Wednesday, March 11, 2009

News Extolling Kruger

The NY Daily News, the paper for whom the congestion tax was the highest standard of public policy excellence, is continuing its campaign of trying to, well, throw the three amigos-and two other senators-under the bus for their principled opposition to bridge tolls: "If you're among the 109,000 southern Brooklyn subway riders, be warned: your state senator, Carl Kruger, is engineering drastic fare hikes and service cuts for you. If you're among the 123,000 southern Bronx subway riders, be warned: your senator, Ruben Diaz, is pushing you toward the same awful fate. The same is true if you're among 111,400 subway riders in Sen. Pedro Espada's central Bronx district; 78,000 in Sen. Kevin Parker's central Brooklyn district, and 56,000 in Ruth Hassell-Thompson's northern Bronx district. Kruger, Diaz, Espada, Parker and Hassell-Thompson have emerged as the leading opponents of rescuing the MTA from collapse by imposing a tax on payrolls and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges."

This is, count them, the sixth editorial that the paper has run in its attempt to tar baby the opposition-and present the toll hike as the inevitable result of what it presents as a zero-sum game. Absent in any of this advocacy and excoriation is there any recognition that the MTA is a dysfunctional agency whose cries of poverty need to be seen in order to be believed; as with a forensic accounting of its books and practices.

For instance, just how many over there are making better than six figure salaries? How much property could be sold to create a temporary respite while the agency's finances are gone over with a fine tooth comb? None of this is within the tolling purview of the News; a paper that seemingly delights in the anticipation of socking it to city motorists.

Neither does the News explore any alternative funding mechanisms-as Kruger has done. Here's his comments to the Politicker: ""Deadlines are arbitrary dates set by people that have things to hide," State Senator Carl Kruger, who is adamantly opposed to tolls, told me. His idea to generate revenue for the M.T.A.: use bridges over the East and Harlem River as collateral, borrow $4.25 billion against them, give $1 billion to the M.T.A. and invest the remainder in the state's common retirement fund and use the return - it's "conservatively" pegged at 6.5 percent - to pay off the bonds."The most recent proposal about creating a public benefit authority: it's met with stonewall silence," Kruger claimed. "There are other proposals on the table as well and they too have been met with silence. I don't feel, nor will I accept the fact that there's linkage from one piece of this so-called bailout is married to another piece of the bailout."

So instead we get the bogarting bum rush from the taxers-limousine riders from Manhattan who now cry crocodile tears for straphangers-all in order to hide their shameless defense of the malfeasant public authority, It's time that Malcolm Smith called Silver's bluff-and the MTA's anti-motorist and small business plan. There's a better alternative out there than tolling all of the bridges.