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Thursday’s Headlines: Here’s Why We’re Frustrated Edition

Yesterday was another frustrating day for the notion of accountability in government. Plus other news.

The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk|

Gov. Hochul is working the buttons on the accountability avoidance machine.

It has been often said (in our newsroom) that government is a great big accountability-avoidance machine. And that machine has been going full speed since Gov. Hochul put her "indefinite pause" on congestion pricing.

Surely Hochul is being held accountable for her decision to single-handedly suspend a 2019 state law, right? No. Because the federal government has not issued one small document — the Value Pricing Pilot Program agreement that must be signed by the state and city Department of Transportation, as well as the MTA — Hochul doesn't have to do anything.

Meanwhile, the MTA board, which voted only a few weeks ago to implement congestion pricing on June 30, can't force the governor to sign a document that hasn't been issued. Instead, on Wednesday, under pressure to do something, it passed a weak resolution saying simply that it is ready to implement congestion pricing when allowed to do so.

And this came after two of the state's top Democrats — Sen. Chuck Schumer and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — said they had no intention of using their influence to persuade the governor to carry out a state law that had created that ultimate unicorn of state government: a reliable and fair funding stream for transit.

Later in the day, Hochul put out a self-serving statement defending her commitment to transit — specifically projects like the Second Avenue subway extension that the MTA had literally just canceled.

The statement, by the way, didn't mention congestion pricing at all — oh, that's dead, let's be honest (as I and amNY opined) — and incredulously added, "My record of delivering resources for critical priorities in the state budget should provide the MTA with full confidence in future funding streams."

Literally no one has that confidence right now.

So it's really frustrating — a point made gorgeously by "War on Cars" co-host Aaron Naparstek on Twitter.

Everyone covered the day's news:

  • Hell Gate agreed that the day was frustration, calling it what it is: Hochul is holding the MTA hostage: "New Yorkers would not be wrong to read the dry, legalistic language of the resolution as a supposedly independent board overseeing a public authority caving to a nakedly political decision made by the governor."
  • Crain's also focused on the frustration of watching the MTA Board knuckle under: "The vote firmly shut the door on the MTA’s board possibly attempting to advance congestion pricing against Hochul’s wishes."
  • Streetsblog focused on the death of the capital renovation plan — and reminded everyone that the MTA created such a large renovation plan in the first place because the need for repairs was so pressing.
  • The Daily News also focused on the "brutal reality" of the new bottom line. So did the Times, the City and amNY, albeit without such colorful language.
  • Gothamist put out a list of the projects that won't happen.
  • The Times also pointed out — with a hat tip to Reinvent Albany — that Hochul's "pause" will hurt working class people more than it would supposedly have helped them.
  • The Post did a general roundup that found a way to quote more anti-congestion pricing voices than supporters, even though supporters outnumbered the naysayers by a factor of 10 or maybe 100. And the funny thing is: The Post also reported accurately on the cause of congestion: drivers.

In other news:

  • The carnage continues: A teenager was killed, and her sister gravely injured, by a hit-and-run driver in Queens (NY Post, Astoria Post, Gothamist). And a woman was killed in Hells Kitchen early Tuesday morning (Streetsblog).
  • Our own Kevin Duggan was on WCBS 880 talking about the racially biased way that the NYPD carries out "jaywalking" enforcement.
  • Former federal transit man Larry Penner wants to keep you posted on all the Gateway tunnel news. (Mass Transit)

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