Decongestant (revised: a blinding revelation has been added)
As of late, an urban myth has grown up that Senator Marty Connor actually said at a candidate’s debate with his opponent Dan Squadron that he supported congestion pricing and kept it a secret. This myth has been spread by the Squadron campaign, its blog-world supporters like Michael Bouldin and the Brooklyn Heights Blog, and media outlets like the Rupert Murdoch (once a client of Squadron’s father) controlled Courier-Life chain and the anti-Connor Brooklyn paper.
But, in reality it is not Connor who kept his position a secret, but Squadron. Actually, that’s not quite fair. In Squadron’s case, first he was against it, then refused to talk about it in clear English, then came out for it.
Here’s what Daily Gotham’s Dan Millstone, a non-polemical left of center blogger known for his fairness even towards Gotham bugaboos like Vito Lopez, Dominic Recchia and Michael McMahon, had to say about Squadron and congestion pricing on June 18:
“When I talked to Mr. Squadron, following a CODA meeting, he was opposed to congestion pricing. I'm in favor of congestion pricing.”
Is anyone willing to call Mr. Millstone a liar?
“On congestion pricing, Squadron, though unsure of how he would have voted, said the bill should have been altered and passed.”
Reporting on the same press conference, Azi Paybarah of the Observer said: Squadron “declined to say if he would have voted for the bill as it was presented to lawmakers.”
In a May story reviewing the candidates‘ positions, Paybarah said:
“In April, when I asked Squadron if he would have voted for the congestion pricing bill as it was presented to lawmakers in Albany, he declined to say, calling it a ‘hypothetical’ question. In an e-mail last night, he said he always supported congestion pricing.”
It was in that context that Squadron and Connor debated on May 18.
Squadron’s campaign says that Connor said the following:
“Congestion pricing—I supported it. I didn't tell anybody; I didn't take a position on it. I supported it.”
In other words, that Connor secretly harbored support for congestion pricing, but didn't go public with it.
Paybarah disagrees with that interpretation:
“I interpreted the same line of Connor's as, ‘I didn't tell anybody I didn't take a position on it. I supported it.’ When I asked Connor about it in an interview yesterday, he told me he was, in fact, referring to Squadron's position. ‘I was talking about him.’”
Actually I think that's not quite correct. While it is clear Connor is making fun of someone, it is probably not Squadron (except indirectly). At the same press conference where Squadron took a non-position position on the actual congestion pricing bill, Paybarah reports "Schumer, whose wife is the city’s former transportation commissioner, said, 'I didn’t get involved in congestion pricing because they never sent us the plan.'” Connor must have had a brain fart when he spoke to Paybarah, because it seems quite clear that it was Chuck he was making fun of when he said "I didn't tell anybody I didn't take a position on it".The video is here; in it Connor sounds pretty pissed, and his emphatic intonation of the words “I supported it:, and the timing of his pauses, especially when placed in the context of Squadron recently reported non-position and similar Squadron equivocations on the Gansevoort Waste Transfer Station and who he supported for President (in April, in response to the question, he said “nobody asked me for my endorsement“, even though by then he had presumably cast a vote in the Presidential primary) inevitably lead to a conclusion that Connor was contrasting his firm position to his opponent’s seemingly inevitable dodge at taking any controversial position (with the exception of his support for Mayoral Control of the public schools).
I have emailed this piece to Gersh Kuntzman, editor of the Brooklyn Paper. Will he have the integrity to print a retraction?
I won’t ask the question of Squadron, Michael Bouldin or Rupert Murdoch, because I know the answer already.
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