Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
By now, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has managed to create a mysterious little jam at the intersection of mass transit and politics. Not only has he not submitted names for the county's still-vacant seat on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, his office is even mum on when he might do so.
"No comment," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Thursday. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, which is supposed to pick from three recommended Mangano candidates, reportedly still awaits them.
In January, Mangano's last appointee, Patrick Foye, vacated the spot -- which has one of 15 votes on the 17-member board -- to run the Port Authority. On Wednesday, the State Senate, which must confirm any appointee, begins what's expected to be its final four weeks of its session before summer adjournment. After that, they might next convene after the November election. On Friday, nobody in the office of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was venturing to speculate on MTA appointment prospects either.
Usually in these situations, some general description of a time frame or a search is offered, even if names are withheld. Nonpaid, high-visibility MTA appointments don't typically become a big deal. The last one was Cuomo's selection for the MTA of his predecessor, David A. Paterson, who quickly drew some attention by helping talk down the renewed prospect of tolls to enter Manhattan.
Staten Island lawyer Allen Cappelli, another board member, said: "We could use a Nassau person. Quite frankly, as someone from one of the outer boroughs, I work with suburban legislators a lot. A Nassau person would be useful -- for the board and for those of us who have to look out for both rail and car interests."
Separately, Cappelli said he's asked MTA staff to assess Nassau bus service since Veolia Transportation took over from the MTA at Mangano's behest -- "to see," Cappelli said, "if they've built a better mousetrap."
REINING IN NYRA: A unique moment has also come to the intersection of horse racing and state government. At the June 9 Belmont Stakes, I'll Have Another tries for the first Triple Crown since 1978. And last week, Cuomo and top lawmakers put a new temporary panel in charge of the New York Racing Association, which runs Belmont and other state tracks, and faces problems involving betting takeouts and horse deaths at Aqueduct Racetrack.