NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were harsh words Sunday from Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the investigation into overtime at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The governor suggested possible criminal wrongdoing, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Cuomo continued to lash out at the agency and its workers regarding overtime, accusing some of them of stealing and fraud. He made it clear he’s had enough with the agency and its ineffectiveness in monitoring its workers’ hours, particularly those at the Long Island Rail, where workers have been condemned for allegedly inflating their hours for a fatter pay check.
“It’s not about overtime. Everybody knew we were authorizing overtime,” Cuomo said. “This is about stealing. This is about fraud. This is about people saying they worked and charging the taxpayers when they didn’t work.”
Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano blamed the MTA for any accounting problems, saying, “They should use their police to protect their workers, not for publicity stunts in reaction to bad press about overtime that MTA managers, themselves, approved.”
Cuomo said the MTA is not without fault, accusing the agency of having a flawed system of keeping track of workers’ attendance and working hours, and doing nothing about it.
“This is not a new issue for the MTA,” the governor said. “They have been criticized for years on lack of an effective time and attendance system. Why didn’t they change it? Why didn’t they fix it? There’s no excuse.”
The governor said he backs his appointed MTA Chair Patrick Foye’s request for an independent investigator to find out if there is fraud, how long it has been going on, and how it’s been overlooked.
“Explain to the MTA what management system has failed that has allowed this to go on and didn’t catch it,” Cuomo said.
The governor said there’s no excuse for the MTA’s failures, adding the agency has been given everything it has asked for — higher fares, higher tolls, and legislation giving it more power that it has ever had.
He said now “it’s time for the MTA to perform.”
An MTA spokesperson released the following statement on Sunday evening:
“Chairman Foye has been crystal clear that while overtime is necessary for emergencies and urgent projects to improve the system and our employees are heroes for doing this difficult work, overtime abuse is unacceptable and should be rooted out, starting with an audit of overtime practices, internal investigation, expedited modernization of time and attendance controls, referral to the Inspector General, and the engagement of special counsel recommended by the board,” the spokesperson said.