Home PANYNJ Patrick Foye, MTA Board member, to head Port Authority

Patrick Foye, MTA Board member, to head Port Authority

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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Stephen Smith October 19, 2011 - 3:16 pm

…more focused on budgetary and management issues than with transportation and transit operations.

Only in the US do we assume that budgetary and management issues are divorced from actual transit ops.

Also: Hard for me to imagine two bigger boondoggles than Javits and Moynihan Station. Oh yeah, and the Empire State Development Corp? Seriously? Fuck Andrew Cuomo.

Alon Levy October 19, 2011 - 6:06 pm

No hate for the PATH Calatrava terminal? 🙁

Ray October 19, 2011 - 8:00 pm

Stephen – I’m having trouble understanding how Andrew Cuomo is the source of your anger. Good or bad, none of the agencies or projects: ESDC, Javitz or Moynihan were ushered in by his administration.

Foye has proven to be an effective executive catalyst. It seems with the rebuilding of WTC behind it (in a few years), the PA is going to be well positioned to take on the next generation of regional projects.

I think it signals something great. The LMDC is duplicative, so buh-bye to that. Moynihan is a national and a trans-Hudson priority; so lets do it, but do it right with both states shouldering the responsibility. And the Javitz, well, hindsight is 20/20.

Let’s judge the Governor by the results of his appointments.

Alon Levy October 19, 2011 - 8:23 pm

If the government wants to spend $2 billion on art, the NEA is a much better venue for it than a single train station.

Ray October 19, 2011 - 10:30 pm

Alon, I agree and I respect your POV. Yet I don’t believe this is, as some wold like, an artful new train station. Economic Dev has always figured prominently. The west side of mid-town is the next great frontier. The idea of the PA taking over Moynihan is not new (Paterson, Schumer, Bloomberg have all endorsed). It’s well within the mission. And we’ve all seen how well Amtrak and the MTA have managed their property.

There’s tremendous of potential and my bet is Bloomberg and Cuomo don’t want to miss an opportunity to refocus.

The first phase of the new MSG opens this week. Vornado has approval to build a tower across from 2 Penn. Related has its (large and iffy) project at the rail yards. It makes sense than a former NYSEDC exec is at the helm of the PA. Developers want certainty and stability and that’s what the PA provides.

None of us knows what Cuomo thinks of Moynihan, Penn Station South or anything else for that matter. So again, I suggest we wait and see what comes of it. If its nothing, I know how I’ll vote.

Alon Levy October 20, 2011 - 1:01 am

It’s sold on many grounds, but the only ones that pass any laugh test are public art (Penn Station is ugly), and naming something after Moynihan (I’d propose a building in the South Bronx that burned because the fire department practiced benign neglect and didn’t respond to the 911 call).

The development grounds in particular are crap. There’s a train station in the area no matter what; they can develop it without a new station house. The 7 extension is a heinous project, but at least it adds new infrastructure giving developers a reason to invest in Hudson Yards; its problem is only that the money spent on the extension is disproportionate to the utility of the project. In contrast, no added benefit comes from Moynihan, unless steering commuters one block farther away from the center of Midtown counts as a benefit.

Amtrak mismanages everything it owns; it’s not going to do any better at a new station. On the contrary, it makes travel objectively worse not to be able to share commuter and intercity facilities. If any of the local agencies were mildly competent then there would be shared TVMs, shared departure boards, and shared concourses. Moving one agency to a functionally different station makes this even less likely to happen than it already is.

Ray October 20, 2011 - 7:09 am

Agree on all fronts. Moynihan East, West, Penn South. It’s all the same to me. I’ll concede on Moynihan, and accept a gut renovation of Penn as a substitute. Perhaps the PA presence will bring some fresh thinking.

As for the station house (new or extant), perhaps the PA can apply its JFK IAT terminal development strategy (with Schinpol USA) to shift the financial exposure and acquire focused operational expertise. I presume that would require some sort of user origination charges to pay back the PA guaranteed bonds. Why not, its done at airports all over the US. I’d like to see the Port and private partner take a 100 year lease from Amtrak (for $1) and redevelop/operate according to your prescription.

Scott E October 19, 2011 - 5:28 pm

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

Just what we need…. more useless stuff thrown at the Port. Seriously, developing Lower Manhattan has nothing to do with transporting goods or people across the river, and Moynihan is another pointless project like the Calatrava PATH station.

And what’s all this about Cuomo? Doesn’t Chris Christie have a say in the matter? I’m sure he’d be vehemently opposed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey focusing on Manhattan-centric projects.

Benjamin Kabak October 19, 2011 - 5:40 pm

Good question. I was wondering the same. Here’s the answer via Business Week:

The governor of New York traditionally appoints the Port Authority’s executive director, and the governor of New Jersey appoints its chairman. The executive director manages operations, and the chairman is responsible for communicating to the director the policies set by the Board of Commissioners, which the chairman oversees.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “respects” Cuomo’s right to select the executive director, Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Governor Christie certainly has great confidence in Governor Cuomo’s selection of an executive director for the Port Authority,” Drewniak said.

The more you know.

Ray October 19, 2011 - 8:16 pm

Scott – I think it signals the opposite.

Lower Manhattan is done. This signals a simplification and a wind down. Finished.

Christie didnt want to shoulder ARC alone, so he cancelled it. Had the PA been the lead agency on that project, we’d be digging. Dont you think? Same is true for Moynihan. Christie doesn’t want to be NY State’s tennant, he wants to co-own it. Smart move. And I bet Cuomo is willing to play ball with Christie’s infrastructure schemes (none of which I personally find too exciting for NJ).

And I’d venture with the PA directly involved in the development of a terminal complex directly in the center of a rail line connecting two of the regions largest airports; a terminal also used by NJT, the MTA’s LIRR and soon MN, we might see more interesting things unfold.

Scott E October 19, 2011 - 9:09 pm

Moynihan isn’t about improving the commute for thousands of New Jerseyans while sharing part of the costs with New York. It’s about augmenting the current NJT terminal with one more visually iconic – but adding very little in function and nothing in capacity.
If Christie didn’t agree with sharing costs with the feds on additional infrastructure from NJ to Macy’s midtown basement, why would he agree to share costs with New York on additional staircases from the same inadequate infrastructure to Ninth Avenue?
In my opinion, Moynihan is even more form-over-function than the new WTC PATH terminal ever was. With all due respect to the Senator and his family, the Moynihan Station/Farley Post Office is a nice idea, but is simply in the wrong spot to have any real value.

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Ray October 19, 2011 - 10:55 pm

Scott – I’m in agreement if all we get is a new train hall to augment the circle of hell that we now call Penn Station. Call me an optimist, but there is more at stake than this one project (reference my comment above).

Christie’s objection to ARC was principally three fold. One, NJ was the lead and on the hook, alone, for all cost over-runs (the PA was an ‘investor’). Two, New York had no skin in the game (other than its capped PA investment). Three, the project did terminate deep under 34th street and Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, didn’t like all he walking she might have to do, so she told him ‘This is crazy. This doesn’t make any sense!’ (NY Post, Nov 12, 2010).

PA direct control of Moynihan is very different. And likely the horse trading between governors has been done – Christie probably all ready agreed to agency control of the Moynihan project in exchange for something he wants – otherwise – I’m dubious Cuomo would have gone public.

Maybe Christie got his wish to raid the PA piggy bank to fill his state’s bankrupt transportation trust fund? Maybe that’s why Chris Ward quit. Let’s see what unfolds.

Alon Levy October 20, 2011 - 1:05 am

Ray, there were alternatives studied in the Major Investment Study that did not feature the deep cavern, avoiding issues one and three. Christie most likely knew about them, or at least his transpo commissioner did, since one of the IRUM people got a short meeting after the election. Issue two is agency turf idiocy and any politician who thinks other people should pay for Jersey’s commuter tunnel and would cancel a project over it is scum.

Ray October 20, 2011 - 7:30 am

Surely Christie new that the MIS had cheaper options but it didn’t matter. Over-shadowing the entire ARC project was the bankrupt NJ Transportation Trust Fund coupled with his no tax increase pledge… And it still vexes him. NJ Transit riders (who vote Republican) drive SUVs when they get home. The calculus remains easy.

As for agency turf idiocy – couldn’t agree more – we have published the textbook. Yet among the quagmire, the PA is one agency that seems to generate results and stay relatively financially self sustaining (tolled river crossings and international airports offer nice bonding leverage). Perhaps providing an acceptable excuse for my excitement concerning Cuomo’s announcements.

Eric F. October 20, 2011 - 9:55 am

“any politician who thinks other people should pay for Jersey’s commuter tunnel and would cancel a project over it is scum”

That seems unnecessarily vituperative. But whie you’re at it, how would you characterize a governor that upped the state’s income and sales taxes, devoted zero of the additional money to the project, and instead set up an obviously deficient financing plan for it, and arranged a ground-breaking on the project during the height of his re-election campaign?

Alon Levy October 20, 2011 - 11:32 am

You mean Corzine? He’s scum, too. Not because he raised taxes, but because he turned the project into political football and is directly responsible to the cost overruns that happened under his watch.

Alas, his replacement is even worse.

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[…] More on Cuomo Port Authority Pick Patrick Foye: NYT, Post, News, NY1, DNA, Kabak […]

Brandi October 20, 2011 - 9:36 am

I just get the feeling that this guy is a Governor 1% Cuomo shill. Cuomo hasn’t done anything for transit. He won’t sign the lockbox or help the MTA out with funding. The only thing positive that Cuomo has done so far is push for marriage equality. Otherwise I’m not a fan. He is probably going to try and use as much of the Port Authority for up river road improvements as he can.

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Urban Omnibus » The Omnibus Roundup – Zuccotti POPS, MetroCard Use, Ferry Expectations, CAT Scans for Cities, Ward and MTA Manufacturing October 21, 2011 - 3:38 pm

[…] REGION IN CRISIS Also at the MAS Summit, outgoing Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward expressed some big ideas for New York. Calling the New York metro area a region in “economic and environmental crisis,” he emphasized the need for the city to wean itself off its dependence on truck transport and instead advocated the expansion of freight rail service — a topic we explored in depth earlier this week. Equally transformative was his vision for the Brooklyn waterfront and Governors Island. According to Ward, the success of Governors Island rests upon moving the activity of the Red Hook Container Terminal further south, to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and rethinking the use of different portions of Brooklyn’s waterfront, focusing instead on recreation and transportation to spur development. For more on Ward’s ideas from the Summit, as well as a recap of frequent Omnibus contributor Vishaan Chakrabarti’s thoughts on the advantages of intense densification for New York from the same session, click here. And to learn about Patrick Foye, Governor Cuomo’s choice to run the Port Authority when Ward steps down at the end of this month, click here. […]


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