Much has gone wrong; the economy tanked in the last year and this is still a very expensive subway system to run. If fares went to $2.50 per ride, although it is pricey, it is still a good deal considering that you can get almost any place in the city for a relatively low price. The 30-day MetroCard increase, however, is an entirely different ballgame. These are people that are making a commitment to our transportation system on a daily basis. Monthly users are doing exactly what the government asked, and now they stand to be punished.
The Straphangers Campaign has been active in listing alternative plans on their website – such as the Ravitch plan – and notifying people upcoming hearings. But where is the New York State Green Party in all of this? This is an environmental issue that has a dramatic effect on the city. It’s also an issue where there is still room to win.
If the Green Party got as involved in this as the Straphangers Campaign, you might see a change in attitude in Albany. This is a golden opportunity for this party to claim legitimacy. Instead, their state website mentions little about the New York City subway fare hikes. Go to their Twitter account (http://twitter.com/gpny/) and you will see comments on things that completely irrelevant to being an environmentalist. A few tweets from the Greens:
• Obama should reverse course and reject Bush-Cheney policies on the drug war, illegal surveillance, executive power, and Social Security
• New York Finds More Votes for President from Last November
Really?! Is this what the New York State Green Party is thinking about? Are they really that concerned with how many lost votes Obama may have gotten? Is anyone disputing that he won? Someone should reach this party and tell them there is a real environmental issue happening in a very popular city.
The focus in this fight should be to fight for a partial victory. Keep the 30-day MetroCard at $81 a month. It encourages people to use the system more often. If they use the TransitChek Program, they can have their employers take that money from their earnings tax free. It’s a little bit of help.
Mayor Comes to Queens
On Saturday, March 28, the mayor opened his Queens headquarters on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The mayor was greeted by about 100 people, as well as onlookers that did not fit inside his temporary storefront. He arrived in an orange fleece, which let everyone know that there is no longer a need for Mike Bloomberg to introduce himself to New York City (like he had to do in 2001). These people know him; he doesn’t need to dress up on a Saturday morning.
“The past is the tune-up,” said the mayor, stressing the word “past” with his hard New England tongue that sometimes still rears its head. He aimed to drum up confidence about his plan to manage the city through rough economic waters. “We brought this city roaring back,” he said of the economic uncertainty of eight years ago and the deficit that he took on early in his tenure.
What do the Republicans feel about this? They were there in force to greet the mayor. Serf Maltese, Anthony Como, and State Senator Frank Padavan were all there to say hello and welcome the mayor who ran twice as a Republican and then left the party. “Who else is there? Weiner?” asked one Republican in the back of the room. This is a party that has done little in past by way of grooming candidates and party building – despite electing a Republican governor thrice and a Republican mayor four times in a row.
One Republican said “I like that nobody owns him…that he doesn’t care what people think when he introduces policy.” That was clear when people applauded when the mayor mentioned the smoking ban he introduced in his first term. This room would not have applauded that back then – they applauded on Saturday.
What Bloomberg gives these Republicans, whether they agree with him on policy or not, is the chance to re-brand the party and get back to the fiscal conservatism that it once stood for. This party just elected a councilman in Eric Ulrich. They may now want to set their sights a little higher.