Remember last month when Mayor Mike Bloomberg was really really angry over the state legislature’s failure to deal with soaring MTA fare hikes? When he wanted us all to call up and, in our best Peter Finch “Network” imitation rant, tell those rascals in Albany that “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”? Remember that Daily News front page?
Well, hope you didn’t make yourself look too silly, because apparently the mayatollah was just kidding.
According to William Neuman in today’s Times, the mayor never even bothered to make his own calls to the city’s three Republican state senators to let them know that he is irate about the MTA stalemate. “Frank Padavan of Queens, Martin J. Golden of Brooklyn and Andrew J. Lanza of Staten Island have all said the mayor has not sought their support for the rescue plan,” writes Neuman.
A handful of Democratic state senators have rightfully caught most of the flak for blocking a package of MTA taxes and tolls advanced by ex-transit chief Richard Ravitch and backed by the governor and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. But the obstructionist Dems could easily be outvoted if Republican senators decided to put their shoulders to the wheel and help out metro-area straphangers.
But the entire Republican senate delegation has refused — as a bloc — to even consider the bailout. And no one has more clout with this group than Bloomberg. Last year, he was the largest single contributor to the Senate GOP, writing a single $500,000 check to its Senate housekeeping fund. He spent another $1.35 million to mount an under-the-radar push by the state’s Independence Party to keep the senate in Republican hands. His bid paid off, helping to hold onto Padavan’s seat in Queens.
The GOP’s cynical game plan is easy to figure: the senators sit on their hands while Governor Paterson and senate majority leader Malcolm Smith take the hit for failing to win a deal. Bloomberg may have the same plan, notes an unnamed Democratic insider to the Times’ Neuman: “Mr. Bloomberg might not want to be associated too closely with the rescue bid, in case it failed. That way he will be best able to blame the Legislature for failing to deliver on promises of a transit bailout.”
Bloomberg’s missing-in-action performance on transit in Albany is even more confounding when you consider that the Ravitch plan is essentially a revamped version of the mayor’s own congestion pricing scheme that he pushed hard — and unsuccessfully — to have the legislature adopt last year.
Back then he was really mad as hell.