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Glen Oaks man’s suit targets traffic plan

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The suit was filed in Queens Civil Court by Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village and a candidate for the Council seat being vacated in 2009 by City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis). It contends that the New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission is invalid because federal money had not been committed to congestion pricing by the end of 2007."We're saying that this commission acted without authority. They have no authority to make a recommendation," said Friedrich, who is also a columnist for the TimesLedger. "All we're asking is that they enforce the law. The law is very simple."But Susan Kath, an attorney with the city's Corporation Counsel, said federal money had been committed to fund congestion pricing, citing a memorandum of understanding known as the Urban Partnership Agreement.She said the memorandum of understanding earmarked $354.5 million for congestion pricing and was signed off in September, before the Dec. 31 deadline."The statute required a commitment by the federal government and the government made that commitment," Kath said.Friedrich said the $354.5 million was not a "commitment" because the agreement says the U.S. Department of Transportation "intends to allocate" the money.The law that created the commission says the body would exist until June 30, 2012, or the law would expire if at least $250 million were not committed by the end of last year.At the same time he filed the suit, Friedrich requested a temporary restraining order to stop the commission from meeting.But Queens Supreme Court Judge Allan B. Weiss did not grant the emergency injunction, instead setting a Feb. 20 court date to hear Friedrich's case.Had Friedrich been successful in getting the restraining order, the report the commission unveiled Jan. 31 would not have been taken into account by state and city lawmakers, who have final say on congestion pricing, according to his attorney, Geoffrey Mazel.As a candidate for the Council, Friedrich said he is opposed to congestion pricing, calling it "a congestion tax on outer borough residents.""It will disproportionately hurt us. It's a Manhattan-centric plan," he said. "It's nothing but a high-priced toll moat around [Manhattan] to keep us outer-borough residents out."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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