One week ago, Gov. David Paterson officially named Jay Walder as the next MTA Chair. During the introductory press conference, Walder made clear his knowledge of the severity of the MTA’s financial situation. He pledged a fully-funded capital plan and noted the uphill battle the man at the top of the MTA must face.
In the wake of the nomination, the city’s papers were full of praise for Paterson, a rare occurrence indeed. Newsday said that Walder had “the right resume and the right attitude.” The Daily News called him “a highly credible candidate.”
Beyond the praise, though, these endorsements were notable for their warning. Newsday’s editorial staff expressed its concern for the process. “Get started now on Walder’s confirmation,” they wrote following a note of dismay:
Let’s get the public hearings started to make sure he is the right person for the job. But State Senate Democrats are threatening to delay his confirmation. Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger, chairman of the Finance Committee, says the process could take months. These so-called leaders seem to be playing politics to exact revenge on Paterson for making them work two weekends. How petty.
The News fingered the Fare Hike Four. The four obstructionist Senators were on the verge of holding Paterson’s nominee hostage for no good reason:
It’s now up to the state Senate to vote yes or no on confirming Jay Walder to a post that is critical to delivering 8.5 million rides every weekday. Which leaves New Yorkers in the hands of the same muscle-flexing, shortsighted, wrongheaded bunch that took the Senate hostage, consequences be damned. This is bad. Very bad.
Senate President Malcolm Smith, Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Conference Leader John Sampson and Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger yesterday began holding Walder’s appointment for ransom while exacting revenge on Paterson for trying to force them back to work.
Rather than expeditiously convening a hearing and voting on his qualifications, the quartet announced that they would hold conclaves in the MTA service region before someday getting around to his appointment. It could take months, Kruger said. This time, Smith, Espada, Sampson and Kruger are putting personal agendas over the interests of straphangers.
Seven days later, nothing has happened. A very qualified candidate with a realistic idea of what he has to do sits in limbo. Meanwhile, Kruger, Espada, Hiram Monserrate and Ruben Diaz, are being called “the laughingstock of the city” by Albany watchers.
It shouldn’t be like this. Transit is waiting on the edge of a financial crisis. The MTA is teetering on the brink, and the State Senate is playing petty revenge with this city’s lifeblood. One day, we’ll have to exact electoral justice on the Fare Hike Four. For now, just confirm Walder and give the MTA the leadership it needs.