Some final scenes from a mayoral debateBy
Mercifully, the mayoral primary season is rapidly drawing to a close. By this time next week, we’ll know if a runoff is in our future or if the Democratic and Republican candidates for Gracie Mansion have been selected by a sliver of New York City voters, many of whom head to the polls with a strong bone to pick. Still, before this bit of political theater wraps up, we had to suffer through one final debate.
During the Democratic demagoguery, the topic of discussion shifted to transit developments, and two reports from the debate show the same old/same old. Stephen Miller at Streetsblog summarized accordingly:
If you thought the last Democratic mayoral debate was thin on transportation issues, you could be forgiven for thinking that the issue didn’t come up at all during last night’s event. Blink, and you might have missed it. Like last time, transit was relegated to the lightning round, and thin questions from the moderators didn’t elicit much information from the candidates.
At the previous debate, all the candidates had MetroCards in their pockets but we learned last night that they are, for the most part, infrequent straphangers: Thompson said he had last taken the subway on Monday, while de Blasio and Weiner rode the train last week; Liu and Quinn hadn’t swiped a MetroCard in about two weeks.
On the subject of the MTA, Liu said he had “gone after very powerful interests,” repeating the myth created by disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi that the authority keeps “two sets of books” to obscure its finances from the public.
I don’t even have the heart to argue against Liu and his stubborn — if not worse — insistence that the MTA kept two sets of books. It’s been proven false every which way to Sunday, and the man who didn’t qualify for public funds because he actually kept fake campaign finance books isn’t one to talk. Those who vote for Liu deserve the worst.
Dana Rubinstein meanwhile reported on a different exchange:
The imposition of tolls on the East River bridges is widely understood to be a component of any realistic congestion-pricing scheme, and congestion pricing is the only recourse transportation advocates consistently put forward as the solution to the M.T.A.’s chronic budget problems.
“Do you support East River tolls?” asked one of the moderators. “Let me begin with you, Ms. Quinn.”
“I don’t support East River tolls,” she responded. “No.”
“No, but I have a plan to implement them for out-of-city residents,” he added.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
“Alright, and Mr. de Blasio?”
The candidates all have various wishes to expand transit access, and a few have been forth some concrete plans. No one, though, wants to pay for it, and we’ve gotten the summer of “no, no, no.” John Liu’s plan, torn up by Streetsblog in April, was again the least thought-out even among a field of flat-out denials, and somehow, one of these politicians will have a loud say in the future transit policies and priorities of New York City.