Friday, July 27, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

The Q-Poll was released yesterday and it revealed that we are indeed a tale of two cities. What the poll found, as this was consistent with all of the previous polls, was that the folks outside of Manhattan do not approve of congestion taxing. Leaving the Manhattan numbers aside, what we find is that New Yorkers disaprove of the mayor's plan by a 58.25-34.75 margin-a landside by any poltical calculation.

The poll, however, does go further and asks repondents how they would feel if the congestion tax was used to defray any increase in the subway fare. The response? No surprise really-the support shifts to a margin of 58-36 in favor. What does this kind of question mean, especially in the context of yesterday's news that the fare increase that's being planned has no correlation with the mayor's tax proposal?

The question really has no place in a non-partisan poll because there has been no explicit correlation of the two policies-aside from the disinformation clack in the mayor's amen chorus. Suppose, however, the Q folks had asked what their feeling would be about congestion taxing if it would be imposed along with a fare increase? The numbers would skew even further against the congestion tax.

Unfortunately, the Crain's people in today's update don't provide this kind of insight, and take leave of their reportorial role, joining the choral ranks by headling the poll story thusly: "New York City Backs Transit Plan for Transit Funding..." Say what?With all due respect to Crain's, its headline is misleading and plays into the supportive line that has crept into the magazine's coverage of this issue.

The fare is going up because the MTA's entire funding mechanism is out of whack. So what we have here then, is a misleading poll question being obfuscated even further by a misleading report of what the poll's findings actually say. New Yorkers are too smart for this kind of spinning.

All of this takes a somewhat back seat to the passage of the commission bill in the legislature yesterday. This certainly was no shock since leadership supported the measure that they themselves brokered. What we did find interesting was the number of Senators who felt that they had to vote No, on what really was only a procedural vote.

Of course, nothing could top the report that Senator Bill Perkins, in voicing his opposition to the Bloomberg tax, called both Bloomberg and Doctoroff "'rats,' out to impose their own plan on the 17 member body..." Since Perkins used to chair the Rat Committee in the City Council we have to say that he qualifies as an expert in this mater-and we always defer to such expertise.