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Monday’s Headlines: Hochul’s Isolation Edition

The governor has never been weaker. This is the time for defiance. Plus other news.

She’s so isolated.

The big story of the weekend was the news — which broke late on Friday, but was posted quickly by Streetsblog — that the federal government thinks congestion pricing would be just great, an announcement that isolates Gov. Hochul even more from her government, her supporters, her agencies and people who just want cleaner air and unclogged streets (amNY also covered the federal report).

Isolation is the key word here, because despite the governor's unilateral move to pause congestion pricing, she still needs to come up with a plan to replace it — and for now, no one is playing along. The legislature adjourned earlier this month without capitulating to #CongestionKathy, and more and more voices are rising up to say that abandoning Plan A (which happens to be the law) without a Plan B is really dumb. (Or, as Rep. Ritchie Torres told Streetsblog, it was "irresponsible" and "destructive. Or, as Jacobin put it, it was "indefensible.")

We all know where this is going: The MTA Board will meet next week and hear from agency officials that without the reliable $1 billion in new revenue, massive cuts to basic state-of-good-repair work and court-ordered subway accessibility will go by the wayside.

Then the action will shift to Albany, where the governor is likely to summon legislators for a special session, as the Times reported, to jigger taxes, raise some fees, move some money around or take on new debt — all to avoid a completely reasonable toll to drive into the most congested, most-transit-rich place in the country.

Lawmakers will have to stand strong and remember that congestion pricing wasn't just about raising $1 billion for the MTA; it was also about reducing congestion, clearing the air, making neighborhoods more livable, creating great public space instead of car storage, building more bike lanes and wider sidewalks — just making the city better, as Open Plans pointed out last week.

And the legislature should stand strong because Hochul's reckless move has isolated her so badly. Everyone's been covering it:

  • Streetsblog contributor Aaron Short, writing in the Commercial Observer, put it this way: Hochul "managed to alienate the business community, including commercial real estate, as well as lawmakers, advocates and millions of New Yorkers who take transit every day."
  • The Times showed how isolated she is from the rest of the country, which was waiting to see New York get congestion pricing over the finish line.
  • She's also isolated from most of the city government, as we discovered last week:
  • Outgoing New York City Transit President Richard Davey pointed out that Hochul is isolated from her own MTA, which "won’t be able to pay for projects that were designed to keep the subways from falling into disrepair," Gothamist reported.
  • Former federal transit man Larry Penner points out that Hochul is isolated from the feds, too. (Mass Transit)
  • She's certainly isolated from her own party, Vital City reported.
  • And I, writing in Brooklyn Magazine, showed her isolation in this way: "In the name of helping 'everyday' New Yorkers, Hochul has now undermined their transit and likely made it more expensive on behalf of drivers, who tend to be wealthier."
  • Gothamist also pointed out that Hochul is isolated from people who have to make deliveries, as she's done nothing to reduce the $20 billion in productivity lost to traffic.
  • And the Daily News editorial board showed that Hochul is even isolated from her own state Department of Transportation, which must sign a key federal document to begin the tolls (if the feds send it, of course).
  • Unfortunately, the New Yorker took a pro-car angle ... seeing congestion through the eyes of a guy who literally makes it.

So this isn't over yet.

In other news:

  • A reckless motorcyclist going way too fast and running a red light lost control of his vehicle and crashed onto a busy Queens sidewalk, killing a woman. It's a reminder that safe streets can be engineered to prevent even these kinds of crashes. Jackson Height's Main Street, 37th Avenue, has too much speeding and too many double-parked cars and trucks. It's the pedestrians who suffer. (NYDN)
  • It's one thing to crash a Porsche, but to leave wads of money on it? That's a mystery. (NY Post)
  • Police officers' use of force is up. (NY Post)
  • Streetsblog and I Love the Upper West Side covered last week's curb-reform pilot.
  • It's going to be hot this week, as the weather-obsessed Post reports.
  • And, finally, the worst of the G-pocalypse is coming later this month, as Hell Gate reminded, but don't forget the ongoing terrible night service that continues this week:

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