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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Belmont Community Left Begging For Scraps

- New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is getting absolutely reamed in the press here. He's being accused of killing Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan by not allowing it to come to the floor for a vote. (For you out-of-towners, Mayor Mike wanted to charge drivers $8 to enter much of Manhattan on weekdays; the city was in line for a $350 million grant from the federal government to help implement the technology had it been passed by Monday.) The Times led its editorial with: Rarely does one man have a chance to do so much harm to so many, and concluded it by suggesting that he was unworthy of his office.

From what I've read, Silver really didn't have nearly enough votes to pass the measure, which was opposed by representatives, mostly Democrats, from the outer boroughs and the surrounding commuter suburbs. In addition, Bloomberg didn't help himself with his threats to fund campaigns against those who voted against the plan. Danny Hakim wrote on the Empire Zone the other day that his reputation among Democratic lawmakers is almost as bad — almost — as that of his recently humbled Upper East Side neighbor, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer!! (exclamation points mine)

And besides, even though Senator Bruno stood firmly behind his deep-pocketed pal (what, really, were the chances that Bruno would have opposed the plan, Bloomberg's highest priority in this, his second and final term?), the measure wasn't even assured of passing the Senate; the Democrats refused to even come to the floor in a procedural dispute. Bruno accused them of "acting very Spitzer like!!" (exclamation points mine)

But even if you can't pin this solely on Silver, the Speaker has been credited with singlehandedly killing the Mayor's plan to build a stadium on the West Side which would have enhanced the city's Olympics bid, and a commuter tax which had generated billions for the city.

He also killed slots at Belmont, which were favored by Spitzer and Bruno. Even though the budget remains unresolved as the Governor and legislators struggle to figure out how to pay for a 4.4% spending increase amidst fears that the revenue projections are too high given the recession, the issue seems stone cold dead. I imagine it could have raised $250 million or so in the form of a license fee in fairly short order, and it's my contention that it would constitute a better location. And the community is left trying to get a few million bucks for the cost of police, roads and the education of the children of backstretch grooms.

The aid, estimated to be far less than the $20 million community-redevelopment fund sought last year, would also help reduce the impact of not having slot-like gambling machines at Belmont, which are to be installed at Aqueduct racetrack in Ozone Park. [Newsday]

5 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaker Sheldon Silver is also singlehandedly responsible for not allowing a vote on Jessica's Law.

This guy is bad news!

forego is my witness said...

WHY did it have to be $8?

If they had said $4, $5, I bet there wouldn't have been half the uproar.

But Bloomy + Co. killed it right out of the gate with $8.

Anonymous said...

It loses money at $8 bucks, will need to be tripled to actually pay for itself. This is what happened in London, from which the model was derived.

A just plain stupid idea, with zero benefit.

Anyone that drives in midtown during rush hour has to drive, is being reimbursed for the cost, or is rich and therefore does not care. Not too many families joy riding down fifth avenue at 9am on a Tuesday.

So it will not reduce congestion, it will potentially make it worse in other locations, and it will not actually make money for the city, so why bother?

Because Bloomberg wants it for his legacy as a "green" mayor, so he can win the environmental vote in his next election.

Just like he was giving away real estate on the west side to benefit his buddies.

Silver is certainly a stubborn man, but sometimes it actually benefits the city.

Anonymous said...

So the "Belmont community" needs a state handout that "would help reduce the impact of not having slot-like gambling machines at Belmont"

Install slots at Belmont and I'm sure Skelos will want $$$ to reduce the impact of having slot-like gambling machines at Belmont.

and are the "children of backstretch grooms" a class of citizens, or non-citizens, that are not entitled to a free public education?

cheers, chris

alan said...

>>Anyone that drives in midtown during rush hour has to drive, is being reimbursed for the cost, or is rich and therefore does not care. Not too many families joy riding down fifth avenue at 9am on a Tuesday.

Agreed, and remember that under the proposal, drivers who paid a toll to enter the city would have had that count against the $8 fee. So the commuters driving in from the affluent suburbs would not have felt the charge at all, at least those who don't bother to take the free bridges, which is probably a high percentage. Rather, it would have been the poor shnooks in the outer boroughs who do use those bridges; and worse yet, for their businesses which would have been charged $21 for commercial vehicles.