MTA has an abysmal management record. I do not believe there was any way to ensure that congestion pricing revenues would actually be spent to expand and improve service, instead of plugging MTA budget shorfalls. Notably, the City estimated that 39% of revenues would be used to operate the program.

3. I share transportation advocates’ concerns about the Federal government’s actions to withdraw government support for road-building and public transportation. According to a recent Washington Post article (“Letting the Market Drive Transportation”, March 17, 2008), the Transportation Secretary and other top Federal officials have been acting to “upend the traditional way transportation projects are funded in this country. They believe that tolls paid by motorists, not tax dollars, should be used to construct and maintain roads.” Such a belief is consistent with their commitment of $1 billion to fund congestion pricing projects in 5 cities, which represented all the discretionary spending available that year. In the end, it is expected that, with these and other actions, “the Bush administration will leave a legacy of new tolls roads across the country, a growing number of public roads leased to private companies, and dozens of stalled commuter rail, streetcar and subway projects.” Representative Peter DeFazio echoed this sentiment in stating, “Everything they’re doing is designed to drive things to privatization. They’re just trying to undo 200 years of history and go back to the Boston Post Road.” While any money for transportation would be helpful, I believe that the $354 million in federal funds that would supposedly have gone to improve mass transportation can be found elsewhere. For example, the City committed $403 million to building a new stadium for a Yankees ball club that just signed a $275 million contract with one of its top players.

4. There would have been no environmental review prior to implementation of congestion pricing. The State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) is a crucial process that helps ensure a thorough study of effects before a major project is undertaken. Just a few years ago, National Resources Defense Council highlighted the importance of SEQRA prior to project approval by arguing forcefully that the Legislature defer a vote on a large-scale development proposal in the Catskills until SEQRA was undertaken. Environmental Advocates of New York mirrored these concerns for congestion pricing, stating: “while a willingness to provide a system of environmental quality review is laudable, short-circuiting SEQRA has serious pitfalls . . . Measures that short-circuit the state environmental quality review process should be considered very carefully. Very few exemptions from the state environmental quality review process exist- and that should remain the case.” There have been many large-scale development projects proposed and completed in my district and SEQRA and other environmental reviews have been crucial tools for the community in ensuring that government considers the effects of large-scale projects before considering their approval. Weakening SEQRA by allowing a massive project like congestion pricing to circumvent it, would set a very dangerous precedent that would have effects both in my district and throughout the state.

5. I am skeptical about the projected reductions in traffic. While proponents of congestion pricing have held out London as a model, there are differing accounts of the effectiveness of London’s congestion pricing scheme. The London Group, the London School of Economic’s center for the study of the city’s economic and social issues, reports that the charge has not radically altered traffic patterns. As a Member of the London Assembly stated, the “congestion charge is a charge on congestion that we once got for free.” My skepticism about purported traffic decreases for New York City was only further heightened by the fact that the survey of travel behavior used to inform decisions for New York City’s plan was conducted in 1997. This reliance on decade-old data, coupled with the absence of a SEQRA review, provided me no assurance that purported traffic reductions would materialize.

6. Congestion pricing would have created a huge new bureaucracy that consumed a substantial portion of anticipated revenues and was likely to necessitate increases in the congestion pricing charge. The City reported that well over 1/3 of congestion pricing revenues would have gone toward operating costs, in addition to the approximately $73 million in capital costs (which the federal money would not cover) and that no fee increases were anticipated. Given that more than 50% of London’s revenues are consumed by operating costs and that their fee has already increased from five to eight pounds ($16) for cars and to 35 pounds ($50) for larger vehicles, the city’s calculations seemed overly optimistic.

7. People from New Jersey, Connecticut and other areas requiring use of a tolled bridge or tunnel were largely exempt from paying the congestion pricing fee since that toll would be deducted from the congestion pricing fee. In this way, many of these commuters would pay no additional fee beyond what they currently pay, while others would pay just an additional dollar or two. If we are seriously interested in decreasing the number of drivers into the congestion pricing area, these commuters must be faced with real disincentives for driving. The fact that they are currently paying high toll fees and increased gas prices signals either that they are financially able and willing to pay increased costs for their preference to commute by car or that they have no other choice because they are underserved by the current mass transit system or have another special circumstance. For example, I was contacted by a constituent who drives each day to his teaching job outside of New York City. If he were to take the subway to the train to a bus, his commute would be nearly 2 ½ hours instead of 45 minutes and would cost substantially more. As a teacher of moderate income, he was very concerned about the additional $2,000 yearly burden he would have faced under congestion pricing.

*_Proposed solutions to congestion and mass transit challenges_*

I believe there are a number of easy to implement actions which could address the issues of congestion and mass transit improvement. Below are some of the solutions which I plan to advocate for.

1. The City’s out-of-control parking permit system is evidenced by the fact that, last year, the City estimated that there were between 15,000 and 30,000 parking placards, then this year admitted that the figure is actually closer to 142,000- or 11 times the number of taxis in the City! These permits- a placard placed on the dashboard- allow for free and often illegal parking in most locations. This figure does not even include what is considered to be a substantial number of fake permit placards. While the City has pledged to make a 20 percent reduction in the number of parking placards, it is crucial that the City do so immediately and work to make an even more substantial reduction. As pointed out in an April 9^th New York Times Op-Ed by Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, this 20% reduction would mean 28,000 fewer daily drivers, which represents more than a third of those that congestion pricing was projected to eliminate. I will advocate for the City to remove a much larger number of permits. It is likely that, by simply eliminating 100,000 parking permits, the number of daily commuters who stop driving would approach the roughly 83,000 that congestion pricing was projected to eliminate.

2. For years, the Lower Manhattan community has advocated for the return of two-way tolls on the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. Two-ways tolls were eliminated years ago in what was supposed to be a 3 year pilot of an outbound-only toll. So I was skeptical when the Mayor first proposed congestion pricing as a 3 year pilot project and my skepticism proved to be justified when the Mayor’s final plan made no mention of congestion pricing as a pilot program.  Like the Verazzano toll, if congestion pricing did not work as  anticipated, there was the possibility that we would have been  stuck with it. And the one-way Verazzano toll clearly does not work. By charging only outbound cars, it encourages visitors to drive into Manhattan by offering a toll-free trip into the City via the Verazzano and out via the Holland Tunnel, compounding the substantial traffic problems in Lower Manhattan, especially along the Broome Street and Canal Street corridors. I and many residents and advocates strongly believe that returning to two-way tolls on the Verazzano would have a substantial impact on downtown traffic. It is time for the City to join me in making the formal request to Washington for this relief.

3. The City continues to advocate for massive development but fails to properly consider or plan for the consequences of these projects, including the traffic ramifications. Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News aptly wrote, “As for pollution and automobile congestion, there was no problem when Bloomberg wanted to build a new Jets stadium near the Lincoln Tunnel. Nothing to worry about when City Hall was proposing those scores of high-rise luxury condos all over Manhattan, or that huge Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn.” At a time when we all agree that there is too much congestion in Manhattan, why force rapid development that only exacerbates this issue? Smart urban planning requires that growth be managed and that issues like traffic, mass transit and classroom seats be addressed. I will continue to raise these issues around projects planned in my district and advocate for real planning to meet the needs of current and future residents.

4. In addition to increasing oversight of the MTA to ensure that money is spent wisely, there are ways in which additional revenue can be generated to support the mass transit system. For example, residential real estate developers continue to reap huge profits; they should be required to pitch in to meet the needs of the residents they will add to our neighborhoods. To this end, a real estate tax on developers could help fund mass transit expansion. I also believe that the Assembly’s proposal for a tax on million-dollar earners would have been an appropriate means to raise additional revenues for mass transit capital improvements. The less than 1% tax increase could have generated $1.4 billion per year, with much of it dedicated for transit improvements- almost 3 times more revenue than congestion pricing. It also would have been far less risky, since there would be virtually no implementation or administrative costs. It is unfortunate that the Mayor opposed this measure and it is unfortunate that the measure was not included in the budget. I am hopeful that a similar proposal might be negotiated in the future in order to ensure a steady stream of funding for mass transit upgrades.

5. The 13,000 taxis in the City and 40,000 black cars account for more than 40% of vehicle miles traveled in the congestion zone, so efforts to reduce congestion must address them. In addition, almost half of a taxi’s driving time is spent cruising for fares. To address this issue, Sam Schwartz, a respected transportation consultant who served nearly 20 years with the City Department of Transportation, has argued that taking 1,000 taxis off the street will speed up traffic, allowing cabs to drop off and pick up passengers more quickly, while not really making it much harder to hail a cab.

6. In order to load and unload, trucks often double-park or cause other vehicles to double-park, obstructing traffic. Beyond greater enforcement to ensure that cars are not parked in loading zones, new commercial buildings should be required to include off-street loading facilities. Currently, commercial buildings are afforded free use of streets as delivery points. They should instead be required to use their own real estate to create off-street delivery areas.

7. Greater enforcement is needed to prevent parking infractions that slow traffic. Illegally parked black cars which may sit in no-parking zones waiting long periods of time for a client, obstruct the flow of traffic and the ability of trucks to make deliveries. Similarly, taxis and other double-parkers slow down traffic and increase honking and idling, which severely impacts some residents’ quality of life. A greater number of traffic enforcement agents are needed to both direct traffic at key intersections and issue summonses. The Assembly has already moved to address this issue by introducing legislation that would allow traffic enforcement agents to issue tickets for blocking the box, and I am proud to be a sponsor of this measure.

8. Idling traffic can emit up to three times the level of pollutants as moving vehicles. For this reason, it is crucial that there be increased efforts to reduce idling. The large number of commercial establishments and substantial number of major construction projects underway in Lower Manhattan have caused particular problems with idling delivery and construction trucks. There must be greater enforcement of existing idling laws.

9. Buses serve as an important means of transportation for many travelers. Bus rapid transit and other measures for providing dedicated bus lanes, hold great promise for speeding commutes and increasing the efficiency of buses. More needs to be done to implement appropriate measures as soon as possible.

10. While the City has appropriately made efforts to promote cycling, I do not believe that they have been truly committed to making our City bicycle-friendly, as evidenced in comment made by the Mayor last year. At an Albany briefing, I commented that, if we were looking to Europe for congestion-mitigation measures, we should do more to encourage bike commuting. The Mayor responded that Europeans are more accustomed to two-wheel vehicles and Americans to four-wheel vehicles. I believe that there are creative models to encourage bike commuting, including finding ways to ensure that new construction includes space for bike storage and encouraging parking garages to offer secure, low-cost bike parking. Safer bike lanes are also crucial and it was a great disappointment that the efforts of many community members and advocates to have a bike lane included in the reconstruction of Houston Street were rejected by the City.

Many of the above solutions were suggested by advocates or concerned constituents who face the daily frustrations posed by traffic congestion and a troubled mass transit system. Since I know that these issues are of concern to you as well, I invite and encourage you to submit your thoughts to me about the solutions I propose above, as well as share your own ideas for addressing these problems. You may do so via email to _glickd@assembly.state.ny.us <mailto:glickd@assembly.state.ny.us>_ or by mail to 853 Broadway, Suite 2120, NY, NY 10003.

I am hopeful that, working together, we can move forward to find and implement the best solutions to these challenges. Please know that I will be a forceful advocate for such changes.

Sincerely,

Deborah J. Glick

Assemblymember

Photo: WannaBeInPictures/Flickr

  • ME

    Near as I can tell, under the proposed plan, NO ONE living in Glick’s district would have paid the charge, unless they drove outside of the zone and then back into it before 6:00pm. Under the revised plan, the $4 charge for driving within the zone was dropped, as was the charge for exiting the zone.

  • Alexandra

    Who are the downtown community activists organizing a 2010 campaign against Deborah Glick? She needs to go and I want in on that initiative.

    I’m willing to go out and collect petition signatures for the 2008 Democratic primary as well. I’m prepared to work hard to build the support necessary to get rid of her.

    Please, someone just point me in the right direction. I’m willing to give approximately 5 hours per week between now and September to get rid of Deborah Glick. I also recognize that it’ll probably take a good three campaigns to dislodge her from this job.

    If and when someone halfway politically savvy person starts organizing, please let the editors of Streetsblog know so that they can point the rest of us in the right direction. We have so many incredibly high quality people living and working in this district. Why is this woman representing us?

  • As someone who works in a political office, I can tell you there are only two reasons you write a letter of that length:

    1- You really believe in the issue
    OR
    2- You’re really really really scared that you’ll get decimated at the polls for your decision.

  • rhubarbpie

    One factual note Assembly Glick errs on, though it doesn’t affect her larger point on environmental review: The NRDC wasn’t about SEQRA, but instead challenged the Catskill casino proposal because it held that the proper federal environmental review, under the National Environmental Policy Act, hadn’t been made. Not the state review.

    It was a tactical error not to require the SEQRA, in my view. Nevertheless, even the group she cites, Environmental Advocates, supported congestion pricing in spite of its concerns about bypassing SEQRA (though I know several environmentalists who didn’t).

  • rhubarbpie

    Make that: “The NRDC lawsuit wasn’t about SEQRA….”

  • ddartley

    I love the SEQRA argument.

    It’s like saying “Wait! We MUST do a SEQRA review before we stop dumping raw sewage!”

  • Carm

    Venerate SEQRA: the law that lets the Yankees build 9000 more parking spots on what was a park; add 20000 parking spots at Hudson Yards; build dozens of sprawl style Costcos and Home Depot big box stores with nobody knows how many thousands of parking spots plopped in the middle of giant parking fields which discourage walking or biking. That’s SEQRA.

  • And now, an intelligent Councilman’s viewpoint

    From Brooklyn Junction
    http://brooklynjunction.blogspot.com/2008/04/kendall-stewart-in-his-own-words-on-why.html

    City Councilman Kendall Stewart, in his own words, on why he voted for congestion pricing
    Posted: 23 Apr 2008 09:58 AM CDT
    City Councilman Kendall Stewart, D-45th, wrote an editorial piece for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which starts:

    Though congestion pricing was defeated in Albany, I firmly believe the problem is extremely serious and must be dealt with for the good of New York City’s future.

    Read the whole piece here…

  • Competitive Primaries

    Her position is similar to Danny O’Donnel’s and Jonathan Bing’s position. We need to get rid of both of them along with some of our extremely weak “supporters” like Gottfried, Kellner, et al who all had hedging “questions” and “concerns” to the bitter end. I still believe that our supporters let us down a lot more than our opponents beat us.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Wait until 2010. Were I the head of the MTA, I would be making some serious triage plans right now.

    The question is will the press buy the “recessionary circumstances beyond our control” excuse?

    Because all the circumstances beyond our control were within the control of pols like Glick and her generation at one time.

    Had the MTA not been made to blow the real estate transfer tax revenues, and borrow billions for ongoing normnal replacement, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  • Dave

    Let her explain to her constituents that because of her conscious decision to fight CP they will all have to pay higher transit fares and have less service.

    Her arrogance is overwhelming; rare that you find it in someone as stupid and out-of-touch with reality as Deborah Glick.

    Do the right thing Deborah, resign now and avoid the humiliation your constituents will put you through. Does anyone know if she can be recalled or voted out?

  • Josh

    Kendall Stewart for Brooklyn Borough President.

  • JF

    Dave, she’s up for re-election this year, as the entire state legislature is every even-numbered yer. You would think in a place as ambitious as lower Manhattan she would have at least one challenger each in the primary and general elections. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case:

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/campaigns/display.php?searchterms=deborah+glick&submit=search

  • Mark Walker

    Greg’s post contains the seeds of a great idea. Let’s levy what would have been the $8 CP charge in the form of taxes on private parking garages and increased metered parking fees. And Greg, if you don’t want to pay, move to Phoenix or some other car-dependent sunbelt hellhole that would be more to your liking.

  • Competitive Primaries

    Some really biting comments about Glick in a Daily Politics post a couple of years ago.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2006/05/minarik-award-nominee-deborah.html

    Someone please run against her…

  • JF

    I voted for it because I came to understand that my original position did not take into account the magnitude of the present congestion problem and the related effects of pollution, asthma and other health problems. To vote against the plan would have been voting to do nothing about a problem that only grows worse each day and will continue to worsen if we try to ignore it.

    This is a key insight on the part of Councilmember Stewart. Just about every conversation I had with people who were anti-congestion pricing included some statement along the lines of, “You want to do something about congestion (or transit funding)? Then why don’t you do X?” I never got a sense that any of them cared about congestion, transit funding, toll shopping or asthma. Certainly, they cared more about “high taxes” or the mythical overburdened low-income Manhattan car commuters than any of those things.

  • spike

    The high charge for commercial trucks in the congestion pricing scheme never made sense to me. It is not like there is a choice- the groceries are not going to be delivered to the grocery store by subway nor is it feasible to deliver a carpet to an apartment by bike.

  • spike

    Most of Glick’s points are quite valid. The swarms of empty black limos in the congestion zone are a big part of the problem. I supported congestion pricing because it would benefit me, but I thought the plan was far from being ideal. I suspect Bloomberg went with the complicated congestion pricing scheme because he was afraid to tackle the out of control government employee permit problem.

  • Dave

    My understanding is that the $21 charge was only for semis which should not be in the city, anyway. Most deliveries are by panel truck which would only pay the $8, and spread out over the value in a truck, the cost would be minimal. In fact the time saved sitting in less traffic should more than cover the additional cost.

    If you want to pick on black cars, pick on taxis first who are all over an drive much worse than the black cars. If I had a dime every time I was cut off by an empty taxi…

    And Spike most of her comments are ridiculous and have been answered and debunked multiple times before.

    And let me say another time; raising taxes on parking garages makes no sense until you start charging for curbside parking. Raise rates and you will force cars from the garages onto the streets.

    How do we get RPP rolling even without Cp. Start with the 60% of drivers into Manhattan who park for free.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The high charge for commercial trucks in the congestion pricing scheme never made sense to me. It is not like there is a choice).

    The choice is to deliver to the congestion zone overnight, just as the trash is picked up overnight. That costs money — night shift differential & staff to deliver and accept. The charge would even the incentive.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Here is my take on it Spike, I represent truck drivers (self interest alert). A truck driver makes around $40/hr. in direct labor costs depending on the carrier and the agreement. $40 x 8 hours = $320 per day. 6% savings in labor time = $320 x .06 = $19.20, almost exactly the cost of the toll. Often there are two workers on a truck. There are other productivity advantages to CP besides the 6% decongestion savings, quite substantial for the larger trucks, and there are captial savings as well. In addition there were large economic incentives for new generation diesels that would have encouraged upgrading by the Carriers. All in all it would have been a huge improvement in the character and quality of truck service. Instead of raising the cost of deliveries, CP actually cut the cost of deliveries. Water under the bridge.

    The opponents, with a sort of gee-whiz attitude unfounded in the hard reality of trucker productivity and workers lives, wanted to push all deliveries to the evenings. Believe it or not, truck deliveries at night are a big pain in the ass. People like to sleep at night and in Manhattan don’t really need any more trucks making more noise in the otherwise quite hours. Also, the keeping dockworkers on off shifts to receive those goods is very unproductive and expensive relative to applying the labor in “business hours”. And, not for nothing, truckers, like other workers, want to be home at night to go to Little League, PTA and community board meetings.

    Gary LaBarbera, Teamster, did an excellent job as a Senate appointee on the commission and helped keep the Building Trades aligned throughout the process, not an easy lift.

  • spike

    No, I agree with you Niccolo. It should be more expensive for commuters to drive downtown during the day. I hope they will put tolls on all the bridges, now. It should be at least as expensive to come into Manhattan by car as by subway.

    I just didn’t see the point of a large congestion fee on working commercial trucks.

    And yes, the people who suggest night time deliveries are nuts. The garbage truck noise is bad enough.

    I am happy to pick on taxis as well as black limos. A single person being driven in a car is not an efficient or green way for people to get around.

  • Peter

    Thank you #21 Niccolo for pointing out the overnight deliveries are a pain for everyone. The city garbage trucks actually only come during the day, I think. It’s only the commercial ones that go at night, and my understanding of the new noise law is that they’re not actually supposed to pick up overnight in residential neighborhoods either, but it’s not particularly enforced.

    On my street which is No Parking on one side during business hours, it’s actually easier to do deliveries and pickup during the day since there’s room to pull over. At night that one side fills up with cars and the street gets pretty narrow.

    All a long way of saying that nighttime deliveries don’t solve any problems.

  • dreamon

    If Glick had any honor she would step down which Bush should have done many years ago.

  • Ray

    Oh boy. That vacuous letter took some serious balls. Buh bye.

  • beng722

    I was all for CP but it seems to me Glick is was pretty brave to actually be against it. Seems like it didn’t really have a chance in Albany so the safe political tactic would have been to give it the lukewarm ‘support’ her colleagues did. The only reason I can imagine she didn’t is that she REALLY didn’t think it was a good idea (anyone buying her off wld surely have been satisfied w/ a Gottfried stance, no?).

    And, anyway, what about a return of the two-way toll to the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge? Isn’t that a good idea? I haven’t read any comment disagreeing with that. And what about bike lanes going both ways on a re-designed Houston St (think Eastern Parkway or Ocean Blvd in BK)? The ‘cross-town’ bike lanes we do have are not quite cross-town (the 20th/21st ones have full blocks w/o lanes so cops can park diagonally). And is a state millionaire’s tax going (or hopefully going) directly to mass transit such a bad idea? I love that, make the millionaires pay for the transportation system that brings them their workers. One more question, how much has the cost of driving gone up recently in the Tri-State area due to the cost of gas? Have we seen a resultant decrease in traffic? I ride by the gas stations looking at the prices thinking…well, maybe the friggin CP wldn’t have worked as much as I wanted it to.

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    From an antique and custom furniture store owner in Downtown Manhattan, about congestion pricing in London:

    “A couple visited my shop from Central London and said virtually ALL the mom and pop businesses have vanished there due to the increasing rents and congestion pricing.”

    Alternatively, Glick is on the money with points 1. and 1. Permit abuse needs to be eliminated first. NYC has already lost over $322-million (and counting) from parking meter revenue since Bloomberg’s been in charge (ask Bruce Schaller).

    Starbucks, anyone?

  • JF

    “A couple visited my shop from Central London and said virtually ALL the mom and pop businesses have vanished there due to the increasing rents and congestion pricing.”

    That is certainly cause for concern, MD, but it’s a third-hand account with a weasel word (“virtually”). It also lumps increased rents in with congestion pricing. With the rise of Starbucks, Duane Reade and bank branches in Manhattan, you would have justification for saying that “virtually ALL” mom and pop businesses have vanished there due to rising rents, with no help from congestion pricing.

    I’d like to see figures, or at least word-of-mouth directly from someone who’s observed the situation in London.

    But anyway, you got what you wanted, right? Why are you still talking about congestion pricing, and not permit abuse? Do you still think that the only way we should be combating permit abuse is by posting “No Permit Parking” signs everywhere?

  • Mr. R. Herring

    Ending permit “abuse” is not a prerequisite for anything. Yes, it’s a good thing to do, but it is completely arbitrary to link it to congestion pricing or any other transportation reforms.

  • observer

    Glick can be irritating, but she is thoughtful and effective.

    Interesting that the author points to congestion at the Holland Tunnel as the impetus, yet the Mayor’s plan would not have impacted the Holland Tunnel at all (the New Jersey thing).

    Glick was rightfully offended that people going to a medical appointment were to have been subjected to a congestion fee but zillionaires in their limos would not.

    The reason SEQRA is needed is that this measure really doesn’t solve congestion but merely moves it to new and emerging parking lots on the perimeter of the defined congestion area.

    The idea that it would reduce congestion or even the number of cars by something between 6 – 7%, as claimed is utterly ridiculous. Not even the most ardent supporters believed that number.

    Funding MTA? Last year the money was going to be used to deal with asthma. It was going to be used for about three or four other things. This year, it’s the MTA, maybe, and a couple of hundred million short of that too. When was the last time the MTA did what it said it would?

    Only the Bush Administration would cynically tie federal aid to a “solution” that would not work and could not gain public support (and it does not have broad public support).

    There was a much simpler answer that Mayor Bloomberg rejected out of hand — a tax on million dollar earners. There is also another idea that Bloomberg is strangely silent on — reinstatement of the commuter tax!

    Glick can be a pain in the butt, humorless and full of herself, but she was dead on right this time.

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    to 29. Mr. Herring:

    Pushing for elimination of placard abuse first was never an arbitrary move. The placard abuse issue was on the table first, it was all over the press years before the congestion pricing proposal became public. The fact that the NYPD and Fire Dept unions were screaming for exemptions from congestion pricing only made it more obvious that the placard problem should have been dealt with, if not as a prerequisite, then simultaneously. Other kitchen sink actions that were taken about placard abuse in the months before congestion pricing also confirm this, i.e. 20% reduction in number of placards, towing and ticketing in the City Hall area, etc.

    I think it was truly arbitrary to ignore elimination of placard abuse and try to place congestion pricing out front. Of course, community activists downtown were not about to let this topic get shoved under the rug.

    to JF 28.
    “I’d like to see figures, or at least word-of-mouth directly from someone who’s observed the situation in London.”
    These WERE actual Londoners giving their word-of-mouth observations.

    As a lifelong NY’er I have seen many of my favorite places cease to exist in the last 10-15 years becuase of easy access to developers who only cater to high end tenants, squeezing out the middle-class. That is the Starbucks mentally I am referring to. True, this all started before congestion pricing, but there were plenty of us downtown who felt that congestion pricing would have been another nail in the coffin for NYC small businesses.

    I have no horn to toot about congestion pricing getting shot down.

    We are moving on toward reducing parking placard abuse. Although I still feel No Permit parking signs are worthwhile, there are other approaches being discussed right now. A parking permit database with scannable barcodes to track permit usage is one of them.

  • Mark Walker

    ManhattanDowner, if you were more willing to make common cause with other people (like those of us who are in favor of congestion pricing) maybe some of the things you want would get done too (reform of placard abuse). You’re frustrated because you’re too narrow to empathize with others and too parochial to get anything done.

  • JF

    These WERE actual Londoners giving their word-of-mouth observations.

    … to some anonymous antique dealer, to anonymous you. Who would base a decision on thirdhand anecdotal evidence from anonymous sources?

    We are moving on toward reducing parking placard abuse. Although I still feel No Permit parking signs are worthwhile, there are other approaches being discussed right now. A parking permit database with scannable barcodes to track permit usage is one of them.

    Please let us know when there’s an opportunity to advocate for these other solutions.

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    To 32. Walker:
    I beg to disagree with your comment regarding frustations, we certainly have made very significant strides over the last couple of years against placard abuse; i.e. the recent Lower Manhattan Parking survey by the DOT, multiple waves of ticketing and towing, etc.

    My personal efforts may SEEM narrow to you because they have been so focused on placard abuse, but I know it is precisely because it IS focused that I have been able to be effective.

    Placard abuse is only one part of the struggle downtown. In the role of a “protectionist”, my empathy is more with local small businesses and preservation of the middle class in NYC before embracing the grander visions of CP which threatened to bypass these groups, just like the threat of re-zoning and BID (Business Improvement District) proposals are doing right now http://thevillager.com/villager_259/bidbattlebrews.html.

  • Mark Walker

    ManhattanDowntowner, I acknowledge the authenticity of your struggle against placard abuse and wish you luck.

    I also empathize with your feelings over the upscaling of NYC though I think your feelings on this issue are leading you astray. You’re right, affluent people are moving into Manhattan — but what you don’t realize is that they’re bringing their cars with them. And the best way to deal with that is to give them disincentives to own cars and drive.

    CP would have been a great first step, along with increased parking meter fees, increased taxes on parking garages, and street redesign that favors buses, bikes, and pedestrians. Where do you stand on these things?

    Reading your posts, I have the distinct impression you impose CP and certain other car-control measures because you own a car and don’t want to pay. You’re against placard abuse because it interferes with the parking of your own car. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Mark Walker

    In the last graf of my last post, “impose” should have been “oppose.” I will now bawl out my proofreader.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Is that the same tax on millionaires that no one is talking about using for the MTA anymore, and everyone now wants to use to allow school funding in the rest of the state, much higher than in NYC, to keep skyrocking using NYC state tax dollars rather than local property tax dollars.

    Deborah Glick, you aren’t against the government, you are the government, and you did this to us, all of it. Go ahead and come up with the money, but don’t get if from me, because you and yours have taken too much as it is.

    And if anything comes up short, you, personally are to blame. Every last one of you.

  • Dave

    Deborah Glick sympathized with the hypothetical (and probably non-existent) poor person living in the outer boroughs who either had to take the subway home late at night or had to rive their sick family member into Manhattan every day for health-care unavailable anywhere outside Manhattan.

    She is so overwhelmingly liberal that she will invent implausible scenarios to rid her of the guilt she must feel for taking the easy do-nothing road at the expense of her constituents. She is a politician in the very worst meaning of the term.

    Deborah you have done nothing to alleviate the crisis on Canal St. You have done nothing to alleviate congestion that is stangling your neighborhood.

    Give it up retreat to your plaid shirts, Birkenstocks and U-Hauls and leave politics. Good riddance.

  • Dave

    Lest you all accuse me of intolerance, I will play the queer card. As a gay man I can hold another gay man or lesbian to a higher standard so can call Deb Glick on the carpet as a lesbian. And she definitely needs to be called, and frankly called nothing nice.

  • Ian D

    Responding to a few things:

    “A couple visited my shop from Central London and said virtually ALL the mom and pop businesses have vanished there due to the increasing rents and congestion pricing.”

    What a ridiculous and specious argument. I suppose if on my next trip to London I say to someone, “I live in NYC’s SoHo and virtually all the mom-and-pop stores have vanished because of the economic impact of traffic and our lack of a congestion pricing strategy,” that makes it newsworthy report? It’s actually at least as true as this Londoners’ report.

    Interesting that the author points to congestion at the Holland Tunnel as the impetus, yet the Mayor’s plan would not have impacted the Holland Tunnel at all (the New Jersey thing).

    That’s incorrect. Much of the traffic passing through our lower Manhattan neighborhoods is seeking the “free-loop” path to the Holland Tunnel. Take away the free loop by charging to pass through Manhattan and you take away some of the volume of traffic at the tunnel. Plus, Alan Gerson had negotiated many commitments for our neighborhood around the tunnel as part of the plan, which were not publicly announced (such as timelines on CATS, a study of the impact of the one-way VZ tolling on lower Manhattan, enhanced traffic control agents through the approach corridors) – whether any of these take place now is uncertain, especially given the tightened financial picture without revenue from CP.

    And you want to lower the number of people abusing placards in lower Manhattan, Mr ManhattanDowntowner? I assume I know who you are, and I tried to explain to you at a CP discussion in Chinatown, but found you not very good at listening. How about we start by charging each of those people $8 each day just to drive to their prized illegal parking spots? That sure sound like a way to get them to stop thinking that their impact on our area is free! Of course, we’ve lost that opportunity now…

  • Larry Littlefield

    (taking the easy do-nothing road at the expense of her constituents.)

    Glick does not represent the people living in her district. None of them do.

    She represents the people who collect her signatures, and give her the money required to keep challengers off the ballot and, if necessary, send out letters accusing any potential opponent of being a child molester.

    For people like Glick, for all them them, the schmucks who happen to live there, pay taxes, and hope for something in return are worth just slightly more than those who will live there in a future they do not care about. Which is zero.

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    To 40. and your ridiculous specious argument (whatever that means), and to 32. above:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/04/06/2008-04-06_congestion_fee_hasnt_stopped_snarls.html

    “While traffic congestion also dropped initially, it rose last year with road improvements and additional bus and bike lanes contributing to slowing traffic, the data show.

    Business experts are not bullish on the charge.

    We would argue the current London scheme is not one you would want to export,” says James Ford, spokesman for the London Chamber of Commerce.

    Ford’s research found that since congestion charging began, retail chains have experienced a 22% drop in profitability while independent stores saw a 53% dip.

    Higher-end department stores are doing fine: “Harrods’ customer base won’t be deterred too much by the cost of the congestion charge,” Ford said.”

    How many small businesses do you think can take a 53% hit in profits?

    To Mark #35. I appreciate your acknowledgement. I became involved with fighting placard abuse because of the post 9/11 tremendous upsurge of abuse by government employees – to the degree that I could not walk out onto the street on my block and see ANY regular cars or even commercial trucks parking or doing business on my block. I witnessed long time small businesses fold as a result of this and got fed up.

  • J. Mork

    MD —

    Well, the economy is slowing down. How much has “profitability” dropped in Manhattan with no change in traffic policy?

    Also — if the space in London is being taken by bus lanes this almost certainly results in a faster overall average commute time (even if driving is about the same.)

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    To J Mark above and to JF #33:

    Yes, the economy is slowing. The obvious point is that if CP were enacted in NYC, using London as an example, many small businesses would suffer and eventually fold, especially those small businesses that are marginal to begin with in this already slowing economy.

    As the article cited states, the large businesses and franchises would probably be okay if CP hit NYC, they would ONLY have a 22% drop in profitability.

    I do know that profitability slowed down directly as a cause of placard abuse in Downtown Manhattan. The recent reduction in placard distribution can only be regarded as positive. If nothing else, quality of life is already improved.

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    To Ian #40
    “… found you not very good at listening. How about we start by charging each of those people $8 each day just to drive to their prized illegal parking spots? That sure sound like a way to get them to stop thinking that their impact on our area is free! Of course, we’ve lost that opportunity now…”

    If you were listening at many of the Chinatown CP meetings, it was made very clear that we in Downtown Manhattan expected placard abusers to be EXEMPT from CP – all due to the terrible track record on placard abuse of Bloomberg, NYPD and D.O.T. As you well know, and as we in Downtown Manhattan expected, the NYPD and Fire Dept unions were screaming for EXEMPTIONS from Congestion Pricing if it were to be enacted. With CP, how was the City realistically going to squeeze $8/day/car out of the NYPD and Fire Dept unions? In hindsight, this issue of exemptions for the governement sector was one of the stumbling blocks for CP.

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