Tuesday, June 05, 2007

REBNY Green? It Should be Red-Faced

As Liz Benjamin reports this morning the Real Estate Board has donned its traditional environmental garb and is parading in favor of the mayor's congestion pricing plan. Well, maybe traditional isn't the appropriate description of the organization's new found fondness for the greening of New York. Just the same, the entire venture reeks of hypocrisy.

It reminds us of the time, many years ago, when we were working for Assemblyman Luis Nine of the South Bronx. During this period a number of Bronx politicians decided that they would lobby, as a front for Cablevision, for their own cable franchise in the borough. The group, led by Herman Badillo, met in the hospital room of the late Bronx jefe, Ramon Velez (who had until that financially opportune moment been Herman's sworn enemy).

During the discussion, Herman started to lecture the crew about Puerto Rican pride, and how much it would mean to the group to have its own cable franchise. To which Nine, smiling, replied: "You know Herman, whenever I see you waving the Puerto Rican flag, I hold onto my wallet."

In similar fashion, the sight of REBNY waving the green banner, leads me to hold tightly to the old bill fold. Schemes like congestion pricing rarely impact the power lunch folks to any great extent; but they often take a big bite from the lunch pail crowd. It means that everyone not normally seen breakfasting at the Regency should be very afraid of the way in which the proponents of this plan are advocating its passage with such undue haste.