Today’s Headlines

  • Ravitch Plan Round-up (NYT, News, News, Post, NY1, MTR)
  • What Politicians Are Saying About the Plan (NYT, Politicker, Daily Politics)
  • Silver: ‘When Richard Ravitch Speaks, New Yorkers Should Listen’ (Daily Politics)
  • Commission Wants to Raise the Bar for MTA Board Membership (News)
  • NYT, News Endorse the Plan; Post Opposes Payroll Tax, Wants Union Concessions Too
  • Congress Remains Unimpressed By Bailout Pleas From Auto Execs (NYT, AP)
  • Gridlock Sam: City, State Need to Line Up Transpo Projects to Get Feds’ Stimulus Money (News)
  • Three Plans for Transit Stimulus (TreeHugger)
  • Oregon Gov to Push for Expanded Ped/Bike Funding (BikePortland via
  • Intercity Bus Travel Growing at Rapid Clip (Forbes)
  • Car Free Nation

    I don’t know which is worse: DeBlasio coming out against East River tolls, which will vastly improve the lives of his constituents, or Millman, who has stated her support for congestion pricing in the past, staying silent. Or what about Yassky? He should be calling press conferences, and leading his constituents to an understanding of the great benefits this plan would have for Downtown Brooklyn– less traffic, better buses.

    Politicians are such wimps.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The univerally unsaid:

    1) What happens in 2014, when more money is needed for future ongoing normal replacement, and all future tax revenues are already pledged to past debts? Isn’t this the same way the last three capital plans were financed, and how we got to this crisis to begin with? No one mentioned the additonal $30-$35 billion in debt.

    2) Why are wage and self employment income taxed at an extra 0.33% of income, to be raised in the future in all likelihood, when retirement and investment income are not taxed at all?

    When they first started kicking this thing down the road in the early 1990s recession, it was a pebble. I didn’t like it, but thought it was better than allowing the system to collapse.

    After Pataki’s disastrous, all debt 2000-04 plan it was a boulder. It was going to do a lot of damage and hurt when it hit, but there was still a chance to repair things.

    The 2005-09 plan, all debt (some on MTA books, some on other books) turned it into an avalanche. It was probably going to destroy everything, but one could still hope for a miracle.

    In 2015: Krakatoa.

  • Yesterday I said car-centric legislators will treat the Ravitch plan as a shell game.

    From today’s Times, this: “State legislators, mainly from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, said the plan by a state commission headed by Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, would unfairly burden drivers from their districts. But many of those same legislators, along with some business leaders, were more supportive of another part of the plan: a proposed tax of one-third of 1 percent on payrolls in the 12-county region served by the authority.”

    So, drivers paying for use of a public resource: bad! Job-killing payroll tax: good!

    And the governor’s response? He all but endorses the shell game. Following an anti-toll quote from a Queens assemblyman, the Times offers this: “Mr. Paterson said that his staff would draft legislation to carry out the commission’s proposals. But he acknowledged that there might be changes made during negotiations with the Legislature. ‘Obviously, this is open to negotiation’…”

  • Larry Littlefield

    So the MTA plans to defer disaster for five years by borrowing $35 billion, eh?

    “California, the world’s eighth largest economy, may pay vendors with IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression, State Finance Director Mike Genest said.”

    “California, which approved its budget less than three months ago, may run out of cash by March, state officials say.”

    “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger warned that he may issue the warrants, which are a promise to pay with interest, to suppliers and contractors as the seizure in credit markets may make it too costly to borrow.”

    “It’s getting worse very quickly,” Schwarzenegger, a 61- year-old Republican, told reporters Dec. 1 after declaring a fiscal emergency and ordering the Legislature into a special session to find ways to close the deficit. “It’s like an avalanche in that it gains momentum. And that’s what we’re in right now, so it’s a real crisis.”

    Did someone say avalanche? See my comment above.

  • Incompetent is the only word that comes to mind when I think of New York state governance. My understanding of the current process is as follows:

    Step one is to say that there’s a huge problem but that a committee or commission should be appointed to fix it after the election so one has to talk ab out it while running for re-election.

    Step two is to get the commission to recommend a combination of good ideas that stand no chance of becoming law and mediocre ideas that are palatable to narrow minded suburban and rural incumbent legislators.

    Step three is to “negotiate” to remove all the good ideas and pass a bill with the mediocre ones all the while claiming to have taken decisive action. For this step it’s important to remember that none of the actual stakeholders can be involved(including the voting public).

    Repeat as necessary!

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Incompetent is the only word that comes to mind when I think of New York state governance.”

    Before you call them incompetent, describe their objectives and and whether or not they meet them.

    Substitute evil.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Blue Ribbon commissions cannot substitute for electoral politics in a democracy. The die is cast for the 2009 Mayoral race in NYC, Bloomberg favors bridge tolls, his opponents (likely Weiner) does not. Let the best man win.

    Or, as an alternative we could create a Blue Ribbon Commission on Blue Ribbon Commissions.