QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS QUESTIONS TACTICS TO IMPOSE CONGESTION TAX
Statement by Queens Civic Congress President Sean M. Walsh:
Supporters of the Congestion Tax scheme admitted LAST MONTH to spending THREE MILLION DOLLARS to foist their scheme to charge New Yorkers $8 ($21 for truckers) to drive into Manhattan below 86th Street. Now, with a new glossy mailing slated to arrive in many of our mailboxes, they try to paint Queens civic leaders and others who stand against this tax as the devil for opposing their scheme. I for one resent that. I know my fellow civic leaders feel the same way. This 'buy the fear' campaign is nothing less than despicable.
Their latest promotional mailing features a stock photo of a girl clutching an asthma inhaler, with text stating: "She cannot hold her breath waiting for Albany to act."
In fact, our state legislators and Governor face no need to act.
A July 5, 2007 Daily News article disclosed the ad is being sent to 350,000 families by a business lobbying group that represents many of Manhattan's wealthiest and elitist companies,” explained the QCC President. The flyer says that “over 300,000 New York City kids have asthma - a disease made worse by air pollution and traffic congestion.”
The Congestion Tax does not in any way target traffic in the New York City neighborhoods where youngsters suffer from asthma. The South Bronx, East Harlem, South Jamaica, LI City/Astoria, Bed-Stuy all lie outside Manhattan south of 86th Street.
The Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization of over one hundred civic and community associations from across the entire borough of the two million plus residents of Queens county, will not stand idly by and allow tax proponents to link their scheme with a cure for asthma.
Tax scheme supporters hope this mailing will induce our neighbors to call our state legislators to go back into a special session in Albany July 16. Yet, no federal funds sit in any account that New York can tap if our legislators would impose this regressive tax. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the relevant House subcommittee, made clear to our state leaders that Congress authorized no federal funds for this project and the US DOT Secretary lacks any dollars to fund this scheme.
Nothing requires the State Legislature to rush to act by July 16. The USDOT's Federal Register notice indicates clearly malleable timelines to qualify for funding.
This Congestion Tax would take $2 of every $5 collected to support the scheme, rather than to improve transit; that's grossly inefficient as a proposed revenue source.
This scheme also offers no tradeoff in immediate or near-term mass transit improvements for city commuters; in fact, the MTA admits its system lacks capacity to handle the projected 90,000 riders the congestion tax scheme envisions diverting to rail, subways and buses.
No money. No deadline. No sense. Why then the haste to act? We tell our state legislators: “No to the Congestion Tax”.