Pro-Pricing PAC Puts Pols on Notice

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De Blasio, Jeffries, Gerson, Millman: Will they tarnish their environmental records by voting against pricing?

The New York League of Conservation Voters announced earlier this month that it is forming a new political action committee called Climate Action PAC. Sitting at the top of the PAC’s legislative agenda: getting congestion pricing passed.

When it comes to climate impact, said NYLCV spokesman Dan Hendrick, "congestion pricing is the most sweeping proposal on the table; it’s head and shoulders above the rest of what’s out there." The Climate Action PAC will spend about $300,000 on elections this fall (you can donate online), to be divvied up among six races for seats in the state Legislature, Hendrick projects. Pricing votes will also be the number one factor that NYLCV considers in
making its next round of endorsements for state legislators and City
Council members.

"We’ve signaled that this congestion pricing legislation could give us a quantum leap in
terms of improved mass transit and cleaner air," said Hendrick. "We’re not only going to weigh this
heavily when making endorsements, but how people vote on congestion pricing will weigh
very heavily in how we use the PAC money."

While funding challengers is riskier than supporting incumbents, threatening pricing foes and undecideds with the stick of a well-funded opponent could have a more immediate impact on the vote at hand. The PAC is still weighing its options on this point. Asked whether candidates who challenge anti-pricing incumbents would be targeted for PAC funds, Hendrick said, "We would definitely consider
that."

NYLCV also rates council members on an environmental scorecard. Council members’ pricing votes will go a long way towards determining whether they receive a positive score heading into 2009 city elections. "We’re gonna give a lot of extra weight to congestion pricing [in the next scorecard]," said Hendrick. "You’re going to have a significantly lower score if you vote against it."

A quick glance at NYLCV’s 2006 scorecard [PDF] indicates that several Council members who currently enjoy positive ratings may see their scores drop. The following Council members all had 2005-2006 scores of 63 percent or higher, but have indicated that they are undecided or opposed to pricing: Bill de Blasio, Alan Gerson, Jessica Lappin, James Gennaro, Eric Gioia, Peter Vallone, David Weprin, Thomas White, Charles Barron, Lew Fidler, Vincent Gentile, Dominic Recchia and Michael McMahon.

While all of the above, with the exception of Lappin and White, will be term-limited out of the council come 2009, de Blasio and Barron are running for Brooklyn Borough President, and Vallone is leaning towards running for Queens Borough President. Weprin is campaigning for Comptroller, and Gioia is running for Public Advocate having promised to manage a carbon-neutral campaign. Gennaro, meanwhile, chairs the Council’s committee on environmental protection.

NYLCV has operated a PAC for 15 years, but the newly unveiled Climate Action PAC has more resources at its disposal than its previous incarnation. Last year the NYLCV PAC spent $110,000, helping three candidates for municipal office (in Brookhaven, Schenectady, and Yonkers) attain victory.

After the vote on congestion pricing has been settled, urban issues will continue to be a focus of the PAC. "The whole thing about global warming is that it’s redefined what
pollution is," said Hendrick. "The connection between transit
and the environment is much more obvious to people now."

  • momos

    It would help if NYLCV were more visible with its scorecard and funding strategies, and earlier in the process.

    There are between 3-10 business days left to pass CP. Basically it needs to happen next week.

    Is it just me, or have CP advocates (especially the Bloomberg admin) only really pulled out the stops this week? It’s a little late in the game.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Although he has been in general a decent guy, if DeBlasio votes against this it will signal the fact that he really has no conviction or care for the future of children on this planet. I would actively get everyone I know to vote for someone else as boro president we don’t need another Marty.

  • It’s true that there isn’t much time, momos. I hope everyone who cares about unlimited traffic and all its ill effects is considering donating right away, so the PAC can report a surge donations in support of pricing (and in strong disapproval of doing nothing). Feel-good environmentalism is not good enough any more; it’s time to do good.

  • momos

    If NYLCV had made known this campaign earlier, those donations could have been collected long ago and spent NOW on ad buys, and held in reserve to make the campaign funding threat concrete.

  • Sal V

    Surging at the finish is better than at the start. Lots of City Hall pricing advocacy could have been done much better. It doesn’t matter now. New Yorkers have spoken: they want pricing with revenue going to transit. This has been true for a year. The plan has been thoroughly vetted and explained. It’s going to pass Council. That will change things. Chris Quinn did a very smart thing by starting to frame this as a home rule and NYC empowerment issue via council rep on MTA capital committee. That could help with some of the waverers in council.

  • James

    People are dying out there from car fumes etc. If Congeston Pricing saves just one life then its worth it!

    I can’t understand how anyone could vote against Congestion Pricing and anyway its only a TRIAL! so why not give it a chance!

  • When I first read about the LCV doing this, it just motivated this statement:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact:
    SUNDAY, March 16, 2008 Corey Bearak
    (718) 343-6779
    QUEENS CIVICS CONGRESS ANNOUNCES RATINGS PLAN;
    FIVE UNISPHERES TO CANDIDATES WHO SUPPORT CORE ISSUES OF CIVIC 2030

    Queens Civic Congress, the borough-wide coalition of civic and condo, cooperative,
    tenant and other community organizations announces a “Five-Unispheres” ratings plan,
    according to Queens Civic Congress Corey Bearak. Queens Civic Congress will publicize to
    members of our member organizations the positions of candidates for public office with respect
    to core issues advocated in our CIVIC 2030 plan.”
    Queens Civic Congress believes that the public ought to know where candidates stand on
    key issues of concern and they may make their decisions on which candidates to support and
    vote for with full knowledge of candidates positions on core issues.

    see: http://queensciviccongress.org/Media/files/2008/2008-03-16_five_unispheres.pdf

  • Gotta hand it to you guys, Corey, you’re a hell of a lot more organized than Brooklyn, that’s for sure.

  • tipoftheiceberg

    As of now, here is Bill de Blasio’s entire plan for:
    A GREENER, GREATER BROOKLYN

    On the City Council Bill has been a leader on environmental issues. As Brooklyn Borough President, Bill will work to maximize recycling opportunities in schools, offices, and homes.

    Recycling Electronic Waste: Bill has sponsored multiple electronic waste (e-waste) recycling events throughout Brooklyn, giving members of the community an opportunity to dispose of toxic electronic equipment in an environmentally sound way. Bill has introduced legislation in the City Council, Intro 104, that would require manufacturers of electronic equipment, such as TV’s and computers, to set up a free system to collect and recycle these goods. This would help ensure that toxic materials like lead and mercury – commonly found in computer monitors andTV’s– don’tend up in our air and water.

    Say No to Styrofoam: Bill has introduced legislation, Intro 609, that would ban the use of Styrofoam in New York City. Styrofoam is the widely used term for Polystyrene foam, a substance which doesn’t biodegrade and essentially has no expiration date. Bill’s legislation would prohibit city agencies and city restaurants from using Styrofoam. As Borough President Bill will continue to encourage the use of green products and cut down on unnecessary waste.

    Source:
    http://www.billdeblasio.com/issue4.html

  • tipoftheiceberg

    http://www.brodsky2006.com/richardbrodskyaboutrichard.htm

    Speaking of which, considering The “About Richard Brodsky” page on the Friends of Brodsky site is so heavily focused on environmental issues, you’d think he’d want to keep his record somewhat intact.

    But, methinks he’s already made up his mind!

  • Tobor

    Tipoftheiceberg:

    Yeah, look at that, the DeBlasio website is full of lots of talk about a greener Brooklyn and protecting our neighborhoods but not one mention about traffic, transportation or making our subways better. His idea of a greener Brooklyn needs some muscle and some real stance with action not just words. He could start with a yes vote on CP.

  • Hilary

    There are 142,000 legal placards officially accounted for by the CITY. Forget for a second how many more are issued by the STATE and FEDs, and how many more are counterfeit, expired, disability, and everything else. Just those CITY placards generate TWICE THE TOTAL TRAFFIC entering the Manhattan CBD on the West Side Highway FOR AN ENTIRE DAY.

    Larry Littlefield is right. How many lanes of could be eliminated — converted to pedestrian/bicycle/park use — by eliminating all placard-generated traffic?

  • Davis

    Richard Brodsky to the LCV: “I want to oppose congestion pricing and still call myself an environmentalist but you won’t let me. Wah, wah, waaaaaah!!!”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/03/lcv-letter-32708doc.html

  • ManhattanDowntowner

    True reflection on what NYC really wants!

    In regard to Alan Gerson and any other councilmember who voted Yes on Congestion Pricing:

    The NY1 poll results, taken right after the NY City Council gave the nod on congestion pricing, represent how people REALLY feel. There was obviously MUCH sellout/give back action going on at the City Council.
    ————————–
    The NY1 snap poll question:

    If your council member voted “yes” on congestion pricing, will you support him/her in the future?

    http://www.ny1.com/ny1/Polls/Results/index.jsp

    Yes 33.0%

    No 66.0%

    Councilmembers who voted Yes, against their constituency, on congestion pricing will lose their supporters by a ratio of 2:1.

    Voter registration drive, anyone?

  • It took a Village

    Um, “ManhattanDowntowner?” You do know that those NY1 snap polls are not scientifically valid and are purely time fillers right? Haven’t you ever noticed how Pat K. sheepishly apologizes for them?

    As for the NYLCV – Bravo! I have been very impressed by the way they have been in the absolute lead on this issue and have really stretched beyond anything we’ve seen them capable of before! It seems to me like they have been at battle stations continuously since the Mayor announced the plan – even when many gave it up for dead at the original deadline. This new PAC is the icing on the cake – my check is in the mail!

    As for Brodsky,I can barely express my disappointment. To think I’ve supported the guy in the past! Whatever happens with this issue the one take home I’ve got is that Brodsky is a coward. He wants to be praised as a bold visionary, but when there is risk or pain, or a chance that someone besides him will walk away with the huzzahs, he doesn’t have the intestines. And I’m not even going to go into his theory of democracy – “I should be allowed to do what I think best and not have the voters hold me accountable.” Disgusting.

  • joe

    It was disclosed that Mayor Bloomberg gave over $ 5 million dollars to those environemntal groups that supported the congestion tax. How much did the NYLCV ?

  • joe

    It was disclosed at a forum last night, that the mayor gave out $5 million dollars to environmental groups to support the congestion tax. How much did the NYLCV get ? Let’s see the books.

  • Contrary to what Councilman Barron of Brooklyn told the Amsterdam News last week, there is an academic study showing that congestion pricing will not strangle Harlem, but rather will untangle it, provided that the specific transit improvements promised are made:

    http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/congestionpricingplansummary.pdf

    (summary)

    http://www.weact.org/Portals/7/Northern%20Manhattan%20and%20the%20Congestion%20Pricing%20Plan.pdf

    (full report)

    My organization, WE ACT, which has been the leading environmental advocacy group in Harlem for two decades, supports congestion pricing.

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