MTA Releases A Statement On Board Member Passes

Over the last number of days, many outlets, including this very blog, have come down hard on the MTA for the free perks their board members receive. The storm of criticism only became bigger after MTA Board Vice President David Mack declared he only rode the LIRR because of his free pass amongst other idiotic ramblings over the last few days. After all of this, the MTA has finally issued a press release concering the free passes. Here is the short press release:

“We believe the policy change regarding use of free passes proposed by Chairman Hemmerdinger and Executive Director/CEO Sander is fair and appropriate and we are optimistic that it will be approved by the MTA Board at next Wednesday’s meeting.”

note: A resolution will be put to vote on Wednesday that rescinds free transportation passes for former board members and restricts current board usage of free passes to official MTA business.

One would think they would have said this days ago….

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Voting Details On The Defeated Bus Camera Bill

Earlier today Ben Fried of Streetsblog posted a report providing an exclusive voting breakdown for the bill that supported the installation of bus-mounted enforcement cameras. Here is Ben’s report courtesy of Streetsblog:

A source sends along this roll call of the State Assembly transportation committee’s vote on bus-mounted enforcement cameras. The names come from the official record; whether the record accurately reflects who raised a hand and who didn’t is not certain, for reasons explained below. Note that the vote was on whether to table the bill, so “Yes” actually means “No” to better bus lane enforcement. You can match names to districts here.

YES: (14)
Gantt, Lafayette, Weisenberg, Hoyt, Perry, DelMonte, Latimer, Lupardo, Alessi, Gabryszak, Hyer-Spencer, Titone, Schimel, Spano.

NO: (11)
Cusick, Millman, R. Diaz, Maisel, McDonough, Thiele, Bacalles, Errigo, Reilich, Giglio, Tobacco.

Among the “Yes” column, Lafayette, Perry, Hyer-Spencer, and Titone represent districts in the five boroughs.

Multiple sources told Streetsblog that the vote was held soon after committee chair David Gnatt called the meeting, at around two in the afternoon. They described a rushed scene in which advocates and legislators were scrambling to make it to the room where the meeting was held. The location of committee meetings is not known, even to legislators, until the chair announces it.

Not everyone on the committee made it in time for the vote. According to parliamentary rules, the votes of absent members are automatically counted as “Yes” votes. There is some time between the committee vote — in this case, a show of hands — and the official recording of the roll call. During this gap, one source told us, legislators can change how their vote is recorded, but the tally of the committee vote cannot be altered.

That clears things up, right?

How sad is it that 4 of the politicians against the bill represent parts of NYC?  It is quite sad in my opinion as if anyone should know how badly these cameras are needed, you would think it would be local politicians. This is just another sad day for riders who depend on buses.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Mack Backpedals

MTA Board Vice President David S. Mack has now backpedaled on his outrageous statements about the free perks he & other MTA board members receive. Here is his statement which was released through the MTA Press Office & posted on the New York Times City Room Blog:

I regret that my comments yesterday did not reflect my commitment to the M.T.A and the work it does to provide the best public transportation system in the United States. My colleagues on the board are dedicated to keeping fares low, services efficient and continue to look for ways to make improvements to the system. I am proud to serve on this board, and I support Chairman Hemmerdinger and his policies. I plan to vote next week in support of changing our policies so that free passes for our transportation systems are used only by current board members, who are on official M.T.A. business.

Does anyone for one second believe he had a sudden change of heart? This is the same man who referred to the general driving & riding public as “common people”. His backpedaling reeks of someone who had his arm twisted by a fellow colleague. I also find the comment exchange in the City Room’s entry interesting. One particular comment that caught my eye was posted by Adrien who stated:

It seems strange to me that the MTA would fight to put striking union leaders behind bars and fine each union member worker when they are trying to preserve basic standards like bathroom breaks.

Meanwhile- the people making the rules refuse to give up illegal perks? While throwing the actual workers in jail and fining those with nothing, they fight over what perks they deserve just for coming into a few meetings… disgrace- thank goodness Paterson and Cuomo are around.

The exchange has even gone into the issue of the class level in society of board members & the riding public. To check out the comment exchanges, click here for the City Room entry.

xoxo Transit  Blogger

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Gov. Patterson Issues A Statement On Free Perks

Earlier today, New York State Governor David A. Patterson issued a statement on the hotly debated issue of free perks received by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board members. Here is his statement courtesy of the New York State Governor website:

According to published reports, some members of the MTA board are considering voting in opposition to Chairman Hemmerdinger’s proposal to restrict their own personal use of free E-ZPass tags, commuter rail passes, and other special benefits. At a time when millions of state residents are feeling the pinch of an economy in turmoil and struggling to support their families, such a decision would demonstrate an utter contempt for average New Yorkers. And according to Attorney General Cuomo, it would violate the law. These board members, while valuable to the MTA, are certainly not above the law. If MTA board members truly want to better understand the system they oversee, they should pay the same tolls and fares as everyone else, and be part of the public transportation system that millions of New Yorkers depend on every day.

Gov. Patterson is 100% correct on his thoughts. Someone really needs to show these board members that they are not above the law. If it takes a lawsuit & fallout from it, so be it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Andrew Cuomo Threatens To Sue MTA Board Members

As you know by now, the free perks received by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board members have come under harsh criticism from riders, transit advocates, & elected officials. The most peeved individual might be New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who has questioned the legality of these perks. Now word has come out that Mr. Cuomo might sue MTA Board members over these perks.

The New York Sun filed this brief report:

New York’s attorney general says he’ll sue board members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority if they refuse to give up their freebies.

The Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, was responding today to a published report that several board members would oppose a restriction on their use of free E-ZPass tags, and transit and commuter rail passes.

The board is scheduled to vote on the resolution next week.

The MTA had no immediate comment.

On May 29, the nation’s largest mass-transit agency said it planned to rescind former board members’ free-travel perks and restrict current members to using the privilege only for official business.

This issue will just not go away fast enough for the MTA. Let me state that I am glad that it won’t as the abuse of the everyday person has gone on for far too long.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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