Observer: Get on with it already, CuomoBy
It’s been a while since the MTA had any permanent leadership. Joe Lhota, the current mayoral candidate, vacated his position on the final day of 2012, and since then, leadership duties have been split between an interim board chair who doens’t want the job on a full-time basis and the current president of New York City Transit. With Sandy repair dollars flowing in, a union contract negotiation that’s stalled and a looming five-year capital plan that will soon require attention, now isn’t the time to let the MTA become an afterthought.
That, though, is what Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seemingly doing. Tasked with finding a replacement to head up the MTA, Cuomo has made no overtures to the usual suspects, and now, outside observers are starting to take note. In today’s Observer, the paper’s editorial board calls upon Cuomo to do something about it already. With no search committee in place, it seems as though Cuomo, the paper says, “has shown little interest in finding a new chair for the MTA in a timely manner.” The governor’s office says otherwise, but actions speak louder than words. Right now, there are no actions.
The Observer makes a compelling case for movement on the MTA:
Mr. Cuomo has had his hands full since Superstorm Sandy, but the leadership of the MTA is no small matter. The agency will soon begin to spend nearly $5 billion in federal recovery dollars in Sandy’s aftermath, so priorities—and oversight—must be established. The MTA’s largest union, Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union, has been working without a contract for more than a year, and there have been no talks in four months.
Mr. Cuomo has been down this road before. He allowed vacancies on the board of the Long Island Power Authority to pile up—there were six slots awaiting his action when Sandy hit in late October. The agency’s acting CEO was filling in until Mr. Cuomo appointed a new, permanent chief. LIPA’s scandalously slow response to Sandy’s aftermath was the result of lethargic leadership and absent oversight.
Inaction can have consequences. While the MTA’s customers may not notice the agency’s leadership void at the moment, it’s just a matter of time. The MTA needs permanent leadership. Mr. Cuomo should put together a search committee consisting of all interested parties and get the process moving. This is one delay commuters shouldn’t have to endure.
The fares are going up this weekend. Complaints will rise. No one is in charge. While burning through more than a handful of various CEOs, Chairmen and Executive Directors since 2006, the MTA has been subjected to the ever-shifting whims of the men and women who have served atop the organization. It is time for Cuomo to find a successor and one who will stick with it for more than a year at a time.