Gov. Cuomo is clearly on offense when it comes to shaking up the MTA, but it’s still not clear what the plan is.
The confusion starts with his shifting of his own board appointments. He’s pushing out one of his most recent ones, businessman Michael Lynton, after just two months — reportedly for being too independent. He also axed Freddy Ferrer, who the gov had recently trusted enough to make him acting board chairman at a time of crisis.
The gov says he wants more financial expertise from his board members. That’s why he named Linda Lacewell — a former Cuomo chief of staff who now heads the state Department of Financial Services.
He also wants to name his budget director, Robert Mujica — but Mujica is more of a numbers cruncher than a true finance guy, and more importantly doesn’t live in the MTA region, so can’t join the board without changes to state law governing the agency. Is Cuomo really just intent on packing the board with his closest loyalists?
After all, the gov has already chosen all the current top MTA management — indeed, he has installed them since the crisis that began two years ago with the “summer of hell.”
Maybe Cuomo has decided that even his own picks weren’t doing enough to change the agency’s culture. Understandably, he considers himself totally vindicated in upending the plans for L-train repairs: His alternative means no yearlong shutdown, and it seems to be working.
In the wake of the agency’s overtime-abuse scandals, he installed a new inspector general, who has flagged apparent worker sabotage of efforts to upgrade time clocks.
To lead a full investigation of the OT mess, he’s pushing for the agency to hire Carrie Cohen, the prosecutor who led the case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — a move sure to further aggravate the MTA’s unions.
We hope the aim is to force the unions to accept cost-saving changes to badly outdated work rules. But it’s also possible that the gov’s just putting on a show. No one will know for sure unless and until he delivers not just headlines, but real results.
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