Friday, December 07, 2007

Congestion Tax Spinning into the Rinse Cycle

In a prescient piece in Newsday, the paper's Dan Janison does a neat premortem on the congestion tax proposal. As he points out, in their desperation to salvage at least something from this political debacle, proponents of the tax are now latching on to the idea of tolling the East River bridges: "New York City's plan to charge motorists in Manhattan faces so many roadblocks on so many fronts that critics seem increasingly assured of its demise. But before this drama ends, you may see an old idea revived in a new form: first-ever tolls on vehicles crossing the East River bridges."

Kinda like grasping at straws, isn't it? If the idea of a congestion tax is taking a beating in the polls, why not propose bridge tolls? Or maybe, constrict the area of applicability. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky-a prime target of the advocates-takes the measure of this measure: "Lipstick on a pig," snipes Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), a member of the state commission created to study Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal. "Twenty-six less blocks of a bad idea is still a bad idea."

Brodsky goes on to eulogize the whole scheme: "The mayor's plan is collapsing -- on the merits and on the politics," Brodsky said. "On the merits, because they don't have the ability to do mass-transit improvements up front, they haven't solved the neighborhood impact problems, they haven't solved the fundamental fairness problems of charging access to public streets. On the politics, even some people who support the concept of congestion pricing are not supporting or unable to support the mayor's plan."

And collapsing it is, no matter how many ads the bicycle helmets take out, or what manner of ad hominen attacks they conjure up, it all amounts to last ditch desperation from elite progressives and their moneyed enablers who have contempt for the average middle class motorist who doesn't but into their bucolic vision. Here's our Walter McCaffrey's take: "The fact that they're now trying to jury-rig the proposal suggests that they recognize that it is not going anywhere," says Walter McCaffrey, a private consultant who represents the group "Keep New York City Congestion Tax Free."

So, if this analysis is correct, we will be looking at another significant Doctoroff fiasco. Janison gets the last word on this: "As Doctoroff departs, he leaves a legacy of complicated projects that ran aground -- the 2012 Olympics bid, the airport-Ground Zero land swap and the West Side Stadium.If opponents on Long Island and in the five boroughs and the northern suburbs have their way, congestion pricing will soon join that list."