Monday, April 7, 2008

Congestion Pricing Defeated

Even those New Yorkers who do not own cars are feeling a sense of relief that Mayor Bloomberg's Congestion Pricing Plan was stopped in Albany. Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver has indicated that his chamber has chosen not to vote on the measure.
Although there was a lot of talk of arm twisting by the Bloomberg administration, legitimate concerns such as the impact on commercial traffic and retail prices were never addressed. The quality of debate and discussion about this measure has been sadly lacking. There seems to be a certain level of professional courtesy evident in the kid glove treatment that mayor Bloomberg has received from the press as the momentum of reform that began under the Giuliani administration slows to a crawl.
There were hopes when Bloomberg became mayor that he might encourage housing construction and rehabilitation on a sufficient enough level to widen the circle of home ownership to increasing numbers of working class and lower middle class home owners. Sadly , the creative thinking that has fueled the rise of the Bloomberg business empire has not penetrated Gracie Mansion.
Mushrooming parking fines with euphemistic "surcharges" strike fear in the hearts of New Yorkers circling crowded blocks in search of dwindling parking spaces. City politics have stagnated for want of serious philosophical and practical debate about New York's direction and governance.
There have been times in the history of our city when the rest of the state seemed insensitive to our concerns. There was even talk on New York City becoming the 51st state.
Our political choices within New York City have dwindled to the point that we are reaching in despair beyond the five boroughs in search of a voice for our concerns. Particularly in the outer boroughs, there is a sense that the parking police come out of nowhere, that tickets are mailed on time, but that crime reports of shaken and fearful citizens are misfiled and forgotten.
Another dreaded tax has been defeated. The strong arm tactics of the Bloomberg administration have met a fitting defeat in Albany. So now can we talk?

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