Governor Andrew Cuomo continued his Second Avenue subway pre-opening tour Thursday, with a preview of the 96th Street station. Trains are not yet running, but the station is close to completion ahead of the expected January 1st opening. Governor Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA, has been on active round of site visits and unveilings as the line extension moves toward completion. Cuomo was joined by local elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Charles B. Rangel and his successor State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Keith Wright, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick. Mayor de Blasio did not attend.
Cuomo and Maloney along with MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast spoke to an audience jammed into the station entrance and did a walk-through of the station.
In recent days Governor Andrew Cuomo has publicly engaged two of the massive transportation agencies he controls on hot button topics, demanding in an open letter that the MTA act to address a recent spike in sexual assaults reported as occurring on the New York City subway system and demanding answers from the Port Authority on a report that NYPD officials ensnared in a corruption investigation arranged for a special escort, with a lane closure, through the Lincoln Tunnel.
On the MTA, Cuomo began with a general discussion of the ongoing capital spending on the subway system and a declaration that “first and foremost mass transit has to be safe.” He appears open to adding MTA police or State Troopers to the subway system, but left it open and subject to an MTA determination and possible request. (The New York City Police Department, under the mayor, patrols the subway and is primarily responsible for law enforcement there. The MTA Police is a force of about 700 which patrols the Metro-North and Long Island Railroads and the MTA’s bridges and tunnels.) The logistical limitations of the the MTA Police and State Police seem to preclude any major such effort. The overlay of the long-running Cuomo/de Blasio frictions would add an additional political layer of complications. Cuomo did not respond to the portion of my question asking whether he views the NYPD’s performance in addressing subway system sexual assaults as inadequate.
I also asked Cuomo whether he’s determined if the news reports of a lane closure in the Lincoln Tunnel at the behest of NYPD officials now ensnared in a corruption investigation are accurate and, if so, what the consequences will be. The Lincoln Tunnel is run by the Port Authority and the Port Authority Police, a force wholly separate from the NYPD. Any lane closure or other disruption would presumably require the actions or acquiescence of the PAPD. The bi-state Port Authority is controlled jointly by Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has some familiarity with lane closures.
Cuomo does not yet have an answer on the alleged lane closure, nor a time frame for receiving one. When asked for a time frame for answers Cuomo declined, saying only that while he wants an answer he does not want to interfere in an ongoing investigation.
Cuomo spoke with the press following an appearance in Staten Island promoting measures to combat opioid addiction.
Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the press this morning just before the start of the Columbus Day Parade. Appearing a few minutes and a few blocks ahead of Mayor de Blasio, Cuomo began with a long statement on the parade, Columbus Day, Italian-Americans and his own family. He then answered questions on the recently announced agreement with the City on funding the MTA’s capital plan, including how an apparent logjam was broken, what it will mean for subway and bus riders and how he and Mayor de Blasio personally interacted in reaching this agreement. When asked whether he had considered marching with Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo replied “you know, I normally march alone.”
de Blasio Press Q&A: Mayor de Blasio’s pre-parade press Q&A is here.
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with the press just before this morning’s Columbus Day Parade. He began with a statement about his first town hall meeting, scheduled for Wednesday evening and intended to focus on tenant rent protections and the recent rent freeze. Saying that “I know you guys are anxious to see the wonderful dialogue” the Mayor suggested that he will have additional town halls, adding that “you’re gonna see a lot of dialogue now and going forward.”
Question topics included the recent agreement with Governor Cuomo on funding the MTA’s capital plan and what New Yorkers should expect from the deal, whether he’s frustrated that many New Yorkers blame the City and the Mayor for MTA problems despite the fact that it’s a state agency controlled by the governor, what he would like the MTA to spend its capital funds on, a recent NYCHA report suggesting that drawing higher income residents close to NYCHA facilities harms NYCHA tenants, his relationship with recently indicted Nassau County businessman and de Blasio donor Harendra Singh, a REBNY lawsuit over a recently passed law restricting conversions of hotels to condo’s/co-ops, the Chase Utley slide which broke Ruben Tejada’s leg and his current relationship with Governor Cuomo.
When asked for his reaction to a recent series of reports by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) harshly criticizing the MTA, Governor Cuomo said only that he has “not gone through it in detail” and that his “team is looking at it”. As governor Cuomo effectively controls the MTA, although other elected officials also appoint MTA board members.
On Tuesday the NTSB released reports on five MTA accidents, with the NTSB chairman issuing a statement that “[s]eeing this pattern of safety issues in a single railroad is troubling. The NTSB has made numerous recommendations to the railroad and the regulator that could have prevented or mitigated these accidents. But recommendations can only make a difference if the recipients of our recommendations act on them.” Senator Charles Schumer is reported as saying that the NTSB “report represents a horror house of negligence.”
In what is likely the only televised Public Advocate primary debate, five Democratic candidates jousted on-air last week. (Video of the full debate is available here from NY1.) The race remains both close and out of the public eye, with the most recent public poll (from NBC 4 NY/WSJ/Marist) reporting that 49% of “likely” Democratic primary voters are undecided. Of the likely voters who have a preferred candidate, it’s 16% for Tish James, 12% for Cathy Guerriero, 12% for Daniel Squadron, 3% for Reshma Saujani and 2% for Sidique Wai.
In his “Declaration of Independence from Albany,” Anthony Weiner focuses on an under-appreciated fact of government life: New York State government, Albany, determines what power and authority New York City government has and controls many government functions that are popularly perceived as city government functions.
Mayoral candidates have focused on certain aspects of Albany control, particularly around the MTA and the city school system. Weiner goes further, however, addressing the overall system built on state control of the city and it’s legal authority.
Also, be sure to watch our coverage of Anthony Weiner’s afternoon of campaigning on the beach in Rockaway, here, and accepting the support of hot-dog eating champ Joey Chestnut, here.
This afternoon, at a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Transport Workers Union Local 100 endorsed Bill Thompson for mayor.
We spoke with TWU Local 100 president John Samuelsen about a topic which many mayoral candidates have advocated, and which would directly impact TWU Local 100 members; mayoral or city control of the MTA. Samuelsen also discussed the mayor’s role under the current MTA structure. Watch.
On June 19th, the University Transportation Research Center hosted a mayoral candidate forum focused on transportation policy. The forum, at Baruch College, featured separate panels of Democratic and Republican candidates answering questions posed by a committee of experts.
Update: In this report, we look at Anthony Weiner’s call for mayoral control of the MTA.
(In April, we spoke about this topic with John Liu, who offered a very different view. Watch it here.)
In our first report, John Liu answers a question on the city’s capital budgeting and whether the Bloomberg administration’s current budget is realistic.
Well, sort of. This two week old video is from a forum held on April 25, 2013 by the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. The Rockaway-based club hosted four Democratic mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and John Liu. Each candidate appeared separately, giving a lengthy presentation and then engaging in Q&A with the audience
On the same day that the criminal trial of his former campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser began, John Liu turned in a strong performance at a mayoral candidate forum. Five Democrats participated in the forum, which was hosted by the Staten Island Democratic Committee. It was also the day of the Boston Marathon bombing and the forum mood was subdued.
Here are two clips:
In his closing statement, John Liu addressed the campaign finance investigation. He also managed to get the biggest laughs of the night, with his four rivals joining in. Watch.
Afterwards, I asked Liu about the proposal, advanced by Christine Quinn, that New York City control the MTA. Watch what he had to say.
Update: Here is an additional clip, showing a seemingly carefree Liu working the pre-forum audience.
Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis and Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis held a press conference today to criticize the MTA and it’s scheduled increase of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll.
In this report, we cover what Catsimatidis had to say about some of his rivals, including one who was chairman of the MTA, and his suggestion as to how two of those rivals could help the Republican Party.
We’ll have more about their press conference in a later report.
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