NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks a reorganized Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with himself at the controls may be a magic bullet to right a dysfunctional system.
Riders CBS2 spoke with are divided.
Where exactly did the idea of adding board members to enhance gubernatorial control come from?
Just call it back to the future, CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer explains.
“You can hold the governor’s political feet to the political fire by allowing him to appoint a majority of the members of the board,” former Gov. Mario Cuomo said back in 1983.
Everything old is new again. CBS2 discovered that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s demand to reorganize the MTA to give him a clear majority of appointees was first broached more than 35 years ago by his father, Mario. It went nowhere, in part because Ed Koch, then mayor of New York City, didn’t like it.
“You will be converting that board from one that has independence which it was intended to have to simply being a creature of the state of New York, in this case the governor. I’m against it,” Koch said.
The warmth of the relationship between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch was about the same as the present “frenemies for life” at the top of the state and city leadership, Kramer reported. That didn’t stop Cuomo-the-younger from pushing ahead, asking not only for total control, but for the city to pay more.
“The MTA was put together to avoid any liability for any elected official,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on the radio Monday. “It was Machiavellian.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to see the governor’s management plan for committing to it, but says more money is a non-starter.
“We’re not in a position to pay for the MTA. We’re not going to,” de Blasio said.
Kramer spoke with riders about what they think.
“If Governor Cuomo was given total control of the MTA, could he fix the subways?” Kramer asked.
“I think he needs some help. More of a coalition, working with the mayor and the partners a little bit,” said Clair Dudley of Washington Heights.
“I think that he could do it. I like his style. I like the way he takes charge. I definitely he could be the one to do it,” said Harlem resident Lydia Andrews.
“On top of his other responsibilities? I don’t think so. I don’t think the subways can be fixed by one person,” said Dominick del Principe of Upper Manhattan.
An article in the New York Times from 1983 says Mario Cuomo’s plan ran immediately into trouble in the legislature. But today, spokesmen for both the state senate and assembly say they are keeping an open mind, waiting to see the details of the younger Cuomo’s proposal.