April 23, 2008

Moving forward on truck re-routing

The Journal has the latest on garbage truck routing this morning. I'm not sure if the Journal was unkind in its selection of Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's quotes, or if she really was as unfocused as they make her seem.

Yesterday's news was that Senator Chuck Schumer had called Governor Paterson Thursday, probably after the meeting Lifton held where Schumer's aide had challenged Lifton's concerns about constitutionality. Two Downstate politicians seem to have agreed on the need to fix an Upstate problem.

Between Schumer's challenge at the meeting and the Department of Transportation's disavowal of her take on their position on the bill, Lifton was left pretty much high and dry. I've speculated on Lifton's being unwilling to challenge her conference, but what she told the Journal was:

Lifton expressed cautious optimism over the news. She said she thinks it is a good thing that the governor is involved, but that this is a difficult issue to address and could still take some time.

"It's a kind of big problem - a problem that has to do with state and federal governments, major issues around New York City and the New York City area," she said. "Obviously it would be a huge help to have the governor jump into this and try to use the power of his office to do something quickly here."

Lifton's concern is that state legislation could violate the federal interstate commerce clause and wind up in courts for a prolonged time period, which happened in New Jersey years ago....

Lifton said the governor could put forward a governor's bill, or he could use some executive authority, though that authority is limited.

"There may be some executive powers," Lifton said. "He could ask the DOT to do this. He has some narrow authority, it's not broad authority (as) I'm told over and over again by Schumer's office, by the counsel at all levels from the DOT to the (Department of Environmental Conservation), that it's not broad authority that the states have. It's narrow authority to do some truck designations."

No one else in the article - whether from the DOT, Schumer's office, or the Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force - seems to share her caution. Apparently this isn't a major constitutional breach, or even that difficult for the governor and DOT to do. Schumer's spokeman explained:

To get trucks off local roads such as routes 89, 79, 38, 41 and 90, the governor can use executive power to designate a routing agency or he can designate the routes himself, said Alex Detrick, a press officer for Schumer. Trucks can also be removed from roads through joint legislation signed by the governor. The former option is the quicker of the two.

The DOT spokesman sounds pretty happy about this too. There's still a ways to go on actually implementing this, but I suspect it's gotten over the biggest hurdle, and I doubt Schumer's office will let it disappear.

I wish I could think of a good reason Lifton invested her political capital in an effort that seemed to both serve her constituents badly and damage her credibility, but I can't.

Posted by simon at April 23, 2008 8:13 AM in
Note on photos