Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obsessive Compulsion

What is there to make of the obsessive compulsive behavior over at the editorial offices of the New York Daily News? By our count, yesterday's editorial on the MTA-and the roughing up of the state senate-is at least the seventh that the paper has run on the subject. Here's Johnny One Note at work: "Good morning to our readers on city subways and buses. We regret to inform you that state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith will today start the legal process for raising your fares and cutting your service."

Well, even the most obtuse News reader should have gotten the point, so why the continued onslaught? As someone speculated with us, the answer may lie with the omnipresent Mike Bloomberg-someone who has been very low profile when it comes to the toll issue; as the News reported yesterday.

Perhaps, as with the school governance issue, the mayor is using a sophisticated surrogate strategy to deal with his bete noir-the Byzantine Albany labyrinth; after all, his outspoken advocacy of tolls would be-as our uncle once coined the phrase-The Kiss of Death. That's just how popular Typhoid Mike is in the state capitol.

So is it out of the realm of possibility to imagine that Morticia of 33rd Street-hemorrhaging money, and bleeding the News to death's door-would be a willing beard for Mike the Mogul? Can anyone Karaoke to that old Fontana Bass song, Rescue Me? But what's most egregious in this incessant bleating, is the fact that the paper fails in its responsibility to hold the MTA accountable in any way for the approaching "doomsday."

Here's the familiar refrain: "The numbers are no joke. They will start to get nailed down today when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority finance committee votes. And the MTA has no choice but to approve the hikes, thanks to Smith, Skelos and their members in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Fast approaching is the day the MTA board votes to close subway lines and bus routes, again thanks to Smith, Skelos & Co. They've been warned for months that the region's mass transit is nearing doomsday. While Gov. Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have backed a rescue that entails imposing a modest payroll tax and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges, Smith and Skelos have shown no such courage."

Haven't we heard this all before? What could be a more toxic asset than the MTA? And what could be more irresponsible than a continuing blank check for the prodigal agency, which went ahead yesterday with its fare increases and service cuts? Even many transit riders living in the districts of the unholy senators opposing tolls manage to see this more clearly than Morticia-as the NY Times revealed yesterday:

"But interviews with residents in these districts revealed that the holdout legislators have tapped into a concern shared by many of their constituents, even among those where it might be least unexpected: transit riders. And while toll opponents made up a spirited minority among straphangers interviewed in recent days, their views stood out, because they were both unexpected and passionately held."

And some riders exhibited more acumen than the entire News editorial board: "Several subway riders said they opposed both tolls and higher fares and expressed a deep distrust of the transportation authority. “The whole organization is very inefficient,” said Boris Gertsberg, 33, a software developer who lives in Mr. Kruger’s district in Brooklyn and takes the subway daily to his office in Manhattan. He said he did not drive a car but was still against tolls. “I don’t think looking at hiking fares or putting tolls is the right way to solve the budgetary crisis they’re in,” he said."

So let the News continue its special-and suborned?-pleading. Kudos to the senate holdouts who rightfully focus attention on the malfeasance of the MTA; and who refuse to bailout the agency unless it is radically transformed.