Avella Says Congestion Pricing Passed Because of ‘Bribing’

Council member Tony Avella, a congestion pricing opponent and, as of Sunday, longshot mayoral candidate, was on WNYC this morning discussing his theory of how the measure passed the City Council.

With characteristic outspokenness, Avella told Brian Lehrer, “We did have the votes [to block it], until the mayor and the speaker started leaning on people, or shall we saying influencing? Or bribing people, depending on how you want to look at it.” When Lehrer asked how he saw it, Avella replied, “I look at it as bribing people.”

Avella has identified the three main issues of his mayoral campaign as taxes, overdevelopment and education, but his real niche, such as it is, will be as a foil for the better-financed — and more typically disciplined — competitors like Christine Quinn, who’s expected to announce eventually.

During the radio interview this morning, Avella insisted on answering questions about congestion pricing from his office phone and then switching to his cell phone to talk about his campaign, to avoid using government property while stumping. It’s the sort of off-beat behavior that might not get him elected, but should, at least, serve to distinguish him from his competitors.

At a press conference two days ago to announce his campaign, he said, “You know, when somebody is announcing for higher office, they probably have a well-thought out, written speech that they’d be reading.” He added, somewhat pointedly, “They’d probably pay somebody to write it. But the typical politician unfortunately, doesn’t even believe the words that they’re reading. So, I don’t have a prepared speech.”

He also said, “I’ve never gotten so much attention,” and added, “This is a little awe-inspiring.”

Avella Says Congestion Pricing Passed Because of ‘Bribing’