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Links roundup—extended edition

September 22, 2011

A little transparency (or not so much)

  • Curious about executive compensation rates for the state’s various authorities and appointed commissions? Check out some of the stats. [Capitol Confidential Blog]
  • Even more transparency! Governor Cuomo launched CitizenConnects today, “an online town hall to encourage New Yorkers to participate in state government and share their ideas to help shape New York’s future. The new online town hall website will feature multiple interactive platforms for New Yorkers to communicate and participate with their state government.” [TU Capitol Confidential Blog]
  • LIPA’s getting some flack because it hasn’t yet released any information about a $600 million unfunded pension dispute with National Grid ahead of an upcoming Board of Trustees meeting. [Suffolk County LIPA Oversight Committee]

Some public authorities court decisions

  • ESDC is appealing a lower court decision that ordered it to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, but it’s hedging its bets and preparing an SEIS anyway. [Atlantic Yards Report]
  • And a lawsuit challenging the legality of the MTA Payroll Tax will be heard in Nassau County, not Albany, an appellate division judge ruled. [Long Island Business News]
  • In other Port Authority news, the authority is being sued for using revenues from recent toll increases to pay for rebuilding the World Trade Center complex instead of using it for bridge and tunnel maintenance. The Automobile Association of America says that the increases violate a federal law that requires tolls to be “just and reasonable.”  [WNYC] [Complaint]
  • Another way to look at the situation: “Similar to the MTA, the Port Authority tends to spend money like a blackout drunk with a credit card, and then expects the public to bail them out when it comes to paying the bill.” [Animal New York]
  • But on a more positive note for the oft-beleaguered authority, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the Port Authority  is entitled to governmental immunity from negligence claims relating to the 1993 parking garage bombing that killed six people and injured about 1,000. [Opinion] [AP]

Other public authorities news

  • The MTA also unveiled a new touch-screen device (pictured above) called the On the Go Travel Station, which lets straphangers get directions and real-time service status updates. [Gothamist]
  • Governor Cuomo fired requested the resignation of the vice chairman of the Port Authority. He’s also expected to replace the executive director in the near future. [Capital New York]

Job poaching and other economic development considerations

  • An educational media company is wrangling subsidies out of both New York and New Jersey by shuffling some jobs around, but the net gain in jobs in the metropolitan area will be basically zero. [New York Times]
  • And an aircraft manufacturer is cutting jobs in Connecticut but spending $12.7 million to renovate a plant in Horseheads, New York. Say thank you to the Chemung County IDA and Empire State Development (unless you’re from Connecticut). [Hartford Courant]
  • But economic development subsidies aren’t the only way to improve the business climate. In Chinatown, neighborhood leaders are pushing for the creation of a business improvement district, which would assess fees on property owners to pay for better street cleaning, outdoor lighting, security, tourism promotion, and directional signs. [New York Times]

They have public authorities outside New York too…

  • The U.S. Postal Service issued a Federal Register notice today on proposed changes to mail  delivery standards tied to its plans for closing processing plants and downsizing by about 35,000 jobs. The public comment period runs through Oct. 21. [Federal Times Fed Line Blog]
  • Of course, Congress wants its say over what to do with the USPS too, and a divided House subcommittee approved legislation aimed at forcing a major downsizing. The bill would create a five-member board to take control of the USPS’s finances if the agency misses any payment to the federal government. Among other things, the board would be able to override union contracts and order layoffs in order to rein in USPS finances. [Federal Times]
  • Moving on to Pennsylvania, a lawyer with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia’s transit system, is suing the authority for racial discrimination. [Courthouse News Service]
  • And the former chief of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, who was fired last year overal sexual harassment allegations, is suing the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News for defamation, invasion of privacy, and commerical disparagement. Apparently, one of the allegedly defamatory news stories criticized him for hiring belly dancers for a PHA diversity event. [Courthouse News Service]
  • In Oklahoma,  the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority is working with regional planners to improve the city’s bus system. However, “the speed at which the proposals can be implemented will be determined by the availability of funding. For now, Tulsa Transit and the consultants for the Regional Transit System Plan are still crunching the numbers.” [Tulsa World News]
  • The California High Speed Rail Authority has a different problem: lawsuits. [Infrastructurist]
  • Finally, the Arizona Legislature can’t raid the Local Transit Assistance Fund to pay for other things, a federal district court ruled, because the fund was set up as part of a state implementation plan under the Clean Air Act. [Paisley v. Darwin] [Courthouse News Service]
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