On Tuesday, I blogged about MTA CEO & Executive Director Elliot Sander getting approved for a $10,000 increase to his total salary compensation package. Since then, bloggers, media, & transit advocates have expressed concern or outrage at the raise. Now the Daily News has joined in via their editorial section which had this piece titled “Get Off The Gravy Train”:
The subways are flat broke, busted. Straphangers are facing a fare hike in 2009, the second in two years. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not have the money to deliver promised improvements and might actually be forced to cut service.
So, hey, let’s give MTA Chief Executive Lee Sander a $10,000 raise on top of the $340,000 compensation called for in his contract, and let’s make it retroactive to January, and, while we’re at it, let’s build in guaranteed future raises.
That’s what the MTA okayed. And how dumb and infuriating can they be? Plenty of both.
Sander and his boss, Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, are doing their level best to convince New York that they are out-of-touch plutocrats who share a rarefied sense of privilege.
No, 10 grand won’t break the budget. It’s the thought – or rather the lack of thinking – that counts. And it’s the same boneheaded tone-deafness that Hemmerdinger showed in trying to defend lifetime E-ZPasses and transit passes for former MTA board members.
The message he and Sander are sending is that sacrifice starts with straphangers – the very public Hemmerdinger and Sander will need at their side in the coming battle for transit funding in Albany.
Oh, them. The riders. The toll payers. The people who are getting hammered every which way by rising prices, don’t get a break on anything and certainly can’t top off big fat paychecks with a couple hundred bucks more a week.
Sander has just begun what’s going to be a long drive to press the Legislature and governor for money. He’s got the facts on his side. The MTA’s operating budget is as much as $700 million in the red. Unless the state comes through – as was promised – the riders will pay huge freight. At the same time, the MTA’s budget for maintaining and expanding the system itself is a whopping $20 billion out of whack.
Sander and Hemmerdinger must put the focus on getting money from Albany instead of on the generous perks they get for running the show. That they can offer a rationale for why Sander’s $10,000 hike makes policy sense is meaningless.
(For the record, other management employees got 3% raises to keep them on pace with unionized workers; Sander makes less than transit bosses in other cities; some of Sander’s subordinates got contractual raises; you have to pay well to keep talent, and so on and so forth.)
You have heard it all before.
What you should now hear is that, starting with Sander, those at the top will turn back programmed raises until MTA finances are fairly squared away. They, too, must sacrifice.
I happen to agree with the last point made about Sander & others at the top turning back programmed raises. Such an action has been done by many executives in different sectors so this would not be that difficult to do. Now do I expect this to happen? No, I do not although if Elliot did do this, it would fit his makeup from what I could tell. I am not holding my breath though as even the good guy makes the wrong choice at times.
xoxo Transit Blogger