Congestion Pricing Game: Choose Who to Blame
By Jenn Chung
The failure of congestion pricing (at least for this legislative session) has cast a pall on NYC-Albany relations. Not least because Mayor Bloomberg spent some time yesterday slamming state lawmakers. He said:
New York City is today poorer because of Albany’s inaction yesterday, and I think, sadly, it appears that we jeopardized, at best, and probably lost, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something with someone else’s money.
“And [we] demonstrated once again that Albany just does not seem to get it.”
However, Democratic State Senators and Assembly members are saying that Mayor Bloomberg’s arrogance and refusal to really speak with them about the program. The NY Times has this fun graphic – the Circle O’ Congestion Pricing Blame – and has two interesting quotes. First, from congestion pricing opponent Assemblyman Richard Brodsky*: “When it came time to deal with people he didn’t control, he didn’t know how to do it.” Then Assemblyman Keith Wright said that in spite of the Mayor’s claims he sent lawmakers mailings, the Mayor only met with him twice (and only met with Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver once); Wright said, “I told the mayor that occasionally – occasionally – individual members have been known to move an agenda. He just gave me a blank stare.”
State Senator Malcolm Smith, the Democratic minority leader, said on NY1 that Bloomberg “spit” in the face of Democrats by supporting Bruno and the State Senate Republicans. The Daily News reports that there are still talks about congestion pricing, but it’s unclear what will happen.
Other congestion pricing supporters, while disappointed, are happy with Bloomberg’s work. Partnership for New York City president Kathryn Wylde told the NY Sun, “We were frankly amazed that the mayor was able to get it to this point. And we’re prepared to get it done next year if we can’t get it done this year. Federal dollars come and go. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a New Yorker as president, that can help us.”
* Fun stats from Streetsblog: Brodsky had claimed he was fighting for the interests of low- and middle-income NYers by opposing congestion pricing, but 53% of his Westchester constituents seem to have annual incomes of more than $75,000. Streetsblog compares that with two congestion pricing supporters, Assemblymen Jose Rivera (Bronx) and Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan), whose districts each have 91% of the populations earning less than $75,000 (about 63% actually earn under $35,000).