Monday, April 07, 2008

For Whom the Bell Doesn't Toll

It looks as if the Mike Bloomberg congestion tax will die an ignominious death in Albany today; and as we would say in the South Bronx, "Que lastima!" As the NY Post is reporting this morning, some of the last minute changes forwarded in the Assembly have been given the cold shoulder by His Petulance: "The city's congestion-pricing proposal is effectively dead - short of a "miracle" - after Mayor Bloomberg yesterday said he was done making changes to it.
Bloomberg has been pushing for passage of the plan by today's deadline for $354 million in federal transportation money. But Assembly Democrats have warned in recent days that they would not support congestion pricing without significant changes. "If the mayor is saying take it or leave it, my guess is we're going to leave it because we've raised substantial questions that haven't been addressed," said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the Westchester Democrat who has led the opposition."

If this transpires, than we'll have another example of how the mayor's political skills have fallen short as he travels up past the Tappan Zee Bridge. In his defiance, the mayor did let loose this funny line: "The time for changes has long come and passed," the mayor said. "You can't write complex legislation that has enormous impact on the city for generations [in the 11th hour]. "I'm not going to be a part of that kind of legislation, and I don't think the Assembly or the Senate or the governor wants to be," the mayor said."

This from someone who originally tried to bum rush everyone with a deadline that turned out to be not so much of one, and someone who tried to do so without giving his colleagues in government any real chance to vet the proposal. Payback is, as they say, a bitch. Which is not to say that the plan that passed the city council is any good. As the old saying goes, the mayor and his allies sought synthesis, but all they achieved is composite error.

As the Post says in its editorial this morning, moving rapidly away from its earlier support of the concept; "Indeed, the proposal that emerged from a contentious City Council vote last week would create what's plainly an unworkably complex and often inequitable system...The plain fact is that congestion pricing would amount to a serious new tax on city residents and businesses. Such a tax isn't always ill advised, but it requires public confidence that it will both be levied fairly and serve a compelling public purpose. Without that certainty, the best intentions only serve to undermine confidence in government. Sadly, congestion pricing as it now stands doesn't cut it. Mike's lofty vision may or may not have been an idea whose time has come.
But this plan deserves to die."