Just when you thought the controversial 15 minutes of fame were up for MTA Board Vice Chairman David S. Mack, yet another controversy strikes. It seems our favorite MTA Board member likes to role play as a state trooper as well. William Neuman of the New York Times has the story:
David S. Mack has turned in his free E-ZPasses. Now the State Police want him to turn in his badge.
Even before Mr. Mack, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority vice chairman, made headlines this month by declaiming loudly (although briefly) in favor of free travel perks for the authority’s board members, he was being sought by the State Police, who had a rather unusual request.
It seems that Mr. Mack, a wealthy Long Island construction executive, is something of a police buff. So much so that in 1995, a few months after George E. Pataki became governor, Mr. Mack was made an unpaid deputy superintendent of the State Police.
The post came with a badge and gave him the right to wear a state trooper’s uniform, which he often did while attending ceremonial events like police academy graduations.
But Mr. Mack’s appointment was seen as political — he and other members of his family have long been major donors to Republican candidates, including Mr. Pataki — and shortly after Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, became governor, in January 2007, the governor’s office told Mr. Mack that his association with the State Police was over.
A State Police spokesman, Lt. Glenn R. Miner, said that Mr. Mack was sent a “letter of termination” dated Jan. 19, 2007, signed by William F. Howard, an aide who was later involved in the scandal over Mr. Spitzer’s reported use of State Police travel records to discredit the State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno.
After David A. Paterson became governor this year, he asked the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, to begin a broad investigation into the State Police and into whether political considerations interfered with the workings of the department.
As part of that investigation, officials learned that Daniel Wiese, a former trooper who had been close to both Mr. Pataki and Mr. Spitzer, had maintained a relationship with the State Police after he retired in 2003, and had also been allowed to keep his badge.
According to a state official, Mr. Cuomo’s investigators asked the department if there were other people not on the force who had State Police badges — and Mr. Mack’s name surfaced. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the attorney general’s investigation is continuing.
A check revealed that Mr. Mack had not turned in his badge, as he was supposed to have done when he was terminated.
Mr. Miner said that the department left a phone message for Mr. Mack last week but did not immediately receive a response. He said that Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt finally spoke with Mr. Mack earlier this week and that Mr. Mack agreed to return the badge — a gold-colored metal shield that is typically carried in a wallet. He said that Mr. Mack also agreed to send in his uniform.
“Everything is being returned,” Mr. Miner said. He said that it was not clear whether Mr. Mack had been told that he had to hand in the badge when he was terminated.
Mr. Miner said that during the time that Mr. Mack was associated with the State Police, he served as an advisor on real estate issues like the lease or purchase of property for police stations. Mr. Mack did not return phone calls from a reporter to his home and office on Thursday.
Mr. Mack has also had a longstanding relationship with the Nassau County Police Department.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the department, said that Mr. Mack has served as an unsalaried assistant commissioner since at least the mid-1980s.
Mr. Smith said that Mr. Mack consults with the department on its real estate transactions. He said that Mr. Mack was issued a police badge by the department but did not wear a uniform.
Mr. Mack, who lives in Nassau County, retained his position with the Police Department there after his State Police position ended.
Mr. Mack created a furor last week in his role as a vice commissioner of the transportation authority when he opposed limiting lifetime free travel perks given to board members and said that he might not ride the Long Island Rail Road if he had to pay. (He said, however, that he had already turned in six free E-ZPasses that he had been given.)
His support for the perks was criticized by Governor Paterson, and Mr. Mack quickly reversed himself, agreeing to a change that would allow board members to use free E-ZPasses and subway, bus and commuter rail passes only while they were on authority business.
The board voted on Wednesday to make that change.
The loss of his E-ZPasses was also prompted by Mr. Cuomo, who told the authority last month that the perks violated a law that board members serve without compensation.
Geez Mack, maybe you should take a vacation & get away from New York for a bit.
xoxo Transit Blogger