The future management of North America’s largest transit system, together with the prospect of a lady holding the highest job for the primary time, was unexpectedly forged into doubt by New York lawmakers on Wednesday.
Leaders of the Democratic-controlled State Senate indicated that they might not vote on a proposal by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo that will place Sarah Feinberg, a detailed ally of Mr. Cuomo’s, to develop into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chairwoman.
The transfer was the most recent rebuke of Mr. Cuomo by members of his personal get together because the governor tries to navigate a number of crises and overlapping investigations which have left him politically weakened.
Neither the authority nor Mr. Cuomo’s workplace responded to requests for touch upon the Senate’s choice.
On Tuesday, the governor nominated Ms. Feinberg to succeed Patrick J. Foye, the chairman and chief govt of the authority, which runs New York City’s subway and buses and two commuter prepare strains. Before the pandemic hit final 12 months, the system carried greater than seven million individuals on a median weekday.
Mr. Cuomo’s plan was to have Ms. Feinberg, 42, share Mr. Foye’s duties with Janno Lieber, who would oversee the transit system’s day-to-day operations as chief govt.
But splitting the job that method required legislative approval and would have given Mr. Cuomo even higher management of an company over which he already holds tight reins.
As at the moment structured, the mixed position requires Senate affirmation. Under Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, he and future governors would have sole authority to nominate the authority’s chief govt. The chair would nonetheless have wanted Senate affirmation.
Critics of the governor’s plan, together with Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, noticed it as an try by Mr. Cuomo to institutionalize his energy over the M.T.A.
The two roles have been held by completely different individuals previously, however a 2008 fee led by Mr. Ravitch helped spur laws that reunited them right into a single job as a part of an effort to revive the chief govt’s independence.
Ms. Feinberg, who’s at the moment the interim chief of the company that operates the town’s subway and buses, has instructed those who she wouldn’t tackle the twin position as a result of she needed to cut back her workload, in response to an individual who spoke along with her and requested to not be recognized discussing a personal matter.
Abbey Collins, an authority spokeswoman, disputed that characterization and known as it “frankly sexist.”
Mr. Cuomo’s proposal was launched within the Legislature this week, the final of this 12 months’s legislative session. When Senate Democrats met to debate it on Tuesday, it shortly grew to become clear it lacked the assist it wanted for approval, in response to Michael Gianaris, a Democrat and the Senate’s deputy majority chief.
“The governor is attempting a restructuring of the top echelon of the M.T.A. with very little notice and in such a way that the members of the Senate aren’t comfortable,” Mr. Gianaris stated in an interview. “The notion that we were going to rubber stamp an effort to have even less oversight and more consolidation of power in the executive is not something we’re interested in.”
Lawmakers raised considerations concerning the invoice’s construction and timing and even about Ms. Feinberg herself. Mr. Gianaris stated she “had frequently taken to the podium to echo the governor’s attacks and that kind of politicization is not something we’re interested in.”
He added: “The idea of dropping something like that at the 11th hour expecting us to rubber stamp it is a huge miscalculation.”
It was unclear whether or not the State Assembly, which Democrats additionally management, would transfer to vote on the invoice.
Mr. Cuomo is within the midst of a number of state and federal investigations into sexual harassment accusations made towards him by former and present feminine aides, his dealing with of nursing house deaths in the course of the pandemic and a $5.1 million ebook deal.
Many of New York’s prime Democrats have known as on Mr. Cuomo to resign. And with the get together’s majorities in each legislative homes sufficiently big to override any veto he may difficulty, many lawmakers have sought to make use of the scandals he’s embroiled in to safe their very own priorities. Those have included scaling again the emergency powers Mr. Cuomo held in the course of the pandemic and elevating taxes on the rich, one thing he had lengthy opposed.
Rachael Fauss, the senior analysis analyst for Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group, stated the lawmakers’ choice to not assist Mr. Cuomo’s proposal signaled that main coverage selections concerning the transit authority would wish higher public and legislative enter.
“I think it shows that there’s a shift in the power dynamic between the governor and legislature,” Ms. Fauss stated. “In the past, major M.T.A. changes have happened at the direction of the governor at the last minute, and this time the Legislature said no.”
Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter, a nonprofit analysis and advocacy group, stated the authority’s present management construction, with the chair and chief govt roles mixed, ensured higher accountability as a result of it positioned one individual at the highest.
“It’s clearer whose in charge,” Mr. Fried stated. “There’s no ambiguity.”
Despite the lawmakers’ transfer, Mr. Cuomo remains to be the individual commuters ought to finally maintain accountable for the huge public transit system’s efficiency, stated Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group.
“Whatever the structure of the M.T.A.,” he stated, “it’s the governor’s job to ensure fast, frequent and reliable service for millions of riders every day.”