NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fed up Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member is making a stunning demand, urging an independent prosecutor be hired to root out overtime and pension abuse and send the violators to jail.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer found out, the call for a swift crackdown will come Friday at an emergency meeting.
“People need to either go to jail, they need to be prosecuted, and we need to collect the money that they stole from the taxpaying public,” Larry Schwartz said.
Those strong words came in the wake of a massive overtime scandal.
“I’m disgusted by it. I’m outraged by it,” Schwartz said.
According to the MTA, overtime costs were up $122 million. That’s $82 million more than the agency expects to rake in from its recent fare hike.
It included the nearly $462,000 pay check raked in by the Long Island Rail Road’s chief measurement officer, thanks to a stunning $344,000 in overtime. That’s a mind-boggling 3,800 hours in extra shifts.
“That is impossible,” Schwartz said. “Nobody can work that many hours a day. You’re going to tell me they didn’t take a sick day in 2018? They didn’t take a vacation day? I don’t believe it. Nobody believes it.”
It comes as the beleaguered agency has decided to assign MTA cops and civilians to take attendance at LIRR facilities, as sources told CBS2 there is a concern that people are clocking in for their friend.
That prompted Anthony Simon, chairman of the union that represents LIRR workers, to protest. He called the move “insulting.”
“These officers belong out in public fighting crime, combating fare evasion, not going through the motions of observing employee attendance behaviors,” Simon said in a letter to MTA Chair Patrick Foye.
“Anthony Simon should be outraged about the overtime abuse,” Schwartz told Kramer.
Commuters are all for hiring a special prosecutor.
“I think it’s a great idea. I can’t believe that one gentleman who ended up making $400,000 in overtime, who works 16 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Michael Kendal of Hewlett.
“It’s always a good idea,” another person said.
“It’s very frustrating for us,” added Bob Bruder of East Williston. “I call for an investigation.”
When told the powers that be might try to stop a probe, Patty Magid of Miller Place said, “Might be too late. There’s contracts. People have pensions and invested. The horse is out of the barn.”
Schwartz also wants the MTA to fire the managers who approved the overtime, and to update many of the time and attendance systems that rely on punch cards. He’ll make his demands at Friday’s emergency board meeting.