Saturday, June 09, 2007

Silver May Kill Bloomberg Traffic Plan

The mayor of money, Michael Bloomberg, would like to charge people who drive their cars into Manhattan below 86th Street between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM $8 a trip. Moneybags would like to charge truck drivers $21 for the same privilege.

Bloomberg claims the plan, similar to London's traffic pricing plan, will reduce traffic congestion in midtown and the surrounding environs, raise tax money for transit services and subway improvements, improve air quality in Manhattan and force lifestyle changes for people now accustomed to driving their cars rather than finding more environmentally-friendly transportation.

The governor and federal transportation officials announced support for Bloomberg's plan this week.

But the plan still needs the approval of the State Senate and State Assembly and that doesn't look like it's going to happen:

June 9, 2007 -- ALBANY - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is likely to reject Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping congestion pricing plan, legislative insiders are predicting.


One source close to Silver described him as "reluctant at best" to approve anything that imposes $600 million in new fees on city and suburban residents.


Among the major political considerations Silver is weighing:

* How more than three dozen Democratic Assembly members from the city's four outer boroughs, Westchester and Nassau counties feel about Bloomberg's plan.

Many have already branded it a back-door commuter tax and a tax on the middle class.

* Where does the Assembly's large black and Hispanic caucus - a key part of Silver's personal political coalition - stand on the plan?

While some have already complained the proposal would discriminate against the poor, minority communities also have relatively high levels of asthma and could benefit from the proposal.

* Bloomberg's purported ambition to run as an independent candidate for president next year.

One senior legislative official said a run by the generally liberal Bloomberg could hurt Hillary Rodham Clinton or any other Democratic presidential candidate - and a White House bid by the mayor would be strengthened if his congestion pricing plan is approved.

I'm glad Silver is looking to kill Bloomberg's plan. While I'm all for cleaner air and reduced traffic congestion, I'm opposed to Moneybags' traffic congestion pricing plan.

Here's why:

1. The plan will be enforced by placing several hundred cameras in Manhattan for surveillance purposes. Moneybags will be taking pictures of everybody and everything that happens in Manhattan below 86th street. The cameras will be placed in 340 locations below 86th Street and will record the license plates of all vehicles that pass them. But given the mayor's penchant for surveillance abuses during the '04 RNC convention, the last thing I want to do is give the little Napoleonic bastard more ways to secretly watch people.

2. The mayor claims that the plan will only be a three-year pilot project and many costs will be paid for with federal traffic grants. But critics of the plan note that once the state government gives approval of the congestion pricing, Bloomberg never has to go back to the state to get re-approval. Currently the city has the total say on whether the plan becomes permanent after the pilot project runs out, so the mayor is full of crap when he says the plan is not permanent.

3. The congestion pricing plan would give the mayor the power to create his own public authority that would allow him total control over the $380 million in new tax revenue generated by the program to use in any way he sees fit. The mayor's authoritarian tendencies make me leery about giving him any more power than he already has without some method of oversight that is outside his control.

4. The plan will add a consumption tax on the already high prices of food and other consumer goods in Manhattan for working and middle class Manhattanites. While this may come as a surprise to Mayor Moneybags, Manhattan has not yet become a total "Hamptons on the Hudson" playground for the rich and powerful. The congestion pricing plan will add another financial burden onto already financially-overburdened working and middle class New Yorkers who purchase items in Manhattan.

So far, it sounds like the State Assembly will not be disposed to backing the mayor's plan as currently constituted (though the Republican-controlled State Senate - beneficiaries of Bloomberg's extreme largess to Republican causes and campaigns - will back it.) Shelly Silver, the man who unilaterally killed Bloomberg's $300 billion West Side stadium giveaway to Johnson & Johnson, is the man who can kill this plan with little effort.

Let's hope he does.

Here's Silver's contact info:

250 Broadway
Suite 2307
New York, NY 10007


Let him know Bloomberg's Big Brother Camera Act has got to go.

Objections to the "congestion pricing plan" are a waste of time.

If the plan to create a high-priced zone in most of Manhattan is blocked by Silver, we will almost certainly see tolls added to the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. Meanwhile, it wouldn't take any effort to put a toll on the Third Avenue Bridge or any other Harlem River crossings.

Given the state of technology today, it is possible to change the toll for river crossings at various hours of the day. Like Metrocards, it's possible to give monthly rates to those who cross the rivers more than twice a day.

Meanwhile, reality, your worries about cameras are ridiculous. You prove once again that you favor giving rights to criminals over a safe environment.

The Repubican Convention was notably free of serious violence, in part because much of it was videotaped.

You should get over your paranoia about video. It benefits those whose rights may have been violated.

We live in a video world. YouTube, MySpace, etc. Everyone's a star.
This basic plan has worked relatively well in London. I don't think it would be a bad thing.

I tend to agree with no_slappz on the camera thing. Well, not exactly. I hate the cameras, but they are a reality. There is no stopping it now.

Also, I don't see how middle class families are driving into Manhattan. Is parking like $50 a day or something?

Two key point should be worked out though. 1. The tax revenue should be earmarked for public transportation. 2. They should not do it on weekends, to allow people to come in for shopping.

The key is to stop commuters who could easily use public transport from driving in unnecessarily.
I'm w/ Ron Paul, Bob Barr and other noted conservatives when it comes to cameras and surveillance - enough is enough. If the plan cannot be done w/out cameras, than I am opposed.
reality, as Shelly Silver's latest comments suggest, he's all for a plan to tax motorists coming into Manhattan.

The only question is how to do it. Though cameras only threaten the operating environment for criminals -- and they are already in place on roadways all over the city (maybe you didn't know that) -- a loud opposition will lead to the obvious solution of putting tolls on ALL the river-crossings.

But the idea that it matters where the money goes is one of those silly misunderstandings about the definition of "fungible."

The city and state collect a big pile of dough from taxpayers and other sources. That money is spent on budgeted items. Period. If the city authorizes major expenditures on transportation, then dollars will go in that direction.

The Taxi Medallion business needs a big overhaul. When the taxi business was formalized in NYC, which happened around 1938, the city decided to issue about 13,000 taxi medallions. Since then, only about 1,000 more have been issued.

A medallion now sells for more than $500,000.

What genius decided NYC would never need more than 13,000 cabs?

Medallions, like other city licenses, should be rented on an annual basis. More important -- the city should have control over the NUMBER of medallion cabs in operation.

Clearly there is a demand for at least 25,000 cabs. Probably more. But the current number is way too low -- as the cost of a medallion proves.

I say -- put tolls on all the river-crossings. But install equipment that can raise and lower tolls depending on the hour of the day.

Then increase the number of medallion cabs enough to drive down the cost of a cab ride. Let supply come into balance with demand. As is well known in economics -- supply creates its own demand.

Thus, if medallions are leased by the year -- like the food carts and other concessions around the city -- the number of cabs will reflect the willingness of people to take the relatively small risk of earning a profit after paying the annual medallion fee. The number of cabs would multiply.

On the other hand, we have a system that creates scarcity of cabs by limiting their numbers. Thus, only well financed medallion buyers can get in the game.

The city should also pressure trucking companies to make more Manhattan deliveries at night. In other words, charge truckers big fees to enter and leave the city during the day or low fees to enter and leave at night.
Not sure where you got your info that Silver is for the plan because the New York Times reported today that Silver criticized the idea:

"ALBANY, June 11 — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in his strongest language yet against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to charge people who drive into the most congested parts of Manhattan during the day, questioned the health benefits of the proposal yesterday. He also suggested that many of the environmental goals Mr. Bloomberg has outlined could be accomplished without congestion pricing.

His comments suggested that two hours of testimony by Mayor Bloomberg at an Assembly hearing on Friday had not swayed the Democrats who control the chamber. Mr. Silver even seemed to outline new concerns, saying that the plan could actually hurt areas with high asthma rates."
reality, Silver will agree to some form of increased tolls to enter Manhattan during the work-week in exchange for pay increases for his people.

That's how Silver works. He holds up important legislation until a payoff is made.

His public statements mean nothing.
So what happened during Bloomberg's stadium palooza? Silver killed that deal right quick. I'm not saying you're not right about Silver holding out for a payday, but what happened w/ the stadium. Bloomberg tried very hard to bribe him w/ downtown projects, but Silver still killed it.
reality, you wrote:

"...what happened w/ the stadium. Bloomberg tried very hard to bribe him w/ downtown projects, but Silver still killed it."

What downtown projects?

Downtown is already flooded with private capital and whatever government funds that will eventually flow from the WTC rebuild.

The only major project involving downtown that should take a lead role is the project to build a rail tunnel from the Atlantic Avenue Long Island Railroad station in Brooklyn to the World Trade Center and then on to New Jersey.

That is the project to support.

It is currently impossible to get to Wall Street from New Jersey and Long Island without taking at least two trains.

Completing that tunnel would take a lot of cars off the downtown streets.

One of the eerie moments I had on 9/11 while downtown after the buildings fell was looking at all the cars with NJ plates parked in the lots under the FDR Drive. The cars were still there when I left for Brooklyn around 7 pm that evening.
If Silver can kill it he will. I think Mayor Nanny Bloomie is a very arrogant man. I also highly doubt he rides the subway that much. He's the mayor, I want someone driving him around so he can work and make calls and stuff. New Yorkers shouldn't want him wasting all that time on the subway.

We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and then people can just demonize those who oppose it.

If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

It's true, Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion and Air Pollution!

But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg?

It certainly supports his claim that the city is hugely congested.

Check out the map! Tell your friends!

Check it out!


Little Blue PD

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