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Cox, MTA under pressure

Pat Foye, of Port Washington, pictured here on

Pat Foye, of Port Washington, pictured here on Sept. 22, 2016, has been hired as the MTA president. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Daily Point

Changes at the NYS Republican Party

The sudden toppling of Ed Cox as chair of the New York State Republican Party happened this weekend just days after President Donald Trump signaled that he no longer supports the long-time establishment GOP figure, according to two sources with knowledge of what happened.

Trump communicated with a prominent New York Republican late last week who, along with big upstate donors and Buffalo’s Carl Paladino, had badgered the White House political team for a change. The pressure campaign, the sources told The Point, continued at a big fundraiser Trump attended in Manhattan on Thursday.

Word of Trump’s flip after the fundraiser allowed Nick Langworthy, the Erie County party chair who mounted a strong challenge to Cox, to work the phones over the weekend to convince fellow upstate county chairs to pledge their support. Langworthy pointed to Cox’s loss of the State Senate in November as well as several congressional seats. One source close to Cox said Trump was disappointed with the NYC fundraiser and wanted Cox to step up efforts raising money for him.

As little as two weeks ago, Trump reportedly was reluctant to make the move even though Cox was never part of the president’s inner circle. At that time, Trump’s answer was four words, “No need for change.” But that didn’t stop the drumbeat for Cox’s head before the state party organizational meeting in July. Langworthy’s loudest, if not biggest booster, is Paladino, who was co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Palladino’s unorthodox but unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2010 against Andrew M. Cuomo impressed and influenced Trump’s own run.

Trump’s change of heart surprised Cox and the state organization, which put out a statement Monday morning hours after Langworthy announced he had the votes. Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale then announced that Cox would join the “Trump Victory” fundraising effort in New York. “He was asked by the president to help lead finance efforts in New York for his re-elect and he didn’t want the party to be fractured,” a state party insider told The Point.

John Jay LaValle, the former Suffolk County GOP chair, said he met with Cox in February about running for the spot. But he said Cox told him he was committed to running for another term and that he feared that a LaValle challenge and a three-way brawl would throw the contest to Langworthy.

- Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

MTA doubles down on safety

Will a “full commitment” to safety be enough?

To speed up the installation of important safety technology known as positive train control, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief executive Pat Foye, along with MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim and board member Sarah Feinberg, met with representatives from Siemens Rail Automation on Friday, and were told Siemens and its partner, Bombardier Transportation, would make the December 2020 federally mandated deadline.

The MTA met with Siemens global chief executive Joe Kaeser and the president of Siemens Mobility’s U.S. and Canada division, Marc Buncher, Foye said during a meeting of the MTA board’s LIRR committee Monday.

“I and my colleagues made it crystal clear to these two senior executives that Siemens’ performance and, frankly, the performance of the joint venture thus far was unacceptable, and that Siemens was putting its company’s future business with the MTA at great risk,” Foye said, noting that that business over the last several years amounted to about $2 billion.

Foye said the Siemens executives agreed to “do whatever it takes” and provide “whatever resources were required” to get the project done on time -- and to provide weekly progress reports to be published online, and to have senior executives attend quarterly meetings with the MTA board.

“This was not an assurance,” Foye said. “It was a full commitment…”

But board members were skeptical.

“Whether it’s an assurance, a commitment, whether they signed a piece of paper, I don’t care,” said board member Neal Zuckerman. “I want the continued vigilance of our entire organization… I at least… do not have as much confidence as the global CEO has of Siemens at this point.”

Foye promised to hold the partnership accountable, noting that “while commitments are easy, following through is hard.”

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Moving on

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Quick Points

  • In her presidential campaign, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been outraised by entrepreneur Andrew Yang and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson. If you’re wondering who they are, you understand the depth of Gillibrand’s problem.
  • The Long Island Rail Road finished April with its best on-time performance in nearly seven years. Even the report of that result was on time.
  • Frustrated and wanting to bring about peace more quickly, the head of Colombia’s army ordered his troops to kill, capture or force to surrender double the number of militants and criminals they had been killing, capturing or forcing to surrender. Yes, you read that right. A new quota of mayhem to create order.
  • Last week, 17 homes and six shops in one village in India were burned down in one day, the latest episode related to national elections that have been riven by sectarian politics, voter intimidation and violence. And we think elections in the United States get nasty?
  • Billionaire investor and Morehouse College commencement speaker Robert F. Smith told the 396-member graduating class that he would pay off all of their student loans — and instantly became the most sought-after commencement speaker in America.
  • Americans are crossing the southern border into Mexico to live there in record numbers, a new study found, and probably outnumber Mexicans coming to the United States. It’s one of President Donald Trump’s lesser-known trade deals.
  • Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican, said President Donald Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct” that meets the “threshold for impeachment.” Heck, there are Democrats who won’t go there.
  • Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said Amash’s impeachment call was “courageous.” It was, of course, apparently too courageous for Romney.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called opponents of his state’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law a bunch of “C-list celebrities.” If Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and Jason Bateman are C-list celebrities, what does that make Kemp?

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie