Three of Mayor's Picks to Sit on Board That Oversees MTA Have Waited Nearly a Year for State Senate Confirmation
There are eight million trips taken on city subways and buses every day - but city residents aren't getting much of a say on the board that oversees the transit system. It appears to be the result of a long-standing beef that state Senate Republicans have with Mayor de Blasio. NY1's Jose Martinez explains.
For the MTA, delays aren't limited to the subway.
Three of Mayor Bill de Blasio's picks to sit on the board that oversees the transit agency have been waiting nearly a year for confirmation by the state Senate.
"No, I did not think that after 11 months, I'd still be waiting," said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
De Blasio first nominated Vanterpool, David Jones of the Community Service Society and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez last June, but the Senate adjourned for the year without taking action. And with just eight days left in this year's legislative session, there are growing fears the Senate will leave them in limbo again.
"This is a prime example of how our elected leaders in Albany can undermine public transportation just through inaction and inattention," said John Raskin, executive director of Riders Alliance.
The roadblock has left de Blasio with only one vote on the 14-vote board that make decisions about the mass transit system serving 8 million city riders every day.
"New York City riders should be aware that their voice is not being fully respresented," Vanterpool said.
The Senate normally rubber stamps City Hall's choices for the MTA. The inaction on de Blasio's picks is widely seen as payback by the Senate's Republican majority after the Mayor tried in the 2014 election to swing control to the Democrats.
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said, "They're aiming for the Mayor, but hitting the rest of us. We're the ones that pay the price by those empty seats."
In contrast to how the mayor's picks have been treated, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo's two MTA appointees last year, Larry Schwartz, already is on the board.
While Schwartz was quickly confirmed, the governor's other nominee to the MTA board, Peter Ward of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, is still waiting to take his seat.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, an appointee of the governor, who also has been feuding with de Blasio, downplayed the delay.
"As someone who's been nominated and confirmed twice in the past three years, they normally get dealt with at the end of the legislative process," Prendergast said.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of Suffolk County did not respond to a request for comment.