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MTA Reorg: Respected Exec Monheim Out, Cuomo Operative In

12:37 PM EDT on May 1, 2012

A "shake-up" is underway at the top levels of the MTA, reported Crain's Insider this morning. Two top executives, Charles Monheim and Linda Kleinbaum, are on their way out the door. Moving into the agency is Steve Morello, a political operative with deep ties to the Cuomo family.

Charles Monheim, a widely respected MTA executive, is leaving the agency. On the way in is a political insider with deep ties to the Cuomo family. Image: Adams IV for Daily News

The departure of Monheim represents a loss of institutional knowledge and energy that will have to be replaced. Monheim was brought back to the MTA, where he had previously worked, as chief operating officer under former chair Jay Walder. After Joe Lhota took the helm of the transit agency, he became the MTA's director of strategic initiatives. In those roles, Monheim earned a reputation as a creative thinker and experienced transit operator. "I have a pretty high opinion of him," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. "I think of him as the generator of ideas and strategies."

In his first run at the MTA, in the 1980s, Monheim helped oversee the rehabilitation of the decrepit subway system. More recently, he has been the force behind delivering riders real-time arrival information for subways and buses. He was also leading the efforts to move from the MetroCard to a new smart card fare payment system, having successfully done the same in London. An article from City and State last year titled Monheim "Mr. Fix-It."

Kleinbaum, currently the MTA's deputy executive director for administration, will be retiring, reported Crain's. Current director of government affairs Hilary Ring will shift into her spot, with Morello moving into Ring's position.

Morello, whom Transportation Nation called a "longtime political insider," has served both the current and former Governor Cuomo. He was Mario Cuomo’s press secretary and most recently worked as Andrew Cuomo’s deputy director of communications before heading to the MTA.

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