With current MTA chair Peter Kalikow on the way out, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has named his choice for replacement. H. Dale Hemmerdinger, a New York real estate mogul and one-time head of the MTA’s Citizen Budget Commission, will get the job, The Times’ new CityRoom blog reported this evening.
Hemmerdinger, 62, is currently the head of the Hemmerdinger Corporation, the parent company of the ATCO family of real estate companies. Hemmerdinger, a 1967 graduate of NYU, is also a member of the university’s board of trustees and won an alumni association award from NYU in 2006.
“Dale has been a champion of fiscal stability, intelligent long-term planning and management accountability while serving as CBC Chair and throughout his business career,” Governor Spitzer said in a statement. “His charge is to ensure that the MTA becomes known for those qualities as well.”
According to Sewell Chan’s post on CityRoom, Hemmerdinger won’t enjoy the same power that Kalikow held as MTA chair. As Spitzer reorganized the MTA’s leadership structure, current CEO and Executive Director Elliot “Lee” Sander will hold the reins of power, but Hemmerdinger is expected to bring financial acumen to an agency that could be tottering on the brink of fiscal disaster.
amNew York noted the influential Straphangers Campaign reaction to the appointment:
Advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign promptly responded to the announcement, calling Hemmerdinger “a smart guy who cares about transit.”
But they also voiced hesitation, saying that under Hemmerdinger, the budget commission recommended New Yorkers should pay more than the national average for transit.
Hemmerdinger’s nomination has to clear the state Senate, but that is assumed to be a mere formality at that point. Nothing in his background suggests that this big Democratic donor will face a contentious approval.
For the MTA’s part, Sander issued a statement praising Hemmerdinger. “I look forward to working with Dale and the entire M.T.A. board as we continue to tackle some tough challenges and implement a new vision for our transportation network,” he said. With two highly qualified transit advocates leading the MTA, we could be seeing the dawning of a new golden age for the rapidly-expanding New York City subway system.