NY Politics

24th March
2008

First Published in  The New York Sun, March 24, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Last week, I spent a half hour debating with Transportation Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan over the issue of congestion pricing. Ms. Sadik-Khan came to my Bronx office to pitch her case to the editorial board of the Bronx Press and Riverdale Review newspapers, which I publish.

I have come to the conclusion that congestion pricing is bad public policy for the city. For the vast majority of New Yorkers, those of us in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan, having an automobile is a defining point of entry into the middle class. Owning a car is a liberating experience - yes, many trips are best made by mass transit, but simply knowing that there is an alternative, one that opens up every corner of the city and beyond, is invigorating. Should we close off to those in poverty today that to which they, too, aspire?

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7th March
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, March 7, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

We’re coming into the home stretch on Mayor Bloomberg’s “Congestion Pricing” tax plan. The City Council and the state Legislature need to pass or reject this proposal by the end of March, the deadline for coming up with a plan that will enable the city to obtain several hundred millions of federal dollars to help get the scheme underway.

This is money on which we would be well advised to pass, funds that will move us in the wrong direction as we plan for our city’s future.

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3rd February
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, February 3, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor Bloomberg, with the connivance of Council Speaker Quinn, has proposed permitting the addition of 1,500 vendors to city streets. These vendors have long been a source of contention. In some cases they so crowd certain streets that they become a public nuisance, which is the rationale for having government regulate them.

Those who sell the same wares in conventional stores hate the street vendors with particular passion. After all, who wants a competitor opening up right in front of his door, a competitor not burdened with paying rent, an electric bill, or even, in some instances, taxes?

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1st February
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, February 1, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

The commission appointed to “study” the mayor’s congestion pricing initiative has come up with a proposal that hardly changes the original plan. This commission was front-loaded with committed proponents of the idea, a kangaroo court if ever there was one - if kangaroos acquit.

There now seems to be a shift in emphasis away from claims by proponents that congestion pricing reduces traffic (only a 6% reduction is projected) or will clear pollution from the air and cure children of asthma. There is now more of an acknowlegement that the plan is about only one thing - creating a new revenue stream.

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11th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

If you are looking for a reason why the economic good times in the city seem to have passed by the borough of the Bronx, events in recent days should offer some clues.

In a national atmosphere where the word of the day is change, in the Bronx, among the poorest places in the entire nation, the watchword is “more of the same.”

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29th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 29, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

One of the most intriguing figures in New York’s recent political history showed that he could still bring out a crowd - and some key officials - nearly 20 years after his own political career ended in the worst possible circumstances.

Mario Biaggi celebrated his 90th birthday Saturday evening surrounded by hundreds of family, friends, and admirers. Among those present were Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his wife Veronica, Congressmen Charles Rangel and Peter King, Ambassador Charles Gargano, who formerly headed the Empire State Development Corp., and the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Long. Mayor Dinkins, who had an emergency appendectomy Friday, was scheduled to attend as well.

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5th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 5, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Governor Spitzer’s proposal to ease identification requirements for a New York State driver’s license is turning into an astounding pile-up. I can appreciate the arguments on both sides of the issue. The Motor Vehicle Bureau is ill-equipped to enforce immigration laws, but should we be officially validating the identity of individuals who are here illegally?

The problem comes from the custom we have developed in the United States of using a driver’s license as a de facto national identity card. This predates September 11, 2001. The license is often required when cashing checks, buying alcoholic beverages, purchasing tobacco products, or even registering to vote.

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21st September
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, September 21, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

It hasn’t escaped the notice of the city’s politicians that in less than two years, unless mayoral control of the public schools is affirmatively ratified by the state legislature, the old Board of Education will rise like a phoenix from the ashes, along with the much-maligned 32 community school boards.

Two commissions have been appointed this week to study the future governance of the schools, one by the City Council, the other by the public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum.

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10th August
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, August 10, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

It isn’t a good thing when the power and influence of a new governor peaks before he takes office, but that appears to be exactly what has happened to Eliot Spitzer. A year ago he was the inevitable governor, poised to crush one of the more attractive Democrats to come forward in many years, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, in a primary election.

The GOP standard bearer, John Faso, a former assemblyman, was a victim of 12 years of increasingly lackluster performance by the Republican incumbent, George Pataki. The conventional wisdom, months before the election, was that Mr. Spitzer was not just the inevitable governor, but the inevitable president, sure to become the nation’s first Jewish chief executive after being elected (a mere formality) in 2012 or, at worst in 2016. (more…)

13th July
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, July 13, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

We’re coming down the home stretch on the congestion pricing mini-marathon. If there is anything that characterizes the Bloomberg style of governance, it is his absolute confidence that his vision for the city’s future is the correct, indeed, the only vision.

Since his vision includes congestion pricing, a radical idea that would normally demand extensive debate, anyone opposing it must, at worst, have some sinister motivation, and, at best, be an idiot.

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