Mayor Bloomberg Clashes With MTA Board

A battle of rich people is coming to your home via PPV real soon. Ok, I am not being serious about the battle coming to PPV but it is brewing. The battle is between Mayor Bloomberg & the MTA Board over who shoudl be appointed the next chairman of a key transit committee that helps set policy including such key tasks as whether fares get raised or not. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue had this report:

Mayor Bloomberg and the MTA are clashing over who should be the next chairman of a key transit committee that helps set policy – including whether or not to raise fares.

Bloomberg would like to see lawyer Mark Lebow, one of the mayor’s four representatives on the board, named head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s transit committee, sources said. Lebow has been vice chairman of the panel, which focuses on subways and buses, for six years.

But MTA brass have told City Hall officials that the vacancy won’t go to a city rep because the MTA essentially is a state agency, sources said. MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, who makes the final call, was picked by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, as was MTA CEO Elliot Sander.

There appears to be a growing rift between City Hall and the MTA. On Monday, Lebow and another mayoral appointee aggressively grilled transit management about train delays, cost overruns and other issues. Lebow openly questioned whether there was a talent drain at NYC Transit and lax supervision, which NYC Transit President Howard Roberts hotly rejected.

City representatives also were poised to vote against an amendment to the MTA’s capital plan if a vote was scheduled for this week.

Still, both sides Tuesday denied there was a power struggle taking place. The committee chairman has influence over what proposals are brought up for discussion and votes, and has a higher profile than others on the committee. Until recently, it was led by longtime board member Barry Feinstein, whose latest term expired.

“We believe the job of committee chairman should go to whomever is the most qualified person,” Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said. “We don’t believe that people who happen to be representatives of the city should be preemptively blocked from getting there.”

One transit source said Doreen Frasca, another governor-nominated MTA board member, is on track to get the leadership position.

“No decision has been made,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin insisted. “The chairman is going to choose the person he thinks is the best fit … regardless of affiliation or appointment.”

The full MTA board today is expected to adopt a policy change that ends free lifetime travel perks for board members and their spouses. Current members will still get free access to subways, buses, commuter trains, and bridges, but only if related to their official duties. Hemmerdinger also will direct former board members to turn in their parking permits issued via the MTA Police Department. That recall doesn’t need board approval, officials said.

Personally I don’t care for this battle as both parties are coming across as spoiled children. The main goal should be placing the most qualified individual in the position. While we have a better chance of seeing pigs fly, the MTA should consider your average straphanger or a solid transit advocate for the position. If not for this position, a place on the board even if it is in a non-voting capacity at the beginning.

xoxo  Transit Blogger

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