Has Richard Brodsky Ever Paid a Subway Fare?
Television news legend Gabe Pressman hosted a debate on congestion pricing between Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and Partnership for New York City President Kathy Wylde on Friday. The transcript is online at WNBC and it's worth a read if you want to see Wylde catch Brodsky in a couple of small but significant mistruths and get a sense of the arguments that free motoring advocates are using to try to kill the Traffic Commission's anti-gridlock plan.
The first such argument is a condensed version of the dramatic, impassioned plea-to-justice that Brodsky delivered at the final Congestion Mitigation Hearing a couple of weeks ago:
"For the first time in American history, someone is seriously proposing to charge the public for access to a public space."
It makes one wonder: When was the last time Brodsky paid a subway fare, bridge toll or train ticket out of his own pocket? Could it be that his windshield perspective on the city is so deeply ingrained that he doesn't realize that of the hundreds of thousands of people walking around Manhattan's traffic-choked public spaces every day -- 85 percent of them -- paid for "access" via mass transit?
Towards the end of the interview, Brodsky got caught telling two apparent lies. First he claimed that local environmental organizations are not in favor of congestion pricing. Yet, he can't name one. Then he said the Traffic Commission is calling for a repeal New York State's environmental review laws. Not true. Wylde was having none of it:
Well, I said I live in Brooklyn and I have a choice. I can drive my car into Manhattan to work, in which case I pay nothing, or I can take the express bus, in which case I pay $9.00 a day. So right now we don't have a fair system. The people who take the bus are paying more and stuck in traffic. The people who are taking the subways, we don't have the resources we need to improve conditions. This program will raise almost a billion dollars between the federal grant that is promised if we pass this by March 31st and half a--half a billion dollars a year in revenues to support the system.
Ms. WYLDE: Why is every environmental organization in the city and state in favor of this, then?
Mr. BRODSKY: They're not.
Ms. WYLDE: They are. Name one that's not in favor of this.
Mr. BRODSKY: Well...
Ms. WYLDE: Every health organization...
Mr. BRODSKY: Gabe...
Mr. BRODSKY: Help me, Gabe.
Ms. WYLDE: ...every environmental organization, every business organization...
Mr. BRODSKY: I--all I want to do is just get my...
Ms. WYLDE: ...are supporting this. This isn't--it...
PRESSMAN: OK, well...
Mr. BRODSKY: But...
PRESSMAN: ...and she raises a legitimate issue, which is why are the environmentalists for it if it's so terrible?
Mr. BRODSKY: Well, I--some environmentalists are and some environmentalists are against it.
Ms. WYLDE: Who's against it?
Mr. BRODSKY: You want organizational names?
Ms. WYLDE: In the environmental community?
Mr. BRODSKY: Yes. I--some of the witnesses who testified, very clearly, are against it, the chairman of the Assembly committee on the environment, among others.
Not letting the facts stand in his way, Brodsky continues:
Mr. BRODSKY: There's a state law--I do, too. There's a state law that says you have to do an environmental impact study before you approve a project.
Mr. BRODSKY: They want to repeal that law and say we're going to approve the project, then do the study.
Ms. WYLDE: That is inaccurate. There's no one calling to repeal that law.