Streams

 

Andrew Cuomo

WNYC News

Closed-Door Talks Continue on 3,500 NY Layoffs

Friday, October 14, 2011

Closed-door negotiations continue in Albany to reach an agreement that would avoid laying off 3,500 New York state employees.

Comment

Transportation Nation

NY-NJ Port Authority Chief Confirms He’ll Leave By Month’s End, Lays Out Plan For Brooklyn Waterfront

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chris Ward, head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- Until Month's End (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Chris Ward confirmed he'll be stepping down as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by the end of this month. Ward spoke after giving a speech at a Municipal Arts Society conference in Manhattan.

The fact of Ward’s departure, though not its timing, has been known for a couple of weeks. Ward has used public occasions since then to describe tumultuous episodes in his three-year tenure that had left him feeling “burned” by politics, none more so than the recent bruising fight to raise tolls and fares at Hudson River crossings.

Today he said that topic was off the table, adding that “for those of you who are looking for the parting shot of an executive director, I will not speak ill of where we find ourselves here within this region."

He denied reports that he was leaving his post because of a poor relationship with Governor Cuomo. “I spoke to his staff all the time,” he said. “My relationship with Governor Cuomo didn’t prevent me from doing what I wanted to get done.”

Ward also said he hadn’t arranged his next career move. “Reports that I have a new job are inaccurate,” he said. Neither did he know who might replace him at the Port Authority. Asked whether anyone had mentioned to Ward the idea of running for mayor of New York City, he affirmed, "It has been mentioned."

In his speech, Ward made some final policy recommendations: saying the city should revitalize the Brooklyn waterfront by replacing Red Hook's maritime businesses with a high-capacity ferry to a densely developed Governors Island.

Ward said, “I will state here today, as the outgoing director of the Port Authority, that Governors Island will never realize its full economic potential so long as the Red Hook Container Terminal remains a container terminal.”

Ward used to be CEO of American Stevedoring, the chief maritime business in Red Hook. Now he’d like to see those kinds of operations concentrated in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

“There’s a tremendous amount of nostalgia for the Brooklyn waterfront, driven by the idea that container terminals create huge amounts of jobs,” he said. “We have the image of the Brooklyn waterfront of men leaving their homes, kissing their mothers and wives goodbye, carrying their lunch, thousand of them, working on the waterfront. That model is no longer the case.”

He said the Red Hook waterfront should instead serve as a mass transit connection to Governors Island. As for the island, Ward said some parkland and historic structures should be preserved, but the rest of it should be developed in a way that would make it self-sustaining, “or you will face infrastructure and operating costs of 65 to 100 million dollars a year in a city which is desperately trying to close its budget.”

 

Read More

Comment

The Empire

MTA head search exposes Cuomo's first priority in hires: himself

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Our sister site Transportation Nation followed up on reports that the search to replace Jay Walder as head of the MTA may be soon over. Former Giuliani aide Joseph Lhota is said to be leading the pack as a possible candidate.

 

If Lhota was picked, Governor Cuomo would be replacing a transit professional with a manger with experience handling government. He'd also be putting a former Republican operative into the driver seat of the often vilified agency Republicans from around the state are working to strip of revenue via the payroll tax they say is crippling local economies and fundamentally unfair.

From the Transportation Nation piece:

The precipice on which the NY MTA teeters consists of several difficulties: a 2012-2015 capital construction plan with a $10 billion dollar shortfall; a looming contract negotiation with Transport Workers Union Local 100 that, by all signs, will be acrimonious; a threat from a group of state legislators to cut the dedicated revenue stream that is the regional payroll mobility tax, which last year contributed $1.3 billion to authority coffers. That’s about an eighth of the authority’s operating budget.

Sources differed on Lhota’s ability to rise to those challenges. The NY MTA needs someone “who can handle the union relationships, the crisis of money, and Lhota will get it faster than most people,” said one. Another thought the Republican Lhota could help the Democrat Cuomo beat back a Republican-led push in the state legislature to eliminate the payroll mobility tax.

But a third believed Lhota was the front-runner precisely because he won’t speak up too loudly for the needs of mass transit: “He’s going to be the person who makes the cuts without making any demands on the state budget. He may even then turn around and say to the city, ‘It’s all your fault.’ He’s going to protect Andrew Cuomo from the hard choices.”

The replacement process, and the potential Lhota pick, is illuminating a tendency in the Cuomo administration. The search committee members signed confidentiality agreements--not unusual by themselves. What was interesting was how tight-lipped everyone actually was. The fact this information was leaked even led some people close to the process to wonder if it wasn't a Cuomo-controlled event meant to test public reaction to Lhota's candidacy.

If things are as they are shaping up to be, and Lhota is the front runner, the third quoted paragraph is the most interesting. In, at best, creating a hostile environment for Walder, the Cuomo administration made a decision to alienate a transit lifer liked by both elected officials and transit advocates.

A Lhota appointment look based on political calculations more than anything else. The Cuomo people are signaling an interest in reducing their exposure to potential political problems, not in solving the agency’s unsustainable financial crisis. This of course was created over the years by politicians worried about their political exposure.

If you add in the push-out of Chris Ward at the Port Authority, it's Cuomo's top priority is having his people in key, highly-public posts who will put the governor’s political interests first.

But who does that serve, if political decisions are put ahead of qualification or competency, other than Cuomo's public image and political leverage? It's a question that will continue to be asked if Lhota ends up at the top of the MTA pile.

Read More

Comments [3]

The Empire

Cuomo says PEF talks "ongoing"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s still trying to work out his disagreements with the state worker union, the Public Employees Federation, so that there are no layoffs. Already 3,500 pink slips have gone out.

The union has scheduled an executive board meeting for Monday October 17th, two days before the layoffs are slated to occur.

Cuomo says talks are “ongoing” with the union, and he’s “doing everything” he can do to avert the scheduled job cut backs.

“On the human level, I don’t want to see 3,500 people or so laid off,” said Cuomo “I don’t want to see 3,500 families go through that.”

But the governor says it’s up to the PEF leadership to convince its members to vote on the latest contract offer.

On Tuesday, PEF President Ken Brynien complained that Cuomo’s negotiators weren’t providing enough details of a new offer, and accused the administration of dragging its feet. But today there was a notice on the PEF website saying “the lines of communication between PEF and the state remain open," and that the union is trying to reach a deal.

Read More

Comments [1]

The Empire

Despite assurances, Senate Republicans show little movement on prisoner reallocation

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Senator Nozzolio at the most recent LATFOR meeting on Staten Island. (Courtesy of LATFOR)

Last week,a judge heard oral arguments on whether a law requiring New York State prisoners to be counted where they lived prior to being incarcerated for the purposes of redistricting should be upheld. Senate Republicans, who brought the suit, could really use a ruling against the law. Tens of thousands of upstate prisoners have helped boost predominantly rural areas population numbers. The effect has been more upstate seats, held mostly by Republicans.

But until a ruling is handed by the judge in the case—which could be as least as two months from now—LATFOR is bound by the law to draw lines that count prisoners in their communities. All those involved say they’re committed to following the law. That includes Republican Senator Michael Nozzolio, who, in a September 30 letter to the other members of the committee, said LATFOR should “immediately begin” the technical process of correctly identifying which prisoners should be counted where.

The thing is that Nozzolio’s colleagues in the State Assembly, according to documents, have already finished the process, and have submitted the geocoded prisoner database to the LATFOR committee. The Senate Republicans have known their Assembly colleagues have been working on complying with the law since at least the August 10 LATFOR meeting in White Plains, when a representative for the Assembly discussed where they were at in the process with Nozzolio.

A few weeks later they finished, producing documents that detail how they were able to identify 70 percent of prisoners out of the 58,000 in the state could be counted. The other 30 percent were either out-of-state prisoners, Federally incarcerated, or had invalid address for whatever reason.

That was the Friday before Labor Day. Weeks later Nozzolio issued his letter without a mention of the work done by the Assembly. In fact, looking at the letter, it could be read to suggest the Senator is calling for the process to start all over again.

But, as people testifying at LATFOR meetings have noted, the entire process is under both a compressed time frame and a tremendous amount of uncertainty. There’s the Federally mandated—and currently being litigated—requirement that New York move its primary date up in time for overseas service members to mail back ballots. When you add the promised veto by Governor Cuomo, the potential law suits, the time needed before deadlines for candidates to get on the ballot, and a picture of chaos begins to emerge.

With all this uncertainty it’s interesting that Nozzolio and the Senate Republicans—who have the most to lose from prisoner reapportionment—are saying they’ll conform to the law, but in practice aren’t taking the easy road. There doesn’t seem to be any actions accompanying Nozzolio’s letter from last month. A key member of LATFOR wasn’t present at the last public hearing, meaning any discussion about the reallocation process won’t happen until—at the earliest—at the October 27 meeting in Old Westbury.

I reached out to Nozzolio’s office a bit ago to find out why the Senator didn’t mention the work done by Assembly Democrats and to find out what, exactly, would impede his colleagues in the Senate from accepting their methodology. I’ll post their response.

After the jump are the Assembly's documents describing the process they used for reallocating prisoners.

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Tappan Zee Bridge Gets Expedited Approval, But Construction May Not Start for Years

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by Joseph A. via Flickr)

UPDATED The White House announced Tuesday that it will expedite permitting and environmental reviews for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, potentially the largest infrastructure job-creator in the U.S.

The White House also expedited the permitting and review processes for 13 other infrastructure projects, including new rail lines in Baltimore and Los Angeles, a housing project in Denver, and a wind power facility in Vermont.

The Tappan Zee Bridge connects New York's Rockland and Westchester Counties, and 135,000 vehicles cross it each weekday. It's over 55 years old and is in constant need of major and costly repairs.

An expedited federal review is supposed to move construction along faster by coordinating the permitting process. But the final bridge design has yet to be announced, and the White House says "the project is an ambitious one and construction will not begin for several years."

The Tappan Zee Bridge currently has no special transit capacity.  Initial plans included rail lines and bus rapid transit, but the future of transit on the bridge is unclear.

Five options for a new span are currently under review, including a "no build" alternative. Several of the options include bus rapid transit. Rail capacity looks unlikely, although it could be added later.

The Tappan Zee redesign started out as a joint project between the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York State Thruway, but is now being  The MTA's name was absent from the press release issued by Governor Cuomo today, and no MTA officials attended his two publicly stated meetings about the bridge (8/4/11, 5/20/11).

According to DOT officials, the project has been scaled back from its initial vision. Initially part of  30-mile long transportation corridor with costs potentially exceeding $21 billion, sources say the project has been re-scoped to focus solely on the bridge.  It's currently estimated to cost $5.2 billion.

The cost of running a rail line over a new Tappan Zee Bridge had been estimated to cost $6.7 billion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo heralded the White House announcement in a press release today, saying "the Tappan Zee project has the potential to generate more jobs than any other infrastructure project in the nation."

The DOT said the bridge "will deliver at least 33,000 job years through the duration of construction activities." But just when hiring will begin is unknown. There is no timeline for construction available yet, but the DOT said New York hopes to begin bidding the project out in August of 2012.

The governor said the bridge has an accident rate double the rest of the New York Thruway system, and also has serious vulnerabilities to extreme events such as severe storms, ship collision and earthquakes. And keeping it in good condition is both costly and unending: according to a February 2011 Wall Street Journal article, the state spent $146.8 million over the last five years on repairs, and has budgeted $148.8 million between 2010 and 2012 just to fix the Tappan Zee's deck.

The DOT said the state has indicated financing for the new bridge will primarily comes from issuing bonds secured through toll revenues. A detailed funding plan was not available. Calls to Governor Cuomo's office today were not returned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Comments [5]

The Empire

President Obama approves fast-track repair review for Tappan Zee Bridge

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It looks like Governor Andrew Cuomo's lobbying efforts paid off.

City Hall News reported this morning that Cuomo was pressing the Obama administration to make the deteriorating bridge one of fourteen national fast-tracked public infrastructure projects approved by the Federal government. Cuomo reportedly sent one of his top aides to Washington to make the governor's case for the Tappan Zee's selection.

"This is a shot in the arm for the project and a major step forward to restoring this key piece of our infrastructure and putting tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work," Cuomo said in a statement announcing the approval.

The governor's office said repairs to the bridge could begin as early as next year. Both Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver were quoted in the release, offering bipartisan support for the project which will cost the cash-strapped state tens of billions in repairs.

Just how the governor is planning on paying for the program was not mentioned in the announcement.

Read More

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Dems Tweak Infrastructure Proposal; Cuomo Wants Speedy Federal Approval for New Tappan Zee Bridge

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top stores on TN:

The ARC tunnel dispute fueled rancor between NJ Governor Christie and the Obama Administration. (Link)

GM signs car share agreement. (Link)

LIRR train (photo by Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons)

One New York politician wants the Long Island Rail Road to institute a bill of rights for passengers. (WNYC)

Jobs bill update: a procedural vote will come tonight. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are working on a Plan B: merge a corporate repatriation tax holiday to an infrastructure bank proposal. (Politico)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants speedy federal approval for a new Tappan Zee bridge. (Capitol Confidential)

Maryland leaders debate applying sales tax to gas purchases to boost funds for that state's infrastructure. (AP via Washington Post)

The future of Ann Arbor's transit system could include streetcars or monorail. (AnnArbor.com)

The NYC subway map did away with Charlton Street. (New York Times)

A project aimed at untangling an Amtrak, Metra, and freight train logjam broke ground yesterday on Chicago’s South Side. (WBEZ)

Should California allow hybrids with no passengers back into the carpool lane? Research says yes. (KQED)

Outgoing NY MTA head Jay Walder toured the top of the Verrazano Bridge. (NY Post)

How to store your bike in your apartment? Turn it into a bookshelf. (Apartment Therapy)

Read More

Comment

The Empire

Governor Cuomo's week in New York City

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been in New York City since last Wednesday, according to his daily public schedule. But he hasn't had a single public event. So what has the governor been doing with his time?

A call has been placed with his office. When we get an answer, we'll let you know.

Read More

Comments [1]

The Empire

The coming crunch on New York's local governments

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office

The Pew Center's state government blog Stateline has a great piece on Indiana and New York's battle to shrink local governments across the state. Here in New York, Governor Cuomo has been, for years, putting the pieces together for a major reduction and consolidation of the state's layer cake of overlapping governments.

This will be a story that continues to develop, as the new local tax cap is scheduled to take affect next year--something town mayors, county executives and others are starting to voice concerns about.

From the article:

Unlike in Indiana, cities, towns and counties in New York face strict mandates from the state on collective bargaining, binding arbitration, and wage, pension and benefit obligations. Municipal leaders have long argued that these mandates bear heavy responsibility for the cost of local government — and hence for rising property taxes. A December, 2010 report from the state Conference of Mayors, “You Can’t Cap What You Can’t Control,” pointed out that city pension and health insurance costs were due to rise $206 million in the next two years — while a 2 percent property tax cap, which is what eventually passed, would allow only $39 million in additional levies.

Cuomo created a “mandate relief redesign team,” and the state’s municipal leaders pressed the legislature hard on the issue, but in the end the tax caps passed without significant mandate relief. “The property tax is one of the most regressive and onerous taxes you can put in place,” says Sam Teresi, the mayor of Jamestown, a city of 31,000 in the far western corner of New York. “I for one do not oppose the notion of a property tax cap. But the legislature passed the tax cap as a standalone item, broke their arms patting themselves on the back, and left town without taking up mandate relief. If all you’re doing is choking off revenues for local governments and not allowing us to go in and attack the problem on the expenditure side of the ledger, then you’re going to be seeing municipal insolvencies around the state.”

The whole piece is worth a read. You can find it here.

Read More

Comments [1]

The Empire

Using the "C" word, Cuomo softens his position on redistricting

Friday, September 30, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capitol Bureau Chief

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo floated a possible alternative to his veto threat today, saying there may be room for a “compromise” in the congressional and legislative lines being drawn by Democrats and Republicans.

The governor has said for months that he would veto new redistricting lines that are not drawn in an independent, non-partisan manner. Despite that threat, the legislature has gone ahead with its traditional bipartisan task force that draws up new political boundaries every ten years.

Now, the governor says that, while the legislature’s process to redraw the lines is “flawed by design”, perhaps an agreement could be reached to avert the veto.

“To the extent that there is a situation where people would want to compromise, fine,” said Cuomo. “And I think there are conversations that are going on now.”

The veto option would plunge the redistricting process into the courts, a scenario Cuomo says could cause “chaos and confusion." But he says he won’t go back on his pledge, and will not accept gerrymandered districts.

Read More

Comments [1]

The Empire

Cuomo "open to tweaks" with PEF contract

Friday, September 30, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

WNYC's Richard Yeh picked up on Governor Cuomo's radio interview on sister station WCNY's "The Capitol Pressroom" show:

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he's keeping conversations open with the Public Employees Federation as the state's second largest labor union prepares what it calls "new ideas" for a contract agreement.

The Cuomo administration has sent pink slips to 3,500 PEF members this week, following the union's vote rejecting an earlier contract deal calling for wage freezes and higher healthcare premiums.

Cuomo said Friday on the "The Capitol Pressroom" show on WCNY Radio that he would consider tweaks to the contract deal, with some caveats.

"Of course I'm open to tweaks," he said. "We're talking about 3,500 people. Now, it depends on how you define tweak."

Read the rest of the piece here.

Read More

Comment

WNYC News

Cuomo: I'm Open to Tweaks in Union Contract

Friday, September 30, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he's keeping conversations open with the Public Employees Federation as the state's second largest labor union prepares what it calls "new ideas" for a contract agreement.

Comment

The Empire

Upstate legislators eye major Medicaid reform, but NYC counterparts remain doubtful

Friday, September 30, 2011

Senator Gallivan, center, with Assemblywoman Paulin, right, announcing the legislation (Courtesy of Senator Gallivan's YouTube channel)

Medicaid costs New York a lot of money. The state spends more than $53 billion a year to care for 4.7 million low-income people. That represents about 40 percent of the state’s entire budget.

For years the state has made localities bare a portion of the financial burden of the program. In most cases the Federal government and the state split the cost of the program, 50-50. In New York, counties and cities have to pony up about 16 percent of the program’s cost.

The idea, initially, was that, since New York City was where most of the people in the program lived, suburban and rural counties didn’t want to have to foot the bill. But now these same areas are nearing a financial breaking point, partly because of mounting Medicaid costs.

Re-shifting Medicaid Responsibility

A group of state legislators wants to do something about it. Last week, State Senator Patrick Gallivan, a Republican from Erie County, held a press conference with colleagues from both the Senate and the State Assembly, to announce legislation that will gradually phase out the local sharing program, shifting the total cost of Medicaid back to the state.

“Upstate counties are in trouble because of property taxes, and the upstate mandate of paying a local share of Medicaid services,” Gallivan said. “Every single county, I would say this is their single-biggest consumer of county tax dollars.”

Read More

Comments [3]

The Empire

Union prez to Cuomo: PEF prepared to present to the state new ideas

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office

NYS Public Radio Capitol Bureau Chief Karen DeWitt has an update on the battle between the Public Employees Federation and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Earlier this week PEF voted against a contract negotiated between the union's leadership and the governor's office. Now, PEF is hoping to bring the Governor back to the bargaining table.

Two days after one of the state’s two major worker unions rejected a contract, the Public Employees Federation President says he has “new ideas” for a contract settlement, and is anxious to meet with Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss options to avert the 3500 lay offs ordered by the governor.

Cuomo said the union should “reconsider” and has asked PEF to vote again on the same contract, which was defeated 54 percent to 46 percent. The message from the Cuomo administration is that a second vote on the same contract offer is the only way to rescind the nearly 3500 lay off notices that were distributed.

The governor settled a similar contract with the state’s other major union, the CSEA, and those union members who are exempt from any lay offs.

But PEF spokeswoman Darcy Wells said holding another vote on the same deal likely won’t make a difference.

“There’s no reason to believe our members would vote any differently,” Wells said.

Read the rest of this article on WNYC.org.

Read More

Comments [2]

The Empire

New Yorkers ready to throw the dice on casinos: Siena

Thursday, September 29, 2011

With the state's budget crunching giving state officials leave to look for interesting revenue streams, New Yorkers appear to support at least one of Governor Cuomo's ideas. According to a Siena Reseach poll released today, 57 percent of the respondents said they would support a constitutional change to allow gambling outside of Native American reservations in New York.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled believe the move will create significant jobs and bring in major revenue for the state. This, despite a majority of those polled agreeing that bringing gambling to New York will also bring additional crime and gambling addiction.

“Majorities of Democrats and Republicans, and of residents of every region of the state, support allowing Vegas-style casinos to be built here in New York. While there is concern about crime and compulsive gambling, the need for jobs and government revenues appears to far outweigh the downsides according to most New Yorkers and voters,” Don Levy, Siena Research Institute's director, said in a statement.

While Governor Cuomo appears to be supportive of the measure, New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg has called the move "regressive" and is not in favor of making it legal.

Read More

Comments [2]

The Empire

Transportation Nation: Walder, Cuomo signal next MTA head not necessarily transit wonk

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kate Hinds over at our sister blog Transportation Nation has a good piece up on some rumbling around the search for Jay Walder's replacement. You may recall Walder resigned last month and is set to leave office on October 21--meaning Governor Cuomo has less than a month to find, hire and announce Walder's replacement. That is, if Cuomo's sticking to earlier statements that he wanted someone in the seat when Walder left.

Kate quotes Walder as saying: “I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of mass transit. I don’t know that it’s an absolutely essential quality.”

In an interview with New York Public Radio's capitol bureau chief Karen DeWitt, Cuomo echoed similar sentiments:

The MTA primarily is an effective manager, and I think the ability to manage a complex process, that deals with highly technical services, in a political environment, in a large organization, at a financially strapped time, you know, that’s where we are. To me, the management is very important. Of course, the technical expertise, but you give me a good manager, who can run an organization, and find efficiency, that this organization is going to have to find, that’s going to be paramount.

Numerous calls into the governor's office to get word on the status of the replacement search have not been returned.

Read More

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

Jay Walder Says His Replacement Doesn't Need Transit Background

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jay Walder, taking questions from reporters the September 2011 MTA board meeting (photo by Kate Hinds)

The CEO of New York's MTA, Jay Walder, said that his successor doesn't necessarily have to have a transportation background -- but he or she does have to love it.

"Whoever runs this organization should be dedicated to the organization," he said,  and "be dedicated to what it does on a day-to-day basis." Walder went on to say: "I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of mass transit. I don't know that it's an absolutely essential quality."

His remarks came at his final meeting of the MTA board before he leaves for a job in Hong Kong next month, where he'll be heading that city's transit agency.

In an interview last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose administration is currently looking for Walder's replacement, also telegraphed that the next MTA chief may not come from the transportation world.  He told New York State Public Radio's Karen DeWitt in a telephone interview that his administration was engaged in a  "very aggressive talent search." And he said didn't necessarily want to hire a "transit geek."

"The MTA primarily is an effective manager, and I think the ability to manage a complex process, that deals with highly technical services, in a political environment, in a large organization, at a financially strapped time, you know, that's where we are," Cuomo said. "To me, the management is very important. Of course, the technical expertise, but you give me a good manager, who can run an organization, and find efficiency, that this organization is going to have to find, that's going to be paramount."

The next head of the MTA will be managing a delicate financial situation, as Walder pointed out in today's meeting. "As you look forward for the MTA, I think you need to be able to find a way to have both sufficient resources and stability of resources," he said. "I think the ups and downs of the economic cycle create financial burdens for the organization that's inconsistent with the fact that we have a service that continues to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And frankly, I don't think all of us don't want to see that service have to suffer through that."

When asked later if he had any regrets about his tenure, he said "I wish the economic situation I came into was different...[but] you have to play the hand you were dealt. And the hand we were dealt was one that said this was a very very difficult time financially."

But Walder said he was proud of the work the MTA had done under his tenure. "Nothing happens at the MTA because the person in the corner office at 347 Madison Avenue [MTA's current headquarters] says it should happen. Things happen at the MTA because 67,000 dedicated men and women make it happen." He repeatedly praised MTA staffers of all stripes -- from token booth clerks to management to his colleagues on the board. "When we say we're going to get something done, the result is truly, truly incredible."

When the meeting's official business was over -- and it was dispatched with in under 20 minutes -- board members took to the microphones to tell Walder how much they'd miss him. Nancy Shevell said that right after she began working with Walder, she told a friend "well, it's just a short matter of time before a large public-sector company scoops him up. And it happened, and I'm not surprised. And it's sad, in my opinion, for the MTA."

"You are the tallest person in the room," said Allen Cappelli Mark Lebow. "You will probably be the tallest person in China, and you will, I'm sure, be the tallest achiever there as you were here."  (Walder: "I think Yao Ming is going back.")

Governor Cuomo hasn't yet said when he will announce Walder's replacement. As for Walder, he greeted a Chinese-speaking reporter with a hearty "Ni Hao" -- and then said he was going down to the Rosetta Stone store.

 

 

 

Read More

Comments [3]

The Empire

Councilman Gennaro on draft DEC fracking rules: One step closer to possible "unprecedented contamination"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

William Alatriste / NYC Council Flikr

New York City Councilman James Gennaro is out with a strongly worded statement on the draft guidelines for hydrofracking released today by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Today’s release of [DEC’s] draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing brings us one step closer, in my opinion as both an environmental public policymaker and a geologist, to the possible unprecedented contamination of New York City drinking water and other drinking water supplies throughout the State and the degradation of a large swath of our state through the irreversible industrialization of ‘hydrofracking'," Gennaro said in the statement.

He went on to criticize DEC, saying, "[T]he DEC...chose to ignore hard science and its obligation to protect the drinking water supply for nine million New Yorkers in favor of its zeal to advance hydraulic fracturing."

Gennaro called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop the environmental agency's process. Today the agency announced draft regulations for hydrofracking. A public comment period on the proposed rules will last until December 12, 2011. DEC is holding a series of meetings for public comment that will last from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for each meeting:

  • Nov. 16: Dansville Middle School Auditorium, 31 Clara Barton St., Dansville, NY 14437
  • Nov. 17: The Forum Theatre, 236 Washington Street, Binghamton, NY, 13901
  • Nov. 29: Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Rd, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759
  • Nov. 30: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY, 10007

From the DEC press release:

Once the comment period is complete, DEC will review the comments on the revised draft [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement] and proposed regulations and prepare responses to be released with the final SGEIS and final regulations. No permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing will be issued until the SGEIS is finalized and DEC issues the required Findings Statement.

Read More

Comment

The Empire

Statement from Governor Cuomo on PEF's contract vote (updated)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UPDATE: Governor Cuomo's Director of State Operations Howard Glaser just released a statement with this ominous line:

Members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), who agreed to a layoff protection as part of their ratified collective bargaining agreement, will not be subject to the approximately 3,500 layoffs that will begin today.

It seems clear Cuomo's office is making good on its layoff promise, even as PEF President Ken Brynien has said he hopes the governor's negotiators will "immediately return to the bargaining table to work out an agreement which our members will ratify."

Governor Andrew Cuomo's statement on PEF membership's rejection of the contract agreement struck between the union's leadership and the Governor's office:

The members of the Public Employee Federation (PEF) have made their decision on a contract that would have protected them against the state needing to lay off their workers in order to achieve the required workforce savings passed as part of this year's budget.

In this economic reality, rising state workforce costs are unsustainable, as the members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the state's largest union, recognized when they overwhelmingly passed an identical contract. The Legislature passed a budget that made clear that reducing these costs would be achieved either through the collective bargaining process or through layoffs.

I urge them to reconsider.

Read More

Comments [1]