Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — A sad-looking little girl squeezes an asthma inhaler, with a message imploring lawmakers to approve Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to reduce traffic and pollution by charging motorists who drive into Manhattan.

The tag line: “She cannot hold her breath waiting for Albany to act.”

The flier was mailed last week to 350,000 households throughout the city, urging residents to call lawmakers in Albany. The state Legislature would have to come back for a special session to approve the plan before a Monday application deadline for federal funding. The campaign was paid for by the Partnership for New York City, a business group that is a chief supporter of the mayor’s plan.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat and an outspoken critic of the congestion pricing plan, denounced the image of the asthmatic girl as a political ploy.

“The mayor’s car tax is not a cure for asthma — what it is is a giant bureaucracy funded by a regressive tax,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg’s plan calls for a three-year pilot program that would charge drivers a fee — $8 for cars and $21 for trucks — in the city’s most heavily congested zone. His administration says it would reduce traffic and improve air quality.

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