Friday, March 13, 2009

Sick Transit Lacks Glory

With the plutocrats hell bent on tolling the working class, in a brazen shilling for a corrupt public authority, it is refreshing to see the wayward fourth amigo weighing in; and watching the back of his former amigo colleague. That's exactly what Hiram Montserrate did in a big way yesterday: "If ever there was a sign that the toll portion of Richard Ravitch's MTA bailout plan is "dead" for lack of support in the Senate (as Sen. Martin Dilan says), it is the statement Sen. Hiram Montserrate released this morning. The Democratic freshman lawmaker from Queens was the first to endorse the idea of tolling the East and Harlem river bridges, although he later clarified by saying he considered it a "last resort." He's now backing away from the idea altogether and echoing his colleagues' criticisms of the MTA for failing to explain "specifically" how toll revenue would be used to pay for service and capital improvements."

Take that NY Daily News!-the paper that has a virtual love affair with the senescent MTA. And Hiram pulls no punches in going after the nonfeasant authority-reinforcing the fact that the agency is badly in need of a fiscal enema; something that Majority Leader Smith has suggested.

But perhaps the strongest defense of the MTA skeptics, comes from our friend Corey Bearak. Bearak penned the following, in response to one of the Daily News attacks on the senate:

"The Daily News editorial board, not five courageous state senators, “need to see the light.” (Editorial: “We've got their numbers: Five state senators betray a half-million straphangers,” March 11, 2009). The Daily News evidently cares no one iota about the deleterious impact of packing even more riders to the over-capacity subway cars that surely will result if the toll-taxers get their way and impose tolls on the extensions of our city streets known as our free bridges across the East River and Harlem River. Rather than a inefficient, unfair and inequitable tax that will pack in straphangers like Sardines, the Daily News better serves its readers and the public by advocating the sound alternatives advocates by the coalition of civic, business and labor organizations, Keep NYC Free. Please visit to read our proposals and urge our elected officials to embrace these alternatives, which unlike the Ravitch scheme, avoids any reliance on a fare hike. If a few more electeds join Senators Kruger, Diaz, Espada, Parker and Hassell-Thompson, the path to a no-fare-hike, stable revenue for transit plan becomes more likely every day."

And, given the financial dire straights of Mort Zuckerman's News, we don't think that the paper should be fiscally critiquing-and mocking-those lawmakers who proffer alternative, non-toll scenarios. As Real Clear Politics tells us: "The New York Times may be constantly in the news with all its financial woes, but its two tabloid rivals are the ones facing imminent threat of closing down. The more sensational Post probably will survive a bit longer because of Rupert Murdoch's deep pockets, whereas the Daily News may have more trouble riding out the current economic downturn. Its owner Mort Zuckerman just stopped printing his weekly magazine US News & World Report, making it an online-only entity. And with his real estate business taking a beating, Zuckerman may not be able to continue subsidizing the money-losing Daily News."

But perhaps the News, cognizant of the end of the road ahead, feels the need to get all of this vitriol off its chest before night falls on the paper; and the voice of plutocratic reason is silenced forever. We have too many friends who write for the paper to wish its demise, but a change in the company's management wouldn't cause us any real chagrin.