Bloomberg Gets Wheezy Over Congestion Pricing

Michael Bloomberg
Photo: Getty Images

Mayor Bloomberg came out swinging for congestion pricing today. Facing a March 31 deadline for the city and state legislatures to collect $354 million in federal start-up funds, Hizzoner appeared at breakfast with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters at his side. To a question about congestion pricing's threat to federal funding, Bloomberg snapped: "That's one of the stupider things I've heard!" On the State Assembly proposal to tax income above $1 million, he cracked: "If not now, when? I don't know what these people are smoking!" He got so passionate that he even sounded daring about putting tolls on East River bridges: "Given the times we're facing, maybe people can consider ideas that were politically third rail." But the performance failed to captivate its intended audience. Afterward, City Council finance-committee chairman David Weprin — one of a few lawmakers on hand — seemed firmer than ever in his resistance to the congestion-pricing idea. "They extended the deadline to April 7," he told us, "but that comes down to the fact that they don't have the votes." So is Bloomberg using what Hillary Clinton calls "the kitchen sink" strategy? —Alec Appelbaum