Monday, June 9, 2008

Avella vs. Gioia in the Village Voice

From the Village Voice:

VV: Speaking of doing what the Mayor wants, you’ve been very critical of how the vote for congestion pricing was handled in the City Council, and you’ve actually said that the City Council passed congestion pricing through bribes and strong-arm tactics by the Mayor and the Speaker. How did things change in the days before that vote in the City Council?

TA: Clearly, there was a number of promises made to individuals, and I don’t think I have to repeat them, I think they’ve been reported in many of the papers, about what people were offered. People flipped their votes. [Queens City Councilman] Eric Gioia was at a community meeting days before telling everybody in the audience that there was no way he was voting for congestion pricing. Yet he’s one of the votes that flipped. The Mayor and the Speaker have a tremendous amount of leverage to influence council members’ votes. It’s one thing to sort of convince people that they’re wrong or to vote which way, yes or no. But it’s a completely different thing to say, “well, you know, we’ve got this piece of legislation, it can either move ahead or completely die if you don’t follow what the Speaker does. You know how you’ve got this favorite park project, or school project, or non-profit that needs funding? Well, we can make that happen.” That’s clearly wrong. And that was done during the last few days. [A spokesman for Councilman Gioia says Avella's got his facts wrong.]

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