Governor Andrew Cuomo famously courted the state legislature to achieve his agenda. He wined them and dined them, even invited them over to the mansion with their spouses. Cuomo made it clear that he was not gonna be like the big bully across the Hudson, Chris Christie. He would not say nasty things in the press, or call the legislature dysfunctional, or even threaten them except when absolutely necessary.
So what a surprise to find out that the kinder, gentler Governor was not warm and fuzzy to everyone. Apparently he was not making nice with the guy at the MTA, Chair Jay Walder. If you believe reports, Cuomo hardly ever talked to one of the most important agency chiefs in the state. The New York Times reports Cuomo even walked in on a meeting with Cuomo aides and Walder, greeted him, but then supposedly barely acknowledged him.
So is this why Walder bolted from his six-year contract after two years, and decided to take a job with the Hong Kong system? Not likely. He basically said he got an offer he couldn’t refuse, one that apparently pays more than the $350,000 he makes running the MTA.
Walder escaped to a city that is as far away as possible from New York.
He had left London and took the job here with his eyes wide open. He certainly knew what he was getting himself into. The state and city are broke and will not provide additional financing. The agency will be borrowing heavily in a very uncertain economic climate. And the press, well, what could be worse? So he bolted for the bucks
And now it’s over to Cuomo. During the campaign he said that the governor should be put in charge of the MTA, and be held accountable. He will have to go through the painful appointment process, which can turn into a political circus if not handled correctly (ask Mayor Bloomberg about Cathie Black).
Cuomo has been pretty much covered with Teflon so far, and with good reason. He has barely made a misstep. But now critics are starting to comment that Cuomo is not “a transit guy,” that he is not seen much on the subway (as if there is an Albany stop on the IRT!) The question: can the guy who loves Harleys and muscle cars cure the troubles of mass transit. Now he gets his chance.