Home Politics Did you even count the MTA votes?

Did you even count the MTA votes?

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The MTA board learned of Gov. Kathy Hochul's move away from congestion pricing at the same time everyone else did: when reporters broke the news. They will probably now have to vote on whether or not to implement the policy.

With help from Shawn Ness

MTA SURPRISE: The MTA board will likely have to vote on whether to implement congestion pricing. But those tasked with formalizing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to indefinitely suspend the tolling plan received no prior notice.

“I was not consulted and other board members were caught off guard,” Midori Valdivia, an MTA board member appointed by the mayor, told Playbook.

Another board member, who agreed to speak in the background because of the sensitivity of the situation, put it more directly.

“We have no idea what the fuck is going on,” the person said. “We haven’t done it since all this started.”

The problem for Hochul is that the Legislature has signaled that it will not implement a last-minute payroll tax on the final day of the legislative session, leaving the state in a billion-dollar hole if it follows through with Hochul’s call for suspend congestion pricing.

“I think the governor miscalculated this,” said state Senate Finance Chairwoman Liz Krueger. As for Senate Democrats’ willingness to support a tax, she added: “I don’t think we have the appetite for that.”

There is still speculation about how and whether the governor can unilaterally implement her last-minute decision to shut down the congestion pricing program. Rachael Fauss, senior policy adviser at Reinvent Albany, said if the Legislature doesn’t act, the measure will go to the MTA board, putting the 23-person board under intense scrutiny.

“She hires and fires the MTA board,” Fauss said of the governor. “But there is a whole section of state law that requires MTA board members to take an oath and basically say that they will be fiduciarily responsible for the MTA. That is in complete conflict with the governor’s plan because they would have to vote to defend themselves. “I think that opens the MTA to lawsuits.”

The board is made up of 14 votes, but a vacancy on the board (a Cuomo appointee) leaves it with 13 votes. Five appointed governors, four elected mayors and one each from Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties make up the body.

Representatives from Rockland, Dutchess, Orange and Putnam counties each get a quarter vote, totaling up to one vote from the state’s northern counties. MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, a congestion pricing advocate, may break a tie.

All of this means that pro-congestion pricing advocates would need to convince seven board members to overturn the governor’s new anti-congestion pricing plan to have a majority should a vote come before the body. .

“If this doesn’t come to a board vote, then I’m confused as to our role as a board,” Valdivia said. He also noted that the board had already voted on the issue twice.

Since the governor’s announcement, two top city officials and board members appointed by the mayor, Meera Joshi and Daniel Garodnick, have spoken out against the governor’s action. Board members David Jones, Valdivia and Samuel Chu also support congestion pricing.

That’s five board members who want the tolling plan, meaning they would only need two more to undo Hochul’s rollback.

At an MTA board meeting in March, nearly all board members spoke in strong support congestion pricing.

Mayor Eric Adams graciously endorsed the governor’s anti-congestion pricing measure.

“I think if you’re looking at what other ways we can do it and how to do it properly, I’m all for it,” Adams said. “We have to get it right. This is an important change in our city.” and it must be done correctly.”

Fauss anticipated that this “will not be an easy fight for the governor at the board level if the Legislature washes its hands of this and says it’s your problem, governor.”

As the Legislature scrambles to consider other options to complete the billion dollars, and MTA board members continue to piece together what happened, the governor who started all of this remains behind closed doors.

He has not spoken to journalists even once since making the subsequent decision, and there is nothing on his public agenda today either. —Jason Beeferman

Hospital lobbyists tried unsuccessfully to kill state Sen. Gustavo Rivera and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon's bill that would reform the state's regulatory process for closing state hospitals.

CLOSING OBSERVATIONS: Hospital lobbyists made an unsuccessful and desperate attempt Thursday to prevent the Assembly from passing legislation to reform the state’s regulatory process for hospital closures.

Hours after the New York State Health Care Association circulated a four-page opposition memo criticizing the bill for imposing “proscriptive and duplicative” requirements on hospitals, the Assembly passed the bill by 106 votes in favor and 38 against.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and State Senator Gustavo Rivera, would institute new regulatory and public participation requirements for hospitals seeking state approval to completely close or significantly reduce services. Currently, hospitals must get approval from the Department of Health for a closure plan, but local health advocates have criticized the process as opaque.

The long-running legislative proposal was inspired by the 2014 closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, but gained momentum this session amid debate over the possible closure of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, also in Brooklyn.

“This week’s action in the state Legislature to give final approval to the LICH bill is an important step forward in ensuring that affected communities have a voice when their hospitals propose to close completely or eliminate vital services such as maternity, emergency and nursing care.” of mental health. “Lois Uttley, co-founder of Community Voices for Health System Accountability, a statewide health advocacy network, said in a statement.

More than 40 hospitals across the state have closed in the last decade. Maya Kaufman

THE ‘LASALLE LAW’ MOVES AGAIN: Lawmakers are giving another chance to a bill that arose from last year’s blocked nomination of Hector LaSalle to the Court of Appeals. Following a pro-LaSalle effort by unnamed donors, lawmakers passed a bill that would subject lobbying efforts for or against gubernatorial nominations to the same disclosure rules as regular lobbying.

Hochul vetoed that bill, citing concerns that the retroactive rules would subject groups to requirements they were not prepared for. It has since been rewritten to be only proactive in an attempt to avoid another veto. The Senate passed a version from Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris a few months ago, and a version from Assemblyman John McDonald has been advancing in committee this week.

“The bottom line is that when someone is being considered for nomination before the Senate, whether it’s to the head of an agency or to the Court of Appeals, those people should be under the same rules of transparency,” McDonald said. —Bill Mahoney

MUNICIPAL WORKER ACCUSED BY THE FEDS: Tommy Lin, former aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio and donor to Eric Adams, was arrested today on federal charges and accused of conspiring to defraud banks of at least $10 million by filing false claims reports.

Lin is accused of providing names and birthdays of potential targets to two other defendants and conducting background checks on them to ensure they were not under investigation. Lin is also accused of arranging a $20,000 bribe with a federal immigration officer to arrest someone who had been conspiring with them but was disgruntled.

Lin was director of constituent services in de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit and senior advisor to the NYPD’s Asian Advisory Council. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, accused him of “taking advantage of her connection in law enforcement” to promote the plan in 2019 and 2020.

Lin made a maximum donation of $2,000 to Adams after he won the mayoral primary in 2021. Lin now works in Adams’ administration as a community relations specialist in the Department of Environmental Preservation. The Adams administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Those who hold municipal office are expected to conduct themselves with uprightness and obedience to the law, not to engage in the intentional manipulation of our economic infrastructure,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said in a news release. jeff coltin

— NEW YORK TO CONFORM: New York and Nevada are the only two states in the country that do not follow CDC guidelines on HIV testing. Lawmakers want that to change. The new bill would require notification that an HIV test will be performed and provide information about pre- and post-exposure medications. (State of politics)

— RACEHORSES DYING AT AN ALARMING RATE: A Newsday investigation found that Belmonte racehorses are dying at a higher rate than at other racetracks, despite efforts by Belmont and the state to reduce deaths in horse racing. (news day)

– IT’S A POST-DOBBS WORLD: A bill that would protect New Yorkers’ health data that normally falls outside the scope of federal health privacy protections is set to pass the state Legislature, despite attempts by tech companies to stop it during the last year. (POLITICO Pro)

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