In yesterday's Daily Politics Blog Liz highlights the unusual Council vitriol generated by the decision of Speaker Quinn to stack the congestion commission with ringers. The leader of the attack was Councilman Lew Fidler who strongly charcterized the Kangaroo Commission as a "scam."
Lew's money quote: It's wrong to have a commission that is clearly a scam. and is not going to consider alternatives to the mayor's plan...I usually keep my negative counsel private, but this is a very public issue..." What Fidler is saying, and what we're hearing privately from a number of council members, is that the lack of fairness in the make-up of the body is going to seriously erode the commission's credibility when it finally makes a determination in this matter. In addition, the Speaker's choices here, as well as the selection of Marc Shaw as the commission chair, indicates the extent to which the mayor's heavy hand has played in stacking the deck with his own kangaroos.
This is what's known as being too clever by half. In not trying to at least appear to be even-handed, the mayor and his minions are paving the way for legislators to ignore the commissions "findings." In fact, the interrelationships on the panel-and the less than six degrees of separation between the panelists and the mayor-threaten to give incest a bad name.
Dissatisfaction is not limited, however, to the scamifold ways the panelists bring their own ground axes to the discussion. As the Wonkster reports, citing the editorial in the Staten Island Advance, other council members are upset that there are no representatives from either the Bronx or Staten Island ("A Snub, By Any Measure").
This is no minor issue. As we have commented in another context (the fight over the Tottenville Wal-Mart), traffic congestion and pollution is a major issue on the Island, one that is so strong that it really made our successful fight against the Walmonster much easier.
The exclusion of anyone from Staten Island or the Bronx (where asthma rates are highest) only further underscores that there is no serious city wide approach to congestion/pollution in the current congestion plan; and it's highly unlikely that the commission, with its collection of the like-minded, will venture too far from the orthodoxy demanded of it.