Letter Transportation

Hold Public Confirmation Hearings for MTA Vacancies

A Letter to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

February 20, 2019

Dear Leader Stewart-Cousins,

We write to ask that the State Senate conduct confirmation processes for appointees to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) through public hearings. Public hearings will build upon the important hearings that the Senate is currently conducting on the effectiveness of New York State’s transit systems, ensuring more robust legislative oversight of the MTA.

The MTA currently has a number of vacancies for which the Senate will be required to provide advice and consent, including the following:

  • Chairman/CEO
  • Dutchess County Board Member
  • Nassau County Board Member
  • Rockland County Board Member
  • Long Island Rail Road Commuters Council (non-voting)

Press reports indicate that an additional seat will become vacant at the end of February with the resignation of Scott Rechler, an appointee of the Governor. A recommendation from the Governor for the Chairman/CEO position may also come forward in the coming weeks, likely after the conclusion of the budget process.

The Senate Democratic Conference in 2009 held an important public hearing for the appointment of Jay Walder as Chairman/CEO, during which a number of important issues were raised.1 The State Senate should follow this example in consideration of any forthcoming appointees for the MTA.

Questions that should be asked of such appointees could include the following:

  1. How do appointees meet the qualifications required under section 1263 of the Public Authorities Law? Examples include experience with transportation, public administration, business management, finance, accounting, law, engineering, land use, urban and regional planning, management of large capital projects, and labor relations.
  2. What, if any, business dealings do appointees have before the state or local governments within the MTA region? What other potential conflicts of interest may appointees have that should be considered?
  3. How will appointees fulfill the fiduciary duty to the MTA and public as required by law?
  4. What commitments will appointees make towards greater transparency and accountability of the MTA?
  5. How will appointees work toward the interests of the MTA region as a whole while maintaining political independence and also being responsive to and representative of their appointing authorities?
  6. How would appointees improve the diversity of the MTA Board, or ensure better representativeness of the MTA’s riders?
  7. How will appointees improve the MTA's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law?

We thank you for your consideration of our request. Please contact Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst at Reinvent Albany, rachael@reinventalbany.org or 518-859-5307, should you which to discuss this matter further.

Sincerely,

Andrew Rein
President
Citizens Budget Commission
Beth Finkel
New York State Director
AARP New York
Mark Winston Griffith
Executive Director
Brooklyn Movement Center
Ben Prosky, Assoc. AIA
Executive Director
AIA New York
Susan Dooha
Executive Director
Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
Maritza Silva-Farrell
Executive Director
ALIGN
Amy Torres
Director of Policy & Advocacy
Chinese American Planning Council
Eman Rimawi
Access-A-Ride Campaign Coordinator
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
 
Peter H. Kostmayer
Chief Executive Officer
Citizens Committee for New York City
Jaqi Cohen
Campaign Director
NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign
Betsy Gotbaum
Executive Director
Citizens Union of the City of New York
Lisa Daglian
Executive Director
Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the
MTA
Susan Lerner
Executive Director
Common Cause NY
John Kaehny
Executive Director
Reinvent Albany
Peter Iwanowicz
Executive Director
Environmental Advocates of New York
John Raskin
Executive Director
Riders Alliance
Catharine Gray
Co-President
League of Women Voters of the City of New
York
Marco Connor
Interim Executive Director
Transportation Alternatives
Laura Bierman
Executive Director
League of Women Voters of New York State
Nick Sifuentes
Executive Director
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Steve Choi
Executive Director
The New York Immigration Coalition

 

Footnotes

  1. Video of hearing available on NYSenate Uncut, Youtube, https://youtu.be/Rtq175f2-t4