On the Campaign Trail, Silver Blames MTA for Pricing Debacle

Finding himself with two opponents in next month’s Democratic primary, the Downtown Express reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is spending the summer knocking on doors and chatting with editorial boards.

silver.jpgApparently accepting the premise that Silver "supported" congestion pricing, the Express writes:

This week, he repeated his reason for not bringing it to the floor —
the Assembly opposition was overwhelming. He said there were about 15
supporters, and if he had applied pressure, he thinks he could have
gotten the number up to 20 — far short of the 76 votes needed.

He
said outer borough Assemblymembers did not support the plan because "the
M.T.A. lost its credibility." After so many broken promises, no one
believed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would direct the
congestion pricing revenue to mass transit expansion, Silver said.

Got that? It’s the chronically underfunded agency, not the lawmaking bodies lording over it, that lacks credibility.

Even so, Silver remains characteristically coy on the prospect of a pricing revival. Though he was quoted just a couple of weeks ago as ruling out the possibility, he tells the Express that pricing could perhaps come back "as part of a comprehensive plan," including a smaller zone. Once the Ravitch Commission releases its recommendations after the election, Silver says, "you’ll see this start to get straightened out."

What that means is anyone’s guess. But in a recent interview with Crain’s, PlaNYC architect Rohit Aggarwala maintains that pricing remains the most efficient means to meet the Bloomberg administration’s goal of reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next two decades:

"Any strategy will have to get people out of their cars and invest in the transit system. We settled on congestion pricing because it was the best solution to accomplish both."

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    “Once the Ravitch Commission releases its recommendations after the election, Silver says, ‘you’ll see this start to get straightened out.’ What that means is anyone’s guess.” Okay, I’ll translate: releasing the Ravitch report after elections will give me a second shot at opposing congestion pricing without me paying any political price.

  • He is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with city politics– cynical, back-room dealing, and only concerned with appearances rather than what’s good for the people of his city. Silver is quick to say whatever he thinks will keep people happy– but, what has he done? Where is the leadership?

    And he’s not the only city politician with this problem– we really need to clean house.

  • And he’s not the only city politician with this problem– we really need to clean house.

    Agreed. But until we can do that, if we can get congestion pricing passed by allowing him and Jeff Dinowitz and every other anti-pricing assemblyman to pretend they were for it all along, it’s worth it, right?

  • Got that? It’s the chronically underfunded agency, not the lawmaking bodies lording over it, that lacks credibility.

    It’s true that the primary duty of the Assembly is to make laws, but in this case the powers that allow Silver to “lord it over” the MTA are its budgetary power and its regulatory power (through the Public Authorities Control Board).

  • fdr

    It doesn’t matter if Silver says he’s for congestion pricing if he continues his strategy of refusing to bring it to a vote because he says his members are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Maybe he plans to let the Ravitch Commission propose it and blame it on them. That way he protects his members who are afraid to vote for it, while protecting himself against pro-CP voters in his own district.
    If Ravitch proposes CP after the election, it will become a hot issue in the mayoral election, so the spotlight will be on Weiner more than on Silver.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Once the Ravitch Commission releases its recommendations after the election, Silver says, ‘you’ll see this start to get straightened out.'”

    Why is this man smiling? Because those who matter have been sucking money off the top for 15 years.

    Now there isn’t enough to go around, and the only goal is to make sure everyone is confused as to whom to blame for the consequences, and that no one connects the dots between past favors and future harm.

  • rex

    Silver appears to be a civil cretin. He seems to spend all of his efforts maintaining his power rather than leading. What’s the matter Shelly, no ideas ever come your way? From my view, he scuttled CP so he would not have to record an opinion, or perhaps he is just jealous of Bloomberg?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    To try to rise briefly above the ad hominem attack it needs to be said that Mr. Silver holds a very important position in New York politics. To remain Speaker of the Assembly for so many years he has been forced into many compromising positions. Thats what legislative leadership is. While I, like you, wish he had brought it to a vote, there was nothing practically or politically that compelled him to do so. That was the situation he found himself in. He wasn’t alone in placing himself in that position. A “my way or the highway” Mayor made it all possible with a political ear tinned to the needs of others, his idle threats of drop-dead dates that endlessly receded. The Mayor painted a picture of transportation emergency that I happened to agree with, but he followed it up with nothing. If the MTA funding crisis was such an emergency what has he done since to lift it? Are the children still not suffering from asthma? There is plenty of blame to go around. Shelly is not the only one who prefers to wait until after the next election.

  • gecko

    The “most efficient means to meet the Bloomberg administration’s goal of reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next two decades” is broad implementation of human-powered transport such as bicycles and small light hybrid human-electric vehicles less than 100 pounds with zero emissions and zero to near net-zero energy usage.

    Congestion pricing is only a baby step and may even be a distraction.

    Proper transport and transit design is the both the short and long-term solution. This city is hamstrung without it.

  • Rhubarbpie

    Niccolo’s got it right. I’m willing to accept that the Assembly acted badly, but the conceit that the mayor, along with the MTA (by not holding off on its fare hike and proposing service enhancements, then withdrawing them before the vote) are blameless is just not credible.

  • momos

    Niccolo & Rubarb, you’re absoloutely right. As disappointing as Shelly’s lack of leadership was, he didn’t have much to gain from pushing CP except for being right in principle.

    Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Admin did a horrible job selling CP to the public. For that matter, the activist groups were quite disappointing as well. The Campaign for New York’s Future failed to mobilize public opinion (which polling revealed had potential, when New Yorkers understood how CP revenue was to be used) and generally kept a low profile.

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