Thursday, August 16, 2007

Do You Love Me? Paradise by the Washington Monument

As we have been commenting, there have been questions raised, primarily by the intrepid Brodsky, as to whether the federal government has actually committed itself to the mayor's traffic congestion tax scheme. The question is not without relevance, since the state legislation mandating the establishment of the congestion commission says that New York must have a commitment of at least $200 million from the feds or else all bets are off.

Now as the NY Times reports today, in the Brodsky letter to Mary Peters, the assemblyman asks the secretary to clarify the terms of the $354 million commitment package. As the Times points out, "Mr. Brodsky said that a new state law that sets up a commission to study the mayor's plan required a firm commitment of $200 million from federal; officials by October."

Now we doubt that the commitment issue will prove to be any kind of a deal breaker but, as the Times says, it does give further indication of the less than enthusiastic response Speaker Silver has to all of this. The Speaker's stance is underscored in a trenchant blog post up at LoHo 10002.

As the bloggers here point out, the Speaker's rope-a-dope strategy has been to use the mayor's own energy against him; and the insistence on due process is just the beginning, it seems to us, of death by a thousand cuts. The money quote: "He simply ignored the urgency, refused to respond to the implied threat of the loss of federal monies and read his own script instead. And the script, like I said, was all about process."

The Speaker's stand is, however, beyond a simple process argument. Shelly has an intimate knowledge of policy minutia, and understands just how all of these mass transit discussions need to transcend the mayor's narrow, self-interested, perspective. As LoHo observes about Shelly: "Silver simply reminded us we may not have the needed infrastructure in place to support 6.3% worth of social engineering. And he's probably right. Remember geographically there's no similarity between the London pricing plan and our own proposed plan. The Manhattan vision is huge, compared to London's."

All of which brings us back to our original observation that this is far from a done deal. And if the devil's in the details, we think that the mayor's gonna have a helluva time getting this lemon squeezed.