Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hey Big Spenders

The Observer's Matt Scheurman does a good job at detailing the incredible outpouring of resources, garnered from extremely disparate bedfellows, that the mayor's PLaNYC has generated. As Jimmy Durante once said, "Everybody's getting into the act." The NYC Partnership, a well-known environmental advocacy group, has ponied up over a million dollars for educational outreach and expects proponents to raise close to $3 million to convince New Yorkers that the congestion tax is a good idea.

While, on the other side,"Opponents have hired Richard Lipsky, a tireless street fighter who has taken on many quixotic causes over the years..." (Hey Matt, we have one a number of these so-called quixotic battles) So what's new? As Scheurman points out, in spite of all of the hot air coming from the well-financed propaganda effort, most folks in the outer boroughs still oppose the congestion tax; and even the advocate's push poll couldn't get a majority in favor.

So it's the well-financed elites and their new found incongruous friends in the environmental community (the same folks who years ago came down to city hall in masks to protest the incinerator plan) who are pitted against the homeowners and tax payers of the city's neighborhoods. As the anti-tax spokesperson Walter McCaffrey told the Observer, "You have a message that resonates with the public, and their message is not resonating."

The one person who gets it is Speaker Silver. He alone is exhibiting the kind of skepticism that a grandiose tax plan needs to be subjected to. In fact, the whole mayoral effort reminds us of Tom Lehrer's song about National Brotherhood Week, where "Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek-to-cheek..." (Clark was the infamous Southern racist lawman).

What else can we say about the Partnership, NYPIRG, REBNY, NRDC and EDF all dancing, in effect, cheek-to-cheek. The coalition assembled only serves to raise a great deal of questions about the motivations, policy goals and ulterior motives of some of the group's more powerful members. One thing is for certain: good government is at the bottom of the motivational chart.