Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daly's Gangrene

Talk about an obsession-and more piling on; that's what we make of Michael Daly's shrill column attacking the three amigos, senators Kruger, Espada and Diaz, today in the NY Daily News: "Does the fare go up or do we establish tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges? It is one or the other. Anybody with any feeling for this city would say it has to be the tolls. We are not a metropolis of automobiles like Los Angeles or Houston or those other burgs beyond the Hudson."

So, in a supposed zero-sum game-and it's a good thing we're not talking about intellect here-the only choice for Daly is a Hobson's one: tolls or fare hikes. And in the process, he joins with Morticia in attacking the pols who beg to differ: "Which is why nearly every major figure in the city - politicians, labor leaders, community activists, even patrician Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members - support the so-called Ravitch plan to minimize a fare hike and stave off service cuts by charging motorists who cross into Manhattan. The unfortunate exception is the "Gang of Three," a trio of state senators from the city: Carl (Cars) Kruger of Brooklyn, along with Ruben (Road Rally) Diaz Sr. and Pedro (Escalade) Espada, both of the Bronx."

And off he goes, losing brain cells in direct proportion to the decibel levels of invective he spews: "The three began the year threatening to go over to the Republicans and scuttle the Democratic majority if they did not get what they wanted. Diaz was worried about gay marriage. Espada imagined he might be majority leader. Kruger wanted - and got - the chairmanship of the Finance Committee, along with a special budget. The word for that stuff is "shakedown." Then, the odious three went from their shakedown to opposing tolls for a few thousand motorists at the expense of 4 million straphangers. The word for that is treason. And they are not just betraying the city."

No Michael, treason is when billionaires conspire to overturn the will of the people and re-install royalty in City Hall-all done with Daly apparently experiencing a severe case of lockjaw. So odiousness is closer to home than Daly realizes-or perhaps he does, but values the paycheck over the genuine sense of outrage that a real populist-and not someone merely mimicking the popular will-would exhibit when democracy was being suborned.

The reality here is that there are any number of ways-short of tolls-that could be devised to save the transit system. Alternative funding mechanisms are available that wouldn't burden every single bodeguero in Manhattan who travels almost every day over to Jetro on Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn to purchase merchandise; not to mention the thousands of commuters who really have little access to decent transit in their outlying neighborhoods.

But the Daly's of the world, feasting on the carrion of their wealthy benefactors, need to resort to obloquy in the place of reasoned debate. And in the process, the jackals at the MTA are able to sit back as mentally challenged toadies divert attention away from their years of malfeasance.