Whom do they think they're kidding?
The MTA keeps turning up the volume. It's doomsday. It's “beyond doomsday.” Extreme measures may be necessary like closing down the subways at night. They tell us to brace for the worst -- service cuts, higher fares or new tolls. Meanwhile, leaders of the three branches of state government have been playing a game of pass the buck. Everyone points to the other guys and waits for someone else to make a move.
It's all so much drivel. No matter where the money comes from it's the little man or woman ultimately who will have to foot the bill. The MTA keeps calling on the state to come up with the money. And who is the state? The state is us. The coffers of the state contain money that comes from the taxpayers. So no matter whether you raise the fares, impose tolls or make service cuts, ultimately it's the strap hangers and bus riders who will have to pay.
MTA's executive director Elliot Sander says without a rescue package from Albany, the authority would have to “throw our budget out and come up with a new budget that will enable us to deal with significant deficits in '09 and '10.”
Talking about what could happen without the rescue package, Sander has a dire warning: “I'm not sure the English language captures what goes beyond doomsday but to me, as a transit professional, as a citizen and a user of the system, they are just unbelievably difficult and I think some would view them as horrifying.”
“At this point there is no tomorrow,” MTA chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger added.
What's most horrifying is that nobody involved in this mess is being straight with us. Sander and the MTA are creatures of Albany. The MTA was set up originally, way back in the days of Governors Rockefeller and Lindsay, to divert attention from the mayor, the governor and the Legislature. I witnessed it. The MTA is a puppet, a creature of the state, and Sander is way down the line in the pecking order.
And, by the way, as the rhetoric intensifies, where is Mayor Bloomberg? He's like that archaic saying that good children should be seen but not heard. Well, he's not being heard. Even as threats swirl around the millions of his constituents who depend on the subways and buses every day, Mike Bloomberg is not saying much at all. Maybe he fears to tread in these dangerous waters.
But you can't single him out. There are no heroes out there. And it's time the parties with power -- the governor, the mayor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader -- stepped up to the plate and came up with a plan. We need leadership in this financial crisis, not buck passing or weeping and wailing.