I commented elsewhere back in March that Mayor Bloomberg was pushing a "Congestion Pricing" plan, in which drivers entering mid-town Manhattan during business hours would be required to pay a toll. Although $8.00 was the number being thrown around, the exact price and a number of other details were still up in the air and up for discussion. Bloomberg had mounted a full-court press and managed to have the plan approved by a bi-partisan vote in the City Council of 30-20.
This is one of those plans that I think was generally a good idea. Mid-town traffic is ridiculous here. It doesn't move. For years, the city has tried to figure out ways to get stores to schedule truck deliveries during the nighttime hours without success. They push free Park & Ride lots on the outskirts and people still drive into town. We're not there yet, but Manhattan is approaching peak capacity for dealing with traffic. Sooner or later, something's gonna have to give.
So anyway, a few things you need to know about what would have been involved with this legislation. In no particular order:
-The legislation stated that 100% of revenues garnered would have been poured back into Public Transportation.
-If it had been passed by a certain date, the city would have qualified for almost $350 million dollars in Federal Funding to implement the plan.
-The (newly minted at the time) Governor and the Republican Majority Leader of the State Assembly both supported the plan.
However, Sheldon Silver (D), State Assembly Speaker is the guy who schedules votes. Pres. Bush may think he's the Decider, but compared to Silver, he's a total slacker. Silver decided the issue wouldn't come before the Assembly for a vote and TaaaDaaa...legislation dead. Talk about power. I have no idea whether or not this plan had a chance in the Assembly but we'll never know now, will we. Sheldon decides no on gets to weigh in and kills the thing all by his lonesome.
What else is going on locally? For as long as anyone can remember, NYC has issued parking placards to certain people. Cops get one to put on their dashboard and park pretty much anywhere they want. Judges park near courthouses. Teachers park near schools. Work for any City or State agency? There's street space near your office that prohibit parking there if you don't have the right placard.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I used to be the beneficiary of this privilege. Until a couple of years ago, I could get a "Scouting Permit" which allowed me to park anywhere other than fire hydrants, bus stops and spaces reserved for some other agency. "No parking except trucks loading and unloading"? That was fair game. Parking meters? You betcha and don't worry about feeding the damned thing. "No parking 8am - 6pm"? That was fine too. In theory, this was a great thing. My job was to be running all over town to look at any number of places in a day. And if I was doing my job right, I wouldn't be staying in one place for long periods of time. In practice, it got horribly abused.
First, the Teamster Captain got one. That made sense. He's gotta drive all over town to get his job done. Then the Props and Costumes buyers got them. Well, they're running all over town too. That's reasonable. Then a bunch of folks who never leave the office got them too. They'd park for 14 hours per day in the same spot right near the Production Office. Some buildings that had multiple production offices would have 20-30 cars with scouting permits parked in the immediate vicinity. The folks who live in those neighborhoods complained and about 2 years ago, our beloved scouting permits were revoked.
So, now, every production needs to put a rather significant sum into the budget to accommodate parking lots and meters. A few less people get cars. Scouting takes a bit longer because instead of just rolling into the nearest clear spot, we've got to look for a garage and wait for the attendant to take, and then later retrieve you car. And don't forget, in Manhattan, it's not at all unusual for a parking garage to charge $20 or more for the first hour or fraction. That adds up when you're trying to scout 10 places every day. But we've survived.
Anyway, when he realized that the city had issued almost 81,000 parking placards, Bloomberg decided that was way too many. In the last year, over 25,000 of those permits have been revoked. And everybody's whining. Loudly.
Tough Shit! Take the fucking subway. You work regular hours in the same place every day. It's not that hard. If Location Scouts who spend every day going everywhere, sometimes nowhere near the subway can deal with it, so can you!
Last but not least. A lot of people are wondering if the latest Obama trying to deal with Rev. Wright episode is the kiss of death for his campaign. I'm not sure if anyone was asking this before the News Anchors starting asking it, but now they are. (As an aside, does it annoy anyone else that so much of the news consists of Anchors asking questions and then not answering them, because either nobody knows the answer or because no one else even thought of the question before they screamed it across the country?) Anyway, I happen to think that Obama has done a fine job of dealing with Rev. Wright. I said before that I thought his original response was impressive, appropriate and inspirational. I also think that his recent escalation was the appropriate response to Wright opening his big fat mouth. I don't know what he was trying to achieve but he certainly wasn't helping Obama any. At any rate, I don't think Obama was reacting too late as Clinton has suggested. I think he was reacting at the proper time to the landscape as it existed.
That having been said, I'm biased. I like the guy and I'm convinced he's our best choice. There are a lot of folks who, for whatever reason, are never going to vote for Obama. And there are a lot of other people who are really on the fence. Obviously, those are the people he should be speaking to now. Be definition, we expect Presidents to be able to deal with tough situations. Obama is in a tough situation. I hope he's able to look at this as an opportunity to show us all how well he deals with tough situations. That would be impressive.
I just looked at the clock and realized I'm running late, so I'm going to publish this without proofing it. Please excuse typos, grammar-killing and any otherwise stupid sentences.
Talk to you later.