The 2008 Streetsie Awards, Part 2
Biggest Setback: After being approved by an unprecedented civic coalition, the mayor and New York City Council, congestion pricing -- the one policy measure that simultaneously reduces traffic congestion while raising money for mass transit and livable streets -- died in an Albany backroom without even a vote.
Lobbyists of the Year: Walter McCaffrey and the Committee to Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free (below). It turns out New York City government is controlled by a handful of Queens Democrats, suburban state legislators and the Automobile Club of New York.
How Not to Lobby a State Legislator: Brooklyn State Senator Martin Malave Dilan's car is towed during a congestion pricing meeting with city officials.
Most Sociopathic Elected Official: Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein nearly crushes a cyclist with his black Mercedes and then tells him, "Get your hands off my car, you f*#king a55hole." Unfortunately for Sen. Klein, this particular cyclist happens to run a pretty robust media operation.
Most Disappointing Elected Officials: During the congestion pricing debate, three State Assemblymembers stood out for their enormous potential to exert leadership and their utter inability or unwillingness to do so. Deborah Glick, Joan Millman and Hakeem Jeffries all represent districts that would have overwhelmingly benefited from New York City's congestion pricing plan. Yet, Glick could only find reasons to oppose it. Millman decided she supported it -- two hours after the proposal was killed by her Democratic Assembly colleagues. And Jeffries had the gall to demand increased subway service on the G line three weeks after helping to eliminate the revenue source that might have paid for it. If only New York City were represented in the state Assembly by an aggressive, attentive, self-aggrandizing politician like...
Elected Official of the Year: You've got to hand it to Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky -- he works hard for his constituents and supporters. Unfortunately for New York City's traffic-choked neighborhoods, beleaguered transit riders and asthmatic kids, his constituents are the metropolitan region's wealthiest car commuters and his supporters own a bunch of parking garages in Manhattan. While New York City's legislators rolled over and played dead, Richard Brodsky worked his butt off to make sure that New York City's congestion pricing plan -- a plan approved by the Mayor, City Council and a state commission -- died a quiet death in the Assemly's Democratic conference. Brodsky did incredible damage to New York City in 2008 but he also showed us what effective representation in Albany might look like.
Worst Elected Official: Rochester Assemblyman and transportation committee chairman David Gantt continued his decade-long effort to deny New York City the ability to deploy automated traffic enforcement systems on its streets. He loosened up a little bit though. This year he introduced legislation that would allow counties outside of New York City to use red light cameras -- as long as they purchased the technology from a Swedish firm represented by one of his cronies. Shocking? Not really. Just another day in Albany.
Most Opinions Fewest Solutions Award: From now on, this will be called the Anthony Weiner Award.
Most Moronic Idea From Albany: State Senators Jeff Klein and Eric Adams put on their serious, fighting-for-the-people faces and proposed suspending tolls on New York City bridges and tunnels and giving drivers a $200 gas tax rebate ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Not planning to burn lots of gasoline for your summer holiday? These two have nothing for you.