Brooklyn Assemblyman “Protects Families” From Pricing

colton.jpgRichard Brodsky may have lost on Monday, but today his colleagues in Albany are parroting his talking points. A tipster sent us this constituent letter from Assemblyman William Colton, who represents Midwood, Bensonhurst and Gravesend in Brooklyn. Incidentally, a glance at this morning’s map reveals that the City Council members who represent those neighborhoods, Simcha Felder and Domenic Recchia, voted in favor of pricing.

We apologize in advance for subjecting you to the barrage of misinformation that follows.

Dear Friend,

I do not support the congestion pricing plan which has been passed by
the City Council.

The biggest problem with this congestion pricing proposal is that it
sets a very bad precedent by setting aside the SEQRA requirements for
an environmental impact study before undertaking a major project. The
requirement that an Environmental Impact Study be completed before a
major project is approved is critical to protecting people from the
consequences of bad projects.

I believe the refusal to do such an EIS is because this proposal does
not really achieve a reduction of congestion but rather seeks to
impose a regressive tax on families. It fails to include elements
which might be effective at reducing the environmental impacts of
traffic congestion, such as favoring green low gas and hybrid
vehicles, encouraging cars with two and three riders, making a fee
progressive with income, targeting black cars and taxis (which equal
40% of all cars in the Manhattan congestion zone), and enforcing
higher fines for illegal and double parking in congestion zone,
eliminating the credit for tolls (which will exempt most of the
congestion fee for New Jersey and Conn. drivers), establishing some
form of rationing such as prohibiting vehicles with odd or even
license plates to odd or even days, thereby encouraging car pooling, etc.

But the real goal of the proposal is to provide a new revenue source
from the middle class and working poor. Even worse, the failure of
the plan to require such additional revenues be used to make public
transit more accessible and affordable for the families of our
neighborhoods instead of allowing it to fund major capital projects
favored by developers is hypocritical and dooms any hope for making
public transit more accessible and affordable or for any real hope of
a reduction in congestion.

In fact passage of this plan will almost guarantee a large fare
increase because whatever monies which are given to the MTA will not
be used to pay for public transit improvements but instead will be
used to collateralize borrowing which will result in higher future
interest payments which public transit users will need to repay with
higher fares. Therefore it will not encourage people to use cars
since use of mass transit will be almost as expensive. The congestion
fee will impact on those with low and middle incomes and will have
little impact on the wealthy who will simply use it as a business deduction.

There are many more arguments against this plan but these are some
very major ones which require me to vote no in order to protect the
families of our neighborhood.