Patrick Foye, a current MTA Board member and one-team downstate head of the Empire State Development Corporation, has been picked to run the Port Authority, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning. Koye is a lawyer who has worked for powerhouse law firm Skadden Arps and served as a Nassau County Deputy County Executive under Ed Mangano.
In announcing the appointment this afternoon, the New York Governor took another swipe at Ward. The two have been battling it out in the press since the outgoing Port Authority head slammed New York and New Jersey for playing politics with Port Authority budgets. “The Port Authority must meet its potential as a major economic engine that plans for the region and attracts business on an international scale,” Cuomo said. “We must also improve its operations and maximize the value out of every dollar spent so that it is financially responsible and respects the tax and toll payers.”
For transportation advocates, Foye’s choice sets a tone at the Port Authority that, at a time when concerns over Port Authority expenditures are running rampant, money management will trump development or growth. Foye, a lawyer with close ties to Long Island real estate industry, has worked in economic policy throughout his political career. A Spitzer nominee to the Empire State Development Corporation, he led the ESDC as it put forth controversial plans to redevelop the Javits Center and was instrumental in securing support and funding for the long-awaited Moynihan Station. The impact and expense of this new Amtrak depot are both hotly-contested issues.
Recently, Foye has served as one of Cuomo’s top economic advisers, and in a statement, he expressed his enthusiasm for the job. ““I am honored to be recommended for Executive Director of the Port Authority,” he said. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have begun to re-energize New York’s economy and pave the way for job growth in the state. I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity and look forward to working closely with him and the Board of Directors at the Port Authority on maintaining and improving the New York metropolitan region’s vital transportation, infrastructure and economic development assets.”
At this same time, Cuomo announced today that he would be folding both the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Moynihan Station Development Corporation into the Port Authority. “Too many different agencies doing the same or closely related work makes little sense,” he said in a statement. “The Port Authority is best situated to oversee the development at Moynihan Station and the orderly wind down of the LMDC and these changes will consolidate responsibility within the Authority.” Foye’s work then on Moynihan Station will continue.
As a transportation wonk, Foye’s experience has come via his time on the MTA Board. He was appointed by Mangano in 2010 for a term that ends in 2015, and it is unclear how this appointment to the Port Authority will impact his Board seat. Fellow Board members praised his service though. “He’s delved into operating details of the system, communication issues with commuters and fare structure,” Mitch Pally said to Transportation Nation.
Although I’m hesitant to read too much into one appointment, Cuomo’s decision to name an economics adviser to the PA’s top spot portends a similar outcome for the MTA. It certainly strengthens the rumors that Joe Lhota will be nominated this week, and it showcases how Cuomo seems more focused on budgetary and management issues than with transportation and transit operations. Yet, on the other hand, the Port Authority is more akin to a traditional economic development agency than the MTA is, and in that sense, Foye’s background makes him a fairly solid candidate for the post.