I'm writing to inform you of a new dance craze that’s sweeping through the 23rd Assembly District in Southern Queens this political season. It’ called the Toll Bridge Side Step and it follows closely on the heels of another political dance called the Aqueduct Twist.
Both dances have been perfected by our Assemblywoman, Audrey Pheffer and were in full view this week as the Assemblywoman was seen marching in the Cross Bay Bridge protest on Tuesday evening.
The Toll Bridge Side Step is difficult to master because it involves walking a fine line between irony and comedy. The irony stems from the fact that Ms. Pheffer was one of the legislators in Albany who voted to deny mass transit (MTA) adequate funding while allowing transit worker’s pensions to balloon out of proportion in light of the economic crisis we have been facing.
A crisis we continue to face. The result was the MTA re-routing funds from running trains and buses into new and larger liabilities. Ms. Pheffer also voted against a reasonable Congestion Pricing Plan that might have provided a sound financial solution to the mass transit mess we are now facing. Add to those two facts her historical vote to repeal the commuter tax which would have helped the working men and women of our district who live in the district and use mass transit. The comedy part of the political dance is where the Assemblywoman then becomes an opponent of the newly instituted tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge which her own votes were instrumental in creating.
The Aqueduct Twist is a much more familiar dance in line with the other cynical political fads that rely on the public’s willingness to forgive and forget. It involves politicians walking up to the podium at civic gatherings and singing the praises of the new contract to develop Aqueduct Racetrack without giving any explanation as to why we had to go through 9 years of failed bids, inadequate oversight of the vetting process and outright political cronyism to get to this point.
I make light of these serious matters only as a vehicle to drive home a very important and timely message to the voters of the 23rd Assembly District.
The message is simple: politics will continue as usual and without accountability only if we allow it to continue. This November 2nd, voters will be part of a momentous vote which will determine the course of our state and our nation. Voters will determine if we should continue watching the political dance which has become as popular with elected officials as watching Dancing With The Stars is with the public. Alternatively, does the public choose to elect new representatives who are not politicians but citizens concerned about the future and determined to right our course? It is my hope that the electorate will change the political channel and tune in to the possibility of meaningful and positive change in our state government.
Dr. Harold Paez
Candidate, New York State Assembly District 23