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OPINION: The Angry Buddhist — For whom the bridge tolls

BY CARL ROSENSTEIN | Congressmember Jerrold L. Nadler — if you weren’t previously privy to him or his meretricious career, there’s no chance of that now. That is, unless you’ve been lucky to be out of the country or in a stupor. 

Unavoidable, there he looms everyday, filling the TV, “saving our democracy.”

He is also in the news because it was recently announced that the notorious one-way toll “experiment” on the Verrazano Bridge, benefitting Staten Island to the great expense of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn B.Q.E. corridor, will be rescinded in 2020, after only 34 years.

The exorbitant double toll skewed Jersey-bound traffic onto the free East River bridges into Lower Manhattan and the free outbound Holland Tunnel. The mismanaged M.T.A. and subway system lost several hundred million dollars in revenue over the decades.

The resulting massive traffic jams from bridges to tunnel blanketed the Chinatown, Little Italy, Tribeca and Soho communities with carbon monoxide exceeding E.P.A. safe standards. All the extra congestion more likely than not has contributed to the decline in retail activity in both Chinatown and Soho, not to mention the maddening horn honking. It has been the city’s greatest environmental disaster.

It took an act of Congress to rescind the toll. It could easily have been done 10 years ago when the Democrats had complete control of the federal government — but it didn’t happen because Nadler chose fealty to His Majesty Obama and his career over his constituents. That’s at least 3,650 days of misery inflicted upon Nadler’s district and hundreds of million in lost revenue for the M.T.A. 

Ten additional years! Guilty as charged! As Congressmember Rashida Tlaib would say, “Impeach the motherf—er!”

There is also a long list of culpable politicians who participated in this crime against Downtown. Since quartering is outlawed, the following pols ought to be chained to an 18-wheeler and dragged across Canal St.: former Senator Al “Pothole” D’Amato, former Governor Mario Cuomo, former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, Senator “Chuck” Schumer and former Senator Hillary Clinton. 

The first time I was ever gaslighted by a politician involved the Verrazano Bridge, when it was still under construction in 1963. The Verrazano was one of the last links in the great age of highway and bridge building by Robert Moses. The master power broker’s infrastructure development created post-WW II New York and its suburbs, often destroying neighborhoods in the process. There is no denying his legacy.

Growing up in Canarsie, my mother would pack lunch and drive us in our navy blue Ford Galaxy along the Belt Parkway to Bay Ridge, where we would catch the Staten Island Ferry over to the St. George Terminal. We would then head out into the still-bucolic hills to the charming Staten Island Zoo. It’s one of those endearing childhood memories for me, as sylvan as the lake we would picnic by.

As I marveled at the awesome span under construction and those fearless iron workers perched on the cables perilously high above the Narrows, I worried that the exciting maritime service would be discontinued. All of 9 years old, I authored my first letter to a politician, to then-Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr., the ensconced Democratic Machine boss who was City Hall.

My letter to the mayor alerted him to the plight of the monkey family that couldn’t drive and used the ferry to cross the channel separating the boroughs. I was a fan of the Curious George children’s books. 

Soon thereafter, delivered to our E. 105th St. mailbox, was a letter with “Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr., City Hall” as the return address. The letterhead was embossed with the New York City seal and personally signed by His Honor. He assured me the monkey family was not in peril, and that when the bridge opened, service would not be discontinued.

I bet it wasn’t a week after the bridge completion in 1964 that ferry service was sunk, along with my spirits. I wish I still had that letter. Little could I know at age 9 that I would be betrayed, lied to and gaslit over the same Verrazano Bridge later in life by my “congasman,” Jerrold L. Nadler. 

Jerrold L. entered Congress in 1992, after Congressmember Ted Weiss died a day before the primary election. Nadler was essentially installed by the Democratic Machine and has never faced faced a truly competitive election. 

He dissembled for 18 years — from 1992 to 2010 — about how he would rescind the toll. The consequences of this gas man’s lies have been grave for our city. 

The Verrazano Bridge, which the writer recalls watching being built during ferry boat rides with his family from Brooklyn to Staten Island. (Photo by Ajay Suresh)

I was always an infrastructure wonk. By age 4, I had learned the basics of engineering in my sandbox, where I built canals, forts, bridges, dams with spillways; I quickly discovered that water runs downhill, and when it’s natural course is dammed, will back up and then overflow around the edges. This allegory represents what happened with the natural flow of traffic and its toxic spillover into virtually every street within the Canal St. corridor, especially Broome St., where my family resides.

It’s clear that Jerrold L. has no engineering degree. 

As for the impeachment trial, Nadler is finally exacting a measure of partisan revenge against Donald J. Trump, who sparred with him several times in West Side real estate turf battles.

Impeachment and “Russia, Russia, Russia” have been designed by Hillary and the D.N.C. to cover up for their lack of policy that led to her pathetic loss to the world’s best-known game show host.

The flailing impeachment is thoroughly recognizable to the Russians, resembling the show trials under Stalin. But, if anyone ends up in a gulag, it might well be Joe Biden and his pathetic son, Hunter.

Biden actually engaged in a documented quid pro quo with Ukraine; it’s all recorded and available on YouTube. Biden addressed the Council of Foreign Relations in January 2018 and bragged, “I said, ‘We’re not gonna give you the billion dollars. … I’m gonna be leaving here in six hours, and if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch, he got fired and they put in place someone who was solid.” Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it.

Meanwhile, chip-off-the-ol’-block son Hunter, using Burisma cash, smoked crack with strippers in the V.I.P. room of a Washington, D.C., hustle joint. And he also knocked up one of the club’s go-go dancers, who is now suing him for child support. 

In regard to lost Verrazano Bridge toll revenue, I gave up counting 15 years ago when it was more than $200 million. Increased toll costs and traffic probably have probably doubled the rate of loss.

Tulsi 2020.

Rosenstein, who runs the Puffin Room alternative space on Broome St. in Soho, writes columns as The Angry Buddhist.


  1. Brendan Sexton Brendan Sexton January 15, 2020

    Well, this opinion piece is certainly impressively dyspeptic, especially since it was prompted by the act of Congress giving the writer (and I, and millions of others) what we wanted: reversal of the horrible toll deal that gave Staten Island free entry to Manhattan and gave the rest of us heartache and pollution. By the way, Nadler is a key member of the Congress that did this right thing.
    I just hope the letter is sour enough to turn readers away from the candidate it promotes, Tulsi, and toward any of the other, more worthy, Dems.

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