Friday, June 22, 2007

Congestive Traffic Failure-II

Taking a page out of our original post on the topic, the NY Post headlined today-"Congestive Failure-Shelly Slams Mike," signally the breakdown of negotiations on the mayor's ambitious plan to tax motorists driving below 86Th Street in Manhattan. In the Post article Silver harshly lashed out at the mayor's efforts, chiding him for "trying to ram the plan through while ignoring anybody else's view."

Silver went on to say that the mayor "insists he is the city," and never properly vetted the plan by taking it to the City Council for review. In addition, Shelly denied to the Post that he had ever signed off on the governor's proposal to set up a congestion commission to devise and implement the congestion pricing scheme; "'I did not agree to that,' Silver said."

In spite of yesterday's failure, Governor Spitzer vowed to keep pressing for a mid-July deal in order to "make New York eligible" for $500 million in federal transportation money. Billy Hammond reports that "all sides are holding out hope" that a deal can be reached. Yet, it appears to us that this likelihood has been made dimmer by the mayor's dramatic party switching.

As the NY Daily News reports this morning, "This was probably not Mayor Bloomberg's idea of bipartisanship when he quit the Republican party: Lawmakers on both sides think it could make it tougher for New York to win federal dollars." Congressman Serrano said it best when, commenting on the president and his party's likely reaction to the mayor's defection he remarked; "Why would they want to help him?"

The prospects of any deal being reached in July are also exacerbated by the apparent bad blood being exhibited between Joe Bruno and the governor. The accusations being tossed don't allow for the kind of atmosphere that is conducive to deal making. Add Shelly into the mix and the situation is truly challenging.

With all of the deadline desperation removed from the equation, however, isn't it time to set up an appropriate framework for reviewing the mayor's plan? The submission of the proposal to a full environmental review would be a good first step. In our view, the more the plan gets scrutinized the more average New Yorkers are going to see it for what it is: a taxing scheme that is an unnecessary burden, one whose transportation goals could be accomplished in a less intrusive yet more effective manner.