Saturday, July 07, 2007

Congestion Fear and Loathing

We continue to find good reasons why the mayor's congestion tax scheme is desperately in need of some sunlight. As more and more reasons are put forward in support of the plan-rationales that all come with hefty price tags-we can't help but wonder who are the folks that are doing all of the accounting. You see, there's no possible way that the congestion tax can fund massive mass transit building, while at the same time, generate enough money for the MTA to hold the line on the $2 fare.

Now we find that the League of Conservation Voters is about to launch a mailing campaign-on top of the phony asthma-prevention one sponsored by the NYC Partnership-calling on voters to support the mayor's plan in order to keep the fare at its current level. As the NY Daily News reports this morning, "The New York League of Conservation Voters is mailing flyers to 350,000 voters calling on them to tell their legislators to support the plan."

What are these one-issue advocates doing here? First the business moguls lecture us on the environment, than the environmentalists hector us about subway and bus fares. All of the confusion can be explained by the fact that the mayor's pollster has to be orchestrating the whole phony coalition campaign. Next we'll see REBNY calling on New Yorkers to recycle more and turn off their excess electricity so that we can all help the mayor to save the planet.

And the phoniest thing of all in this political theater of the absurd is the leader of this crusade. There is nothing more disconcerting, or dishonest, than seeing a jet taking, helicopter-riding, luxury boat-owning, billionaire leading some kind of crusade against global warming.

What's even more hilarious-and we got to give Bloomberg credit for creativity here-is watching the environmental justice street activists and the trust fund environmentalists march arm in arm with some of this city's most ruthless business tycoons. Tom Wolfe couldn't have concocted this whole thing any better than the mayor's national advance team has. Add to this farrago the editorial muñecos, and you have fantastic high comedy.

What you don't have is good public policy. The mayor has done a great job at manufacturing all of these political illusions but, fortunately, it doesn't appear that he has convinced a good many state legislators-and Speaker Silver in particular, that his plan makes sense. Add to this, the over-the-top feud between the governor and the majority leader, and it begins to look like-just as with the auto-dependent West Side stadium-that the mayor's going to need to come up with Plan B. We can't wait. But a number of outer borough electeds who sold their support to the mayor are going to have some explaining to do.