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Links roundup—extended edition

December 14, 2011

MTA

  • For transit geeks: Vintage MTA buses are on display for the holidays. [Gothamist]
  • Stealing from the MTA: The MTA doesn’t “own” possible future fares, so selling MetroCard swipes isn’t “larceny.” It’s still illegal though. [Public Authorities Blog]
  • Funding (or lack thereof): The MTA payroll tax cut could cost the authority $320 million annually, not $250 million, as Governor Cuomo has been saying. [StreetsBlog]
  • Ditto: More fallout from the MTA payroll tax cut. [Capital NY] [Transportation Nation] [WNYC] [NYT Op-Ed]

Port Authority

  • Executive compensation: “[Port Authority] records show that 95 employees have access to agency-owned cars. Some, like cops and staffers who have to shuttle between ports and airports scattered throughout the metro area, are clearly legit. But also getting free rides are such suits as the PA treasurer and comptroller, the director of auditing, the director of human resources and the official who oversees public relations and lobbying.” [NY Post]
  • Employee compensation: However, employee payroll information is now up on the Port Authority’s website. [Port Authority Public Reporting]
  • Toll hike litigation: When the Port Authority proposed huge toll hikes this summer, some people got the crazy idea that the authority needed the money for the gigantic and massively-expensive World Trade Center project. But Port Authority officials are trying to convince the courts and the public that the money was always needed for general transportation purposes, and they regret if there was any misunderstanding. [Transportation Nation]
  • Ditto: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie isn’t very sympathetic to the Port Authority’s problems, and he blames them on the authority’s former executive director, Chris Ward. [NJ Star Ledger] [Capital NY]

Other NY authorities

  • LIPA: “State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have completed the framework of a new law that would provide significant oversight of the Long Island Power Authority, sources said Monday.” [Newsday]
  • NYSTA: The Thruway Authority will spend $50 million on canal repairs over the next two years. [TU]
  • NYCEDC: The New York City Economic Development Corporation is seeking proposals for a fancy light show to attract tourists to lower Manhattan. [NYT City Room Blog] [Gothamist]
  • NYCHA: “This year NYCHA installed a new technology known as Wireless Energy Modules in the 14 buildings that make up Castle Hill Houses. This technology allows NYCHA to provide consistent, comfortable temperatures to our residents in the 2,023 Castle Hill apartments throughout the year, while actually saving money and energy. NYCHA worked with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on this effort.” [EDF Blog]
  • NYCSCA: The Court of Appeals will review the NYC School Construction Authority Mott Haven decision. Matter of Bronx Comm. for Toxic Free Schools v. N.Y. City School Constr. Auth., 2011 NY Slip Op. 90176 (Nov. 21, 2011).
  • NCIDA: The Nassau County IDA now gives film location tours to location managers, producers, and actors. [Long Island Business News]

Misc. authority governance issues

  • Three men in a room: Sheldon Silver makes the case for government that’s functional, not transparent. [Capital NY]
  • PPPs: Some basic guidance for public-private partnerships. Do: set clear goals and objectives; focus on life-cycle outcomes; pursue a PPP if it demonstrates “value for money”; consider available payments and shadow tolls as appropriate models; enhance public sector managament capacity. Don’t: mistake PPPs for “new” money for infrastructure; enter into multi-generational deals with large up-front payments; undertake large capital projects with divided integral responsibilities. [Citizens Budget Commission]
  • LDCs and PPPs: In addition to these suggestions, LDCs could also be used for public private partnerships. “LDCs are attractive vehicles for such transactions because LDCs have the power to acquire real property, as well as the power to sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise encumber or dispose of such property, and to borrow money and issue debt on terms that the LDC determines.“ [NY Muni Blog]
  • Public records: There’s no reason why anyone should need to file a FOIL request to get the names of the people on the selection committee for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. (Note: even if it’s not listed as a public authority on the ABO’s website, it sure sounds like one.) [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]
  • Local government consolidation?: The Village of Altmar is dissolving, but a lighting district will be created to replace it. [TU Capitol Confidential Blog]

Infrastructure 

  • GW bridge repairs: The Port Authority authorized $15.5 million for “long overdue” repairs to the George Washington Bridge, including cleaning the bridge’s four main cables and replacing (for the first time in the bridge’s 80 year life) all of the 592 vertical suspender ropes that hold it up. Necessary repairs will eventually cost more than $1 billion. [NYT]
  • For transit geeks: “The Henry Hudson Bridge, connecting the northern tip of Manhattan to the Riverdale section of the Bronx, turns 75 on Monday, Dec. 12th and will celebrate with the opening of a month-long photo exhibit at the Riverdale Public Library.” [MTA Press Release]
  • Overflows: “An aging system of sewer pipes connecting the cities of Troy and Rensselaer to the Rensselaer County treatment plant has spilled raw sewage into the Hudson River at least 38 times during the past two years.” [TU]
  • Abandoned infrastructure lawsuit: Urban explorer Robert Diamond is suing New York City for closing the abandoned nineteenth century Atlantic Avenue tunnel he discovered, and he’s seeking $135 million is damages for interfering with a contract he had with National Geographic to produce a one-hour documentary. [Courthouse News Service]

Beyond NY

  • D.C. Metro:  “There are essentially two routes into Union Station by foot: The bad way, and the worse way.” [Washington City Paper]
  • L.A. Metro: An audit of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority found that it “failed to fully research the effect on riders and communities when eliminating bus lines, adding service or changing fares. [LA Times]
  • Ditto: In response, LA Metro released a 47 page corrective action plan. [LA Times]
  • The failure of American mass transit:  “High-speed rail isn’t happening in America. Not anytime soon. Probably not ever. The questions now are (1) what killed it, and (2) should we mourn its passing?” [Slate]
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