Weiner on Albany: ‘We Should be Supervising Them’

weinerharvardclubweb Weiner on Albany: We Should be Supervising ThemAnthony Weiner, who has been taking a pass on ribbing the mayor, has a new target: Albany.

Speaking to business leaders this morning at the Harvard Club, Weiner said, “The single greatest development decisions that we’ve had in the last eight years, six years—ground zero, the West Side of Manhattan, the convention center, the football stadium—all of these come down to decisions by people you didn’t elect. Whether it’s the Port Authority, or the M.T.A., or the Public Review Board—or whatever was that thing that voted against the football stadium.

"We—as business leaders, as leaders, cultural leaders, civic leaders in the city—have to start asking this larger question of, why it is that so much of our fate as a city rest in the hands of Albany? We almost have it as an article of faith that whenever there is a big decision we need to make in New York City, we have to go to Albany to get them to sign off on it. Yet, if you see the dysfunction in Albany, and you see the way we in the city are functioning, we’re the adults. We should be supervising them.”

That last line drew laughter and applause from the crowd. Weiner, encouraged, continued.

“Yet, if you have a dispute over where a local bar is going to be, you have to go to a state board to resolve it. You want to decide how to develop the West Side, where the parks are, you have to go to a state board to resolve it. And here we are, preparing for a giant tax increase on the middle class, this congestion pricing tax. Where is the money going to be sent? To an unelected state government board. We don’t learn.”

Afterward, I asked Weiner if the projects he opposed, like the West Side Stadium and congestion pricing, would have been enacted if New York City had the autonomy from Albany that he is talking about.

“Maybe,” Weiner told me. “I’m prepared to take that bargain of saying, you know what? Maybe if you give New York City more control over its mass transit from time to time, you’re going to have to raise fares. It’s the ethos of responsibility and accountability that I think is important here.”

This, I think it’s safe to say, is a very good issue for someone who wants to be mayor of New York City to champion right now.