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Could neoptism be the real reason of Lee Sander's leaving as MTA CEO?

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Could Lee Sandler demise as MTA boss had also been due to fact he refused to hire the son-in law of a powerful Democratic Party boss to an important MTA job? A case of possible neoptism. You guys be the judge.

 

MTA boss Elliot Sander refused Democrat chief's request to promote kin: source

BY Pete Donohue

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

 

Sunday, May 10th 2009

 

 

Has one of the state's most powerful assemblyman rumored attempt to try to bully the MTA into giving his son-in-law a promotion - creating a wall of tension between Elliot (Lee) Sander and one of the state's most powerful lawmakers, sources told the Daily News. Could this rumored case of neoptism had also been a factor in Sander's forced resignation?

 

Assemblyman Vito Lopez, also the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman, told Metropolitan Transportation Authority honcho Sander that he wanted Keith Summa, an engineer with the agency, to get a higher-paying gig. When Sander refused, Lopez flew into a rage, two sources familiar with the exchange told The News.

 

Sander declined to comment, and Lopez Saturday denied ever demanding the promotion. The conversation never happened, Lopez said.

 

"This is not true," Lopez said. "I think Lee Sander did an excellent job running the MTA, but I think he's very upset and I hope this is not a consequence of his being asked to move on."

 

Sander, the transit chief, announced his resignation last week after Gov. Paterson made disparaging remarks about the MTA and vowed to install new leadership. The move led some MTA staffers to wonder if Sander had sealed his own fate by angering a powerful politician like Lopez.

 

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin wouldn't speculate. Instead, he mentioned an interview Sander gave last week after Paterson accepted his resignation.

 

Sander said he believed Paterson simply wanted a chief executive officer of his own choosing, a common personnel move at the top of state agencies after a shift in power in Albany.

 

The bailout legislation passed last week combined the chairmanship and CEO positions held by Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger and Sander, respectively. Paterson said he just wanted to keep a tighter grip on the MTA.

 

"We want to combine the position of chair and CEO so that we have a better accountability of what happens there," Paterson said yesterday. "What we're looking for is that kind of leader who will be so steadfast and disciplined in generating new action at the MTA that it will win back the public impression that there is accountability."

 

Sander had led successful lobbying efforts seeking legislative and voter approval for a key transportation bond act, headed a transportation think tank in Manhattan and worked as an executive in an engineering firm before taking the MTA post. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer gave Sander the top MTA job in January 2007.

 

Sources said Lopez spoke to Sander in 2007 about the promotion for Summa, an engineer with NYC Transit. Summa is married to Lopez's daughter, Gina, and earns about $106,000 a year, according to agency payroll records.

 

Summa - who apparently didn't need help climbing the ladder - was promoted not long before Lopez asked Sander to bump him up again, sources said.

 

"He's a decent guy," one source said. "Left alone, he'll do okay."

 

Lopez has been the Brooklyn Democratic leader since 2005. It's the state's largest Democratic organization. He played a key role in negotiations leading to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) securing enough votes to assume that position.

 

c)2009 NY Daily News, Inc. pdonohue@nydailynews.com

 

 

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