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Where are they now? MTA chair style
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast will soon step down from his post at the organization he’s served for nearly 30 years, in a wide variety of roles. Prendergast has been in the top job since the beginning of 2013, and while four years isn’t long for most positions, it can feel like a lifetime when you are the whipping post for angry commuters and politicians.
So as Prendergast, the fifth person to head the authority in eight years, prepares to leave, we couldn’t help playing where-are-they-now with the last few chairs:
- Joseph L. Lhota, who headed the MTA from November 2011 to December 2012, left to run for mayor of New York City. The GOP nominee lost to Bill de Blasio in 2013 and is now the senior vice president and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center.
- Jay Walder, who headed the MTA from 2009 to 2011, left to run the MTR Corporation, which operates Hong Kong’s subway and commuter rail systems. He now heads up Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike in NYC and similar services in other cities.
- Helena Williams had a stint as acting chair of the MTA in 2009, before and after which she was president of the Long Island Rail Road. Williams is now the chief development officer at RATP Development America, a subsidiary of a French company that operates and maintains public transportation systems.
- Lee Sander, who headed the MTA from 2007 to 2009, went on to serve as the president of The HAKS Group and of the I-Grace Company, both construction, architectural and engineering firms. Prendergast, 64, hasn’t yet said whether he’s fully retiring or merely moving on, but if he’s looking for work, history suggests he’ll have some pretty good options.
Cyber defense goes local
Newly a private citizen, Steve Israel says he will play up his experience in Congress to bring cyber defense and “cyber warrior” jobs to Long Island. The U.S. government is going to need skilled people to play both defense and offense in the new cyber warfare world, Israel told The Point.
He is settling in at Long Island University as the chairman of the university’s new Global Institute. He said one of his first moves will be inviting federal leaders to Long Island to talk about their needs regarding cyber security — both developing defense systems and monitoring what other cyber actors are up to.
“As we learned with the Russian hacking and our elections, our adversaries adapt,” Israel said. He’s concerned about attacks on U.S. energy systems, financial services databases and elections.
As a former member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, the former congressman certainly has the right background. But so far, his plans to start a new defense industry on LI are still in the talking stage.
‘Progressive’ Cuomo’s quiet move
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo continues to build his progressive record with splashy proposals about cutting the cost of college education and forming a squadron of state workers to monitor violations of the new minimum wage laws.
But his progressive credentials won’t be fully validated until he come through on state funding of legal defense services for the poor, according to some advocates. Cuomo vetoed a bill late on New Year’s Eve that was intended to guarantee that poor people receive an adequate criminal defense, no matter which county they’re charged in.
“Here we are in January with a stunning veto and a misplaced rationale,” Stephen Acquario told The Point. As the executive director and general counsel of the New York State Association of Counties, Acquario has been among the loudest voices advocating for the indigent services bill, which passed the State Legislature unanimously in June.
He said the governor’s last-minute explanation that counties are trying to shift costs to the state is going to create bad feelings. Cuomo has vowed to present his own indigent services proposal as part of the upcoming budget, but his “insulting” veto message is “just not helpful” in making a deal, Acquario said.
What New York has found, he said, is that when the state takes responsibility for funding, it runs a more efficient program. He claims that has been the case with Medicaid, where the state has phased in caps on county cost increases.
Perhaps when the governor packages the legal defense initiative as something of his own, it will make a bigger splash.