Planes Trains & Automobiles
This afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially announced his pick to head the Metropolitan Transit Authority, left vacant over 100 days ago when then-Chairman Joe Lhota resigned to pursue a mayoral campaign: M.T.A. Interim Executive Director Tom Prendergast. And Mr. Lhota told Politicker he couldn’t be more pleased with the selection.
“Tom Prendergast is a superb choice and he has a unique understanding of the system,” Mr. Lhota proclaimed. “And I know of no one who cares more for the customers and the riders than Tom Prendergast. As chairman, I relied on him more than anyone and I think it’s a great choice.”
Mr. Cuomo, in a statement, was similarly effusive.
Cats Out of The Bag
Freewheeling billionaire John Catsimatidis was told again and again it was time to for him to leave as he stood at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn this afternoon.
“No, no, no…” his handlers pleaded as Mr. Catsimatidis, a Republican candidate for mayor, prepared to tell a gaggle of reporters about another press conference of his scheduled for next week.
“Now, there’s another press conference coming, guess what we did in Brooklyn that nobody knows about?” Mr. Castimatidis asked as his team strained to keep their plans under wraps.
But Mr. Catsimatidis, arriving in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to originally explain his plan to call upon the MTA to freeze additional toll and fare increases, was in his element, rambling extemporaneously about whatever subjects the assembled reporters cared to discuss.
the littlest borough
M.T.A. Chairman Joe Lhota made quite the splash earlier this week when he announced he will retire at the end of the year in order to contemplate a mayoral bid as a Republican. At the same time he made the announcement, however, Mr. Lhota’s agency approved a round of fare hikes, including an increase on the unpopular Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, which has some GOP politicos wondering if his political brand took a blow in a critical Republican constituency.
“I can already see the knives coming out about a $15 dollar toll on the Verrazano,” Republican consultant Gerry O’Brien told Politicker. “The M.T.A. is always one of the political entities under attack from politicians.”
However, Bob Scamardella, Staten Island’s Republican county chairman who has spoken approvingly about Mr. Lhota’s candidacy in the past, argued Mr. Lhota’s broader profile will be at stake, not just one issue.
Tao of Joe
Before MTA Chairman Joe Lhota announced he would be stepping down from his post to run for mayor, the former Giuliani administration aide was a prolific Twitter user. Though Mr. Lhota’s Twitter feed has been silent since earlier this month, his earlier tweets shed light on the Republican candidate’s thoughts on a wide variety of subjects.
The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Joe Lhota, looks like he’s serious about his rumored campaign for mayor in 2013.
According to multiple New York Times sources “with direct knowledge of his plans,” Mr. Lhota, a Republican who worked as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, “is expected to resign on Friday and announce his candidacy for New York City mayor.”
The Transit Workers Union Local 100 is holding a daylong “reclaim public transit” event tomorrow in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street and the Working Families Party, against the backdrop of their protracted contract negotiationswith the Metropolitan Transit Authority. According to the statement announcing the event, it is designed to “highlight funding and infrastructure needs of public transportation across the nation” and “raise awareness about how public transit supports good jobs, sustainable communities, a greener environment and reduced consumption of oil.” Tomorrow’s event will include a pair of press conferences as well as leafleting and petitions calling on the MTA to “reoccupy” underutilized buildings in Downtown Brooklyn in order to cut costs.
Adam Lisberg, the Editor of the New York political media outlet City & State is moving on to handle communications for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency announced this morning.
“It’s going to be quite a challenge, they came gunning for me hard,” Mr. Lisberg told The Politicker.
“At first I thought, I’ve be a reporter my entire career,” he said. “But I’ve always been a transit geek … I really believe in mass transit. I believe in cities, and finding ways for people to move in and out of a concentrated space is the lifeblood — not just economically — of what makes cities thrive.”
Big Man On Campus
Public Advocate and likely 2013 mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is the latest city politician joining the push to establish an NYU and Polytech applied sciences campus at an empty building owned by the MTA in Brooklyn. The Politicker obtained letters Mr. de Blasio sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota last Friday urging them to support the project.
“The proposed repurposing of the MTA’s unused building at 370 Jay Street to house the NYU Applied Science Center would be an integral part of the continuing revitalization of Downtown Brooklyn and would also help a New York City educational institutional increase its contribute to education and in technology in our city,” Mr. de Blasio wrote in his letter to the Mayor.
Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents the people who operate the city’s subways and buses, has pulled out of contract talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In a statement released today about their departure from the bargaining table, Local 100 accused the MTA of “negotiating in the press” in “a shocking violation of good faith negotiation tactics.”
“Negotiations were to resume on Thursday, January 19. That morning, an article appeared in the NY Daily News presenting givebacks that the MTA would be asking for at the meeting. This was a shocking violation of good faith negotiating practices and of a specific agreement with management to refrain from negotiating in the press,” the statement said. “This move, the second time in three days that management had seeded the press with its claims, poisoned the atmosphere for negotiations. Local 100 presented its protest and then cancelled the remainder of the bargaining session in order to clear the air before negotiations continued.”
TWU’s statement didn’t just accuse the MTA of planting the story. It also said the information contained in the story was inaccurate.
As the Giants fought the Packers in the divisional playoffs Sunday evening, another battle was unfolding at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held an all-night session of contract negotiations with the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents the people who operate the city’s subways and buses.
Outside the hotel, the union held a raucous rally, where hundreds of members gathered in the freezing cold to hear their president, John Samuelsen, give a defiant speech about the contract talks. A pair of big-screen TVs broadcast the football game to the crowd. In addition to the winter chill and periodic cheers for the Giants, the threat of a crippling transit strike hung heavy in the air.