Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has a novel idea to help settle not just a dispute over livery service outside of Manhattan, but a sudden chasm in the city’s budget. Mr. Stringer suggests that the parties involved put their heads together and devise a solution acceptable to everyone.
Right now, that’s the best course of action.
A state Supreme Court justice recently threw out a state law that would have allowed the expansion of street hails to the outer boroughs and northern Manhattan, areas that have been underserved by the yellow cab industry. The judge ruled that the city illegally circumvented the City Council’s authority when it went to Albany for approval. The yellow cab industry has lots of friends on the Council, so the measure stood little chance for approval there.
So now the law is dead. But there’s more to it. Another clause in the legislation authorized the city to sell 2,000 more medallions for handicapped-accessible yellow taxis. The city figured it would make about $1 billion from the medallion sale—and that revenue is included in this year’s budget.
The Mayor has warned that without that billion dollars, he’ll have to lay off hundreds of workers and cut services to close the gap. So his corporation counsel’s office has vowed to appeal the judge’s decision.
Mr. Stringer, a contender to succeed Mr. Bloomberg in next year’s mayoral election, noted that appeals process is bound to take many months, with an uncertain result. Rather than continue to contest the issue in court, he said, why not get the administration, the Council and the industry together and hash out a solution that everybody can live with, even if it isn’t perfect?
There are times when politicians—the best of them, anyway—are obliged to stand and fight for what they believe. This isn’t one of those times. The city needs a billion dollars. Residents of the outer boroughs want access to hail-service livery cabs. The industry wants some protections. The Council very likely will settle for whatever deal the industry can cut with the administration.
Matters of graver importance have been worked out by reasonable people in the past. There should be no reason why this one can’t be sorted out outside of a courtroom. While the city has every right to appeal the decision, it also needs a quick solution.
That will come not through courtroom argument, but through skilled political negotiation.
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