Blame Game Continues: Smith Swipes at MTA, Monserrate Goes Anti-Toll

hiram1222.jpgThere’s MTA rescue news today from the State Senate, and none of it good. 

Queens Senator Hiram Monserrate, who had considered new tolls on East and Harlem River bridges acceptable as a "last resort," has flip-flopped. The Daily Politics reports that Monserrate now opposes new tolls, and faults the MTA for "failing to explain ‘specifically’ how toll revenue would be used to pay for service and capital improvements." From a statement released today:

"Solving financial problems on the backs of hard-working New Yorkers
now struggling with their own financial problems is the least desirable
course of action," the senator stated.

"Tolling of the East River bridges should be considered only after
passage of the ‘Millionaire’s Tax’ that will ensure the wealthiest
residents of New York pay their fair share."

"For these reasons, support of the so-called ‘Ravitch Plan’ is not in the best interests of New Yorkers."

Monserrate presides over a district where 53 percent of presumably hard-working households do not own cars and rely on transit, while less than five percent drive or carpool into Lower Manhattan for work. Still it looks as if his own windshield perspective has clouded his judgment enough that he would abandon the only viable plan in existence for a proposal that is positively Weiner-esque in its implausibility.

In other developments, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith this morning laid his inability to unite the Democratic bloc at the feet of the MTA itself. Here is Smith, again from The Daily Politics:

"I know they have this deadline; I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the MTA to sort of hold the public hostage and say, ‘Well if we don’t get to the deadline we’re going to charge you more.’"

"The public didn’t cause their failures in terms of how they managed their budget," the senator continued. "It’s the failure of their performance that has now asked the legislators to help."

"Yes, we can be there to help, but then we should have together have decided what the deadline was. Not them to impose their will on us and say ‘because we screwed up, that we now are going to tell you if you don’t help us we’re now going to have a problem or cause a problem for the public.’"

While he did not declare tolls to be completely off the table, Smith says he is not counting votes because he has not seen a proposal — including the Ravitch plan, apparently — which "is worthy of having that kind of discussion."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Caption Contest: Re-name This Foursome

|
Hat tip to Liz Benjamin at the Daily Politics for this snapshot of four state senators who’ve helped concoct a stopgap, toll-less MTA funding plan that does nothing to address the imminent decline of New York’s transit system. Lest they be accused of completely shortchanging the future, they say maintenance and expansion can be taken […]

Doomsday News: MTA Votes, Paterson Plays Chicken, Monserrate Indicted

|
Photo: The Daily Politics The MTA’s doomsday scenario came closer to fruition today, as agency board members took a step toward implementing planned fare hikes and service reductions while state lawmakers appeared mired in stalemate. Here are a few tidbits. Newsday filed this report on the MTA Finance Committee meeting (as live-blogged by Second Avenue […]

Where Does the Working Families Party Stand on MTA Rescue?

|
Millions of New York City bus riders are counting on an MTA rescue plan to maintain service and hold fares down. Last week, some of the biggest unions in New York came out in favor of the Ravitch Commission’s MTA rescue plan, including the bridge tolls that a handful of state senators refuse to support. […]

Doomsday Transit Cuts, District by District

|
Barring a viable MTA rescue plan, the 140,000 transit riders in Ruben Diaz. Sr.’s district will lose the Bx4 and the Bx14 If you’re wondering how MTA doomsday service cuts will affect you, you can now look them up by state legislative district and ZIP code, thanks to new maps from the Regional Plan Association. […]

Pedro Espada’s Student Fare Fix: Toll the East River Bridges

|
No, it’s not April First. The Daily News and the Times-Union report that the Bronx pol who played a critical role in derailing bridge tolls last spring has proposed, yes, tolling the East River bridges. Espada’s office says that more than $500 million could be raised annually from two-way $2 tolls on the East River […]

MTA Blame Game: Lowlights From Queens

|
The MTA roadshow is in full swing, with raucous public hearings on service cuts drawing hundreds in Queens and Staten Island last night. Some press outlets are questioning whether the hearings actually get anything accomplished. It’s a good question to chew on, since the MTA Board’s options are limited by the agency’s massive budget gap. […]