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May 16, 2012


MTA contract(s): back to the future?

Nicole Gelinas

On Saturday, the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) got the terms of its new $47.5 million contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 3,000 bus drivers in Queens and Staten Island.

The agreement shows that arbitrators — who decide such things when both sides reach an impasse — remain unruffled by the financial, economic, and fiscal crises that have plagued the state over the past half-decade.

The verdict: Gov. Cuomo still needs to enact labor-negotiation reform. (more…)

Filed under: Disappointment, The MTA

April 20, 2012


Dodd-Frank’s frenemies

Nicole Gelinas

Wendy Long, a lawyer who is trying to oust fellow lawyer Kirsten Gillibrand from the Senate, has a piece in the WSJ today with a compelling headline: “Financial Regulation is Hurting New York.”

True enough. But the 70 percent of the details that Long gets wrong eclipse the 30 percent that she gets right. A more fitting story might be “Pols Who Don’t Understand the Financial Crisis are Hurting New York.” (more…)

June 27, 2011


Give Mulgrew and Roberts each a 50-cent raise …

Nicole Gelinas

… ‘cuz they’re doing Mayor Bloomberg’s job as well as their own (and the mayor gets paid $1 a year).

Some background: Michael Mulgrew and Lillian Roberts head up New York City’s United Federation of Teachers and the city’s largest civilian union, DC-37, respectively. The two unions’ members make up the bulk of the New York City workforce.

During this year’s budget season, ended last Friday, Bloomberg left it entirely up to Mulgrew and Roberts to decide how many employees New York City needs to deliver adequate public services to taxpayers and citizens.

(more…)

Filed under: Disappointment, New York City

May 23, 2011


World goes on; luckily, so does MTA pension

Nicole Gelinas

Robert Fitzpatrick spent $140,000 buying up subway and bus ads to warn people that the world was going to end Saturday. According to news reports, it didn’t. So should we worry about how Fitzpatrick, a retiree on a fixed income, will support himself in the future?

Nope. “I still have a pension. I’m going to be OK,” the former MTA engineer told the Post yesterday.

Filed under: Disappointment, The MTA

May 18, 2011


Forced error: the Yanks’ parking-bailout strikeout

Nicole Gelinas

Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez has this to say today about the $237 million in tax-exempt debt behind the overly luxurious parking “system” near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx:

If [the garage defaults], the Bloomberg administration faces the biggest default of a tax-exempt bond in this city since the 1970s. The mayor’s people downplay the problem, saying the city is not directly on the hook for these bonds, and bondholders will just have to eat some losses.

Such claims ignore that City Hall, as part of a deal with the Yankees for a new stadium, fostered the creation of Bronx Parking Development because team execs wanted a 9,000-space garage system.

That’s why members of the city’s Economic Development Corp., the Parks Department and the Bronx borough president’s office sit on the garage company’s board of directors.

Gonzalez further states that Ruben Diaz, the Bronx Borough President, “wants Bloomberg to come up with a rescue plan that helps [Bronx] residents and bondholders,” perhaps with the city paying the bondholders off, taking possession of the garage, and building something else. (more…)

Filed under: Debt, Disappointment

February 11, 2011


How not to fix pensions

Nicole Gelinas

The Post has a good editorial today on Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to cut pension costs by taking away a “bonus” check from uniformed workers who have already retired:

[W]hile the mayor has standing to ask for relief, the notion is fanciful, if not fantastical: Albany simply won’t single out police and fire retirees.

Nor should it.

(more…)

June 11, 2010


How could the MTA keep more token booths open?

Nicole Gelinas

E.J. and I had a podcast chat this morning to run through some of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s 2009 payroll data, released last week by the Empire Center’s seethroughny.net . (more…)

November 5, 2009


Financial complexity and the municipal swamp

Nicole Gelinas

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a major settlement with J.P. Morgan Securities concerning the fascinating municipal-corruption case of Jefferson County, Alabama.

Under the deal, J.P. Morgan, which doesn’t admit or deny anything, will give up $722 million, including a penalty and foregone claims against the county.

The general New York attitude toward the Jefferson County debacle is that this is a rogue case with hick players and has nothing to do with us.

But the details show systemic problems that call out for a systemic regulatory solution. The same improperly regulated financial markets and firms that nearly brought the global economy to depression last year also have created fancy new avenues for old-fashioned municipal-finance corruption that would have made Boss Tweed marvel. (more…)

October 29, 2009


For the TWU, arbitration included a nice bonus

Nicole Gelinas

Both papers reported this morning that “independent” arbitrator John Zuccotti, who was supposed to represent the public in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s contract with the Transport Workers Union, planned to donate his $116,000 fee — at $900 an hour, it can add up fast if you are, you know, working hard — to a TWU fund. The News reports that the MTA knew of this planned donation from the “outset.” The MTA and the TWU split the cost of Zuccotti’s fee.

This looks an awfully lot like the MTA paid Zuccotti an overinflated amount knowing that it would go to the TWU. (more…)

October 27, 2009


Bond Buyer: MTA may delay pension payments

Nicole Gelinas

If Gov. Paterson cuts funding to the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority as expected, the MTA may make up for the cut by slashing payments to its pension fund, the Bond Buyer reports (you need a subscription).

The MTA would use the temporary savings to repay some of its short-term debt. It incurred this debt earlier this year in anticipation of bailout money (shockingly, the MTA did this borrowing even though we told it not to). (more…)

Filed under: Disappointment, Jay Walder, The MTA
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