Analyzing the Council Vote
April 2nd, 2008

The issue of congestion pricing moves on to Albany but observers here continue to slice and dice the Council vote. How did the Council come to pass it?

Maybe it was on the merits of the plan: reducing congestion, cutting pollution, raising money for transit.

But, this is politics after all.

So writing in the Daily News, Juan Gonzalez chalks it up to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s raw political muscle. Once again the man who claims not to be a politician demonstrated he can get down and play hardball politics with the best (worst?) of them.

“No one could recall such a naked combination of arm-twisting and pork-barrel handouts to pressure City Council members to approve” congestion pricing, Gonzalez writes. According to the columnist, Bloomberg promised goodies for districts whose representatives voted yes (ferries, approval of long-delayed projects) and, showing you can never underestimate the power of a billionaire, promised to hold fund-raisers for candidates who voted yes.

Council Speaker Quinn (a probable mayoral candidate) helped, acting in Gonzalez’s description “like a slavish deputy sheriff to the mayor.” According to Gonzalez she added two pro congestion-pricing members to the Committee on State and Federal Legislation, which considered the measure. To put it delicately, committee chair Maria Baez played a somewhat passive role for much of the hearing, barely saying anything and deferring to Quinn.

Using a map of the council vote from the Pratt Center, Streetblog looks at who voted how and compares that with the number of people in the district who commute to work: “Bill de Blasio’s Brooklyn district, number 39, sticks out like a sore thumb, as does Mathieu Eugene’s, number 40. Sandwiched between representatives who did vote for pricing, de Blasio speaks for a district where 3.7 percent of workers commute by car to the congestion zone, according to the 2000 Census. In Eugene’s district, the figure is just 2.4 percent.” The blog also cites Peter Vallone Jr. and Diana Reyna, who voted no — even though they represent districts that, the blog says, “are slated to get significant transit enhancements.”

Looking ahead to the vote in Albany, the Daily Politics offers a preview of what political consideration could play out there. (She reports Assembly Democrats plan to consider the charges today.)

And now for shameless self-promotion: For a discussion of the issue on Channel 13’s New York Voices program, featuring, among other things, an interview with me, click here.

By on April 2, 2008, 12:13 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Environment,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Analyzing the Council Vote”

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