Great Victory For Mayor, Now Let’s Look To Future Editorial
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s overwhelming and impressive second-term victory eight days ago was an affirmation of all the accomplishments and across-the-board successes that he achieved in his first four years in office.
The Gazette salutes him for validating our confidence in him and our endorsement of his candidacy. The victory also holds special meaning for us because the broad support exhibited by the balloting shows unmistakably that he is the mayor of all the people in this city of many ethnicities.
The mayor and his top aides indicated both during and after the election the direction that his second term will take: locking in mayoral control over the city schools, continuing to keep the lid on crime, further economic improvements and job development in all five boroughs and aggressively pursuing plans to build thousands of units of low-and middle-income housing.
While we heartily agree with these broad goals, we have to express our opposition to an idea that has resurfaced in these heady post-election days from some Bloomberg supporters intended to reduce traffic congestion in those business areas of Manhattan especially so afflicted and was aired briefly at the start of the mayor’s first term before other, more pressing issues took precedence.
The solution, called “congestion pricing”, would be implemented by an electronic toll system for cars and trucks at various locations along major traffic arteries.
The Gazette strongly urges the mayor to give short shrift to this idea. Rather than unclog badly congested avenues, congestion pricing would only exacerbate the problem and make the congestion worse.
More importantly, the idea violates a basic freedom that has been a part of the American way of life since this country was founded—the freedom to move about within a city, state and county, with no borders challenging pedestrians or motorists.
New Yorkers must be free to move anywhere in the city without having to pay tolls. It would be extremely unwise for the mayor to squander any of the political capital he garnered in his re-election on this basically unsound idea, which is certain to be unpopular among his constituents.
The Gazette is also strongly opposed to posting tolls on East River bridges, an idea that targets mostly Queens and Brooklyn residents and which has been soundly rejected whenever it has reared its head. It is particularly unattractive at this particular point, when motorists and their families are just recovering from the highest gasoline prices in history—prices that have wreaked havoc on consumers’ budgets.
Our advice to you, Mr. Mayor, on this subject is: NO TOLLS, NOT ANYWHERE.
We’re happy to see the mayor’s thinking at this moment is in sync with ours. Speaking at the Veterans’ Day parade, he stated that congestion pricing “is not on our agenda” and added that while the city is always trying to solve traffic problems, “congestion pricing is not something that we’re talking about.”
As for the second term agenda, one of the mayor’s top priorities must be to continue to firm up his control over the schools, since this will be the signature accomplishment of his mayoral career. Further improvements, perhaps new before and after-school programs and addressing the high dropout rate are called for.
As part of his education agenda, it has been suggested by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business coalition friendly to the mayor, that the Bloomberg administration would be wise to lay the foundation for future initiatives by first having an independent review performed to determine what has already been achieved.
This seems like a good idea and the mayor should give it his full consideration.
On another issue, affordable housing, the administration has a plan in the process of being implemented. It must also address a campaign promise to build 165,000 units of low- and middle-income units.
A strong anti-terror plan is also needed to place the New York Police Department in full command during extreme emergencies by giving police control of units from the MTA and the Port Authority.