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Union Tpke

Pat Foye to chair the MTA, Cuomo says during radio interview

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By DANA RUBINSTEIN

 

Pat Foye will be the new chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during a radio interview Friday.

“We’re going to make Pat Foye the chairman of the MTA,” he said during a segment on WCNY's The Capitol Pressroom. “He is a really extraordinary public servant.”

Foye and Cuomo go back.

Foye was Cuomo’s executive director at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he famously sent an email excoriating officials for their actions in the scandal that would become known as Bridgegate. His email was subsequently leaked to the press. 

In 2017, Cuomo moved Foye to the MTA, where he would go on to serve as the MTA’s president, part of a complicated leadership structure that also included a chairman and a managing director. 

Fellow travelers often describe Foye as a “bureaucratic ninja” with a sphinx-like demeanor. They note he is one of the last officials in Cuomoland who does not depend on the governor for personal advancement. Foye is independently wealthy. He was a mergers and acquisitions partner at Skadden Arps and a managing partner of the law firm’s offices in Brussels, Budapest and Moscow. He was also an executive vice president at AIMCO, the real estate company.

Reinvent Albany executive director John Kaehny said the news was not a surprise.

"He's an experienced technocrat and knows the transportation lay of the land and he's trusted by the governor and he's been reasonably accessible to the public, or certainly was when he was at the Port Authority," he told POLITICO. "I would say it's the conservative choice and the expected choice."

This has not been the easiest position to fill.

Before Foye, Cuomo asked former Federal Railroad Administration head Sarah Feinberg to run the MTA. She declined, citing family and work constraints, according to a knowledgeable source. The governor ultimately made do with naming Feinberg to the MTA board. A spokesperson for Cuomo had no immediate comment.

Foye succeeds Joe Lhota, who resigned last year following questions about conflicts of interest. Lobbyist Fernando Ferrer has been serving as acting chairman in the meantime.

"As a lifelong rider — and a daily customer — of the MTA, I can think of no higher honor or more important challenge than serving at the helm of an agency that connects millions of people each day to their jobs, schools, families and friends," Foye said in a statement. "There is no question that we have a great deal of work ahead of us, to bring truly innovative and meaningful reform to the agency and provide the service and system New Yorkers deserve." 

He will serve as both chairman and CEO of the authority, according to an administration official who spoke on background, thereby ending the controversial bifurcated arrangement that allowed Lhota to delegate his CEO responsibilities to others and earn a substantially more generous salary in the private sector.

Foye's ascension to the chairmanship comes at a difficult time for the MTA. Its finances are precarious, its morale is low, and it remains unclear how it will fund major capital projects.

His appointment will require state Senate confirmation.

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Yay. So, what's the over-under on this guy sticking around for the full term?

While I'm glad to hear he's not dependent on Cuomo like a lot of people in the governor's orbit, his established wealth does mean he won't be forced to serve the full term as MTA chairman, which is troubling for the ailing agency. With so many external and internal problems plaguing almost every aspect of the agency, the absolute last thing needed is more instability, something they are unfortunately way too familiar with as of late. In the last decade, the MTA has cycled through four chairmen, with Prenderghast, the longtime head of NYC Transit, serving the longest at about four years between 2013 and 2017. Walder and Lhota served only two years respectively with the latter's two inconsecutive terms in 2012 and 2017-2018 with interim leadership in place when these two jumped ship for greener pastures.

It's no secret that the job is extremely difficult, partly due to politics on the regional and state level and partly due to the nature of the sub-agencies themselves. However, if significant change is to be made, it must start from the top and it must be done by someone willing to stick around and make those changes and not bail out when faced with opposing forces. While it will never be done because it would make the job less desirable, it needs to be written in the agreement that whoever takes this job must remain in the position for at least five years. That way, we can actually have some consistency over the years instead of the constant changes to the way things are done every time we do this song and dance.

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 Foye is independently wealthy, so if he somehow gets on Cuomo’s bad side and Cuomo cans him, Foye probably won’t lose sleep over it. On the other hand, it would probably be much better in the long run for the MTA if they had a head who is willing to stick around for the long run and who has some working knowledge of how to run a government agency professionally. But “This is New York,” and “that’s just not the way we do it here!” They probably would hire a professional with real experience in public administration in other states, probably the purple ones.

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2 hours ago, T to Dyre Avenue said:

 Foye is independently wealthy, so if he somehow gets on Cuomo’s bad side and Cuomo cans him, Foye probably won’t lose sleep over it. On the other hand, it would probably be much better in the long run for the MTA if they had a head who is willing to stick around for the long run and who has some working knowledge of how to run a government agency professionally. But “This is New York,” and “that’s just not the way we do it here!” They probably would hire a professional with real experience in public administration in other states, probably the purple ones.

Elsewhere they tend to do national searches for transit heads - even for airport authorities.

Only in NY/NJ are these supercritical positions given to friends.

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30 minutes ago, Deucey said:

Elsewhere they tend to do national searches for transit heads - even for airport authorities.

Only in NY/NJ are these supercritical positions given to friends.

I don't think Foye exactly counts as a friend of Cuomo's. My understanding is that he worked with him, but he's objectively one of the most qualified people in the country having run the Port Authority. The real one to watch out for is the horrible Larry Schwartz, a complete Cuomo lackey that he almost put in charge of the MTA. That would have been a disaster. Foye is at least legitimate. 

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1 hour ago, MHV9218 said:

I don't think Foye exactly counts as a friend of Cuomo's. My understanding is that he worked with him, but he's objectively one of the most qualified people in the country having run the Port Authority. The real one to watch out for is the horrible Larry Schwartz, a complete Cuomo lackey that he almost put in charge of the MTA. That would have been a disaster. Foye is at least legitimate. 

No, I mean that all this actual transit talent across the country and the world, and we recruit a Byford for a subordinate role while we pick a political crony to “run” it, instead of putting a Byford in at the top of the top.

Generally more of the same doesn’t net different results.

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33 minutes ago, Deucey said:

No, I mean that all this actual transit talent across the country and the world, and we recruit a Byford for a subordinate role while we pick a political crony to “run” it, instead of putting a Byford in at the top of the top.

Generally more of the same doesn’t net different results.

I don't think Foye is a total crony, honestly. He was fine at the Port. Besides, the chairman is always a more political position, ever since the 'Holy Ronan Empire' of the 60s-70s. The NYCT President is usually the nuts and bolts guy. Generally you want more an operator for chairman who deals with all the interstate political stuff.

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7 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 Lobbyist Fernando Ferrer

Oh is that so? That explains A LOT

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53 minutes ago, Around the Horn said:

Oh is that so? That explains A LOT

Wasn’t he Bx Boro Prez?

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6 hours ago, Deucey said:

Wasn’t he Bx Boro Prez?

Yes, he was. Lobby-ism runs in Ferrer’s blood (that’s essentially what the Borough President’s role has been reduced to since the revised city charter of 1990, which also eliminated the position of City Council President).

As for Foye, I have to commend him for sending that email, which essentially blew the whistle on Bridgegate, so that may very well be a good sign. 

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^ Correct, I even forgot about his ethical role in that scandal. Ferrer is a complete hack, and I blame a lot of the L train debacle on him. Hope the door doesn't hit him on the way out.

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Had no idea who Pat Foye was, before the fact....

As for Ferrer, didn't he say something to the effect of not even wanting to be chairman.... I've never known of a lobbyist I didn't like anyway... Buh-bye, is right.

 

On 3/29/2019 at 5:21 PM, Lance said:

Yay. So, what's the over-under on this guy sticking around for the full term?

That's always my sentiment when it comes to these figureheads...

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Ferrer must have lobbied some politician to get the position  as the odds getting a person who knows something about transit on the board are slim and none. 

I know there are some exceptions but for the most part anyone who was the chairman was picked by the governor and  was either a friend or someone who was owed a favor. Since this is a political position, then he could have resigned a lot sooner if he did not feel that he could support the decision. I think that it is the lure of the camera and microphone that politicians crave no matter if they are retired  as for some reason they still want to keep themselves in the eyes of the public that prevented him from resigning sooner.

The difference between the previous governors and the emperor is that for the most part, they were not micromanagers like this one who practices "my way or the highway" to the fullest.

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On 3/29/2019 at 4:36 PM, Union Tpke said:

They note he is one of the last officials in Cuomoland who does not depend on the governor for personal advancement.

In other words, Pat ain’t a patsy.

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