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Get 'em off E-Z Street now, Andy warns MTA

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Get 'em off E-Z Street now, Andy warns MTA

By Pete Donohue

Daily News Staff Writer

May 28th 2008

 

[float=right]amd_cuomo.jpg

Handschuh for News

Andrew Cuomo

[/float]State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo moved swiftly Tuesday to end the E-Z life for MTA board members, warning the authority to revoke the free travel perks.

 

Just hours after the Daily News revealed how some 60 past and present board members - many of them multimillionaires - get the free tags for life, Cuomo's office issued a stern warning that the practice is illegal.

 

Cuomo also told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to produce records of any other benefits doled out to board members who are supposed to "serve without salary or other compensation."

 

The letter to the MTA, penned by top Cuomo aide Benjamin Lawsky, was titled "Illegal Compensation of Board Members."

 

The MTA "should immediately terminate and rescind all free E-ZPass tags it has provided to its current and past board members," Lawsky wrote to James Henly, MTA deputy executive director and general counsel.

 

Lawsky cited a 2007 legal opinion by the state attorney general's office that two upstate state public authorities wrongly provided health care benefits free to board members.

 

As a result of that opinion, more than 100 agencies, including the MTA, were told to check their books and halt such payments. Four MTA board members were found to be paying a fraction of the health insurance premiums while the MTA paid the balance. The authority stopped paying the premiums.

 

"Score one for the Daily News and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo," Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. The MTA told The News the practice was an act of gratitude to board members who served the public without pay. Russianoff disagreed.

 

"If participation on the MTA board is uncompensated and motivated by public service, then it should be uncompensated.

 

"If the MTA wants to say thank you, maybe they should give flowers and some chocolates toboard members, not an E-ZPass worth many thousands of dollars," he said.

 

An MTA spokesman said the authority is reviewing the letter and would not comment. The News previously reported that past and present board members also get free travel passes for Metro-North, the Long Island Rail Road and NYC Transit subways and buses.

 

Some also have special street parking permits issued by the MTA Police Department, The News has reported.

 

Under the so-called Tweed Law, the attorney general's office could initiate proceedings aimed at forcing individual MTA board members to repay the authority for free jaunts they've enjoyed over the years.

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After reading this, now I see. Nobody deserves a free pass here, the board members certainly didn't work hard for it. They're saving thousands of dollars at the expense of millions of riders who take the (1)(2)(3)(A)(B)(C), the rest of the subways and railroads every day, not fair!

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These people have enough money for gas, tolls and whatever gets thrown their way. A good guess would be that their perks get used by a loved one anyway. Good job Andy! Go after them and stop the madness already.

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It's about time. Only thing we get is a free pass to use the system (NYCTA bus and subway), after retiring. But we work 25/55 for it. These cronies get it after being there for what 4-8 years?

 

Cuomo is doing this, cause it will be a positive thing in his bag, when he runs for Governor..........

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