Today’s Headlines

  • Mothers of Chinatown Crash Victims Beseech Morgenthau to Prosecute Driver (News)
  • Federal Transpo Policy Stuck in the Asphalt Age (Citiwire)
  • Now’s the Time to Invest in Infrastructure at Bargain Prices (Ryan Avent via Streetsblog.net)
  • New Coalition Links Rail Advocates on Capitol Hill (The Hill)
  • Shocker: Detroit Balks at Tougher Emissions Standards (NYT)
  • Cross Bay Bridge Tolls an Affront to First Amendment, Say Broad Channel Residents (News)
  • MTA Takes a Bath in Bond Auction Brokered by Citigroup (NYT)
  • Poll: Bloomberg Leads Weiner By 7 (Post)
  • MTA Promises Fulton Transit Center Will Look Like Early Designs (NY1, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • How Bad Is the Global Car-Crash Death Toll? (Treehugger)
  • Marty Barfowitz

    Calling Robert Morgenthau opponent Leslie Crocker Snyder: Let’s see you standing with these Chinatown Crash parents. This is a great opportunity for you to win some headlines and votes. Do you really want to be Manhattan D.A.? Where are you?

  • anon

    Leave it to the Post to show Weiner in the most favorable light. Quinnipiac is much more favorable to Bloomberg:

    * Bloomberg tops New York City Comptroller William Thompson 50 – 34 percent;
    * Bloomberg beats U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner 50 – 35 percent.

    http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1302.xml?ReleaseID=1252

    (I participated in this poll- First time!)

  • Re: # MTA Takes a Bath in Bond Auction Brokered by Citigroup (NYT)

    I have a post going up about that at around 3 p.m. today, but that’s just wrong. The MTA, in that lone investment, lost $5.6 million or less than 1/2 of 1 percent of its current deficit. Meanwhile, it made up for it by saving money on their variable-rate debt investments. Every agency, organization and corporation lost some money recently, and a $5.6 million loss seems to me more like The Times searching for a “let’s make the MTA look bad” story than it does a legitimate problem.

  • Rhywun

    RE: Cross Bay Bridge Tolls an Affront to First Amendment, Say Broad Channel Residents

    Oh, that’s rich. I’m going to exercise *my* first amendment rights and say that if you move onto an island and expect freebies that are not afforded to the rest of us, you’re an idiot.

    RE: Poll: Bloomberg Leads Weiner By 7

    My vote is “Anyone But Bloomberg”. Going against the will of the voters in order to buy yourself another term is low.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “A $5.6 million loss seems to me more like The Times searching for a ‘let’s make the MTA look bad’ story than it does a legitimate problem.”

    That’s how much they paid to refinance, not the excess interest they had to pay as interest rates soared.

    Frankly, when I found out the MTA had gone with variable rate debt at a time when fixed rate debts were at all-time lows, I felt sick. When they refinanced back into fixed rate debt, paying fees for the privilege, I’d bet the ended up paying much higher rates than they would have if they went with fixed rate debt when they borrowed to begin with. But they saved a few nickels in the short run — when they were flush enough that no one cared where it went.

    Of course, this disaster is over and above the greater disaster of borrowing for five years worth of ongoing normal replacement with 30 year bonds, until the debt is so great that ongoing normal replacement comes to an end. Something Mr. Ravitch proposes to continue as a way of deferring the disaster for five more years while making it worse.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Considering all of the juicy transportation-related finance and and politics stories that William Neumann and the NYT’s metro desk could be writing about right now, this morning’s story is utterly pathetic.

  • So, Larry, what’s your estimate of the excess interest? I’m asking that seriously, not facetiously. I don’t know the answer.

    I still find it hard to believe that they lost all that much money on this bond issue, and if the excess interest is the bigger issue, why didn’t Neuman focus on that potentially larger number?

  • rex

    After a huge bailout, the auto industry is fighting tougher emission standards. In the meantime, congress fails to help transit with operating costs that is causing transit districts to flail nation wide. That is rich.

    Transit has the potential to reduce emissions and oil consumption for a lot less money than we “loaned” Chrysler and GM. I wonder how much of that bailout money is going to lobbyists? Hopefully there are a few in congress that recognized the irony of giving bad corporate citizens money to continue their anti-social behavior, while real citizens are facing service cuts and fare increases.

  • J. Mork

    Rhywun — don’t let the best be the enemy of the good regarding your choice of mayoral candidates (especially because transporation and livable streets issues are important to you.)

  • Larry Littlefield

    (So, Larry, what’s your estimate of the excess interest? I’m asking that seriously, not facetiously. I don’t know the answer.)

    No one does. They aren’t exactly going back to all of the variable rate bond issues, figuring out what the fixed rate would have been at the time (hard to do because every issue is different), look at the money they saved with the variable rate before the market blew up, and look at what they lost due to the higher rates they refinanced to. The financial companies donate lots of money to the pols. I doubt they’ll call for lots of money to be spent on forensic accounting here.

    (I still find it hard to believe that they lost all that much money on this bond issue, and if the excess interest is the bigger issue, why didn’t Neuman focus on that potentially larger number?)

    He presumably reported on the example he had. Anectodes seem more likely to be considered “news” that statistics anyway. This issue spiked to 8% interest. I read on Bloomberg News a few months ago about an issue that briefly spiked to 20% interest.

    Of course the MTA only did what millions of Americans also did during the 2004 to 2006 insanity — refinance to exploding loans so they could consume more in the short run. It blows my mind.

  • Larry Littlefield

    At least we aren’t Chicago, where the pension funds are even more underfunded (despite much, much higher contributions by the employees) and future revenues (not just parking revenues) are being sold left and right to get through the short run. Yikes!

    http://www.suntimes.com/business/currency/1397127,CST-FIN-terry26.savagearticle

    So why invest in transit? That benefits a future that no one with power seems to care about, on any issue!

  • “Shocker: Detroit Balks at Tougher Emissions Standards”? Where? Where in the NYT article did they cite a Detroit automaker balking? According to the article:

    G.M., the only Detroit automaker to issue its own response Monday, said it was “working aggressively on the products and the advance technologies that match the nation’s and consumers’ priorities to save energy and reduce emissions.” But the company also emphasized the need for “a comprehensive policy discussion that takes into account the development pace of new technologies, alternative fuels and market and economic factors.”

  • Rhywun

    @J. Mork

    Sure I want a mayor who’s good on transit. I also want one who’ll cut the budget and otherwise stay out of my business. Bloomberg’s been horrible on those two counts. Not to say Weiner is or isn’t any better. I liked him a few years ago; haven’t really paid attention to him since. I guess he pandered to his Queens constituency recently but what politician doesn’t.

  • Rhywun

    So why invest in transit? That benefits a future that no one with power seems to care about, on any issue!

    Of course not. People with power don’t take transit. And there’s been ample proof over the centuries that people in power care about number one.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The term limits referendum and law are not the Holy Grail man. In fact they have an intrinsic anti-democratic character that is a very high bar to leap. I’ve got my issues with Bloomberg but on livable streets the line is very clear here, especially between he and Anthony Weiner. Bloomberg is running with Bridge Tolls clearly up his flag pole. Whether it passes or not it is his cross to bear and should he prevail it will create a mandate to progress these issues over the dead corpses of all the windshield people in the City Council.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. All the process crap is just more fog of war.

  • Rhywun

    Bloomberg would have got my respect if he had stood up to the billionaire baseball owners instead of caving and putting hundreds of millions of tax dollars in their pockets.

  • tal

    Bloomberg is the most sane leader we could have right now, and he’s the best friend of transit and liveable streets we’ve ever had. He’s the one who tried hard for congestion pricing. He hired JSK, who then hired Gehl. He worked hard for congestion pricing. He has also worked to green up the building codes.

    If your concern is standing up to the rich and powerful, Bloomberg is your best bet, because he’s already rich. He doesn’t take money from anyone. He’s not doing any of this for his own personal enrichment. He’s probably the most progressive person in power right now.

    Meanwhile, look at his opposition with Anthony Weiner… what principles does this man have?