Cuomo Shuffle Gives Port Authority a Midtown Push

| October 20, 2011 10:44 AM

Rendering of Moynihan Station in Midtown Manhattan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put the Port Authority in charge of overseeing the station's development. Image courtesy of hellskitchennyc.blogspot.com.

By naming one of his deputies to run the Port Authority yesterday and putting the agency in charge of building an expanded Moynihan Station in Midtown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo put another footprint in the center of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York City.

His nominee to run the agency, Patrick Foye, is his deputy secretary of economic development and a longtime public figure on Long Island. He replaces Chris Ward, a former environmental commissioner for Bloomberg.

While the mayor hailed Ward for getting the World Trade Center program on track, the governor treated him icily and is presumed to be behind anonymous attacks on Ward’s fiscal stewardship.

In a statement, Cuomo said taking Moynihan Station away from the Empire State Development Corp. and putting it into the hands of the Port Authority was simply a matter of fiscal prudence. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is still disbursing federal aid downtown, will also be subsumed into the Port Authority.

“Too many different agencies doing the same or closely related work makes little sense,” Cuomo said. “The Port Authority is best situated to oversee the development at Moynihan Station and the orderly wind down of the LMDC and these changes will consolidate responsibility within the Authority.”

Cuomo’s statement announcing the Port Authority changes made no mention of the mayor. Bloomberg put out no statement of congratulations, and a spokeswoman declined to comment.

Moynihan Station, an immensely complicated project to extend Penn Station’s platforms under the post office across Eighth Avenue and open up the West Side for further development, is largely funded for its first phase but has resisted attempts to push it to completion. Later, unfunded phases would turn the post office into a grand atrium and spur more real estate development, but the Cuomo administration is not getting behind those steps yet.

“He’s making a statement here—I don’t want a lot of little fiefdoms,” said one high-ranking Cuomo aide. “The governor’s charge to [Foye] is, ‘You’ve got to bring projects in. You’ve got to bring them in on time and on budget.’”

No matter how honorable Cuomo’s motives, it is a raw assertion of state power in New York City, something rarely seen under Gov. David Paterson. It comes as Cuomo and Bloomberg continue to view each other warily, with supporters of each man questioning the other’s motives on even the most minor of decisions.

Against that backdrop, another element of Cuomo’s announcement stood out: He also nominated James Rubin, the former State Department spokesman, to the Port Authority board, citing his experience in international trade.

Rubin was co-editor of Bloomberg View, an opinion section set up to channel the mayor’s views at the news service he owns, until he left abruptly last month following reported tension with co-workers.

One person who regularly deals with the governor and the mayor cautioned that Rubin likely appealed to Cuomo despite, not because of, his Bloomberg connection.

“I’m sure Andrew’s just trying to suck up to big money” donors, the source said. “It’s so presidential.”

Read the full post at The Capitol.

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