De Blasio’s Excuse: There Shoulda Been a Brooklyn Lock Box

de_blasio.jpgYesterday, a reader sent along City Council Member Bill de Blasio's letter to constituents [PDF] explaining his "Nay" vote on congestion pricing. Plenty of campaign fodder here, should someone who really believes in funding transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements challenge de Blasio in the 2009 race for Brooklyn Borough President. (His known opponent, Charles Barron, also voted no.) A few choice excerpts:

This plan, sadly, does not ensure that we will see mass transit improvements and expansions where they are most needed -- in the outer boroughs. The "lock box" attached to the congestion pricing plan only guarantees that the funding is used for transit improvements in general -- not for improvements in Brooklyn or the other boroughs.

So BRT on Nostrand Avenue, increased capacity on the C train, and dozens of new buses on the B41 line -- those transit improvements don't count? What about the 28 station rehabilitations Brooklyn is slated to receive in the MTA capital plan? According to the logic of this letter, the plan isn't worth the paper it's printed on unless every borough has its own transit lock box.

Besides, take away $4.5 billion in funding, and every subway rider in all five boroughs will feel the pinch. If fares go up in the next 18 months, let's see de Blasio try to pull off the same type of grandstanding he performed in December, when he unveiled a "Subway Riders' Bill of Rights" during the run-up to the last fare hike. Did we miss the 11th Amendment -- "Free trips for motorists over East River crossings"? You can't claim the mantle of straphangers' champion after voting against the best chance to stave off a huge funding gap at the MTA.

Brooklyn's share of the promised improvements in the MTA capital plans pales in comparison to Manhattan's. 

Again with the Manhattan-centric argument. Never mind that the mass transit system is a network, and people from all over the region rely on subways in Manhattan [disclosure: I live in de Blasio's district].

At this time, I am just not prepared to ask cops, firefighters, teachers, and the working people of Brooklyn to shell out $2,000 a year for false promises that aren't going to be realized.

Aside from the fact that this phrasing is a rather naked expression of beholden-ness to public sector unions, 55.8 percent of households in de Blasio's district don't even own a car, according to the 2000 Census. Those households earn, on average, about $47,000 a year. Households that do own a vehicle have an average income of more than $84,000, and only 3.7 percent of workers commute by car to the central business district. Way to stick up for your constituents, Bill de Blasio.