Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Former New York Governor David Paterson has been nominated by his successor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to serve on the board of New York’s MTA.
As governor, Paterson presided over some of the deepest cuts the MTA had to sustain in generations — but he also vociferously stumped for East River bridge tolls to fund transit. Those tolls foundered when they arrived at the state legislature, and a patched-up plan left MTA finances in a continually precarious position.
Paterson also appointed Jay Walder, a respected transportation professional, to run the MTA.
“I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nomination of former Governor David Paterson to the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority,” said Joseph Lhota, the current head of the MTA, in a statement. “I have known the former Governor for 35 years and look forward to the opportunity to work with him again. He has long shared the Governor’s commitment to our mission of providing safe, efficient and effective transportation to more than 8.5 million riders every day.
“Once confirmed by the Senate, former Governor Paterson will bring a unique and practical perspective, particularly with respect to issues affecting minority communities and disabled New Yorkers. I look forward to former Governor Paterson bringing to our board deliberations the charm, wit and compassion he has shown throughout his public life.”
Transit activists were also pleased with the appointment. “With another planned fare hike looming in January 2013, Paterson’s experience as a governor and state senator will prove critical to working with Albany lawmakers to find new funding for our transit system, sparing overburdened New Yorkers yet another fare hike,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, in a statement.
Paterson, the former Lt. governor, was elevated to governor when his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned after it emerged he had consorted with prostitutes.
Paterson, who is legally blind, had previously been a state senator from Harlem. As governor, Paterson became embroiled in his own scandals, involving an accusation of domestic violence against one of his top aides, and a possible cover-up. Paterson chose not to run for re-election, and now hosts his own radio show.
Paterson will replace Nancy Shevell, a GOP fundraiser and trucking executive, who resigned after marrying former Beatle Paul McCarthy.