Congestion pricing gets hijacked

Indignity Vol. 4, No. 96

Congestion pricing gets hijacked
Congestion pricing plate readers are installed over Lexington Avenue on December 18, 2023 in New York City. Cars entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during peak periods could be charged a toll of up to 15 dollars per day. (Photo by Liao Pan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)


Choke on a Tailpipe, Governor Hochul!

THIS MORNING, NEW York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that she is blocking Mahhattan's vehicle congestion-pricing program, which was scheduled to start on June 30. After years of legislative and legal battling had advanced past every obstruction the program's opponents could come up with—including the spectacle of New Jersey trying to get the federal government to interfere with the New York Legislature's sovereign decision about how to manage New York traffic—Hochul decided to hand them a victory anyway. 

Congestion pricing—which in New York's plan would have charged drivers a $15 toll to enter Manhattan below 60th Street—is popular wherever cities have managed to apply it. This is because it's the rare program that reduces the bad environmental effects of driving while also making things easier for drivers. No one likes being stuck in traffic; no one likes breathing the fumes and hearing the noise of stuck traffic. Thinning out the traffic with congestion fees solves both problems at once, and the New York plan would have spent the toll money on improving mass transit, to help carry the people who were no longer driving. 

But this is New York, where opening a new public toilet costs $1 million, where the swimming pools never have enough lifeguards, and where the mayor is only now gradually implementing the notion that there may be ways to handle garbage other than leaving it in mounds at the curb for rats to feast on. The sound of firetrucks and ambulances trapped in traffic, blaring their sirens at unyielding gridlock, is the hold music of waiting for a government that refuses to ever get around to taking obvious steps to make things better. 

So with a better, cleaner future for traffic in sight, Hochul has decided to stick with the foul, annoying present—"because Manhattan businesses have not fully recovered from the pandemic," ABC 7 reported, and "also apparently because Democrats are facing difficult House races in the New York City suburbs."

As a leading official within the New York State Democratic Party—the state party that more or less singlehandedly cost Democrats the House of Representatives in 2022, the state party that lost to George Santos, the state party that botched its own redistricting plan to potentially cost Democrats the House again in 2024—Hochul couldn't take the political risk of implementing a good and effective program, for fear of alienating selfish suburban creeps. Specifically, suburban creeps who are too dumb to understand that congestion pricing would have improved their own commutes, if they still insisted on driving. 

Since this category of dumb creeps who live in the suburbs apparently includes the mayor of New York, along with his key backers, there was always a risk that the officials who were supposed to fight for congestion pricing would find a way to throw the fight. And now thay have.

Meanwhile, living in Manhattan, I currently have to pay a congestion fee of $2.50 in a taxi, or $2.75 in an Uber, every time I take a ride below 96th Street. That's on top of the taxi meter, which keeps running as I sit behind unmoving cars with Connecticut and New Jersey plates, whose drivers are paying nothing for wasting my time and polluting my air. I would have been happy to pay an extra $15 on the days I get rental cars, to help clear all these other clowns out of my way. Instead, because the governor panicked over nonsense, we're all trapped there with each other indefinitely. 

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A baby-blue sky, no clouds, seems hazy

New York City, June 4, 2024

★★ Humidity offset the coolness of the morning. A startlingly thick, bright haze filled Central Park West, congealing into something like a fog in less than half of block of distance. The sky over Columbus Circle was a dark, slatey blue above the rebounding light and ambient glare, and the air was hard to breathe. A man lay on a bench in the shade above the Sherman monument, glassy eyed, with a light blue variant Toronto Blue Jays cap balanced on his midsection. Toward midday a cool breeze came up Fifth Avenue and quickly subsided, leaving the smell of coconut oil and then pool chlorine outside the University Club. At lunchtime, people were eating at every table in the privately owned public park on 50th Street, but there was just enough room in one shady corner of the bench. Eventually, the air lost its stifling quality. 

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CLICK ON THIS box to enjoy today's Indignity Morning Podcast:

Indignity Morning Podcast No. 288: What serious problem is that?
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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS in aid of the assembly of a sandwich selected from Mrs. Ericsson Hammond's Salad Appetizer Cook Book, by Maria Matilda Ericsson Hammond. Published in 1924, and now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Crabe en Oeufs à la Lloyd George
For Six Persons

One cup of crab meat, two tablespoons of mayonnaise dressing, one tablespoon of dissolved Cox’s gelatine, a teaspoon of anchovy paste, six slices of bread, three eggs, one teaspoon of lemon juice, a squeeze of an onion, and pepper and salt, and one tablespoon of butter.

How to Make It. If fresh crabs, cook them twenty minutes; leave in the juice to cool then pick the meat out. Be careful not to have any of the shell. Shred it fine, and add to the butter that first must be stirred to a cream. Add the anchovy paste, a teaspoon of lemon juice, a squeeze of an onion, pepper, and salt. Cut the eggs in halves crosswise that first have been hard boiled, time twelve minutes. Scoop out the yolk and part of the white if it is very thick, then fill the whites with the mixture. Spread the rest of what is left on to the bread. Cut the bread out with a round biscuit cutter. Place one of the eggs on each with the cut side down. Then stir the yolks of the eggs to a cream, add the spoon of gelatine and mayonnaise dressing, put it in a paper bag that holds a ribbon tube. Decorate with it a ribbon around on the sandwich. Circle the eggs with the butter that first has been stirred, and color with the orange coloring. Arrange in the form of a ring on a platter. Garnish with parsley in the center and all around with lemon and crab claws..

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to 

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Supplies are really and truly running low of the second printing of 19 FOLK TALES, still available for gift-giving and personal perusal! Sit in the gathering heat with a breezy collection of stories, each of which is concise enough to read before the thunderstorms start.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm DailyThe special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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