Defending Elliot’s Raise

Yesterday’s meetings at MTA headquarters were mainly highlighted by more gloomy as far as their finances go. However I will go into that in the next entry. At the end of one of the meetings, MTA CEO & Executive Director Elliot Sander took some questions from the media. Unfortunately for those like myself who were watching the webcast of the meetings, it was just about impossible to make out the questions being asked.

The one question that seemed audibile enough was about the timing of Mr. Sander’s raise & how it would look to the riding public during these tough financial times. If I am not mistaken, New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue asked the question. Speaking of Pete, he has a report about this very topic which will appear in today’s editon of the Daily News. Here is his report:

Elliot Sander took one for the team.

The MTA CEO on Monday defended his May pay raise as a strategy to keep top executives from taking higher-paying jobs at other transit agencies.

“Our ability to retain and attract talent is significantly at risk,” Sander told reporters. “The reality is the salary structure at the MTA is set in relationship to my salary.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger agreed, citing the loss of two cherished baseball teams decades ago.

“We have to do all we can do keep talented people here and not abandon them to, say, Los Angeles like the Dodgers and the [San Francisco] Giants,” Hemmerdinger said.

As the MTA’s finances were tanking, Sander renegotiated his contract with Hemmerdinger, who increased his annual economic package by $10,000 to $350,000. That includes salary, a housing allowance and a retirement-fund contribution.

The amended contract calls for salary increases of at least 3% in 2009 and 2010 and possible bonus payments totaling $25,000.

Shifting some funds from Sander’s housing allowance to salary, now $290,000, also will mean a higher pension since government pensions are set using salary levels during the last three years of employment.

All told, Sander stands to make more than $382,000 in 2010.

“Certainly, I think that I would have preferred that the timing would have been different,” Sander said.

There really hasn’t been a good time since he arrived in January 2007, he noted.

“This is an issue that I was focused on from the time this job was offered to me,” he said. “Over the past year and a half, there has never been a good time. Basically, we’ve been in constant discussion about fares and tolls over that period.”

I am on the record about my opinion of this raise which can be read here. I can understand Dale’s point about being competitive in compensation compared to fellow transit executive peers. However at a time when your financial situation is so dire, the timing of this could not be any worse. If Elliot even considered leaving his post for better compensation so quickly, he clearly was not the right man for the job to begin with. He knew what was going on before he signed up so he should stick it out & his just due would come. The MTA needs people who are in this for the long haul & the right thing to do would have been to hold off & fix your financial issues first. Even if the amount wouldn’t change the dire situation,  public perception has to count for something.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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As The Mack Continues

Over the last number of days, this blog along with many other media outlets have covered the ongoing issue concerning the free perks MTA Board members such as board Vice Chairman David S. Mack receive. New York Daily News Transit Reporter Pete Donohue now reveals that Mr. Mack along with some other current & past board members recieve special parking permits. Here is Pete’s story courtesy of the New York Daily News:

Hey, Mack, HOW about the police-issued parking permit too?

The MTA’s foot-in-mouth vice chairman, David Mack, is one of nearly three dozen current and former board members who scored special parking permits from the agency’s own police department, records reveal.

Mack’s park-almost-anywhere placard goes along with his six free E-ZPasses and lifetime passes for bridges, tunnels, commuter trains, subways and buses.

Mack touched off a firestorm of criticism last week when he said he wouldn’t ride the Long Island Rail Road if he had to pay the fare.

He also said rider complaints to MTA staff are tossed in the trash – but his gripes trigger action and results.

The wealthy Long Island developer apologized the next day and pledged to vote to end the decades-old practice of free passes for MTA board members.

A vote is scheduled for Wednesday on that measure, which doesn’t address parking permits or E-ZPasses.

One former MTA executive said Mack has several of the special parking permits. Records provided to the Daily News by the authority don’t indicate Mack has multiple placards – but he was granted six free E-Z Pass tags by the authority. He has about 17 cars.

Along with Mack, current board Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, Westchester representative Donald Cecil and several nonvoting rider or union representatives have the placards.

Last year, the MTA reduced the number of MTA parking permits in solidarity with Mayor Bloomberg’s crackdown on city-issued permits. But records show that 33 current and former MTA board members weren’t touched by the MTA’s trimming and managed to hang on to their authority parking placards.

I can’t say that I am surprised to find out about this. It begs to question, what else do current & past board members receive in terms of free perks? I expect to read a report soon that states how they get free dinners, movie passes, & vacations too! This is beyond ridiculous at this point which is why an independent panel should look into these perks & how some board members hung on to perks that were cutoff for others.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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M103 Service Alert Details

Earlier this morning, I posted an entry about a M103 service alert which led to the detours which are still in place as I write this entry. The incident referred to in the service alert was the result of a dump truck hitting a Fung Wah bus. Sewell Chan of the New York Times City Room Blog posted this report:

A commercial dump truck rammed into a bus in Chinatown on Monday morning, sending it onto the sidewalk and crashing into the front of a bank, killing a 57-year-old woman and injuring four others, including two police officers, officials said.

The fatally injured woman, who authorities said was struck by debris that fell from a sign as she was trying to cross the street, was pronounced dead at the scene. She was later identified as Lai Ho, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The authorities said she might have died of a heart attack after being hit by the debris.

Three people who were inside the bus — a driver and two passengers — were taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. A fourth person inside the bus was taken to New York Downtown Hospital in stable condition.

The driver of the dump truck was reported to be in critical, but stable, condition. The driver — identified as Alejandro Fallo, 54 — was conscious and passed a Breathalyzer test administered at the scene, the authorities said.

“The only thing I can tell you is that it was a dump truck coming over the Manhattan Bridge, that somehow went out of control and struck a bus,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said this morning, who was speaking at a news conference at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, before a ceremony for police recruits. “The bus then struck a lamp post and a fire hydrant, and went into a bank. A woman that was struck is in very serious condition. I’m not certain if it’s a fatality. A police car — a CRV van — was also struck. Two of our officers were injured as well.”

The van, known as a critical response vehicle or CRV, was on routine patrol as part of the Police Department’s counterterrorism initiatives, the authorities said. The two officers in the van were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The dump truck was operated of CPQ Freight System, based in East Rutherford, N.J., traveled from the Manhattan Bridge, clipped three vans as it went along, then — at the northeast corner of Bowery and Canal — crashed into a Fung Wah bus parked in front of 147 Canal Street. The bus, part of a company that operates intercity bus lines, had its cargo doors open. Passengers were waiting outside to board the bus.

The force of the collision spun the front of the bus toward the right and into a storefront at 77 Bowery, where the United Commercial Bank is located. Several attempts to reach the bank’s representatives by phone were unsuccessful. The rear of the bus swung into the Bowery. A lamp post was also knocked down.

Jimmy Zocco, a painter who was sitting in a van when the accident, said: “A dump truck came flying off the bridge. He hit the back of the bus and dragged it into the street.” He said of the 20 or so people waiting to board the bus: “They scattered. They ran. They saw it coming.” The dump truck also knocked over a fire hydrant.

The Sanitation Department was not involved in the accident, but sent workers to help with cleaning up antifreeze, coolant and other liquids that were released by the vehicles during the collision, city officials said.

Al Baker, Dmitry Kiper and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

My condolences go out to the friends & family of Lai Ho who must deal with this awful tragedy.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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C Train Service Alert

The MTA has posted a service alert regarding train service. The service alert states:

Due to a police investigation at the Kingston-Throop Avenue Station, Euclid Avenue-bound trains are running on the express track between the Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street Station and the Broadway Junction Station.

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M103 Service Alert

The MTA has posted a service alert regarding M103 service. The service alerts states:

Due to a traffic accident at the intersection of Canal Street and the Bowery, the M103 bus is detoured as follows:

Northbound – Left on Canal Street, Right on Centre Street, Right on Kenmare Street, Left on Bowery, then regular route.

Southbound – Right on Delancey Street, Left on Broadway, Left on Canal Street, Right on Bowery, then regular route.

Please expect delays in M103 bus service at this time.

xoxo  Transit Blogger

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