Earlier this summer, word leaked out that the MTA may cut sever its Long Island Bus service. Owned by Nassau County, the bus routes just east of Queens are operated at a tremendous loss by the MTA, and the county pays just $9.1 million out of the agency’s $133 million operating costs. Now, as the MTA’s budget problems are coming to a head and the Long Island Bus remains in the crossfires, the Nassau County Executive has called for Jay Walder’s resignation.
Speaking earlier today of the problems plaguing the MTA, Edward Mangano issued a stunning call for the authority’s CEO and Chairman’s head. “New Yorkers are paying higher fares, businesses are paying a job-killing payroll tax and LI Bus faces extinction as a result of Walder’s threats,” Mangano said. “Taxpayers deserve accountability, and for that reason, I am calling on our gubernatorial candidates to pledge new leadership at the MTA in January.”
As Newsday’s subscriber-only article notes, Mangano’s posturing stems from the dispute over the bus company. The MTA wants the state and Nassau County to fork over $100 million to cover the LI Bus operations costs while Nassau County is a party to the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the payroll tax. Apparently, it’s beyond Mangano’s ability to understand that the payroll tax was approved long before Jay Walder returned from England to run the MTA.
Meanwhile, Mangano, who makes around $175,000 a year, criticized Walder’s salary. “This Labor Day, families sat around the barbecue worrying about how to afford to get to work because of Walder’s mismanagement,” he said. “Earning a $350,000 salary plus a generous housing allowance, Walder has taken taxpayers for a ride.”
Of course, Mangano failed to mention that, if Walder is removed from the MTA in January, he’ll be owned another $350,000 as part of his Golden Parachute payments. How would the taxpayers stomach this move?
Jay Walder has not had a perfect tenure as the head of the MTA. He hasn’t had the best of relationships with labor, and although he was brought in on the promise of financial stability and with a mandate to modernize the subway system, he has had to face a crushing financial crisis brought about, in part, because of the actions of the New York State legislature. He is a lifetime transit planner with the credentials to head the MTA and has taken the economic bull by the horns as much as anyone in his position has. He’s made some question hiring decisions and has had to fire a lot of people, but he’s not going anywhere.
Edward Mangano knows this just as you and I do. Mangano might not know that the MTA’s problems stem from state inaction. Why should the MTA spend $100 million for Nassau County bus service? Because Nassau County has spent a decade reducing its operating contributions to its own bus system, and Mangano is just part of that problem. Like every New York politician though, he’d rather just blame someone else.