The Jay Walder Compensation Confirmation Circus Gets Underway

Jimmy Vielkind at the Politicker files a dispatch from the first State Senate hearing about MTA chair nominee Jay Walder’s severance package (yes, there will be more than one).

At today’s hearing, in Mineola on Long Island, Regional Plan
Association President Bob Yaro said that Walder’s pay is fair (and low,
if you compare it based on ridership) and the severance package is
justified "given the volatility that is unfortunately associated with
the position."

"We are also aware that some have questioned the extra compensation
Mr. Walder would receive in the event that his contract were terminated
prematurely," Yaro testified. "We would argue that this provision
reflects the risk Mr. Walder is taking in coming to the MTA at this
time, with little more than a year to go in the current governor’s
term, and given the volatility that is unfortunately associated with
the position. It will also encourage the MTA Board and the governor to
think twice before discharging Mr. Walder for frivolous or purely
political reasons. Keeping him in place for his whole contract would
provide the continuity of leadership that this important agency
urgently needs."

If Albany weren’t such a cesspool of cronyism, in other words, we wouldn’t need to slip such a big hedge into the chair’s contract to attract top-tier talent. Meanwhile, is the State Senate even aware that the MTA released its draft capital plan a few weeks ago? There’s a $10 billion hole, and the agency is still rudderless. If we’re going to have a confirmation hearing, you’d think something like the future of the transit system would figure into it at some point, but I suppose that doesn’t have anything to do with "transparency and accountability".

Only a handful of people on the planet have the chops to steer an agency as large and complex as the MTA, and Jay Walder is one of them, by all accounts. We’ll know if the State Senate is satisfied on September 10, when they render their final decision.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The hearings were also noteworthy for Walder refusing to take Sen. Marcelino’s bate on sun-setting the payroll tax, enormously unpopular with the Senators out there. But they want more bus service and more North South service from whatever. Though they oppose LIRR mainline third track and bridge tolls also. Neither Yaro nor Tri State put in a pitch for mainline third track, big loss.

  • Bystander

    Lest we forget while we sing Walder’s praises (deserved though they are), that another person in that “handful of people qualified to run the agency” is Lee Sander.

    Turning him into a scapegoat was a gross disservice to the MTA, its riders and the non-riders who are also affected by the agency’s functions.

  • vnm

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