Queens City Councilman Tony Avella, of late a long shot candidate to be the next mayor, has never had any problem openly criticizing his fellow elected officials, and by name no less.
In this Voice interview, Avella implied that his fellow Queens Councilman, Eric Gioia, was bought out by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg so that he would support the mayor’s congestion pricing plan, though he had been an opponent of the plan just days before the Council’s March vote.
“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,” said Avella in a discussion of the reported horse-trading that led to the passage of congestion pricing in the City Council. “People flipped their votes. 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.”
Not true, said Gioia spokesman Eric Koch.
Koch who pointed to this transcript of a Drum Major Institute forum on congestion pricing from May 2007 that indicates Gioia, a likely candidate for public advocate in 2009, had a much more nuanced position on the issue than Avella is giving him credit for.
“Councilman Avella’s facts are wrong,” said Koch, explaining Gioia’s eventual vote in favor of congestion pricing. “Councilman Gioia has been consistent from the beginning. He’s long been an advocate for cleaner air for our children, reduced congestion, and better mass transit. There were details of the Bloomberg plan that he disagreed with and was publicly critical of, but many were addressed in the weeks leading up to the vote — and the Councilman was hopeful that the remaining concerns would be fixed prior to implementing the plan.”