Lee Sander Stepping Down

From the MTA press office:

Governor Paterson today accepted the resignation of MTA Executive
Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander. Mr. Sander
offered his resignation to the Governor earlier this year in
anticipation of yesterday’s passage of legislation that joins the
Chairman and CEO positions at the MTA. Mr. Sander’s resignation is
effective May 22, 2009, ending a tenure that began January 1, 2007.

It’s no surprise that Sander would be sacrificed, as rumors had been circulating for months that Governor Paterson was looking for a change. Regardless of Sander’s achievements during his two-year tenure, WNYC is reporting that Paterson earlier today announced the need for a "leadership shake-up" due to the public’s lack of confidence in the agency.

Despite the feckless performance of Paterson and his Albany cohorts during the doomsday debacle, and the short-sighted deal that resulted, we assume the governor managed to keep a straight face.

Follow the jump for the rest of the MTA release.

MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander said: "It has been
a great honor to lead the 70,000 hard-working men and women who run the
world’s greatest public transportation system. I am tremendously proud
of our accomplishments making the MTA a leaner, more efficient and
effective organization. Each of the MTA’s agencies is performing at
peak levels, the relationship with our employees is dramatically
improved and we communicate more frequently with our customers. The
integration of the MTA’s three bus companies, the merging of back
office functions across 7 agencies and the introduction of line general
managers on the subway system will save the MTA millions and improve
the agency’s performance. New innovations like rider report cards, text
message alerts and Select Bus Service have improved the customer
experience. There is more work to be done, but I leave confident
knowing the MTA is headed in the right direction. I am grateful to
Governor Paterson and Governor Spitzer for this wonderful opportunity.
I wish Governor Paterson the best of luck in choosing a successor who
will build on the progress the MTA has made over the past two and a
half years." 
  • Here’s an exciting opportunity to replace a genuine transportation expert with an even more genuine transportation expert! Here’s my hotlist of nominees:

    Richard Brodsky
    Sheldon Silver
    Malcolm Smith
    Anthony Weiner

  • JK

    It’s a shame Lee had to step down. His professionalism, integrity and committment to the public welfare will be sorely missed. Lee worked hard to earn the public’s trust and make the MTA more transparent and accountable. It is sadly ironic that Lee was forced to leave in order to “restore public confidence.” It would be even more ironic, if under the guise of “reform” the governor replaced Lee with his advisor Marc Shaw: a man who abhors sunlight and is the consummate insider, backroom wheeler dealer.

  • cf

    This is a real shame.

  • Way to throw a guy under the bus Gov. The optics of this are terrible. It gives cover to Albany for their gross negligence and makes the MTA look bad at the same time.

  • Who’s up for a “Save Lee Sander” rally?

  • Bystander

    Yo Cap’n. I’m up for the rally. When and where?

    It’s totally outrageous to sacrifice Sander on this, but completely consistent with Patterson’s approach to his job.

  • I totally agree that the leaders in charge of the MTA need to be replaced for there to be real reform, to properly serve the needs of the ridership and the greater populace.

    Those leaders, namely, are Malcolm Smith, Sheldon Silver, the members of the legislative chambers they “lead,” and to a lesser extent David Paterson.

    What a disgrace. And where have the pro-city voices been to counter the anti-city zealots that make headlines as they run the transit system into the ground by borrowing their way out of properly sustaining the MTA and into a burden of impossible debt? I only hear crickets.

  • Yes, Ian. That’s right. Where was the Manhattan Assembly and Senate delegation to counter the grandstanding pro-car, anti-transit, out of touch outerborough elitist (compared to their constituents) class of legislators?

    Where were the legislators to supply real facts and data to the debate to counter with logical, rational arguments against clear pandering against the needs of the city? Or at least someone to counter their stupid grandstanding with their own stupid grandstanding on our side?

    The Fare Hike Four, similar to Weprin & Co during the congestion pricing fight, were out in the media, presented a unified front against a particular policy proposal and got their way. A few Manhattan Senators could have done the same and yet they were nowhere to be found. You could not find a quote from them in the media. They left the battlefield to the Fare Hike Four.

  • Rhywun

    And I was ready to give Paterson the benefit of the doubt through most of this. He’s new, he’s sort of likeable. But not now. This just reeks of the same old Albany that’s been stinking up the Northeast for the last couple generations. Backroom deals, sacrificial lambs, reward your “friends”, and of course, never accomplish today what you can postpone until after the next election. Disgraceful.

  • Well, don’t worry, everyone! We’ll have another round next year, but then it’ll be the Senate and the Assembly’s turn to vote for bridge tolls while the Mayor and Governor block it.

  • I guess that’s possible, if you assume by then that the state budget has ballooned so high there’s nothing else left to tax/toll.

  • mfs

    I second JK.

  • If the rally fails, I second what Mark Walker said. The Governor should appoint one of these senators to head the MTA; then it will be just as “transparent” as the way the Senate does business. I would nominate Ruben Diaz, but I don’t want that homophobe in charge of anything that would give him a chance to discriminate against GLBT people. Maybe John Deutzman. Or Gene Russianoff.

  • Larry Littlefield

    My take: if you are going to fired anyway, you might was well tell the truth.

    I was disappointed that the incoming Spitzer Administration didn’t stop the borrowing, freeze the situation, and make a public accounting of it. It wouldn’t have made a lot of people happy, but in the end no one is going to be happy anyway.

    I was stunned when 50 year plans were released, which sounded like more empty promises to anyone aware of the financial situation, instead of calls for short term sacrifice for long term gains after years of the reverse.

    The best I heard of the Sander Administration was a throwaway line in an article about Straphangers being inconvenienced by the reconstruction of the 9th Street viaduct, which will otherwise eventually shut down the F train the way the Manhattan Bridge was shut down for 20 years.

    After years of overpaying for construction and then over-running even that, and not worrying about because after all its just borrowed money anyway, the bids reportedly came in something like 40% below estimates. THAT is what has to be done.

  • Jeffrey Hyman

    Post the date for the Sander-lovefest and I AM THERE! I didn’t think I could have a lower opinion of Albany than I already had, that is, until the past two months. Is it just going to keep getting worse?

  • WhyNot

    The reaction here is amazing. Among professionals who have actually dealt with Sander (and by this I mean people who work hard every day to try to manage their organizations sanely and competently, not sandbaggers and malcontents), Sander is universally regarded as a twit. His stock in trade is throwing out wonkish mumbo jumbo and shuffling around the boxes on the org chart. This guy is in no way in the league of say Richard Ravitch or David Gunn. He is a pure empty suit, and always has been. The only things I find objectionable to his being fired are the total absence of reasoning behind the act, the failure to send Howard Roberts packing along with him, and the notion that Paterson (a man completely incapable of judging others’ abilities) will now actually have to hire someone.

  • @ Cap’t Transit: I’m glad you’re only kidding. I want Diaz de-fanged and out of office at the next opportunity.

  • Jasca

    To #16 WhyNot —

    Could you give some examples? I am not trying to put you on the spot, but, these would be useful for outsiders to understand. Otherwise, you’re just making an anonymous attack that isn’t grounded in anything and should be discounted.


  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    WhyNot – I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him.
    These sainted figures you compare Mr. Sander to have long past their shelf life and could never have ruled in the fishbowl that the media has made of the MTA. Lee’s chief mistake was empowering Grey Beard Ravitch to fumble the critical bridge toll political strategy. That was after Mayor Moneybags refused to make it part of his last political campaign because he had to win by several thousand percentage points. All the critics wanted transparency, Lee let them watch while the sausages were made and, I’m shocked, others wanted the casings handled differently.

  • WhyNot

    To Jasca. The obvious box-shuffling gimmick is Sander’s annointing “managers” for individual train lines, which serves no purpose except to give the appearance of change. At the same time, it adds a layer of management and tosses away economies of scale and established ways of working for absolutely no performance or cost benefit. He made similar moves at City DOT. Apart from that you just have see the guy up close in action. All he does is spout gibberish and avoid answering people’s questions. To give away more than that would be to give away too much. If you know anyone who works at the MTA whose opinion you value, ask them what they think of Lee. You are very unlikely to hear a positive opinion.

  • WhyNot

    Niccolo, Sander’s chief mistake is that he took a job that he is way too crappy a manager to be able to pull off. You may be right that Ravitch or Gunn would fair poorly these days, but they are nevertheless far more capable and substantive than Lee.

  • gecko

    If Sanders had integrated cycling into the MTA he would have greatly improved the system and we all would have been a lot better off.

    It is just that simple.


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