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Tuesday’s Headlines: MTA Board Reps Like These Edition

12:03 AM EDT on March 28, 2023

MTA board member David Mack — Zooming in live from… somewhere.

Monday marked the MTA board's monthly committee meeting day — and with it the usual revue of boneheaded commentary from the appointed leadership of the state's largest public authority.

We typically disregard the pointless utterings of political appointees who ultimately serve at the behest of elected officials, but it's always worth checking in to see what qualities our elected leaders seek in the people they choose to represent us at the transit table.

Take David Mack, a Long Island developer forced onto the board by ex-Gov. Cuomo and kept there to this day by Nassau County Republicans. Mack, who parks his car right outside MTA HQ on board days, reportedly flipped off Janno Lieber when the MTA tried to yank his agency-issued parking placard last summer.

On Monday, Mack appeared to be Zooming into the meeting from an undisclosed location — with his background set to a photo of a luxurious backyard pool. At one point Mack left his mic unmuted and seemed to be participating in another call.

Much of Monday's proceedings focused on the dangerous practice of subway surfing — a challenge the MTA itself has few tools to combat (agency responses so far include "work with schools to get the message out" and ask social media companies to ban videos of the practice). The board's discussion focused, ironically, on criminalizing the same teens whom members claimed to want to protect.

"Other than a summons, what kinds of consequences are these kids getting when they're caught on the subways? I mean, are we terminating them from being able to ride the subways?" asked board member Lisa Sorin, who later suggested that enforcement target parents.

"Any possibility of holding the parents accountable? It seems across the board there's no consequences to what these young adults are doing. If there's no consequences, there's no incentive to stop," Sorin said.

"Like I always said, you can't fix stupid," replied fellow board member Haeda Mihaltses, also an appointee of Gov. Hochul.

In other news:

    • Budget season is heating up in Albany! (NY Post)
    • MTA funding was top-of-mind for Mayor Adams during a trip to Albany on Monday. Hizzoner is bucking Gov. Hochul's push for the city to chip in $500 million to fill transit authority's budget gap. (NY Post)
    • City Hall, meanwhile, offered a matter-of-fact response to Streetsblog's story about the MTA's multi-million dollar plans to address congestion pricing's potential emissions impact on the Bronx: “Mayor Adams is dedicated to getting congestion pricing right," a rep said. "That includes taking a hard look at the historical and disproportionate impacts traffic and pollution have had on the residents of the Bronx and communities of color across New York City."
    • Yard-possessing New Yorkers will be required to compost under forthcoming rules unveiled on Monday. (NYT)
    • The Second Avenue Subway's massive, costly stations are twice as big as necessary. Officials may rethink that for the project's next phase. (NY Post)
    • Former LIRR President Phil Eng is the new head of Boston's mass transit agency. (Boston Globe, Boston Herald, WCVB)
    • Disability groups are still suing the MTA over elevator maintenance — a year after officials and advocates made peace on the authority's long-term accessibility plans. (The City)
    • Travelers will be allowed no more than 90 minutes of sitting on the new benches at Grand Central Madison. (Gothamist, amNY)
    • Our editor talked all things Brooklyn and "Criminal Mischief" with Brooklyn Magazine.
    • Historian and Fear City author Kim Phillips-Fein on Mayor Adams's "austerity agenda." (Hell Gate)
    • And, finally, Defector went all Onion with its story about traffic at the D.C. Cherry Blossom festival — except the story is 100 percent true.

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