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LexAveExp5

MTA becoming a state agency?

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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/10/02/2009-10-02_deal_could_give_new_york_state_power_over_hundreds_of_public_authorities.html

 

After weeks of secret negotiations, Gov. Paterson and the Legislature are nearing a deal on a law to drastically reform how some 700 public authorities operate across the state.

 

Those authorities have functioned for decades as a shadow bureaucracy, spending tens of billions in public dollars every year and employing thousands of people, but with far less accountability than regular government agencies.

 

You may recognize the biggest of them by their strange alphabet names: the MTA (mass transit), the HHC (public hospitals), the LMDC (lower Manhattan rebuilding) and ESDC (economic development). In other parts of the state, they include the Thruway Authority, the Long Island Power Authority and the Erie Canal Corp.

 

Each of those agencies issues debt, collects fares and tolls and disposes of public lands as it sees fit, yet operate like a private company and usually resists the scrutiny of local city councils or the Legislature.

 

Several of those agencies have become notorious patronage havens.

 

All of that is about to change.

 

In August, amid all the chaos in Albany, the Assembly and the Senate passed a sweeping new bill to toughen control and oversight of those authorities.

 

It's hard to believe that any meaningful reform could come out of the Legislature these days, but this could be the exception, thanks to the dogged work of Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and Harlem state Sen. William Perkins, the prime sponsors of the legislation.

 

The new law would:

 

- Require appointees to authority boards to act in the interest of that authority and not simply follow instructions from the local mayor or the governor who appointed them.

 

- Give the state Senate the power to confirm the chief executives of some of those authorities.

 

- Set up an independent Authority Budget Office with subpoena power. That office would set operating rules and monitor the finances of the agencies.

 

- Forbid agencies from selling public assets at below market prices unless there is a clear public purpose.

 

- Require the state controller to review all major contracts issued by the authorities.

 

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson initially raised strong objections to the measure.

 

Over the past few weeks, the governor's stance has softened, and his aides have engaged in several negotiation sessions with Brodsky and Perkins to change the language of the bill enough to win his support.

 

"There have been very productive and useful talks," said Marissa Shorenstein, the governor's spokeswoman. "They are working through those concerns."

 

Maybe Paterson, faced with record-low polls, has finally realized he needs to take some bold moves to show ordinary New Yorkers he is serious about making government more responsive.

 

"When David was representing my district as a senator, he stood up on issues like this," Perkins said. "This would be a fulfillment of the things he stood for in past."

 

The mayor, on the other hand, insists he wants to retain the right to tell his appointees on the MTA or any other authority how to vote. He also wants to preserve the ability of his local development agencies, like the Industrial Development Authority, to sell land to developers at below-market rates.

 

"The city remains optimistic about passing public-authorities reform," said Michele Goldstein, City Hall's main negotiator on the legislation. "We are pleased that parties have begun to recognize the city's reasonable concerns with the original bill."

 

Brodsky and Perkins are just as emphatic that they're not budging on the mayor's major concerns. Bloomberg can pressure the governor all he wants, they say, but the final decision is in the hands of Paterson and the Legislature.

 

"These authorities have been Soviet-style bureaucracies for too long," Brodsky said. "We're bringing them back under the rules of American democracy."

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/10/02/2009-10-02_deal_could_give_new_york_state_power_over_hundreds_of_public_authorities.html#ixzz0SqZ8JdQ7

 

 

 

of course this is open for discussion, but i do have one specific question about the possible takeover. assuming this actually happens, would it then be possible that the governor could wake up one day and layoff (MTA) employees??? i know he can for state employees but not the independent agencies that are mentioned in this article, i.e. (MTA)

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If that doesn't show Bloomturd's true colors...I don't know what does. He wants to rip on the authority to look good for his illegal re-election campaign but yet here is something that may hold the MTA accountable as an agency and he opposes it because it would prevent him from telling his lackey appointees to TA positions how to run things.

 

Hopefully this will pass. I can't say Patterson has been a particularly good governor but I support this measure.

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http://wcbstv.com/local/new.york.legislature.2.1320262.html

 

 

AP Sources: Deal Struck To Reform NY AuthoritiesNEW YORK (AP) ―

Two state officials said Wednesday that the Legislature and Gov. David Paterson have agreed to landmark reforms of public authorities after years of failed attempts to force greater accountability on the entities that have been involved in some of New York's biggest scandals.

 

The state officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk about the deal until after an official announcement expected later Wednesday. The measure still subject to a vote in the Legislature and the governor's signature.

 

Long called the state's "shadow government," public authorities operate many of the major services in New York City and statewide, including the city's mass transit system, the state Thruway, and the Port Authority.

 

A document outlining the reform says the authorities will open their financial records to independent review and become more accountable to the public than to the governors, mayors and legislators who appoint their members.

 

Authorities created by the state, counties and municipalities statewide have long been plagued by scandal and allegations of secrecy, which led to initial reforms in 2005. As examples of abuses, sponsors have cited previous increases in Thruway tolls and New York City subway fares when it wasn't clear they were necessary. They also noted that development rights along the Erie Canal were almost sold in 2005 for $30,000 to a politically connected developer.

 

Authorities were created by the Legislature to provide a more efficient, apolitical way to run essential state services.

 

The reform would require more background information on officers who run the authorities and require them to have a fiduciary responsibility to the authority, not the official or government that appointed them. The measure would also create stronger oversight over when authorities borrow money, requires a record of contacts by lobbyists, and protects employees who are whistle blowers on problems including corruption.

 

The latest state records show authorities in total are responsible for $140 billion in debt.

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The state officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk about the deal until after an official announcement expected later Wednesday. The measure still subject to a vote in the Legislature and the governor's signature.

 

 

Oh no! One of the few things Patterson has done that actually would be a good idea. However the lame ducks in Albany could still kill it...

 

Hope this passes...

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i think a state govt that can barely run itself and might run the state broke, will do a bang up job running these authorities.

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