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Congestion pricing takes center stage
Could there be a clearer path for congestion pricing in 2019?
The Fix NYC coalition is developing a plan with the goal of making congestion pricing a centerpiece of the governor’s State of the State address in January, and putting that new funding stream for the MTA in the executive budget due at the end of March, a source working with the advocates told The Point.
Transportation leaders are more hopeful now than a year ago, in part because broken subways and clogged roads have reached a crisis in need of a larger solution. In addition, some of congestion pricing’s biggest opponents — including former members of the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, like Jeff Klein and Tony Avella — won’t be back in Albany in January. Many anti-IDC candidates who won primaries this month supported congestion pricing, saying it would provide more funds for the subways and ease traffic in Manhattan’s central business district.
Meanwhile, the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Workgroup (say that three times fast) met for the first time on Tuesday. Chaired by Partnership for New York City chief executive Kathryn Wylde, the group is tasked with developing recommendations on how to improve the region’s transportation system — and how to fund it. Wylde said she expects the group to address the need for new MTA funding streams, including congestion pricing, while also studying ways to boost MTA revenue by reducing costs, adding public-private partnerships or finding ways for the agency to “self-fund” by using its own assets differently.
“We don’t have any answers yet, but we are committed to working together to try to figure out a menu of ideas and options to provide to the state and the city,” Wylde told The Point.
The legislation that created the work group, which includes appointees by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the State Senate, the State Assembly, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and both city and state transportation departments, specifies that a report must be issued by the end of 2018.
Perhaps by then, congestion pricing finally will be “an idea whose time has come” — as Cuomo first said more than a year ago.
Randi F. Marshall
Long Island Googles
So what political topics are your Long Island neighbors Googling?
Google News Lab is unveiling this data for the first time during this election season, offering real-time Google search trends down to the county level.
The Midterm Trends page first measures just how interested state residents are in political topics like abortion, guns, health care, immigration and tariffs on a scale of 1 to 100. Beware that Google is somewhat vague as to what this value means, defining it simply as “a number that reflects how many searches have been done for a particular term relative to the total number of searches done on Google,” and that these values “don’t represent absolute search volume numbers.”
New York State’s search interest value at the time of writing is 100 — the highest in the nation — which means New Yorkers are searching on political topics more than the rest of the country at the moment. It’s followed by Washington, D.C.’s 82 and Rhode Island’s 84. The lowest is North Dakota at 9.
Within New York, Google identifies political topics trending in each county, again based on the 1-to-100 value.
In Nassau County this week, health care was highest at 47, followed by immigration at 28 and tariffs at 12. In Suffolk County, health care also was highest at 47, followed by immigration at 28 and tariffs at 11. Health care was the dominant search topic in the rest of New York — except in Queens and the Bronx, where it was immigration, and in upstate Schuyler, where it was abortion.
Google News Lab is stressing that this measure does not replace legitimate polling, but it does capture an interesting picture as campaigns pick up.
Back to business
The Queens Democratic County Committee had its biennial meeting at Antun’s on Thursday, and the business of the evening was mostly the big buffet and the continuation of party leadership as usual.
Rep. Joe Crowley, who lost his congressional primary to Democratic challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June, was at the event and received cheers, according to attendees. He had already been renamed head of the county party at an earlier gathering.
One controversy started to percolate when fliers supporting former State Sen. Hiram Monserrate circulated. Monserrate, who was convicted of fraud and assaulting a girlfriend, made a political comeback by winning a district leader position in the East Elmhurst area this month and reportedly inserted a little chaos into Crowley’s bid to stay party leader.
In another brief moment of disruption, Radha Vatsal, a reformer and outsider who had petitioned to get on the committee for the first time, stood up after business had concluded Thursday to call for committee members to have more of a role in party decisions, such as filling vacancies and making judicial nominations. The committee currently meets briefly every other year, giving the OK for party leaders to run day-to-day operations. She didn’t get too far, either.
Despite Crowley’s big loss in the primary and the efforts of new committee members to claw their way onboard, it was business as usual Thursday night, with the proceedings tightly controlled, preventing big new motions or changes. The machine rolled on.