Monday, July 23, 2007

In Liu of Common Sense

In this week's feature article in the Gotham Gazette, a publication that has genertally been supportive of the mayor's tax scheme on congestion, there is some discussion about the role of the City Council in the upcoming battle. As the GG says; "The compromise changes the political equation by bringing the City Council into the picture...While City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has endorsed the plan, her members seem largely divided."

According to the Gazette, there are 11 council supporters and nine opponents, with 30 members undecided-a large contingent given the plan's notoriety. As Council member Avella tells the Gazette; "'I'm surprised that more council members aren't talking...the council should play a role.'" The problem here is that a number of members have gladly received the mayor's municipal largess-at time when it appeared that no stand actually needed to be taken. Now, with a council vote interposed, it is going to get uncomfortable for some council folks when their constituents start to make their feelings known.

John Liu, however feels that most council members will come around if it means that the outlying neighborhoods will get express bus service-to which we reply, let's see the buses first. And anyway, why does additional bus service have to be contingent on yet another tax? Why doesn't Liu first consider whether we need to add another tax to, in effect, susidize the inefficiency of the MTA.

As Transportation Chair, Liu should have been more aggressive at holding this dysfunctional agency's feet to the fire. Perhaps then, the express buses he longingly hopes for, would have already been provided. This battle should be about the proper care and funding of a mass transit infrastructure-something that can be done fairly without any new tax on the middle class.

Perhaps it is Liu who will come around when he realizes that supporting additional taxes on outer borough residents is not the best platform to launch a city wide race from-no matter how much money you have raised. We'll see if common sense prevails here-after the councilman's position gets wide circulation.

The idea that congestion taxing is fair-an idea that owes its strength to a distributive concept of fairness that always sees equity in taxing the middle class homeowner-fails to consider the impact that the overall tax burden already has in a city that too often leads the way in the tax burden it places on all of its citizens and businesses.