Espaillat to Westchester: My District Is Your Doormat

espaillatsander.jpgEspaillat and Sander in March 2008. Photo: Brad Aaron.
Last March, Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat stood with Mayor Bloomberg in Fordham Plaza, celebrating the announcement of the city's inaugural Select Bus Service line. In the thick of the battle over congestion pricing, its fate to be determined within days, Espaillat was one of few state pols to vocally support the mayor's proposal. Flanked by Bloomberg, Elliot Sander, Janette Sadik-Khan and other pricing advocates, the Northern Manhattan rep did not mince words.

"This [congestion pricing] is not a bogey monster," Espaillat said. "This is a rational, practical solution to a very serious problem."

Nearly a year later, Espaillat stands with Rory Lancman and David Weprin in opposing East and Harlem River bridge tolls. Espaillat, one of 20 state lawmakers to sign an anti-toll letter delivered to Sheldon Silver this week, says he favors a proposal by comptroller and mayoral candidate William Thompson to increase vehicle registration fees -- a plan that has no traction in Albany and would do nothing to cut congestion in Northern Manhattan.

Though just 20 percent of households in Espaillat's district own vehicles, the area is burdened with heavy auto traffic -- a "very serious problem," as Espaillat used to say -- much of it on its way to and from free bridges. Yet rather than get behind a viable, long-overdue plan that would both reduce cut-through driving and spare the majority of his constituents from crushing transit fare hikes and massive service cuts, Espaillat has joined the crowd that wants to keep the floodgates open to Westchester County.

More traffic, more asthma, and a transit system in collapse. What's rational and practical about that?