Monday, June 04, 2007

Avoiding Speeding

The mayor has assembled a rather unusual-motley would indeed be an unfair term-coalition of supporters in support of his price congestion tax scheme. We have the usual anti-auto folks at Transportation Alternatives rubbing shoulders with the bien pensants at the NYC Partnership; and the Pooh Bah at REBNY toasting drinks with the socialist minions at NYPIRG.

Quite a crew, and certainly enough of an eclectic bunch to raise any one's suspicions about what they are up to. The NY Times' political blog is reporting that REBNY is preparing to run television commercials in support of the congestion plan, continuing, we suppose, that organization's traditionally strong support of environmental causes.

Which is why we should be extremely careful about the way in which some of the city's editorial boards are pushing to rush the mayor's plan through in the closing days of the current legislative session. Yesterday it was Newsday who urged quick action, and today we find the NY Daily News in lock-step.

Such unanimity for an idea that hasn't really been properly vetted by people who aren't already predisposed to support it, is always a dangerous situation. Especially for the tax payers who aren't really at the table when these great thoughts are being dispensed by our Philosopher King at City Hall.

What we propose is that the entire idea should be submitted to the city's ULURP process for community board and city council hearings. Let's get some of these controversial ideas in front of the public that will be forced to pay for them, and see if they can be convinced that they will be paying less with the $8 fee than they are currently, but unknowingly, paying for their current commute

After all, this putative traffic congestion relief will impact the environments of scores of neighborhoods both within and outside of the congestion price zone. Maybe its just me, but whenever big business folks start to talk about saving the environment I immediately begin to get a tight hold on my wallet.

And when editorial writers begin to cite figures directly cribbed from advocacy group press packets, then you just have to know that there is a compelling need for a great deal more scrutiny than the current PlaNYC is getting. So we say, hats off to the Assembly (holding hearings this Friday) that is taking a cautious approach to all of this saber rattling. A more careful review of congestion pricing may just reveal an alternative reality than the one that the spinmeisters are putting forth on all fronts.