Joe Lhota Gave Out A Few Raises Before Leaving; Who Said The MTA's Broke?
In a Daily News exclusive yesterday, writer Pete Donohue learned that Mr. Joe Lhota, the MTA-chief-turned-mayoral-candidate, handed out a few raises and buyouts before he stepped out of office this past December, totaling about $253,000 in cold, hard, much-needed cash. According to the agency, the end-of-the-year gifts were a result of contracts made years ago that set these raises in motion. And, since these raises come at a time where the agency is strapped for cash, there naturally has to be a few details of the story that are meant to simply irritate.
Like the fact that the money was issued to the MTA's top executives around the same time the fare hike for millions of commuters was passed, which is really just great. Or the fact that most MTA workers haven't seen a dime above their standard wages since 2008. Or the fact that union workers now face wage freezes because of how broke the MTA is.
Gotta love it.
Mr. Lhota defended his position to the News, arguing that contracts, in the end, are contracts: "There's nothing more sacrosanct in common law than contracts being honored. These contracts needed to be honored or it was going to litigation, and I was advised by counsel that we would lose." This is a view held by the Straphangers Union as well.
And he has a point. Contracts are usually set in stone, no matter how much they might suck at the present moment. However, paralleling scenarios like these carry an emotional weight, especially for the commuters forced to pay more in the coming months for both MetroCards and tolls. Also, the news that the MTA has been scrounging for cash to pay for all these proposals that would hopefully avoid this epidemic of subway deaths doesn't help either.
Here's a list of the happy receipients:
- MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu
- Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams
- Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut
- Former MTA Bus President Joseph Smith