Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
WNYC's Jim O'Grady caught this exchange on tape this morning as pols were gathering at Ray LaHood's high speed rail presser at New York's Penn Station -- (Transportation Nation)
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, NYC MTA Chair Jay Walder, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chief Chris Ward, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
Schumer: Hey, good to see you! Mr. Walder, Mr. Secretary, how are you? Chris!
Schumer: How we doing on the, um, Xanadu? I'm very interested in seeing (inaudible) teasing her, and I said the money should have gone to the ARC.
[Schumer was referring to NJ Governor Chris Christie's decision last week to put hundreds of million of dollars of public funding behind a private mall project -- after killing a $9 billion transit tunnel under the Hudson last fall.]
Lautenberg: Yeah well, there wasn't --
Schumer: Didn't they put state money into Xanadu?
Lautenberg: No. (Inaudible) We're doing good and we're on a mic, so I, uh -- do not feel free to express yourself. Our Governor is not here, I take it.
[The funding is, strictly speaking, Tax Increment Financing, or TIF meaning sales tax revenue goes straight to finance the project. So it's accurate to say its not state funding -- on the other hand, sales tax would ordinarily go to funding all of a state's needs, just not necessarily building a private mall.]
Lautenberg: He was not invited. (Inaudible) That's why I shut the microphone down.
Lautenberg: [To LaHood, a former Republican Congress member from Peoria] You -- you're the best thing that happened. First of all -- when they said it was going to be a Republican taking this job, I thought we had a Democrat who later on thought he was a Republican.
Schumer: No, he gets along with everybody. You know who pushed for him? Rahm Emanuel.
LaHood: He did. Are we ready?
[Schumer was also recently caught chatting with aides before a conference call -- the New York Times story on that is here.]
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