Bloomberg's Congestion Pricing Plan
Totally Against Precedent
by joseph tiraco
Manhattan has always (since 17th Century Dutch settlement days) enjoyed a commensal relationship with the boroughs and upstate areas; toll access has traditionally been elective, not mandatory - tolls a mere matter of convenience. Where there is a Brooklyn Battery Tunnel with a toll - a short distance away there are the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, all free with many times the tunnel's capacity. The Queens Midtown Tunnel toll is more then offset by the free double-deck Queensborough Bridge. The Triboro toll offset by the free Bronx crossings. Even the N.Y.State Thruway toll road is shadowed by the free (and more scenic) Taconic State Parkway. Clearly, the intent of every generation of New Yorkers has been to maintain free access to Manhattan. Bloomberg's plan flies in the face of long standing tradition, and in effect disinherits all New Yorkers, removing their right to freely move about the city.
And, the looming new precedent: to discourage trespass by segregating the island of Manhattan; and to establish a radical new class of zones; perhaps use this new class of zones throughout the city, placing invisible barriers to free travel anywhere and everywhere politicians deem it necessary, or profitable - all very alien to the character of New York City and New Yorkers in the aggregate.
Last, and far from least, is the question of, "the government's adaption of technology to track the citizen body." What may be necessary for the felicity of the community, such as crime prevention, takes on an ominous new direction when used to produce revenue.
Any one of the above would mean rewriting the City Charter to accommodate; taken together, these radical new precedents are earthshaking in their implications. The City's lame duck mayor and legislature should go no further then to frame them into ballot measures. Should they be adopted, the succeeding mayor and legislature would be empowered to create the new zone structures - or to simply use more traditional means to raise revenue.
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